Biopharmas Ink Strategic Partnerships for Research, Treating Major Diseases


Three partnerships were signed today between biopharmaceutical and therapeutics companies in a bid to develop treatment for major diseases with high mortality rates. 

First, Canadian biopharmaceutical firm Arbutus Biopharma has entered into a clinical collaboration agreement with Atlanta-headquartered Antios Therapeutics to study potential treatments for chronic hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection. Under the deal, the companies will study the effectiveness of combining three of Arbutus' proprietary components: GalNAc delivered RNAi therapeutic (AB-729), active site polymerase inhibitor nucleotide (ASPIN), ATI-2173, and Viread (tenofovir disoproxil fumarate). 

The three will be combined in a single cohort into the Antios Phase 2a ANTT201 clinical trial, which is currently ongoing. The evaluation aims to confirm their immunogenicity, pharmacokinetics, safety, and antiviral action as one unit. 

Arbutus will take care of the creation and supply for AB-729, while Antios will take care of the cost of adding this trio to its live study. The cohort is scheduled to begin in the second half of 2021. 

"ATI-2173 has, to date, demonstrated a well-tolerated safety profile and sustained on- and off-treatment antiviral responses as a monotherapy in patients with chronic HBV. We believe that its unique mechanism of action and early evidence of clinical activity may position ATI-2173 as the backbone of a once-daily curative regimen in combination with other agents for chronic HBV," said Greg Mayes, chief executive officer of Antios, was quoted as saying. 

Second, German clinical-stage biotechnology firm Vivoryon Therapeutics has partnered with China-based generic drugs maker Simcere Pharmaceutical to manufacture and commercialize drugs to treat Alzheimer's disease in Greater China. 

Under the agreement, Simcere will have a regional license to develop and sell varoglutamstat (PQ912), which is Vivoryon's Phase 2b-stage QPCT N3pE amyloid-targeting oral small molecule glutaminyl cyclase (QPCT) inhibitor that has shown a strong disease-modifying potential for Alzheimer's. QPCT is an enzyme that creates the neurotoxic molecule (N3pE amyloid) that is believed to drive Alzheimer's disease. Varoglutamstat has exhibited the ability to inhibit QPCT in early pathogenesis, preventing neuronal damage in the early stages. 

Exact financial details were not revealed, but Simcere will pay Vivoryon an undisclosed amount upfront as initial payment. After that, Simcere will pay the German company as milestones are achieved later in the trials, for a total value of at least $565 million. Vivoryon will also get royalties on sales. 

Finally, California-based clinical diagnostics company Somalogic entered into separate research collaborations with UK-headquartered cell and gene therapy firm Ixaka and Danish pharmaceutical firm Novo Nordisk

The collaboration with Ixaka aims to support the development of aptamer-based bispecific therapeutics, specifically antigen-specific SOMAmer reagents, in recruiting cytotoxic T cells and inducing the killing of tumor cells. Ixaka will lead the experiments to evaluate SOMAmer candidates, while SomaLogic will provide the SOMAmers for screening and assessment. 

Meanwhile, the partnership with Novo Nordisk focuses on the use of SomaLogic's SomaScan technology in the Danish company's research on non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH), cardiovascular disease, and diabetes. Novo Nordisk will provide the proteins that will help further SomaLogic's proteomics platform to 10,000, which is over six times more than what its competitors have. 

"This collaborative agreement will support Novo Nordisk in their drug discovery work and in the clinical development of potentially life-saving therapies," said Tracy Hervey, executive vice president for Life Sciences Markets at SomaLogic.


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