BioSpace Global Roundup, April 23
MEDIAN Technologies – France-based Median Technologies received a €15 million reimbursement that corresponds to the first tranche of a loan granted by the European Investment Bank. The loan agreement signed in December allows the company to borrow up to €35 million. The second and third tranches, in the amount of €10 million each, may be drawn at the discretion of Median Technologies, subject to the achievement of a set of operational and financial performance criteria agreed upon with the EIB. The funds will be used to support research and innovation projects developed by companies with substantial growth potential. Median Technologies meets these criteria as its iBiopsy technology has the potential to impact the lives of hundreds of thousands of patients worldwide.
Recce Pharmaceuticals – Australia’s Recce Pharmaceuticals announced positive efficacy data showing significant in vivo antiviral activity against the Influenza A virus in mice treated with its lead compound RECCE 327. Data showed a significant dose-dependent decrease in the viral growth rate and viral load in the lungs of mice infected with Influenza A following treatment with RECCE 327 compared to the vehicle control group, and group treated with an approved antiviral drug ribavirin, also known as tribavirin, the company said. Trial results demonstrated RECCE 327 showed a significant dose-dependent decrease in viral load in the lungs compared to the vehicle control and ribavirin – a drug that decreases relapse rates by accelerating viral clearance early in the treatment course.
Sofinnova Partners -- European life sciences venture capital firm Sofinnova Partners announced today an investment in Genespire, a Milan-based gene-therapy company developing best-in-class therapies for patients affected by genetic diseases. This is the third investment for the Sofinnova Telethon Fund, bringing the total financing of Italian startups by Sofinnova Partners to €25 million over the past six months. The Sofinnova Telethon Fund is the largest fund in Italy dedicated to biotechnologies, making early-stage investments in Italian companies targeting cures for rare and genetic diseases. Additionally this week, Sofinnova Partners co-led a $38 million Series A round of financing for U.S.-based Nitrome Biosciences. The company funds will support the development of the company’s Parkinson’s disease treatments and will also allow for it to expand into multiple disease indications.
Otsuka Pharmaceutical Co. – Japan’s Otsuka and Michigan-based Esperion forged an agreement for the development and commercialization of Nexletol and Nexlizet tablets in Japan. Both medicines were recently approved in both the U.S. and the EU. The collaboration advances the commitment of both companies to provide cost-effective, oral, once-daily, non-statin LDL-cholesterol lowering medicines for hypercholesterolemia patients in Japan. Under the terms of the agreement, Esperion will grant Otsuka exclusive rights to the two drugs in Japan. Otsuka will be responsible for all development, regulatory, and commercialization activities in Japan. In addition, Otsuka will fund all Japan-specific development costs associated with the program.
PHARNEXT -- France-based Pharnext SA forged an agreement with the University Hospital Institute (UHI) Méditérranée Infection to research potential drug candidates for COVID-19. The joint activities will focus on rapidly testing in vitro a number of already approved drugs that were previously identified by Pharnext as potential candidates for fighting COVID-19 using its PLEOTHERAPY AI platform. The testing will also include several high priority drug combination candidates against the COVID-19 virus.
Vivoryon Therapeutics – Germany’s Vivoryon struck a research collaboration with the Fraunhofer Institute for Cell Therapy and Immunology and acquired related patents from the Institute for a meprin protease inhibitor and assay platform. This collaboration will combine Vivoryon’s expertise in translating basic research into marketable small molecule therapeutics with the department’s focus on discovery and development of new therapeutics that target putative pathologic post-translational modifications.
Synthon – Netherlands-based Synthon rebranded itself as Byondis. The company has a broad development pipeline, including advanced clinical programs, such as anti-HER2 ADC [vic-]trastuzumab duocarmazine (SYD985) for breast cancer. In the second half of 2020, Byondis is expecting results from its pivotal TULIP Phase III trial comparing SYD985 to physician's choice treatment in patients with HER2-positive unresectable locally advanced or metastatic breast cancer. Submission of a Biological License Application is scheduled before the end of 2020.
eTheRNA Immunotherapies – Based in Belgium, eTheRNA Immunotherapies published a study in the Journal for ImmunoTherapy of Cancer that showed the encouraging rate of tumor responses reported previously in patients with advanced melanoma treated with the combination of TriMix and tumor-associated antigen mRNA vaccination plus ipilimumab is linked with a robust multifunctional immune response. Although an ex vivo approach, the study is highly significant since it links T cell activation following TriMix mRNA treatment with clinical benefit.
Roivant Sciences – Switzerland’s Roivant announced the dosing of its first patient in a trial evaluating the impact of intravenous treatment with gimsilumab on mortality in COVID-19 patients with lung injury or ARDS. Granulocyte macrophage-colony stimulating factor (GM-CSF), a myelopoietic growth factor and pro-inflammatory cytokine, is believed to be a key driver of lung hyper-inflammation and to operate upstream of other pro-inflammatory cytokines and chemokines.
Sphere Fluidics – Located in Cambridge, U.K., was honored with a Queen’s Award for Enterprise for Innovation. The award recognizes the company’s excellence in patenting, developing and globally commercializing single cell analysis systems for biotherapeutic discovery. Sphere Fluidics spun out from the University of Cambridge in 2010 and now employs 31 people.
Swiss Biotech Association – The association launched its 2020 edition of the Swiss Biotech Report that provides highlights and analysis of funding, M&A and collaborations, as well as a special focus on the exciting new artificial intelligence scene. The report notes that fundamentals remained strong: research infrastructure delivered innovation, over 40 start-ups were founded, funding continued to flow, big pharma invested heavily in production capacity for cell therapies and biologics and the talent pool was maintained. The Swiss Biotech Report 2020 shows that Switzerland has a comprehensive life sciences ecosystem – from research to manufacturing – that Swiss biotech companies can rely on and thus continue to thrive.
PanThera -- Panthera is on track to have a network of sites open across the UK by the end of the year and is continuing to invest in growth despite the increasingly challenging environment created by the COVID-19 pandemic. The site facilities will include seven consulting rooms, a fully equipped laboratory, with state of the art research facilities and ample parking for patients.
Mogrify Ltd. – U.K.-based Mogrify and Sangamo Therapeutics forged a collaboration and exclusive license agreement for Sangamo to develop allogeneic cell therapies from Mogrify’s proprietary induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) and embryonic stem cells (ESCs) and Sangamo’s zinc finger protein (ZFP) gene-engineered chimeric antigen receptor regulatory T cell (CAR-Treg) technology.
Marseille Immunopole – The French Immunology cluster Marseille Immunopole and a group of Marseille-based hospitals, including the emergency, intensive care and internal medicine units at La Timone, North and Laveran hospitals and the MI/AP-HM immunoprofiling laboratory at La Timone hospital, along with the biotech company Innate Pharma, have launched an exploratory research task force named EXPLORE COVID-19.
Avacta Group – U.K.-based Avacta Group announced that in only four weeks, it has successfully generated multiple Affimer reagents that bind the SARS-COV-2 viral antigen as part of its collaboration with Cytiva (formerly GE Healthcare Life Sciences) to develop an Affimer-based rapid test for the COVID-19 coronavirus infection.
Diamond Pharma Services -- Diamond PV Services, a division of U.K.-based Diamond Pharma, has acquired PharmaCentral,an innovative pharmacovigilance services and medical affairs business based in Dublin, Ireland. The acquisition will expand Diamond’s presence in Europe and enhance the senior-level expertise within its pharmacovigilance team. The acquisition of PharmaCentral forms part of Diamond’s growth strategy for its pharmacovigilance division.
Bio-Me – Norway-based Bio-Me today announced it has received a total of €2 million in grants and public support from the Norwegian Research Council to develop a companion diagnostic test for immune checkpoint inhibitor cancer treatments. Bio-Me will use its PMP Precision Microbiome Profiling technology to develop a microbiome-based test that can identify responders to ICI.
Frame Therapeutics – Netherlands-based Frame Therapeutics, a new biotechnology company focused on the development of neoantigen-based cancer vaccines, announced a research collaboration with eTheRNA immunotherapies NV, a clinical-stage company developing vaccines and immunotherapies from its proprietary mRNA TriMix platform. The collaboration aims to develop a new generation of off-the-shelf neoantigen cancer vaccines by combining each company’s immunotherapy expertise and unique technologies.