BioSpace Global Roundup, Aug. 20
BioLizard – Belgium-based BioLizard received a €300,000 research grant from Flanders Innovation & Entrepreneurship (VLAIO) to leverage its world-leading expertise in bioinformatics, AI and machine learning, to establish the causal link between the human microbiome and disease. Collecting data from the broadest set of microbes, patient background and interactions, BioLizard is building a framework using state-of-the-art bioinformatics and AI tools to evaluate causal links in the human microbiome, purely from data. This will allow evaluation of whether microbe A causes disease B or if they’re only distantly related, thereby requiring a refining of focus.
Avacta – Avacta Group and Korea’s LG Chem Life Sciences expanded their multi-target collaboration and development agreement. In December 2018, Avacta and LG Chem entered into a multi-target therapeutics development agreement to develop Affimer therapeutics in several disease areas potentially worth over $300m to Avacta. The companies have today agreed to expand this drug development partnership to include Avacta’s Affimer XT technology, which can be used to control the time a drug spends in the circulation. Under the terms of the extended agreement, LG Chem has the exclusive rights to develop and commercialize, on a worldwide basis, Avacta’s Affimer PD-L1 inhibitor with Affimer XT serum half-life extension.
Cobra Biologics – Sweden’s Cobra Biologics and CombiGene AB, a leading gene therapy company in the Nordic region, announced that Cobra has successfully produced master cell banks for the three plasmids used as starting material for CombiGene’s gene therapy CG01. Critical to assuring a ‘lifetime’ supply of therapeutic, this represents a further milestone in the future commercial manufacture of a drug candidate designed for the treatment of drug-resistant focal epilepsy.
Ultimovacs ASA – Norway-based Ultimovacs completed enrollment of patients in its ongoing Phase I trial assessing the company’s lead asset UV1, in combination with pembrolizumab as first line treatment in patients with metastatic malignant melanoma. The study was designed to assess the safety and tolerability of UV1 combined with checkpoint inhibitor pembrolizumab and to explore initial signs of clinical response. No unexpected safety issues related to UV1 have been observed to date and UV1 has generally been well tolerated by the patients.
Immatics – Germany’s Immatics announced the treatment of the first patient in the IMA202-101 trial in Europe. Additionally, the company has been granted approval to initiate another phase I clinical trial in Germany to evaluate safety, tolerability and initial signs of clinical efficacy of IMA203. The clinical trials of the IMA200 series will investigate up to three novel cancer immunotherapies, which include IMA202 and IMA203. IMA202 and IMA203 are designed to target unique peptides derived from either melanoma-associated antigen 1 or preferentially expressed antigen in melanoma, respectively. Both are built on Immatics’ proprietary ACTengine approach in which the patient’s own T cells are genetically engineered to express an exogenous T cell receptor (TCR) directed against true cancer targets.
Follicum – Follicum AB, based in Sweden, announce that more than 50% of the patients have been recruited in the ongoing, clinical Phase IIa study with FOL-005. The study involves 200 male patients with hair loss who are treated daily for four months with a newly developed topical formulation of FOL-005 or placebo. Two previous clinical studies have shown that intradermal injections of FOL-005 are an effective and safe treatment for stimulation of hair growth. The results of the study are expected to be communicated in spring 2021. FOL-005 is a modified, short version of the endogenous protein, osteopontin.
The Native Antigen Company – Oxford, U.K.-based The Native Antigen Company, now part of LGC’s Clinical Diagnostics Division, announced the introduction of its custom contract service to rapidly develop antigen panels for influenza A and B viruses. This new service offers scientists access to high-quality proteins from emerging seasonal and pandemic influenza strains, to support ongoing research and development of diagnostics and vaccines.
MorphoSys AG – Germany’s MorphoSys and Incyte announced that recently-approved Monjuvi, a humanized Fc-modified cytolytic CD19 targeting monoclonal antibody, has been included in the latest National Comprehensive Cancer Network Clinical Practice Guidelines in Oncology for B-cell Lymphomas. Specifically, the NCCN Guidelines in the United States now include Monjuvi in combination with lenalidomide with a Category 2A designation as an option for the treatment of previously-treated adult patients with relapsed or refractory diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (DLBCL) not otherwise specified, including DLBCL arising from low-grade lymphoma who are ineligible for autologous stem cell transplant.
Chinook Therapeutics – Vancouver-based Chinook announced a a $106 million private placement financing, which will be used to fund several clinical programs, including the company’s planned Phase II and Phase III trials of atrasentan, an investigational selective endothelin receptor antagonist, in development for the treatment of IgA nephropathy and other primary glomerular diseases. Funds will also support an ongoing Phase Ib and future clinical trials of BION-1301, an investigational humanized monoclonal antibody that blocks APRIL binding to both the BCMA and TACI receptors, in development for the treatment of IgA nephropathy.