BioSpace Global Roundup, Dec. 12
Peregrine Ventures – Israel-based Peregrine Ventures raised $115 million for its fourth fund, Peregrine 4. The funds will be used to invest in early-stage and late-stage rounds of medical technology startups. Peregrine now has over $200 million under management, and an equal amount available for co-investment, follow-on, and late-stage investments in its portfolio companies from Peregrine 1, 2, and 3.
Mi-mAbs -- MI-mAbs, the French demonstrator of immunotherapy antibodies, announced signed an agreement with IAMA France, a Paris-based biotechnology company, to develop antibodies, within their immunotherapy program, targeted against infectious diseases and cancers. Under the terms of the agreement, MI-mAbs will generate antibodies in recombinant formats, produce and select the best candidates among them, deploying its full expertise in early antibody development.
Epidarex Capital – U.K.-based Epidarex, a transatlantic venture fund, launched its therapeutic discovery engine, Epidarex Exeed Ltd. The new fund intends to seed drug discovery companies. Exeed has been founded to efficiently and rapidly transform breakthrough life science innovations into investable assets over a period of 12-18 months. The Exeed team will provide significant hands-on support to de-risk early-stage programs.
Nouscom – Switzerland-based Nouscom, an immuno-oncology company developing off-the-shelf and personalized cancer neoantigen vaccines, dosed its first patient in the Phase I trial assessing lead candidate, NOUS-209. In this first-in-human trial NOUS-209, an off-the-shelf therapeutic vaccine based on shared tumor neoantigens, is being administered to patients with Microsatellite Instable High (MSI-H) gastric, colorectal and gastro-esophageal junction cancers (in combination with Merck’s anti-PD-1 checkpoint inhibitor Keytruda. The study will evaluate vaccine-induced immune responses, as well as preliminary signs of anti-tumor activity in enrolled patients. Based on preclinical data, NOUS-209 is expected to induce potent and broad CD8+ and CD4+ responses in humans. Initial clinical data are expected in 2020.
IONTAS Limited – U.K.-based IONTAS announced its Russian partner Generium received approval from the Russian Health Authorities to initiate clinical trials with its CD3/CD19 bispecific antibody for the treatment of B-Cell Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL). This is the first IBC Generium drug candidate developed using IONTAS technology, which was approved for clinical trials. IBC Generium and IONTAS worked together to generate the anti-CD3 component of the bispecific molecule. Following on from this trial, it is anticipated that further clinical trials incorporating IONTAS antibodies will be driven forward by clients of IONTAS in the coming few years, the company said.
Horizon Discovery – The U.K.’s Horizon Discovery Group plc announced the addition of predesigned synthetic single-guide RNA (sgRNA) to its product range. The sgRNAs, available individually or as library collections, expand the company’s Edit-R gene engineering platform which provides a convenient and accessible approach to successful CRISPR gene editing. These predesigned synthetic sgRNAs, when paired with Cas9 mRNA or Cas9 protein, allow researchers to perform DNA-free gene editing in a new one-part format thereby streamlining their gene-editing workflows, without the potential for nuclease or guide integration into the cell’s genome. They can also be paired with expressed formats such as Cas9 integrated cell lines, which is ideal for high-throughput library screening.
MetP Pharma – Switzerland’s MerP Pharma AG received a Notice of Allowance from the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) for its patent entitled “Treatment of Demyelinating Diseases.” Valid until 2039, the patent addresses a method to treat demyelinating diseases such as multiple sclerosis (MS) and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis as well as other diseases in which neuroinflammation is a central pathological process. The patent is based on the discovery of an unexpected positive synergism by combined treatment with a steroid hormone such as testosterone along with a Hedgehog signaling pathway modulator that can promote neural repair by significantly driving remyelination. The patent broadly covers demyelinating and inflammatory diseases of the central nervous system such as multiple sclerosis, ALS, Devic's disease and Alzheimer’s disease; and demyelinating diseases of the peripheral nervous system such as Guillain-Barré syndrome, chronic inflammatory demyelinating polyneuropathy and Anti-MAG peripheral neuropathy. The steroid hormone and the Hedgehog modulator can be administered in separate compositions or they can be administered in the same composition. The patent covers any route of administration, favoring intranasal administration.
Deinove – France-based DEINOVE obtained a €300,000 grant from the ANR for the co-development of an innovative system for the isolation, culture and screening of bacteria. The project aims to develop an innovative microfluidic sorting system, into drops containing environmental bacteria, in which each drop constitutes a microreactor.
Owlstone Medical – Breath Biopsy innovator Owlstone Medical joined the EU-funded Exposome Project for Health and Occupational Research (EPHOR). The consortium aims to further elucidate the complex relationships between environment and disease by developing the concept of the ‘working-life exposome’, which takes into account all occupational and related non-occupational exposures throughout the lifespan of an individual. EPHOR brings together an exceptional consortium of exposure, health and data scientists, and technology partners in order to develop knowledge, methods and tools to characterize the working-life exposome at a far deeper level than has previously been attempted.
Vetter – Germany-based Vetter, a contract development and manufacturing organization, won the Corporate Health Award for the second time.
Start Codon – Life science accelerator Start Codon, based in the U.K., partnered with One Nucleus to support and profile the life science and healthcare start-ups participating in the Start Codon accelerator program. Under the terms of the partnership agreement, One Nucleus will. One Nucleus will provide Start Codon cohort companies with gold membership benefits, over 12 months, focused on raising their profile and helping to access new industry contacts. Gold membership benefits include an online company profile on One Nucleus’ ‘Member Directory’, discounted training in events such as Genesis and ON Helix, preferred supplier agreement discounts and participation in special interest groups.
Gedea Biotech – Gedea Biotech received €3 million from the EU program Fast Track to Innovation to fund completion of the clinical trial program and preparation work for market introduction of the company’s antibiotic-free treatment for vaginal infections. Vaginal infections are a common problem and current treatments such as antibiotics are not always effective. Collaboration partners for the work are the CRO company Link Medical from Norway with whom Gedea Biotech has a long-standing relationship and the University of Nottingham Hospitals, home to the lead clinic for the work.
ProQR Therapeutics – Netherlands-based ProQR announce it had dosed the first patient in its Phase I/II AURORA clinical trial assessing QR-1123 in patients with autosomal dominant retinitis pigmentosa (adRP). Initial data from the study are expected in 2021.