BioSpace's Global Biopharma Roundup: February 21

World Map made out of colorful Pills

Lots of interesting biotech news from Asia, Europe and elsewhere was reported this week. In China, researchers are attempting to repurpose an anti-parasitic medication as a potential treatment for cancer.

Scientists from A*STAR’s Institute of Molecular and Cell Biology (IMCB) in Singapore recently discovered that the use of niclosamide, which is on the World Health Organization’s list of essential medicines, can effectively kill p53-defective cancer cells. In Japan, a clinical research program was approved to use induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells to treat spinal cord injuries. The trial will attempt to take the induced pluripotent stem cells and grow them into nerve cells and then implant those into the patients in hopes of inducing a response. Elsewhere around the globe:

AKL Research and Development -- AKL Research and Development picked up a significant grant from Innovate UK, the leading government innovation agency for its investigational medicine for osteoarthritis. The Stevenage, England-based company’s investigational medicine is in a Phase I trial, but has been called “game-changing” due to its potential. The grant money will be used to support Phase II development of APPA, a combination of two synthetic secondary metabolites of plant origin. AKL said the natural versions of these plants have been used for centuries in traditional non-prescription medicines. APPA has demonstrated pain relief, improved functionality and slowed cartilage destruction in animal models of the condition and it is hoped it will show similar results in human trials, the company said. David Miles, chief executive officer of AKLRD, said receiving the grant is exciting. He said APPA not only tackles pain, “but will also put the brakes on the inflammatory cascade that we know is responsible for the devastating consequences of OA.”

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Biotech Campus Delft -- In the Netherlands, Biotech Campus Delft, together with its main stakeholder Royal DSM, and YES!Delft have partnered up to support biotechnology startups through a special Biotech Validation Lab. The validation program is open to European startups with innovative technologies and disruptive solutions in (industrial) biotechnology. The 10 best teams will be selected and invited to join the Validation Lab. Each team will be matched with relevant mentor(s) from biotech-related business and/or technical experts, all leading professionals in their field. The Biotech Validation Lab takes place from May until July in Delft, the Netherlands. The startups will present their pitches after the 10-week learning journey in the Validation Lan on the final day on July 31.

France Biotech -- France Biotech, the main professional association representing French health entrepreneurs, will gather the entire innovation ecosystem by launching the HealthTech Investor Day (HTID). This international event will be held on June 25 in Paris. Through the investor day, France Biotech said it aims to strengthen the biotech ecosystem in Europe by turning the capital city of France into the “European stronghold for funding innovative health technologies.” France Biotech has chosen to organize the event in Paris in an effort to support French and European companies through their second round of financing, which can be difficult to achieve. The HTID is intended for companies from the HealthTech sector, whose market capitalization is at least €20 million or whose drug candidates are currently undergoing a Phase II study.

VistaGen Therapeutics – Japan’s patent office awarded South San Francisco-based VistaGen Therapeutics a patent related to methods of treating depression with AV-101, VistaGen’s oral NMDA receptor glycine site antagonist in Phase II development for the treatment of major depressive disorder. The new AV-101 Japanese patent will not expire until at least 2034. This patent also relates to methods of treating hyperalgesia, which is extreme sensitivity to pain, the company said.

Owlstone Medical – U.K.-based Owlstone Medical and Shanghai-based Renji Hospital have partnered to pioneer a breath biopsy lung cancer trial in China. Owlstone is developing a breathalyzer for applications in early disease detection and precision medicine. In conjunction, a Breath Biopsy laboratory will be established to support the study. Renji Hospital will provide operational support for the study, and Owlstone Medical will provide its Breath Biopsy technology, including breath collection stations, analytical instrumentation, and the procedures and training necessary to support the lab’s operation. Billy Boyle, co-founder and CEO of Owlstone, said expansion into China has been part of the company’s strategic plans. The establishment of an in-country Breath Biopsy lab has the potential to “substantially accelerate clinical trials,” Boyle said.

“… the studies undertaken in this newly established Breath Biopsy lab will prove to be a significant driver of our goal to save 100,000 lives, and we are excited to begin,” Boyle said in a statement.

Affibody AB – Sweden-based Affibody AB completed enrollment in its Phase II proof-of-concept study of ABY-035 for moderate-to-severe psoriasis. The Phase II trial will evaluate the efficacy, safety and tolerability of ABY-035, novel IL-17A targeting agent. In a Phase I/II study, ABY-035 demonstrated favorable safety and tolerability across multiple doses and dosing regiments with strong signs of rapid and sustained efficacy (reduction of psoriasis symptoms) in patients.

Cell Mogrify Ltd. – Cell Mogrify Ltd., a U.K. company closed out a $3.7 million funding round. The company will use the funding to market novel IP and cell types generated using its proprietary direct cellular conversion platform, which will power the development and manufacture of lifesaving cell therapies across all therapeutic areas. In addition to the funding, the company also named Darrin M. Disley as its new CEO. Disley was CEO of Horizon Discovery Group plc for 11 years.

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