Global Roundup: Overland Pharma Launches in China to Provide Access to Breakthrough Therapies

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The Chinese biopharmaceutical industry is growing in leaps and bounds, but there is still a huge unmet need when it comes to getting patients access to the breakthrough therapeutic modalities and platforms like RNAi, cell and gene therapy and others. A solution could be at hand with Overland Pharmaceuticals.

The new company, created by Hillhouse Capital Venture Partners, launched this week with a mission to pursue the most promising advances in medicine for underserved patients in Asia and around the world. Overland aims to build a leading, fully integrated biopharma company by leveraging global networks and formative R&D partnerships. Uniquely positioned in the rapidly evolving local biotech ecosystem in China in addition to an expansive global presence, Overland will strategically partner to jointly develop innovative, novel therapeutics. The company will operate in three international offices, Shanghai and Beijing in China and will also have a presence in Boston.   

Overland management plans to execute on its strategy to form partnerships with biotechnology companies seeking to expand the development and commercialization of their innovative therapeutic programs and cutting-edge technology platforms. 

With the launch of Overland, we are creating a robust research and development engine in parallel with the significant growth and opportunity presented by Asia’s evolving biotech industry. Our focus on partnering to accelerate patient access to innovative medicines underscores our commitment to advancing breakthroughs in biomedicine such as antibody drug conjugates, cell therapy, RNAi and more, Ed Zhang, company co-founder, chief operating and business officer, said in a statement. “We look forward to developing and advancing our differentiated pipeline of novel therapeutics in carefully selected disease areas.”

The creation of Overland isn’t the only exciting thing happening for international life sciences companies and organizations. Below is a roundup of some of this week’s interesting news.

OHMX.bio – Belgium-based OHMX.bio and Fujirebio Europe were awarded a €720,000 research grant from Flanders Innovation & Entrepreneurship (VLAIO) to develop a clinical in vitro diagnostics (IVD) platform incorporating third generation sequencing (TGS) technologies. The project, called IVD-seq, will initially focus on a cost-efficient, accurate and portable IVD modular solution for highly polymorphic regions. The partners aim to expand the resulting platform solution to other molecular diagnostic markers. The aim of the research will be to create a TGS IVD platform by optimizing a multi-layer approach encompassing the initial sample and library preparation, state-of-the-art sequencing technologies and improved genotyping procedures. In addition, the project will strive toward multiplexing related clinical markers within one IVD solution and indexing this in a cost-efficient way over multiple different patient samples.

osteolabs – Germany’s osteolabs GmbH raised €1.6 million in a second financing round. The funds will be used to promote the further geographical expansion of osteolabs GmbH in the Scandinavian countries, the BENELUX countries, Switzerland and Austria. Additionally, the capital will be used to further expand the existing laboratory capacities. The funds were provided by Seed and Start-Up Funds II of MBG (Mittelständische Beteiligungsgesellschaft) Kiel, Labor Dr. Krause & Kollegen MVZ GmbH, Kiel, and SVM Verwaltungsgesellschaft mbH, Hamburg, as new shareholders.

RetinAI – Switzerland-based RetinAI Medical AG and neighboring Novartis forged a multi-year collaboration to support multiple projects in ophthalmology and digital health through the use of RetinAI’s artificial intelligence (AI) tools. The first project under the agreement will support a multi-center international clinical study involving patients with neovascular age-related macular degeneration (nAMD). The study is designed to investigate the influence of optical coherence tomography (OCT) image solutions using AI on the assessment of disease activity. The study will be conducted in several clinical centers in numerous European countries and Canada, involving more than 500 patients.

BioMed X – Germany-based BioMed X Institute completed its first joint research project in neuroscience with Boehringer Ingelheim. Following completion of the project, the research has now transitioned to BI for additional development.  The team has validated candidate genes in several biological systems, and as a key achievement, proposes novel glial-specific drug targets for therapy of depression. The research team uncovered the contribution of astrocytes, a subtype of glial cells, to molecular phenotypes in depression. Using state-of-the-art genetic approaches and imaging methods, the team has provided a comprehensive insight into defective neuro-glia interactions and their consequences for neurotransmitter homeostasis. This work has led to the identification of molecular components regulating crucial processes impaired in depression.

HALIX – Based in The Netherlands, HALIX BV and AstraZeneca forged an agreement to support large-scale commercial drug substance manufacture of AZD1222, the adenovirus vector-based COVID-19 vaccine. HALIX will provide commercial manufacturing of drug substance at its state-of-the-art cGMP facility at the Leiden Bio Science Park in the Netherlands. To meet the increased demand, HALIX expands with two additional viral vector production, the company said.

Tilak Healthcare -- Digital therapeutics company Tilak Healthcare forged an agreement with Novartis for the internal use of Tilak Healthcare’s first clinically validated mobile app for patient remote vision monitoring, OdySight, a smart device application used to monitor and engage patients with chronic eye diseases associated with aging. The app is available by prescription and includes accurate vision tests and fun puzzles to boost patient engagement. Adapted to patient needs, the app serves as an important link in strengthening the patient-clinician relationship, the company said.

Spirea Limited – U.K.-based Spirea Limited, a spin-out from the University of Cambridge, secured financing from o2h Ventures and Syndicate Room. The investment will be used to enable Spirea’s ADC therapeutic programs ahead of a significant Seed financing anticipated in 2021. The company also announced the successful in vivo validation of the platform in proof-of-concept studies using a cancer xenograft model. Spirea’s novel technology overcomes toxicity concerns by offering high drug-to-antibody ratio (DAR) and a design flexibility which enables the development of differentiated ADCs with improved efficacy and safety. Because the technology allows more drug to be loaded onto the targeting antibody whilst maintaining drug stability, payloads can also be customized to the target, enabling flexibility in payload potencies, creative drug combinations and novel modes of action to serve a wider patient group, the company said.

Amolyt Pharma – France-based Amolyt Pharma and PeptiDream, Inc. announced a research collaboration to develop hormone receptor antagonist (GHRA) peptides as potential treatments for acromegaly, a rare but serious endocrine disorder with significant unmet medical need. Amolyt has also acquired an option to license the identified candidates for future clinical development.

Theratechnologies – Canada’s Theratechnologies announced new pre-clinical in vivo findings regarding the efficacy and tolerability of its novel investigational proprietary peptide-drug conjugate (PDC), TH1902, for the treatment of several cancer types expressing the sortilin receptor (SORT1+). New pre-clinical in vivo results in colorectal, pancreatic, melanoma and endometrial cancers are similar to those presented at the American Association for Cancer Research in June, which confirmed, at the time, the effect of TH1902 in vivo in ovarian and triple-negative breast cancers. The company intends to present the detailed results at scientific meetings next year.

Prothena – Ireland-based Prothena Corporation plc posted positive Phase I data from its study of PRX004, the first anti-amyloid immunotherapy designed to deplete amyloid to demonstrate efficacy in ATTR amyloidosis. In the first report of clinical results with this depleter mechanism of action, PRX004 showed favorable results as demonstrated by slowing of neuropathy progression for all seven evaluable patients at 9 months, including improvement in neuropathy in three of the seven patients, as well as improved cardiac systolic function for all patients.

Abivax – France’s Abivax is preparing to begin a Phase III study of its lead candidate, ABX464 as a treatment for moderate- to severe ulcerative colitis. During 2021, Abivax will complete the induction phase of its ongoing phase IIb trial in ulcerative colitis and its ongoing phase IIb/III study in Covid-19 patients and start the planned pivotal Phase III program in ulcerative colitis as well as the planned pivotal phase IIb/III study in Crohn’s disease.

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