BioSpace’s Global Biopharma Roundup: April 4

Across the globe, pharma and biotech companies report deals and pipeline updates, with news from Boehringer Ingelheim, Metrion, Elvie, and more.

Germany-based Boehringer Ingelheim acquired ICD Therapeutics and its MacroDel biologics-delivery platform. BI said it will use the MacroDel platform for the development of novel therapeutics in collaboration with nanoPET Pharma GmbH, a former shareholder of ICD Therapeutics. Financial details of the acquisition were not disclosed.

CD’s MacroDel technology exploits transporter proteins in the cell membrane to deliver such drug candidates inside tumor cells. This opens up therapeutic targets that would be otherwise inaccessible, BI said in its announcement.

“Boehringer Ingelheim’s collaboration with nanoPET Pharma has the potential to eliminate the hurdle that many cancer biologics face: getting access to targets inside tumor cells,” Norbert Kraut, global head of cancer research at Boehringer Ingelheim, said. “We will use ICD’s MacroDel technology to develop first-in-class potential drug candidates for intracellular targets across a variety of tumor types, for the benefit of patients who so far have no or only inadequate treatment options.”

Poxel SAS – France-based Poxel initiated a Phase IIa clinical program to study its investigative non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) treatment, PXL770. The Poxel therapy is a direct adenosine monophosphate-activated protein kinase activator (AMPK). The Phase IIa trial will last 12 weeks and includes three dose levels of PXL770 tested against placebo. Approximately 100 nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) patients who likely have NASH are expected to be included in this study.

The primary endpoint of the study will measure the change in liver fat mass based on magnetic resonance imaging-estimated proton density fat fraction, a novel imaging-based biomarker that allows fat mapping of the entire liver. The study will also assess the effects of PXL770 on other metabolic and non-metabolic biomarkers as well as safety and tolerability. Data results from the Phase IIa study are anticipated in the first half of 2020.

Metrion Biosciences – Metrion, based in Cambridge, England, completed a fully subscribed funding round in March and will use the funds to support the company’s ion channel screening capabilities, and continued research into novel Kv1.3 inhibitors for the treatment of auto-immune conditions. The new equity investment round was led by the recently launched o2h Ventures Therapeutics Fund, acting via Reyker Securities plc, and supported by existing shareholders.

Chondrogenix – A subsidiary of Mogrify Ltd., Chondrogenix secured funding from SBRI Healthcare to develop a safe, efficient and scalable source of therapeutic cells for the treatment of osteoarthritis. Following a proof-of-concept study, Chondrogenix is using a cocktail of small molecules to transdifferentiate several different starting cell types, directly sourced from diseased patients, into functional hyaline chondrocytes. The molecules will be used to enhance Autologous Chondrocyte Implantation (ACI) therapy, which has been approved, and create additional allogeneic and in vivo reprogramming therapies. Chondrogenix aims to initiate a Phase II trial to support the program.

Elvie – London-based Elvie, a health and lifestyle brand developing smarter technology for women, secured $42 million in a Series B fundraising round. The financing will be used to support Elvie’s research and development efforts, as well as growing brand awareness and distribution for Elvie Pump, the world’s first silent wearable breast pump, and Elvie Trainer, an app-connected Kegel trainer across the Americas, Europe and Asia. The round was led by IPGL CEO, Michael Spencer and supported by Octopus Ventures and Impact Ventures UK.

TTP Plc -- TTP plc, an independent technology and product development company, announced the formation of Cellular Highways Ltd. The new spin-out was formed to commercialize Cambridge-based TTP’s proprietary Vortex-Actuated Cell Sorting (VACS) technology, and fast-track development of a first commercial product, Highway 1. The new spin out was funded with $2.2 million from TTP, the company said in its announcement. Cellular Highways will be based at TTP’s Melbourn Science Park headquarters.

TTP’s VACS technology has the potential to enable new cell therapies, liquid biopsy diagnostics, and high-throughput drug discovery applications, the company said. VACS provides an enclosed, sterile cell sorting chip, where cells can be typed according to molecular markers, and sorted into separate outputs.

ERS Genomics – Ireland-based ERS Genomics said the European Patent Office (EPO) has issued a new patent to Emmanuelle Charpentier. EPO Patent No. 3,401,400 claims methods and compositions of using CRISPR/Cas9 to modify DNA and regulate gene activity in eukaryotic cells, including kits to carry out such work. ERS Genomics provides broad access to these and other foundational CRISPR/Cas9 patents co-owned by Charpentier.

APR Applied Pharma Research S.A. – Switzerland-based APR Applied Pharma Research launched its formulation of Diclofenac 50 mg powder oral solution for migraine treatment in Russia. The treatment provides faster pain relief and comes in a convenient water-soluble formulation, the company said. APR said it estimates a high need for migraine treatment in Russia, with approximately 30 million adults afflicted with the debilitating headaches. APR’s exclusive water-soluble in sachet form of Diclofenac, based on the company patented Dynamic Buffering Technology, is particularly suitable for the management of migraine as well as severe headache and other acute conditions, as it secures significantly faster pain relief and rapid onset of action than NSAIDs conventional preparations, associated with a favorable side-effect profile.

Gesynta Pharma AB – Sweden-based Gesynta Pharma AB completed a €6 million financing round to provide funds for early clinical development of its lead candidate, GS-248. The company aims to take GS-248 into Phase II clinical trials next year. GS-248 is a potent and selective inhibitor of microsomal prostaglandin E synthase-1 (mPGES-1). The medication is being developed for treatment of microvascular diseases in chronic inflammatory conditions.