Akcea Therapeutics Inc., of Boston, and Ionis Pharmaceuticals Inc., of Carlsbad, Calif., disclosed the closing of the exclusive licensing agreement with Pfizer Inc., of New York, for AKCEA-ANGPTL3-LRx following expiration of the waiting period under the Hart-Scott-Rodino Antitrust Improvements Act of 1976. AKCEA-ANGPTL3-LRx is an investigational antisense therapy discovered by Ionis and being developed to treat patients with certain cardiovascular and metabolic diseases. Under terms of the agreement, Akcea and Ionis will receive a $250 million up-front license fee, which will be split equally between the two companies. Akcea will settle its $125 million obligation to Ionis in Akcea common stock.

Diamir Inc., of Monmouth Junction, N.J., disclosed a $492,000 award in support of the project titled "Circulating brain-enriched microRNAs as peripheral biomarkers of neurodegeneration." The award will accelerate the development of Diamir's targeted diagnostic technology for detection and prediction of Alzheimer's disease progression. The award is provided by the Alzheimer's Drug Discovery Foundation Diagnostics Accelerator, a fund set up in collaboration with Bill Gates and other philanthropic partners.

Dragonfly Therapeutics Inc., of Waltham, Mass., and Abbvie Inc., of North Chicago, disclosed a multitarget research collaboration designed to advance a number of Dragonfly's novel natural killer cell engager-based immunotherapies for autoimmune and oncology indications. The collaboration grants Abbvie the option to license exclusive worldwide intellectual property rights to develop and commercialize products directed to specific targets developed using Dragonfly's TriNKET technology platform. Terms were not disclosed but include for Dragonfly an up-front payment, future success-based milestone payments and royalties.

Eli Lilly and Co., of Indianapolis, said it plans to invest $400 million in its manufacturing facilities at its Lilly Technology Center campus in Indianapolis. The plans are driven by increasing demand for Lilly's current medicines, and provide additional manufacturing capacity for future medicines coming from Lilly's pipeline. Those new investments will create approximately 100 new highly skilled jobs at the company, Lilly said.

Navrogen Inc., of Philadelphia, and Lonza Pharma & Biotech AG, of Basel, Switzerland, entered a licensing agreement for the production of Navrogen's biotherapeutics using Lonza’s GS Xceed Expression System. Navrogen recently disclosed funding to develop biotherapeutics targeting humoral immuno-oncology factors to reverse their inhibitory activity against the pharmacologic effects of antibody-based therapies. Navrogen’s biological drugs involve novel protein and antibody-based configurations. Lonza’s GS Xceed toolbox includes GS Piggybac, a transposon-based technology suited for complex protein expression and bioprocessing that preferentially targets stable regions of the genome associated with highly expressed genes, the companies said.

The FDA approved New York-based Q BioMed Inc.’s contract for manufacturer Isotherapeutics Group LLC, of Angleton, Texas, to make Q Biomed’s non-opioid cancer bone pain drug, strontium-89 chloride USP. The approval means the drug will be available in the U.S. in January. Strontium-89 is an intravenous radiopharmaceutical to treat skeletal metastases caused by cancer and is administered every three months.

Sanofi SA, of Paris, will integrate DARWIN, its data platform, with New York-based Aetion Inc.’s platform. DARWIN compiles and analyzes de-identified data from patients across disease states, while Aetion’s platform analyzes data to understand the effectiveness, safety and value of drugs as a companion to clinical trial data in aiding regulatory decision-making, especially in analyzing potential treatments, their costs and outcomes.

Thetis Pharmaceuticals LLC, of Branford, Conn., received funding from the Crohn's & Colitis Foundation's IBD Ventures program to help develop TP-317, an oral therapy for inflammatory bowel disease. TP-317’s active agent is Resolvin E1, an endogenous immuno-resolvent designed to treat patients with Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. Resolvin E1 is a bioactive lipid mediator for reducing inflammation and pain while repairing tissue. None of the funding’s financial details were disclosed.

Data from Cambridge, Mass.-based Torque Therapeutics Inc. showed Deep IL-12 Primed and Deep IL-15 Primed T cells stimulated cytokines to the tumor microenvironment and leveraged their complementary biology to prime and boost the immune response of T-cell therapies with limited systemic exposure and toxicity. Deep IL-15 is in a phase I/II trial for treating solid tumors and hematologic cancers. The data also demonstrated that the company’s Deep TLR Primed T cells leverage the immune-stimulating potential of TLR agonists to achieve antitumor efficacy while avoiding systemic exposure and toxicities.

France's Agence Nationale de Sécurité du Médicament et des Produits de Santé approved national reimbursement of Orkambi (lumacaftor/ivacaftor) from Vertex Pharmaceuticals Inc., of Boston. Orkambi is for those ages 2 and older with cystic fibrosis with two copies of the F508del mutation in the cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator gene. In France, Orkambi has been available to eligible patients ages 12 and older since December 2015 through a temporary use authorization (ATU) and a post-ATU interim access program.

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