Applied Biosciences Corp., of Beverly Hills, Calif., disclosed a strategic corporate shift to fully focus all initiatives and resources on its biopharma division and the development of science-driven biopharmaceuticals that target the endocannabinoid (CBD) system. Through its applied products division, the company currently develops multiple brands offering health and wellness CBD products that conform to regulatory standards and markets those products through established channels in the U.S. The unit has seen robust year-over-year increase in top-line revenue. But with the understanding that to be successful in the lucrative yet dynamic and competitive consumer CBD space would require additional resources and capital allocations, the board is shifting to biopharma, the company said.  

Aqilion AB, of Helsingborg, Sweden, said it is strengthening its portfolio with the addition of two preclinical projects, Alhena and Alnitak. The company is overseeing the two pharmaceutical projects, which both fall under Aqilion’s new focus area: inflammation at the interface of oncology and immunology. The Alhena project aims to develop a proteolysis-targeting chimera (PROTAC) drug against a target protein that is central to some cancers. The Alnitak project’s goal is to develop drug candidates that bind to a target protein that is essential for both malignant disease development and for inflammatory conditions.  

Aspen Neuroscience Inc., of San Diego, said teams from its firm and the New York Stem Cell Foundation Research Institute will send a first-in-kind study of neurodegenerative disease to the International Space Station (ISS) on the nineteenth SpaceX Commercial Resupply Services (CRS-19) mission, launched from the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Fla. This is the second space flight for the research teams. A preliminary experiment was launched to the ISS in July 2019 onboard SpaceX CRS-18 to test custom flight hardware systems and refine post-flight analytical methods in preparation for the SpaceX CRS-19 launch. 

CB Therapeutics Inc., of San Diego, said it achieved successful biosynthesis of psilocybin, psilocin and related tryptamine-based compounds typically found in plants and fungi. The company’s platform is designed to not only make the active compounds that occur naturally, but by using enzymatic processes, create bioidentical compounds as well as their analogues.

Eyepoint Pharmaceuticals Inc., of Watertown, Mass., said it signed a two-year contract with one of the largest integrated delivery systems in the U.S. to offer Dexycu (dexamethasone intraocular suspension 9%) for cataract surgery within its network. The agreement opens up new distribution channels for Dexycu that were previously unavailable in key U.S. regions, including California, Washington, Georgia, Colorado and mid-Atlantic states. Eyepoint said it has also received preferred vendor status from the system. 

Gatehouse Bio, of Boston, said it is collaborating with Astrazeneca plc, of Cambridge, U.K., to explore identification of new targets for respiratory and cardiovascular diseases using Gatehouse Bio’s artificial intelligence-powered platform. The sRNAlytics platform is designed to identify small RNA signatures and illuminate molecular pathways correlated to and potentially driving disease. Financial terms were not disclosed.

Horizon Discovery Group plc, of Cambridge, U.K., said it entered a partnership with the Human Protein Atlas (HPA), which selected Horizon’s CRISPR-edited knockout cell models to further expand the knowledge available in its Cell Atlas program. HPA said adding more validation data for its antibodies will increase the reliability of the Cell Atlas and help users find the most trustworthy tools for their research. Financial terms were not disclosed.

Immunic Inc., of New York, offered data on IMU-856, for the first time, at IBD Innovate: Product Development for Crohn's and Colitis conference in New York, hosted by the Crohn's and Colitis Foundation. The presentation highlighted the potential of IMU-856 for the treatment of multiple diseases related to intestinal barrier function. IMU-856 is an orally available, small-molecule modulator that targets a yet undisclosed protein which serves as a transcriptional regulator of the intestinal barrier function.  

Inventiva SA, of Daix, France, said it received a milestone payment of €3.5 million (US$3.9 million) following the inclusion of the first patient with psoriasis in the ongoing study of ABBV-157, a RORy inverse agonist jointly discovered by North Chicago-based Abbvie Inc. and Inventiva for the treatment of autoimmune diseases. The two companies signed a multiyear drug discovery collaboration in 2012 to identify RORγ inverse agonists for the treatment of several autoimmune diseases.

Cambridge, Mass.-based KSQ Therapeutics Inc. received nonexclusive and commercial use rights to the mRNA-based platform at Maxcyte Inc., of Gaithersburg, Md., to develop multiple adoptive cell therapies. Maxcyte, which develops cell-based therapies, could receive milestone payments and licensing fees. Its first candidate, MCY-M11 (CARMA-hMeso), a mesothelin modulator, is in a phase I trial. KSQ’s pipeline features tumor- and immune-focused candidates to treat cancer. No financial details were released. 

Leo Pharma A/S, of Ballerup, Denmark, and Cambridge, Mass.-based Portal Instruments formed a license and collaboration agreement to develop Portal’s needle-free jet injector platform for Leo’s investigational and approved therapies in dermatology. Portal developed the needle-free system for patients who self-administer biologics. No financial details of the agreement were released. 

Amazon Web Services Inc. has signed on to review Basel-Switzerland-based Novartis AG’s core pharmaceutical manufacturing, supply chain and delivery operations. Novartis plans to collect inventory, quality, and production data across its network and apply Amazon analytics and machine learning services to drive visibility and efficiencies. The deal includes visual inspections of manufacturing sites with images that can be analyzed using computer vision algorithms to monitor for risks to manufacturing production, such as unplanned downtime or delayed orders. No financial details were released. 

New data from San Diego’s Trovagene Inc. show that onvansertib, an oral and selective adenosine triphosphate competitive inhibitor of the serine/threonine polo-like-kinase 1 enzyme, inhibits tumor growth in Venclexta (venetoclax, Abbvie Inc.)-resistant in vitro and in vivo models. The drug is being tested in an ongoing phase II acute myeloid leukemia trial in combination with decitabine. 

Vivera Pharmaceuticals Inc., of Newport Beach, Calif., signed an agreement for clinical development services with Parexel International. Parexel's biotech division will conduct a phase I study to evaluate the bioavailability of Tabmelt technology and will provide regulatory support for Vivera's IND process with the FDA. Terms were not disclosed. Vivera is developing drugs for non-addictive pain management.

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