Acurx Pharmaceuticals LLC, of White Plains, N.Y., said the American Medical Association’s U.S. Adopted Names Council approved ibezapolstat as the nonproprietary name for ACX-362E, the company's lead antibiotic candidate in development for the oral treatment of C. difficile infection. A phase II trial of the DNA polymerase III inhibitor is expected to begin enrolling this quarter.

Cell therapy engineering company Artisan Bio Inc., of Denver, said it inked a global research and collaboration agreement with Takeda Pharmaceutical Co. Ltd., of Tokyo, to discover, develop and commercialize cell therapy products. Artisan will deploy its Star platform and synthetic biology expertise to construct customized and precisely engineered cell therapies and will lead discovery efforts, including gene editing. Takeda assumed responsibility for development, manufacturing and commercialization of resulting candidates. Financial terms were not disclosed.

Astellas Pharma Inc., of Tokyo, said it completed its acquisition of Audentes Therapeutics Inc., of San Francisco, through a tender offer for the issued and outstanding common shares of Audentes at $60 apiece. At expiration of the offer on Jan. 14, approximately 35.9 million shares were validly tendered and not withdrawn, representing approximately 76.7% of the outstanding shares. Audentes will operate as a wholly owned subsidiary of Astellas and serve as the Center of Excellence for a newly created program to provide leadership for the advancement of adeno-associated virus-based genetic medicines.

Aum Biosciences Pte. Ltd., of Singapore, and Cyclica Inc., of Toronto, said they partnered under Project Nexus to apply Cyclica’s drug discovery platform to Aum’s R&D programs for early stage discovery of cancer therapies. Aum will deploy its biomarker-driven development expertise while using Cyclica’s integrated artificial intelligence-augmented and structure-based platform, Ligand Design and Ligand Express, to design lead-like molecules that minimize off-target effects. Cyclica is set to receive an up-front payment and milestone payments upon the completion of specific stages for Project Nexus, while Aum will maintain rights for future development and commercialization of assets from the project.

Bloom Science Inc., of San Diego, said it was granted an option by Duke University to an exclusive license to intellectual property and technology related to strain isolates and libraries of genetic variants of Akkermansia bacteria developed in the laboratory of Raphael Valdivia, professor of molecular genetics and microbiology in the Duke School of Medicine. The underlying principle of Valdivia's approach is to isolate, characterize and genetically alter Akkermansia to understand how the microbe's genes contribute to the promotion of immunological health. Bloom plans to leverage the technology to develop heirloom strain Akkermansia therapeutics and genetically optimized strains while seeking to discover the chemical composition of the Akkermansia metabolome. Financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

Cardax Inc., of Honolulu, said it planned to effect a 200-for-1 reverse stock split of its issued and outstanding common stock, effective Jan. 15, with shares trading on the OTCQB on a split-adjusted basis under the existing symbol CDXI and the new CUSIP number 14141D201. The development stage company is primarily focused on advancing pharmaceuticals for chronic diseases driven by inflammation. On Jan. 15, the shares closed at 5 cents.

Dermavant Sciences Ltd., of Phoenix, a subsidiary of Roivant Sciences Ltd., of Hamilton, Bermuda, said it inked a collaboration and license agreement with Japan Tobacco Inc. (JT), of Tokyo, covering exclusive rights to develop, register and market tapinarof in Japan to treat dermatological diseases and conditions, including psoriasis and atopic dermatitis. Along with the agreement, JT signed an exclusive license agreement with its subsidiary, Torii Pharmaceutical Co. Ltd., to co-develop and commercialize tapinarof in Japan. Terms call for Dermavant to receive $60 million up front and up to $53 million in development-based milestones for tapinarof, a once-daily topical aryl hydrocarbon receptor modulator, in psoriasis and atopic dermatitis, along with the right to sales royalties. 

Galapagos NV, of Mechelen, Belgium, and Fibrocor Therapeutics Inc., of Toronto, said they expanded their 2019 collaboration on a small-molecule inhibitor program focused on an undisclosed fibrotic target. In the expanded alliance, Galapagos gained an exclusive option to in-license four additional target programs following validation, drug discovery and lead optimization. Fibrocor remains responsible for research activity until the lead optimization stage. In exchange for global commercialization rights to Galapagos, Fibrocor is set to receive an undisclosed up-front payment and is eligible for option exercise, milestone and royalty payments. As part of the transaction, Galapagos also took an equity position in Fibrocor and nominated Paul Van der Horst, its head of business development, to join Fibrocor’s board.

Hemogenyx Pharmaceuticals plc, of London, said it constructed chimeric antigen receptor programmed T cells (HEMO-CAR-T) using its humanized monoclonal antibody against a target on the surface of acute myeloid leukemia (AML) cells, known as HEMO-CAR. The company showed, in vitro, that HEMO-CAR was able to convert human T cells into HEMO-CAR-T to identify and destroy human AML-derived cells. In vivo efficacy tests of HEMO-CAR-T against AML are underway using a model of advanced peripheral blood hematopoietic chimera, humanized mice developed by wholly owned subsidiary Immugenyx LLC.

Hoth Therapeutics Inc., of New York, said it exercised its option on an exclusive license for patents owned by George Washington University (GW) after evaluating GW's formulations of the substance P receptor blocker, aprepitant, which inhibited cutaneous and other neurogenic inflammation side effects caused by cancer drugs. Exercise of the option agreement enables Hoth to negotiate an exclusive patent license, which the company expects to finalize this month.

Kempharm Inc., of Celebration, Fla., said Nasdaq granted the company an extension until May 13, 2020, to regain compliance with the minimum listing requirements. The company transferred its listing from the Nasdaq Global Market to the Nasdaq Capital Market on Jan. 15, which lowered the minimum market value of listed securities from $50 million to $35 million. The company said it believes it can meet the new minimum requirement to regain compliance.

Numedii Inc., of San Mateo, Calif., is collaborating with an undisclosed drug delivery company to develop new therapeutics for ulcerative colitis by combining Numedii's NM-001 with a delivery technology specific for the gastrointestinal tract. Financial terms of the deal weren't disclosed.

Personal Genome Diagnostics Inc., of Baltimore, and Eisai Co. Ltd., of Tokyo, are developing a liquid biopsy biomarker discovery solution for use in oncology clinical trials. The product will use next-generation sequencing that can detect more than 500 genes in cancer and drug-resistance related pathways.

Rockwell Medical Inc., of Wixom, Mich., licensed the rights to commercialize Triferic (ferric pyrophosphate citrate) in India to Sun Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd., of Mumbai, India. Rockwell will receive an undisclosed up-front fee and is eligible for milestone payments and royalties on net sales. Rockwell will supply the product to Sun.

Twist Bioscience Corp., of South San Francisco, and Schrödinger Inc., of New York, are collaborating to discover antibody therapeutics against G protein-coupled receptor targets. Schrödinger will use its physics-based computational platform to model functional antibody segments that bind to the target, and Twist will use the information to generate antibody sequences using its silicon-based DNA synthesis platform. The companies will collaborate on any commercial opportunities generated from the resulting products. Financial terms of the deal weren't disclosed.

Valneva SE, of Saint Herblain, France, said the U.S. Department of Defense has exercised an option to purchase 80,000 additional doses of its Japanese encephalitis vaccine, Ixiaro, bringing the total value of the contract to $70 million.

VBI Vaccines Inc., of Cambridge, Mass., regained compliance with the Nasdaq minimum bid price requirement by meeting or exceeding the minimum bid price for a period of at least 10 consecutive trading days.

Virpax Pharmaceuticals Inc., of Malvern, Pa., licensed the right to use nanotechnology for the delivery of enkephalin intranasally for the management of post-traumatic stress disorder from Nanomerics Ltd., of London. The drug, PES-200, will be the second intranasal collaboration between the companies. Financial details of the deal weren't disclosed.

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