Agex Therapeutics Inc., of Alameda, Calif., is collaborating with the University of California, Irvine using Agex’s Purestem technology to derive neural stem cells, with the goal of developing cellular therapies to treat neurological disorders and diseases for which there are no cures. The initial focus will be on Huntington’s disease, while other potential targets may include Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and stroke.
Anticancer Inc., of San Diego, said it plans to test its oral recombinant methioninase for the potential to slow or arrest infection of 2019-nCoV in patients, with and without symptoms. Following tests in cultured lung cells infected with 2019-nCoV in vitro, the firm aims to test the therapy in patients infected with the virus. Work will take place in China, with the appropriate organizations and safety profiles, the company said.
Applied Biomath Inc., of Concord, Mass., said it is collaborating with Gritstone Oncology Inc., of Emeryville, Calif., for semimechanistic systems pharmacology modeling. Applied Biomath created a semimechanistic pharmacokinetic, receptor occupancy model for a Gritstone bispecific antibody. Gritstone plans to leverage that model for clinical candidate selection for its work in treating solid tumors.
Artelo Biosciences Inc., of La Jolla, Calif., said the National Cancer Institute awarded Stony Brook University a $4.2 million grant to advance the development of its fatty acid binding protein 5 (FABP5) inhibitor platform. That platform is under exclusive license to Artelo as a potential breakthrough cancer treatment. The five-year grant is intended to support research at Stony Brook University’s Institute of Chemical Biology and Drug Discovery, in collaboration with Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory and Artelo. FABP5 is an intracellular protein that serves as a carrier for lipids, including endocannabinoids and fatty acids. Inhibition of FABP5 is believed to suppress the growth and migration of cancers, including breast and prostate cancers.
Avacta Group plc, of Cambridge, U.K., signed a collaboration with Affyxell Therapeutics, a recently established joint venture with Daewoong Pharmaceutical Co. Ltd., of Seoul, South Korea, to develop Affimer proteins to be used by Affyxell for the generation of new cell and gene therapies. Under the terms, Avacta and Affyxell will work together to develop Affimer proteins against a range of targets which, when produced by mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs), are intended to inhibit inflammatory and autoimmune pathways and improve the overall efficacy of MSCs, creating a next generation of stem cell therapies. The initial focus will be on inflammatory and autoimmune diseases. In the longer term, there is potential for Affyxell to address oncology uses. Avacta’s research and development costs associated with generation of the Affimer proteins will be funded by Affyxell. In addition, Avacta will retain the rights to commercialize the Affimer proteins outside the field of cell therapies.
Be Cool Pharmaceuticals LLC, of Fairbanks, Alaska, said it obtained an exclusive license to a drug-composition patent which provides the capability of inducing a hibernation-like state. The University of Alaska Fairbanks owns the patent and continues to maintain/prosecute that patent for indications including cardiac arrest, neonatal hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy, spinal cord injury and stroke. Be Cool is focusing on developing human therapeutics that mimic benefits of mammalian hibernation.
Biomx Inc., of Ness Ziona, Israel, said the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange has approved the listing of its common shares, with trading effective Feb. 6. The company’s common shares will continue to trade on the NYSE American stock market.
Cellink Inc., of Boston, which is focused on the commercialization of technologies for bioprinting and associated technologies for preparation and analysis of 3D-bioprinted tissues, said it renewed its agreement to collaborate with Astrazeneca plc, of Cambridge, U.K., for an additional 12 months. It will provide bioprinters and bioinks to accelerate the exploration of new disease targets in Astrazeneca’s main therapeutic areas, including oncology, respiratory, and cardiovascular, renal and metabolic diseases.
Citius Pharmaceuticals Inc., of Cranford, N.J., said it has regained compliance with the minimum bid price requirement for continued listing on Nasdaq.
Enochian Biosciences Inc., of Los Angeles, said it finalized the acquisition of a hepatitis B virus (HBV) potential treatment from Seraph Research Institute. It involves AAV particles packaged with a novel vector construct that expresses a nonfunctional noncoding RNA flanked between sequences specific to the reverse transcriptase domain of HBV pol. Preliminary, promising scientific data on the treatment were presented at the HEP DART meeting last December, where it was recognized as one of the best new therapies/novel strategies at the conference.
Inovio Pharmaceuticals Inc., of Plymouth Meeting, Pa., disclosed publication of data from its pilot clinical study of INO-3106, a DNA therapy for recurrent respiratory papillomatosis (RRP), a rare and orphan disease, in the open-access scientific journal Vaccines. The article, titled "Immune Therapy Targeting E6/E7 Oncogenes of Human Papillomavirus Type 6 (HPV-6) Reduces or Eliminates the Need for Surgical Intervention in the Treatment of HPV-6 Associated Recurrent Respiratory Papillomatosis," details the clinical efficacy seen in a pilot clinical study of two patients with RRP and is authored by Inovio and its collaborators at the University of Pennsylvania Medical School as well as The Wistar Institute.
Nektar Therapeutics Inc., of San Francisco, disclosed the publication of preclinical data on its lead immuno-oncology candidate, NKTR-214, also known as bempegaldesleukin (bempeg), in two manuscripts in Nature Communications. Bempeg is an investigational CD122-preferential interleukin-2 pathway agonist designed to provide activation and proliferation of CD8+ effector T cells and natural killer (NK) cells. The published data demonstrate that bempeg, in combination with immune-based therapies, including checkpoint inhibition, antigen-specific vaccination and adoptive cell transfer therapy, enhanced T-cell-mediated tumor control by selectively expanding effector T cells over T regulatory cells in the tumor microenvironment.
Precigen Inc., of Germantown, Md., closed its previously disclosed sale of a number of its bioengineering assets and the related sale of $35 million of its common stock to an affiliate of Third Security LLC. Also, effective Feb. 1, the company changed its name to Precigen from Intrexon Corp., and its Nasdaq stock symbol to PGEN from XON.
New data from PTC Therapeutics Inc., of South Plainfield, N.J., show boys with nonsense mutation Duchenne muscular dystrophy treated with Translarna (ataluren) and standard of care (SoC) preserved the ability to walk for years longer than those on SoC alone. Pulmonary function was also preserved in those treated with Translarna, the company noted. The interim analysis compared children treated with Translarna in a real-world setting from the STRIDE registry with a matched cohort in a long-term natural history study. No new safety signals were observed in the patients treated with Translarna, a protein restoration therapy designed to enable formation of a functioning protein in patients with genetic disorders caused by a nonsense mutation. Translarna is licensed in the European Economic Area to treat nonsense mutation Duchenne muscular dystrophy in ambulatory patients ages 2 and older.
Sandoz AG, Holzkirchen, Germany, completed its acquisition of Grand Bay, Mauritius-based Aspen Global Ltd.’s Japanese operations. The $364 million cash deal consists of shares in Aspen Japan K.K. and Aspen Global’s associated assets. Aspen's portfolio in Japan consists of off-patent medicines with a focus on anesthetics and specialty brands. Aspen Global also has a five-year manufacturing and supply agreement, including an additional two-year extension option, with Sandoz for the supply of active pharmaceutical ingredients, semifinished and finished goods related to the portfolio of divested brands. The acquisition enables Sandoz, a unit of Novartis AG, to expand its presence in the third largest worldwide generics marketplace, the company said.