Angiogenex Inc., of New York, said it signed an exclusive agreement with Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center to license and advance a series of anti-ID compounds through the regulatory process and into human trials. The company secured exclusive, worldwide rights to the commercial development of pharmacological treatments based on those molecules. Terms were not disclosed.
Arbutus Biopharma Corp., of Warminster, Pa., disclosed its decision to discontinue AB-452, its first-generation orally available hepatitis B (HBV)-specific RNA-destabilizer, and to continue research and development of a next-generation oral HBV RNA-destabilizer. In October 2018, Arbutus said it would delay the initiation of a planned 28-day phase Ia/Ib trial for AB-452 in order to further evaluate the safety of the compound. The move was based on findings in 90-day preclinical safety studies in two species. Since that time, Arbutus said it has extensively reviewed and further characterized the findings, leading to the discontinuation.
Axim Biotechnologies Inc., of San Diego, said Sapphire Biotech Inc., its acquired company, has signed a sponsored research agreement with Arizona State University (ASU) to conduct preclinical studies using quiescin sulfhydryl oxidase 1 (QSOX1) inhibitors as antineoplastic compounds. Sapphire licensed the rights to pharmaceutical compositions and methods for the treatment of cancer from Skysong Innovations LLC, the intellectual property management company for ASU, and Mayo Clinic. SBI-183, part of Sapphire’s exclusively licensed technology, has proved its efficacy against tumors in animal models by inactivating QSOX1, an enzyme important for tumor cell growth, invasion and metastasis.
Blue Water Vaccines Inc., of Norwood, Ohio, said it entered an exclusive worldwide license agreement for the development of a Streptococcus pneumoniae vaccine with St. Jude Children's Research Hospital. Acute otitis media caused by S. pneumoniae remains one of the most common infectious diseases worldwide despite widespread vaccination.
Clover Biopharmaceuticals, of Chengdu, China, said it has successfully produced its trimeric spike-protein (S-trimer) subunit vaccine candidate for 2019-nCoV via a mammalian cell expression system. In addition, company scientists have used the newly obtained S-trimer and successfully detected antigen-specific antibody in sera from multiple fully recovered patients who were previously infected by the virus. Clover claims it is the first company in the world to disclose a 2019-nCoV vaccine candidate that can successfully be recognized by antibodies produced by previously infected patients, supporting that S-trimer has preserved the native structure of the viral spike (S) protein and thus may elicit a protective-immune response as a vaccine.
Gibson Oncology LLC, of Miami, said it obtained worldwide, exclusive commercial rights to a novel series of 56 rationally designed compounds called Azaindenoisoquinolines (Aza compounds), from Purdue University and the National Cancer Institute that have proved to be dual inhibitors of cMyc and topoisomerase I (TOP1). Previous attempts to target cMyc, a major oncogene involved in driving 80% of all tumors, have failed because of the shallow binding pockets on the cMyc protein. The Aza compounds were rationally designed to avoid that issue. In addition, the compounds are also potent TOP1 inhibitors, which synergizes with their G-quadruplex stabilizing activity and further enhances their anticancer abilities.
Inmunebio Inc., of La Jolla, Calif., said it has been awarded a $500,000 grant from the ALS Association that will fund proof-of-concept studies for XPro-1595, a therapy targeting innate immune dysfunction and chronic inflammation as a cause of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.
Fresh data from Cambridge, Mass.-based Intellia Therapeutics Inc.’s study of its lead engineered cell therapy candidate, NTLA-5001, show selection of a natural, high-affinity T-cell receptor combined with CRISPR-enabled engineering and targeted insertion results in an engineered T cell capable of specific and potent killing of primary Wilms’ tumor 1 (WT1)-positive acute myeloid leukemia blasts. NTLA-5001, the company’s first engineered T-cell therapy, targets the WT1 intracellular antigen. The company envisions developing a broadly applicable treatment for acute myeloid leukemia patients, regardless of mutational background.
Koutif Therapeutics LLC, of Cleveland, received a $250,000 grant from Crohn's & Colitis Foundation IBD Ventures to support R&D for developing small molecules to treat Crohn’s disease. Koutif is developing a Crohn’s treatment that inhibits key pathways for controlling levels of proinflammatory cytokines related to the disease’s progression. The approach could also be used for treating other inflammatory bowel diseases.
KSQ Therapeutics Inc., of Cambridge, Mass., identified and validated the target CT-1 for developing engineered tumor-infiltrating lymphocyte therapies to treat refractory solid tumors. The company platform was used to identify the top targets across the T-cell genome that increase the efficacy of adoptive T-cell transfer therapy in PD-1-refractory mouse solid tumor models. CT-1, an undisclosed target identified by KSQ, emerged as a top target from those screens.
Novozymes A/S, of Bagsvaerd, Denmark, began a stock buyback program on Feb. 10 to buy back B shares worth up to DKK1.5 billion (US$2.1 million) in 2020. The buyback corresponds to about 4.1 million B shares at their current price. The acquired stock will be used to reduce the company’s common stock and fuel its stock-based incentive programs.
Oncosec Medical Inc., of Pennington, N.J., closed its partnership deal with Hong Kong-based China Grand Pharmaceutical and Healthcare Holdings Ltd. and its U.S. affiliate, Sirtex Medical US Holdings Inc., bringing Oncosec $30 million cash to help fund its ongoing KEYNOTE phase II study of Tavo (plasmid-based interleukin-12) with Keytruda (pembrolizumab, Merck & Co. Inc.) to treat metastatic, chemotherapy-refractory triple-negative breast cancer. Tavo enables the intratumoral delivery of DNA-based interleukin-12, a naturally occurring protein with immune-stimulating functions.
Phio Pharmaceuticals Corp., of Marlborough, Mass. which is developing treatments to silence tumor-induced suppression of the immune system, said it is back in compliance with Nasdaq’s minimum price listing requirement.
Recce Pharmaceuticals Ltd., of Sydney, reported preclinical data with RECCE-327, a synthetic antibiotic. A single 24-hour administration of up to 4,000 mg/kg was well-tolerated, as well as a seven-day continuous administration of 500 mg per/kg per day. No adverse events were reported.
Seurat Therapeutics Inc., of Chicago, said preclinical data published in Brain Research testing lead product candidate IGF-1 in a rat model of migraine headaches showed the trigeminal pain pathway activation is significantly reduced after intranasal IGF-1 treatment. Studies demonstrated that oxidative stress increases calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP) expression, a trigeminal system pain pathway mediator associated with migraine, and that intranasal IGF-1 significantly reduces oxidative stress levels and trigeminal ganglion CGRP.
Synthetic Biologics Inc., of Rockville, Md., said the New York Stock Exchange LLC accepted the company's plan of compliance for continued listing. The company was previously notified of rule violations related to stockholders' equity of less than $6 million and net losses in five of the most recent fiscal years. On Feb. 7, the exchange told Synthetic that it accepted the company's compliance plan and granted the company an extension for its continued listing until Nov. 25, 2020.
Zealand Pharma A/S, of Copenhagen, disclosed a bid to acquire substantially all assets from Valeritas Holdings Inc., of Bridgewater, N.J., for a total cash consideration of $23 million and the assumption of certain liabilities related to the ongoing business. On Feb. 9, Valeritas and its subsidiaries filed voluntary petitions under Chapter 11 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code. Zealand entered a definitive agreement to acquire substantially all the assets from Valeritas. Under the terms, Zealand serves as the stalking horse bidder in a sale process.