Amarillo Biosciences Inc., of Amarillo, Texas, said its China licensing partner, Xiamen Weiyang Pharmaceutical Co. Ltd., began initiating the sharing of proprietary clinical research information with health officials in China to potentially explore the effect of ABI’s low-dose oral interferon in combating the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus, along with other related viral indications such as influenza. Xiamen Weiyang will focus on seeking appropriate regulatory channels in which to either fast track formalized clinical research trials for low-dose oral IFN-α, or at the very least expedite the development process with Chinese health authorities to pave the way for proactive studies in preparation of future similar viral outbreaks. Xiamen Weiyang will work in conjunction with ABI’s subsidiary branch office in Taiwan.

Amorchem II, a venture capital firm based in Montreal, disclosed the financing of a collaboration centered around c-Myc, a proto-oncogene implicated in more than 50% of all human cancers. The venture capital fund is partnering with Univalor, the technology transfer division of the University of Montreal, the Montreal Clinical Research Institute and McGill University, in order to support the work of the teams of Tarik Möröy and Nicolas Moitessier. The team targets Miz-1, a c-Myc co-factor, which is critical for c-Myc’s ability to regulate cell cycle progression as well as apoptosis. Amorchem called the strategy “a very intriguing approach which also offers the potential of adding a promising small-molecule strategy in the field of immunotherapy.” Terms were not disclosed.

Calidi Biotherapeutics Inc., of San Diego, presented preclinical data on its lead oncolytic virus candidate, SNV-1 (allogeneic adipose derived mesenchymal stem cells loaded with tumor selective CAL1 vaccinia virus), in a poster presentation at the 2020 ASCO-SITC Clinical Immuno-Oncology Symposium in San Francisco. SNV-1 demonstrated enhanced therapeutic effects when compared to naked vaccinia virus across multiple human cancer cell lines and animal tumor models, the company said. Potent antitumor and immunologic effects turned up not only at the SNV-1-injected site, but also at distant nontreated tumor sites, the company said.

Codagenix Inc., of Farmingdale, N.Y., said it will collaborate with the Serum Institute of India to rapidly co-develop a live-attenuated vaccine against the emergent coronavirus COVID-19. Codagenix said its technology allows for the rapid generation of multiple vaccine candidates against emerging viruses, starting with only the digital sequence of the viral genome. It has already designed multiple nCoV vaccine candidate genomes using its deoptimization technology. The vaccine viruses will then be grown and tested in vivo by contracted laboratories suitable for containment, prior to testing in clinical trials. The Serum Institute of India, a vaccine manufacturer, will then scale-up the manufacture of the vaccine. The two parties said they are pursuing an accelerated development pathway with built-in redundancies to increase speed and likelihood of success.

CSL Behring LLC, of King of Prussia, Pa., said its ongoing partnership with the University City Science Center led to an award of funding to researchers at the University of Pittsburgh and the University of Delaware to accelerate their search for new medicines. CSL awarded Cecelia Yates from the University of Pittsburgh and Eleftherios (Terry) Papoutsakis from the University of Delaware $250,000 each and an opportunity to work alongside the plasma-based biotech's experts in an effort to help transform their ideas into therapies. Yates is investigating the use of Fibrokine biomimetic peptides as potential targeted therapeutic treatment of pulmonary fibrosis. Papoutsakis is exploring the use of cell-derived microparticles and vesicles for the treatment of thrombocytopenias and in stem cell-targeted gene therapies.

Dendreon Pharmaceuticals Inc., of Seal Beach, Calif., reported results from a real-world treatment setting examining survival outcomes in men with metastatic castrate-resistant prostate cancer treated with Provenge (sipuleucel-T) and oral agents. According to the retrospective analysis of claims data from more than 6,000 Medicare Fee for Service beneficiaries, the addition of Provenge to either Zytiga (abiraterone acetate, Johnson & Johnson) or Xtandi (enzalutamide, Astellas Pharma Inc./Pfizer Inc.), at any point in a patient’s treatment regimen, reduced the risk of death by 45% and extended median overall survival by 14.5 months. Findings were presented at the ASCO Genitourinary Cancers Symposium in San Francisco.

Evgen Pharma plc, of Cheshire, U.K., signed a memorandum of understanding with the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry to advance SFX-01 toward a clinical trial in chronic kidney disease. Evgen has agreed to supply SFX-01 to support a potential future clinical trial led by Thu Le at the university’s medical center. SFX-01 is a stable form of sulforaphane that has demonstrated safety and tolerability in previous clinical trials.

Forma Therapeutics Inc., of Watertown, Mass., published the structure-based design and discovery of its most advanced asset, olutasidenib, in the online version of the Journal of Medicinal Chemistry. The paper details the structure-based approaches to design a mutant IDH1 inhibitor with pharmacokinetic properties that include blood-brain barrier permeability. Olutasidenib is an oral clinical compound that selectively inhibits 2-hydroxyglutarate production. Forma is advancing olutasidenib in an attempt to restore normal cellular differentiation in IDH1-mutated cancers. IDH1 is a natural enzyme that is part of the normal metabolism in all cells. When mutated, its activity can promote blood malignancies and solid tumors. IDH1 mutations are present in 7% to 14% of patients with acute myeloid leukemia (AML), 3% to 4% of patients with myelodysplastic syndromes and more than 70% of patients with gliomas. In AML, hypermethylation driven by IDH mutations inhibits normal differentiation of progenitor cells leading to accumulation of immature blasts.

New data from Bedford, Mass.-based Homology Medicines Inc. demonstrate that its adeno-associated virus vectors derived from hematopoietic stem cells (AAVHSCs) crossed the blood-brain-barrier and blood-nerve barrier in preclinical models. In treating metachromatic leukodystrophy (MLD), a lysosomal storage disorder caused by mutations in the ARSA gene, Homology’s gene therapy candidate, HMI-202, reduced key biomarkers of disease and produced normal levels of human arylsulfatase A (ARSA) protein in the murine model of MLD. Its cells demonstrated various levels of tropism within the spinocerebellar pathway, suggesting individual AAVHSCs may be preferentially chosen based on disease biology. ARSA is responsible for the creation of the ARSA protein, which is required for the breakdown of cellular components.

Researchers from New York’s Human Microbiology Institute and the Mitchell Center for Alzheimer’s disease at the University of Texas have found that bacterial DNA can trigger tau protein misfolding in Alzheimer’s disease models, potentially bringing new targets for therapeutic intervention. The discovery sets bacterial DNA as a new potential therapeutic target for treating neurogenerative illnesses. According to the researchers, this is the first report showing that DNA from some bacterial species can promote tau misfolding and aggregation, a hallmark feature of Alzheimer’s.

Promedior Inc., of Lexington, Mass., said its acquisition by Roche Holding AG, of Basel, Switzerland, has been completed. The $1.39 billion deal, signed last year, involves an up-front cash payment of $390 million, with the rest in contingent payments based on development, regulatory and commercial milestones. In exchange, Roche gains Promedior’s portfolio of molecules targeting fibrotic diseases, including PRM-151, a recombinant form of human pentraxin-2 protein that has demonstrated promising results in phase II testing in idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis.

Riptide Bioscience Inc., of San Francisco, said data published in Science Translational Medicine establishes a novel immune checkpoint potentially useful for treating cancer and fibrosis. The article documents research to evaluate the efficacy and confirm the mechanism of drug candidate RP-182, an engineered peptide emerging from an effort to enhance the activity of naturally occurring host defense peptides with immunomodulatory properties. Riptide scientists demonstrated that engaging a specific set of amino acids in a particular domain of CD206 returned the macrophage population from M2-dominant to M1-dominant, restoring a tumor-inhibiting microenvironment.

Tetra Bio-Pharma Inc., of Ottawa, said it signed a manufacturing agreement with Vitiprints LLC for commercial-scale production of cannabinoid-based drugs Caumz and HCC-011. In exchange for an exclusive license to Vitiprints’ technology, Tetra will be required to make milestones and royalty payments on Caumz sales.

Therapeuticsmd Inc., of Boca Raton, Fla., and Afaxys Pharma LLC, of Charleston, S.C., said they entered an agreement to expand access to Annovera (segesterone acetate and ethinyl estradiol vaginal system) in the U.S. public health sector. Annovera is FDA-approved as a long-lasting reversible birth control. Terms were not disclosed.

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