Aim Immunotech Inc., of Ocala, Fla., told its stockholders the company is re-examining the antiviral properties of Ampligen (rintatolimod) to determine if it could become a vaccine to protect against the Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19). The company said it obtained genomic RNA sequences of the new virus and compared them to the SARS virus' RNA sequences. The RNA sequences of the SARS virus in key areas of viral replication are almost identical for the Wuhan coronavirus, the company said, adding that, in NIH studies of SARS-infected mice, Ampligen conferred “significant antiviral/survival effect.” Ampligen is in clinical trials for treating renal cell carcinoma, malignant melanoma, colorectal cancer, advanced recurrent ovarian cancer and triple-negative metastatic breast cancer.
Beroni Group, of New York and Sydney, said it is collaborating with Tianjin University in China to develop a medical solution for the coronavirus (COVID-19) epidemic. A team of scientists from Tianjin University and Beroni is working to develop a rapid detection method and precision-driven treatment of COVID-19 caused by SARS-CoV-2 infection using nanobody-based technology.
Beximco Pharmaceuticals Ltd., of Dhaka, Bangladesh, now has exclusive rights to launch several of Hertfordshire, U.K.-based Mylan NV’s products in Bangladesh to treat different types of cancers, rheumatoid arthritis, Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. The initial launch, set for the first quarter of 2021, will be for Ogivri, a biosimilar to Herceptin (trastuzumab), for treating breast cancer. Ogivri is FDA-approved and has marketing authorization from the EMA. No financial details were released.
Cocrystal Pharma Inc., of Bothell, Wash., said it entered a license agreement with Kansas State University Research Foundation (KSURF) to further develop certain broad-spectrum antiviral compounds for the treatment of norovirus and coronavirus infections. Under the terms, Cocrystal has been granted an exclusive, royalty-bearing right and license to certain antiviral compounds for humans covered by KSURF’s patents. Cocrystal intends to pursue research and development of those compounds, including preclinical and clinical development.
Enlivex Therapeutics Ltd., of Ness Ziona, Israel, plans to increase manufacturing capacity for Allocetra to prep for potential requests for treating coronavirus (COVID-19) patients. Allocetra is being investigated to treat organ failure associated with sepsis, whose pathophysiology is similar to COVID-19. The drug is designed to treat or prevent complications associated with bone marrow transplants and/or hematopoietic stem cell transplants, organ dysfunction and acute multiple organ failure associated with sepsis.
Beijing’s Genetron Health Co. Ltd. and Beijing Innocare Pharma Tech Co. Ltd. will partner to provide clinical trial genomic testing and companion diagnostics development services for Innocare’s biomarker-driven oncology drug development. Genetron specializes in cancer molecular profiling.
Hummingbird Bioscience Inc., of Houston, said it signed an agreement with Mycenax Biotech Inc., of Taiwan, for the production of material for the phase I trial of its HMBD-002 program, anticipated to start in the second half of 2020. HMBD-002 is an anti-VISTA antibody developed for solid tumors that are unresponsive to existing treatments. Further terms of the agreement were not disclosed.
Immunoprecise Antibodies Ltd., of Victoria, Australia, said it plans to develop vaccines against the new coronavirus originating in Wuhan, China, (SARS-CoV-2) as well as coronavirus-neutralizing antibodies, addressing both prophylactic and therapeutic measures to fight the virus and its associated disease, COVID-19.
Innovation Pharmaceuticals Inc., of Wakefield, Mass., said it is exploring its lead defensin mimetic candidate, brilacidin, as a treatment for the COVID-19 coronavirus.
Medivir AB, of Stockholm, and Chinese firm Shijiazhuang Yuanmai Biotechnology Co. Ltd. signed a licensing agreement for Shijiazhuang to register, manufacture and market Medivir’s Xerclear for labial herpes in China. Medivir receives a fixed royalty for each unit sold and guarantees minimum sales during the first three years of single-digit million amounts in Swedish krona. No further financial details were released.
Mesoblast Ltd., of Melbourne, Australia, said an investigator-initiated expanded access protocol using its cryopreserved allogeneic cell therapy product candidate, remestemcel-L, for steroid-refractory chronic graft-vs.-host disease (GVHD) resulted in clinically meaningful outcomes in all three treated patients, two children and one adult, within 28 days after two infusions. On the basis of those outcomes, the investigator-initiated collaboration will be expanded to evaluate remestemcel-L in a pivotal trial for chronic GVHD.
Molecular Templates Inc., of Austin, Texas, will receive a $10 million milestone payment from Takeda Pharmaceutical Co. Ltd., of Osaka, Japan, triggered by the start of dosing of a phase I study testing TAK-169, an engineered toxin body targeting CD38, in patients with relapsed or refractory multiple myeloma.
Paratek Pharmaceuticals Inc., of Boston, said it entered a license grant with Barcelona, Spain-based Almirall SA for Seysara (sarecycline) for the greater China region, which includes the People’s Republic of China, Hong Kong and Macau. Under the terms, Paratek will earn high single-digit royalties on net sales in the greater China region. Almirall plans to develop sarecycline for acne in China, with a potential submission to the China National Medical Products Administration in 2023. Almirall also has rights to Seysara for acne in the U.S. and has commercialized the product since its launch in January 2019. As part of the latest agreement, Paratek and Almirall also finalized a license granting Paratek exclusive rights to develop, manufacture and commercialize sarecycline outside of the U.S., with Paratek sharing with Almirall any potential revenues of Seysara outside of the U.S. and greater China region.
Sanofi SA, of Paris, said it will leverage previous development work for a severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) vaccine which may unlock a fast path forward for developing a COVID-19 vaccine. Sanofi will collaborate with the U.S. Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, expanding the company's longstanding partnership with the authority. In late 2002, the SARS coronavirus emerged and then largely disappeared by 2004. Sanofi plans to further investigate an advanced preclinical SARS vaccine candidate that could protect against COVID-19.
Sichuan Clover Biopharmaceuticals Inc., of Chengdu, China, said it entered a research collaboration with Glaxosmithkline plc, of London, for its protein-based coronavirus vaccine candidate (COVID-19 S-Trimer). GSK will provide Clover with its pandemic adjuvant system for further evaluation of S-Trimer in preclinical studies.
Stonewise, a technology company using artificial intelligence in drug development, screened drugs to treat the COVID-19 coronavirus, the disease caused by SARS-CoV-2. It has shared its findings, including the electronic structure data of more than 1,400 nucleoside inhibitors against various RNA polymerases from patents. The company ranked dozens of nucleosides from the molecules as potential inhibitors against SARS-CoV-2 RNA polymerase. Also, Stonewise, the Institute of Materia Medica, the Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences and Peking Union Medical College have reached a strategic research collaboration in finding a COVID-19 treatment. Stonewise will use its AI-based drug discovery technology and graph-extraction algorithm in the collaboration.
Viva Biotech Holdings, of Shanghai, is now included as a constituent stock of seven indexes: Hang Seng Composite Index, Hang Seng Healthcare Index, Hang Seng Stock Connect Hong Kong Index, Hang Seng Stock Connect Hong Kong Midcap & Smallcap Index, Hang Seng Stock Connect Hong Kong Smallcap Index, Hang Seng SCHK HK Companies Index and Hang Seng SCHK ex-AH Companies Index. The constituent changes to the Hang Seng Family of Indexes go into effect March 9. Viva Biotech will be selected as an eligible stock of the China-Hong Kong Stock Connect in accordance with the Shenzhen-Hong Kong Stock Connect’s selection requirements. A total of 22 stocks will be added and 26 will be removed during this quarterly review of Hang Seng Composite Index. Constituents will decrease from 480 to 476.
Vivus Inc., of Campbell, Calif., and Alvogen Korea Holdings Ltd., its Korean marketing partner, launched Qsymia (phentermine and topiramate extended release) in South Korea. Alvogen is responsible for obtaining and maintaining regulatory approvals and for all sales and marketing activities in Korea. Vivus will receive a $2 million payment tied to the commercial launch of Qsymia. Vivus is also eligible to receive royalties on Alvogen's net sales of Qsymia and future milestone payments contingent upon achievement of net sales goals within the covered territory. Qsymia is indicated as an adjunct to a reduced-calorie diet and increased physical activity for chronic weight management in adults with an initial body mass index of 30 kg/m2 or greater or 27 kg/m2 or greater in the presence of at least one weight-related medical condition such as high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes or high cholesterol.
Wuxi Biologics Co. Ltd., of Shanghai, said Wuxi Vaccines, its joint venture with Shanghai Hile Biotechnology Co. Ltd., also of Shanghai, signed a strategic partnership and a 20-year vaccine manufacturing contract valued at about $3 billion, pursuant to which Wuxi will build a dedicated facility and supply commercial vaccine products for the global market. Specifically, Wuxi will build an integrated vaccine manufacturing facility including drug substance manufacturing, drug product manufacturing, and manufacturing science and technology labs, as well as quality control labs. The facility will be dedicated to the manufacture of one of its partner's vaccine products for the global market. The new facility is expected to be operational in 2022.