Astrazeneca plc, of Cambridge, U.K., completed its agreement with Atnahs Pharma, of Basildon, U.K., to divest its global commercial rights to Inderal (propranolol), Tenormin (atenolol), Tenoretic (atenolol, chlorthalidone fixed-dose combination), Zestril (lisinopril) and Zestoretic (lisinopril, hydrochlorothiazide fixed-dose combination. Astrazeneca received $350 million from Atnahs and could receive future sales-contingent payments of up to $40 million between 2020 and 2022. Inderal is a beta-blocker predominantly used to treat tremors, angina, hypertension, arrhythmias and other heart or circulatory conditions. Tenormin is a beta-blocker for treating angina and hypertension, as well as certain kinds of arrhythmias. Zestril is an angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitor for treating hypertension, congestive heart failure, diabetic-related conditions and hypertensive renal disease. Zestoretic is a fixed-dose combination of lisinopril (ACE inhibitor) and hydrochlorothiazide (diuretic) used to treat hypertension.

Azurrx Biopharma Inc., of New York, received more than €1 million (US$1.12 million) in 2018 Crédit d’Impôt Recherche (CIR). That French tax credit initiative gives eligible research-based French companies, which are subject to corporate tax in France, the ability to claim tax relief of up to 30% on costs incurred in R&D activities. The CIR allows Azurrx flexibility to hire research scientists in France and fund its phase II MS-1819 studies in chronic pancreatitis and cystic fibrosis. MS-1819 is an oral nonsystemic recombinant lipase enzyme derived from the yarrowia lipolytica lipase.

Dynavax Technologies Corp., of Emeryville, Calif., said it's collaborating with the University of Queensland as part of a Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness initiative to develop a vaccine to prevent COVID-19. Dynavax is providing technical expertise and the company’s Toll-like receptor 9 agonist adjuvant, CpG 1018, to support that initiative. CpG 1018 is the adjuvant used in Heplisav-B, the company's adult hepatitis B vaccine.

Faron Pharmaceuticals Oy, of Turku, Finland, acquired rights to use AOC3 inhibitors covered by a recently filed patent application. The AOC3 enzymatic domain, a semicarbazide-sensitive amine oxidase, is known to produce hydrogen peroxide, an inflammatory mediator. Being expressed by many inflamed vascular endothelial cells, AOC3 overexpression has been connected with some vascular diseases. Faron will be responsible for the management, prosecution and maintenance of any patent applications assigned from Faron's scientific network to Faron, as well as for the filing of new patent applications for the AOC3 protein inhibitor. Faron is also responsible for future development. Faron's scientific network is eligible to receive low single-digit royalties of net revenues and a low single-digit percentage of payments to Faron. Preclinical studies with humanized AOC3 mice and with ex vivo human cells are ongoing.

Fargo, N.D.-based Immunoprecise Antibodies Ltd., through its subsidiary, Talem Therapeutics, and the New York-based company Evqlv Inc., announced a new collaboration aimed at accelerating the global effort to develop lead therapeutic and vaccine candidates against the SARS-CoV-2 virus. The companies have teamed up with Evqlv, an artificial intelligence company focused on accelerating the discovery and optimization of antibody therapies, to augment and accelerate Talem’s coronavirus discovery program.

GW Pharmaceuticals plc, of Cambridge, U.K., regained exclusive commercialization rights to Sativex (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol; THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) in the U.K. from Bayer AG, of Leverkusen, Germany. Sativex also has certain minor cannabinoids and other non-cannabinoid components for treating spasticity due to multiple sclerosis. Since it was approved by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency in 2010, Bayer has been responsible for the marketing of nabiximols in the U.K.

Mateon Therapeutics Inc., of Agoura Hills, Calif., provided an update on its rapid antiviral response program initially targeting the COVID-19 virus, saying it has made "significant progress" in deploying its clinical assets against the COVID-19 virus and realigning them against rare tropical diseases to take advantage of the FDA tropical disease priority review vouchers (RPVs) around those diseases. A new division at the company will be dedicated to the development of rapid responses to the current COVID-19 virus outbreak, as well as future virus outbreaks, it said.

Ophirex Inc., of Corte Madera, Calif., received a $2.5 million award from the Wellcome Trust’s £80 million (US$89.2 million) commitment to improve snakebite treatment. The award will fund manufacturing of oral and I.V. varespladib, Ophirex’s lead drug candidate, for use in the company’s upcoming clinical trials. Ophirex is developing varespladib as a toxin-targeting antidote for snakebite, for safe and rapid administration to snakebite victims in the out-of-hospital setting where – without immediate access to antivenom – most snakebite deaths occur. By inhibiting the progression of a key venom component called sPLA2, varespladib could mitigate many of the most common, immediately life-threatening effects of snakebite envenoming.

Sanofi SA, of Paris, reached an $11.85 million settlement agreement with the U.S. government to resolve an investigation relating to certain financial donations made in 2015 and 2016 to an independent charity patient assistance foundation that aided patients living with multiple sclerosis. As part of the settlement, Sanofi U.S. entered a corporate integrity agreement with HHS’s Office of the Inspector General. The settlement does not constitute any admission of guilt, Sanofi officials said.

Takeda Pharmaceutical Co. Ltd., of Osaka, Japan, will divest a portfolio of select noncore products exclusively in Latin America to Hypera SA, of Sao Paulo, Brazil, for $825 million. The portfolio includes over-the-counter and prescription pharmaceutical products sold in Brazil, Mexico, Argentina, Colombia, Ecuador, Panama and Peru, which are part of Takeda’s Growth & Emerging Markets Business Unit. This is Takeda’s fifth divestment over the last 12 months, contributing to its goal to divest approximately $10 billion in noncore assets. Takeda intends to use the proceeds to reduce its debt. Takeda also completed its previously announced sale of a portfolio of select over-the-counter and prescription pharmaceutical assets in a number of Near East, Middle East and Africa countries to Acino Holding AG for more than $200 million. The divestment agreement was first announced in October 2019. That transaction includes approximately 30 products, which will continue to be made available by Takeda in other parts of the world. Close to 270 employees, primarily sales and marketing professionals supporting the portfolio, are also transitioning to Acino. The parties also entered into multiyear manufacturing and supply agreements, under which Takeda will continue to manufacture the products on behalf of Acino.

Sumitomo Dainippon Pharma Co. Ltd., of Osaka, Japan, has invested in the MPM Oncology Innovations Fund (INV), and made a donation to the Dana-Farber Innovations Research Fund (IRF). The INV and IRF represent an investing collaboration that partners fundraising for biotech venture capital investing with philanthropic fundraising for cancer research. INV will focus on creating and investing in early stage biotech companies developing oncology therapeutic technologies. IRF will support basic science research at Dana-Farber.

Unum Therapeutics Inc., of Cambridge, Mass., disclosed plans to prioritize resources toward advancing its preclinical program, BOXR-1030, for the treatment of solid tumor cancers. The drug expresses a glypican-3 targeted chimeric antigen receptor and incorporates the novel transgene glutamic-oxaloacetic transaminase 2 to improve T-cell function in the solid tumor microenvironment by enhancing T-cell metabolism, the company said. Unum is concluding its ACTR-707 trials, including the phase I study (ATTCK-20-03) in combination with rituximab (Rituxan, Roche Holding AG/Biogen Inc.) in relapsed/refractory non-Hodgkin lymphoma and the phase I trial (ATTCK-34-01) in combination with trastuzumab (Herceptin, Roche Holding AG) to treat advanced HER2-positive solid tumor cancers. In addition, the company plans to reduce its current workforce by 43 employees (about 60%).

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