Abcellera Biologics Inc., of Vancouver, British Columbia, said it acquired full rights to the Orthomab bispecific platform from Dualogics LLC, of Durham, N.C., which retained rights to develop existing internal assets and to complete existing partnership programs. The Orthomab platform uses computational and experimental protein engineering methods to create IgG-like bispecific antibodies from any two antibody sequences. Financial terms were not disclosed.

Adaptive Phage Therapeutics (APT), of Gaithersburg, Md., said the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) awarded APT $9.8 million for research development of multiple high-priority, bacteriophage-based display vaccine candidates against the novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2). The effort will advance and evaluate vaccine candidates in phase I clinical trials, which the company said will start in 2020. Recent data suggests that immunity to SARS-CoV-2 may be transient and require frequent booster vaccinations to maintain protective levels of immunity. APT is exploring the potential for an oral delivery system in the form of a lozenge for the vaccine and any necessary booster doses.

Atai Life Sciences AG, of Munich, and Intelgenx Corp., of Saint Laurent, Quebec, said they agreed to assess the feasibility of developing formulations of pharmaceutical-grade psychedelics based on Intelgenx's polymeric film technologies. Intelgenx will conduct pre-development and formulation development work to design a prototype polymeric film formulation that will be investigated by Atai in subsequent clinical trials. The agreement also covers terms for an exclusive license to commercialize the product globally. Details were not disclosed.

Covistat, a subsidiary of Ensysce Biosciences Inc., of Palo Alto, Calif., said a preclinical study of the generic drug nafamostat in human cells showed its ability to help block SARS-CoV-2 infection. In the study, conducted by independent research laboratory Epithelix Sarl, nafamostat's protease activity blocked SARS-CoV-2 from infecting cells in a lung cell model generated from 14 pooled donors, confirming safety across a range of concentrations with no toxicity, loss of cellular integrity or inflammatory reactions. The preclinical findings also showed nafamostat increased cilia beating, helping to sweep lungs clean of mucus and foreign objects. Covistat is repurposing the serine protease inhibitor into oral and inhaled COVID-19 therapies.

Daré Bioscience Inc., of San Diego, said results from a pilot proof of concept study, published in Clinical and Experimental Obstetrics & Gynecology, showed that single doses of DARE-BV1 administered to 30 individuals diagnosed with bacterial vaginosis (BV) showed a clinical cure rate of 86% in evaluable patients at the test-of-cure visit seven to 14 days after dosing, and 96% of those women remained clinically cured at their follow-up visit 21 to 30 days after dosing. DARE-BV1 is a thermosetting bioadhesive hydrogel containing clindamycin phosphate 2% that is being evaluated as a one-time vaginally administered treatment for BV.

Evotec SE, of Hamburg, and Centogene NV, of Rostock, Germany, said they expanded their drug discovery partnership related to the protein target glucocerebrosidase (GBA), with a focus on Gaucher disease. The companies will collaborate to research, discover and develop therapeutic options related to GBA deficiency, combining Evotec’s induced pluripotent stem cell (iPSC) platform and drug discovery and development capabilities with Centogene’s rare disease platform, including iPSC lines. The companies inked their initial partnership in 2018, with the goal to discover and develop small molecules to treat rare hereditary metabolic diseases.

Eyepoint Pharmaceuticals Inc., of Watertown, Mass., and Ocumension Therapeutics Ltd., of Shanghai, said they expanded their exclusive license agreements covering development and commercialization of Yutiq (fluocinolone acetonide) and Dexycu (dexamethasone intraocular injection). Ocumension made a one-time $9.5 million payment to Eyepoint for rights to commercialize both products under their own brand names in South Korea and other Southeast Asia jurisdictions and as full and final prepayment of remaining development, regulatory and commercial sales milestone payments under the original agreements.

GT Biopharma Inc., of Los Angeles, said it concluded an agreement with the contract development and manufacturing firm Cytovance Biologics, of Oklahoma City, to provide drug development services related to GT Biopharma’s NK cell engager, or Trike, therapeutic targeting COVID-19 infection. The companies initially are preparing Trike COVID-19, designed to seek out and kill SARS-CoV-2-infected cells before they release additional virus particles, for additional preclinical testing and GMP manufacturing before evaluating it in humans.

Researchers at Hackensack Meridian Health said an analysis of the HMH Universal Observational Database for COVID-19, or RE-COV-RY, which includes outcomes from more than 5,000 individuals hospitalized with COVID-19 infection at 13 Hackensack Meridian Health hospitals throughout New Jersey, showed that the IL-6 receptor antagonist, tocilizumab, improved hospital survival in critically ill patients admitted to intensive care units (ICUs). The study included 630 individuals admitted to Hackensack Meridian Health ICUs from March 1, 2020 to April 22, 2020. Among other treatments, tocilizumab was considered for off-label use to treat those whose respiratory symptoms were declining, including the need for mechanical ventilator support. Findings from the observational study showed a statistically significant decrease of approximately 36% in hospital-related mortality among the 210 ICU patients who received tocilizumab compared with other ICU patients. Outcomes data were adjusted to account for multiple factors, including comorbidities, and assessed using statistical survival models. Findings also showed that higher levels of C-reactive protein could predict which ICU patients might benefit most from tocilizumab, potentially allowing doctors to tailor the therapy to those most in need. The findings were published in The Lancet Rheumatology and reported to the FDA.

Junshi Biosciences Co. Ltd., of Shanghai, and Impact Therapeutics, of Nanjing, China, established a joint venture to develop IMP-4297, also known as senaparib. Junshi will contribute ¥300 million in cash, representing 50% of the registered capital of the JV company. Impact Therapeutics will contribute by way of injection of the IMP-4297 asset in the collaboration territory (Mainland China, Hong Kong, and Macao), representing the other 50%. They will work together to develop IMP-4297 in the collaboration territory including conducting the clinical studies of multiple indications, manufacturing and commercialization preparation. Preliminary data from a phase I trial of IMP-4297 were first presented in ASCO 2019. With more than 100 patients with advanced solid tumors treated, initial results showed that, compared to other PARP inhibitors currently on the market and in trials, senaparib has a wider therapeutic window and a better safety profile, the company said.

Onconano Medicine Inc., of Southlake, Texas, said it was awarded $9.97 million from the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas to expand the application of its lead intraoperative imaging candidate, ONM-100, for the identification of metastatic disease in the peritoneum, lymph nodes and pleural surfaces, which together comprise 40% of metastatic disease and result from primary tumors originating from multiple cancer types.

Trevena Inc., of Chesterbrook, Pa., said it received a $3 million milestone payment from partner Jiangsu Nhwa Pharmaceutical Co., of Shenzhen, China, for U.S. approval of the opioid receptor mu agonist, Olinvyk (oliceridine).

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