AIkido Pharma Inc., of New York, said its work with research partner Cogia Biotech Ltd. has delivered several key updates on efforts to accelerate the study of pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDA) treatments. The company is working with the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center and Cogia to use machine learning to find genetic markers in people that indicate an increased risk of developing pancreatic cancer. Cogia has reported the development of products and tools to provide extensive information on PDA markers to guide personalized medicine and information about gene and protein function in human PDA patients and human PDA cancer cell lines to help prioritize individual diagnostic markers.

Axon Neuroscience SE, of Bratislava, Slovakia, said it is launching an independently developed crowdfunded vaccine against COVID-19 – ACvac1 – that induced extensive antibody production in vaccinated mice, effectively blocking the live virus from replicating. The company plans to begin first-in-human trials as early as the fourth quarter of 2020.

Equillium Inc., of La Jolla, Calif., said data supporting the CD6-ALCAM pathway as a relevant target for therapeutic intervention in patients with uncontrolled asthma were presented at the virtual European Respiratory Society Congress. The work provides insight into novel roles for CD6 on innate lymphoid cells, as well as the potential interplay between CD6+ T cells and lung smooth muscle cells in modulating bronchomotor tone. Those findings suggest the CD6-ALCAM pathway may contribute in multiple ways to asthma pathology. Furthermore, data presented demonstrated that elevated levels of soluble ALCAM were observed in the sputum of patients with severe asthma and high sputum eosinophils. Additional studies are ongoing to characterize that in different phenotypes of asthma patients as a potential biomarker.

Foundation Medicine Inc., of Cambridge, Mass., and Takeda Pharmaceuticals U.S. Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Takeda Pharmaceutical Co. Ltd., of Osaka, Japan, said they are collaborating for the development of Foundation Medicine’s tissue- and blood-based companion diagnostics for use with marketed and investigational treatments in Takeda’s late-stage lung cancer portfolio. If approved, the appropriate companion diagnostics would be used to identify patients who may be eligible for mobocertinib, an investigational drug being evaluated for the treatment of patients with EGFR exon 20 insertion-positive metastatic non-small-cell lung cancer (mNSCLC), and Alunbrig (brigatinib), Takeda’s tyrosine kinase inhibitor (TKI), recently FDA-approved to treat patients with TKI-naïve ALK-positive mNSCLC.

Generex Biotechnology Corp., of Miramar, Fla., said that together with Bintai Kinden Corp., of Malaysia, they signed an addendum binding the terms of a previously signed memorandum of understanding for the development and commercialization of the Ii-Key-SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus vaccine. Under the terms, they will finalize the legal and contractual documentation for the contract, partnership, and licensing and research agreement, and Bintai will pay Generex an up-front licensing fee of $2.5 million. Additionally, Bintai will pay 100% of the funding required for the commercial development of the Ii-Key-CoV-2 vaccine for regulatory approval of the vaccine in Malaysia. Also, upon approval, Bintai will pay a $17.5 million milestone payment, and Generex will earn royalties on sales of the vaccine equal to $3 per dose on government sales and $4.50 per dose in the private sector. Bintai will also have the right of first refusal for the vaccine in Australia, New Zealand and the global HALAL markets, particularly in Southeast Asia.

Oncologie Inc., of Waltham, Mass., a precision medicine company using an RNA-based biomarker platform to predict patient responses for potentially first-in-class targeted oncology therapies, said it is rebranding to Oncxerna Therapeutics Inc.

Springworks Therapeutics Inc., of Stamford, Conn., said it entered a sponsored research agreement with Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center to further explore the ability of its investigational gamma secretase inhibitor, nirogacestat, to modulate B-cell maturation antigen (BCMA) and potentiate BCMA-targeting therapies, including radioimmunotherapies, in a variety of preclinical and patient-derived multiple myeloma models developed by researchers at the center. Nirogacestat is in phase III development for desmoid tumors, rare and often debilitating and disfiguring soft-tissue tumors.

Summit Therapeutics Inc., of Cambridge, Mass., said it completed its redomiciliation to the U.S. state of Delaware and will become Summit Therapeutics Inc. The company begins trading on Nasdaq on Sept. 21 under the ticker symbol SMMT. Summit’s lead candidate, ridinilazole, is engaged in two global phase III trials for treating C. difficile infections.

Ufovax LLC, of Wilmington, Del., said it advanced its SARS-CoV-2 vaccine candidate to a phase I trial. In a study on rational vaccine design and evaluating vaccine response in mice, the vaccine’s inventor and a Ufovax co-founder proposed a new spike antigen design and displayed it on several SApNPs as COVID-19 vaccine candidates. That spike is missing the highly flexible heptad repeat 2 stalk considered a cause of spike metastability, the company said. That metastability is the mechanism responsible for masking the COVID-19 spike from immune recognition and allowing very efficient human infection, the company added.

Vifor Pharma Group, of St. Gallen, Switzerland, said it completed the sale of 100% of the share capital of Om Pharma, a Vifor company, to Optimus Holding Ltd. Terms include Vifor obtaining an earn-out related to potential future value gains on 20% of Optimus Holding Ltd. equity. The deal is expected to close in mid-October. Om Pharma is a Geneva-based company mainly active in the field of microbial-derived immunotherapeutics.

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