Adial Pharmaceuticals Inc., of Charlottesville, Va., signed a definitive agreement to acquire Purnovate LLC, also of Charlottesville, which is focused on novel drug candidates for non-opioid pain reduction and the treatment of addiction and other diseases through targeted use of adenosine analogues. Purnovate's CEO, Robert Thompson will join Adial as its vice president of chemistry. Adial has agreed at the closing of the acquisition to pay $350,000 and issue 700,000 shares of Adial restricted common stock.

Alligator Bioscience AB, of Lund, Sweden, completed a human synthetic antibody library in Fab (Fragment antigen-binding) format called Alligator Fab. The design of the library and antibody diversity has been optimized to ensure the development of highly functional antibodies with excellent developability properties, Alligator said. ALLIGATOR-FAB library is built on multiple antibody backbones with optimal drug development properties to further increase the structural diversity of generated antibodies, the firm added.

Ampio Pharmaceuticals Inc.. of Englewood, Colo., signed two collaborative research agreements to explore new clinical indications for its immunomodulatory drug, Ampion. The company entered a collaborative research agreement with the oldest and one of the top children's hospitals in the U.S., whereby both parties will work together and conduct exploratory research to determine whether the anti-inflammatory and signaling pathways of Ampion could play a role in the treatment of certain rare inflammatory pediatric diseases. Andrew Terker, a basic research scientist specializing in kidney research at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, has entered a research collaboration with Ampio in which the immunology based anti-inflammatory properties of Ampion will be investigated as a treatment for acute and chronic kidney disease.

Arcus Biosciences Inc., of Hayward, Calif., and Wuxi Biologics Co. Ltd., of Hong Kong, disclosed an expansion of their existing strategic relationship under which the parties will discover anti-CD39 antibodies using Wuxi’s technology. The CD39 collaboration represents the fourth antibody development program on which the two companies have joined forces. Arcus was granted exclusive worldwide rights to anti-CD39 antibodies discovered under the collaboration and will be responsible for all further development and commercialization activities.

Aytu Bioscience Inc., of Englewood, Colo., and Neos Therapeutics Inc., of Grand Prairie, Texas, signed a definitive merger agreement pursuant to which Neos will merge with a wholly owned subsidiary of Aytu in an all-stock transaction. Upon the effectiveness of the merger, Neos stockholders will be entitled to receive 0.1088 shares of common stock of Aytu for each share of Neos common stock held, after taking into account the one-for-10 reverse split of Aytu’s common stock that was effected on Dec. 8. The transaction will result in Neos stockholders owning about 30% of the fully diluted common shares of Aytu. The all-stock transaction is valued, on a fully diluted basis, at about $44.9 million. The boards of both companies have approved the transaction. Shares of Aytu (NASDAQ:AYTU) closed Dec. 10 at $8.13, up $1.30, or 19%.

An analysis from Biomx Inc., of Ness Ziona, Israel, confirmed the presence of Fusobacterium nucleatum in more than 80% of tumor samples obtained from patients with colorectal cancer and identified Fusobacterium nucleatum animalis as the most prevalent subspecies. The company also reported the successful engineering of a functional fluorescence gene payload into Fusobacterium nucleatum phage and disclosed three candidate payloads that are being evaluated for delivery to the tumor microenvironment via phage. Candidate payloads include gene-encoding immune-stimulating proteins GM-CSF and IL-15 as well as the pro-drug converting enzyme cytosine deaminase.

Caamtech Inc., of Issaquah, Wash., said it renewed and expanded its research collaboration with the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth to research the synthesis and crystallography of tryptamines. The school has successfully synthesized more than 70 novel tryptamines and structurally characterized more than 40 such compounds. The library of compounds produced by the collaboration includes synthetic versions of naturally occurring tryptamine compounds found in psychedelic plants and fungi, such as psilocybin-containing mushrooms.

Crescendo Biologics Ltd., of Cambridge, U.K., said it expanded its global, multitarget discovery and development collaboration with Osaka, Japan-based Takeda Pharmaceutical Co. Ltd. after Crescendo achieved its sixth technical milestone. Crescendo’s transgenic platform and engineering is being used to build T-cell enhanced therapeutics against certain targets selected by Takeda.

Evommune Inc., of Los Altos, Calif., and Axcelead Drug Discovery Partners Inc., of Fujisawa, Japan, entered an exclusive partnership in a late-stage discovery program to identify a PKCtheta inhibitor that could have broad utility across a spectrum of inflammatory diseases. PKCtheta, a member of the protein kinase C family of kinases, is primarily expressed in T cells and has a dual role in T-cell biology.

Fusion Antibodies plc, of Belfast, U.K., and Queen’s University Belfast were awarded a £453,000 (US$602,150) grant from Invest Northern Ireland to further expand their COVID-19-targeted R&D collaboration. They will use the funds to accelerate discovery of therapeutic and diagnostic antibodies with validated anti-infective properties against COVID-19. Fusion said it designed and expressed a panel of protein antigens for use in discovery platforms in the search for a neutralizing therapeutic antibody against SARS-CoV-2.

Heat Biologics Inc., of Durham, N.C., said it plans a reverse stock split of its shares of common stock at a ratio of 1-for-7 on Dec. 11. The reverse stock split is intended to increase the market price per share of the company's common stock to help ensure a share price high enough to satisfy the $1 minimum bid price requirement by Nasdaq. Heat is developing therapies to modulate the immune system.

Hemoshear Therapeutics LLC, of Charlottesville, Va., said it hit a research milestone in its discovery and development collaboration with Osaka, Japan-based Takeda Pharmaceutical Co. to advance a nonalcoholic steatohepatitis target into Takeda's discovery portfolio. Hemoshear will receive an undisclosed milestone payment. Hemoshear received up-front payments and R&D funding and Takeda received exclusive access to Hemoshear's disease modeling platform. Hemoshear is eligible to receive milestone payments of potentially $470 million and royalties.

Pr Ltd., of Sydney, Australia, said it executed a letter of intent with the Pacific Pediatric Neuro-Oncology Consortium to launch a clinical trial of multiple therapies, including Sydney-based Kazia Therapeutics Ltd.'s investigational new drug, paxalisib (formerly GDC-0084), in diffuse midline gliomas, including diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma. The study will use an adaptive trial design to test several therapies in different combinations and patient subsets. In addition to paxalisib, the other therapies involved will initially include ONC-201, manufactured by Oncoceutics Inc., of Philadelphia, and panobinostat, manufactured by Securabio Inc., of Las Vegas. The study is expected to open in the U.S. and expand to other countries in 2021.

Monopar Therapeutics Inc., of Wilmette, Ill., and Northstar Medical Radioisotopes LLC, of Beloit, Wis., which are jointly developing a urokinase plasminogen activator receptor targeted radio-immunotherapeutic (uPRIT) to treat severe COVID-19, has selected a clinical candidate. UPRITs are analogues of MNPR-101, Monopar’s humanized urokinase plasminogen activator receptor targeted antibody, that have been modified to enable attachment of a therapeutic radioisotope. The goal is to eliminate aberrantly activated immune cells.

A new oncology development candidate, NGM-438, has been disclosed by NGM Biopharmaceuticals Inc., of South San Francisco. NGM-438 is an antagonist antibody that inhibits leukocyte-associated immunoglobulin-like receptor 1 (LAIR1). LAIR1 is a collagen-binding inhibitory receptor expressed on immune cells that is implicated in immune suppression. LAIR1 and collagens are up-regulated in multiple cancer types where collagens are produced by activated stromal cells. These stromal-derived suppressive factors are associated with poor responses to checkpoint inhibitors.

Salarius Pharmaceuticals Inc., of Houston, said it received a payment of $800,000 as part of an expected $1.7 million under its contract with the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT). The payments are part of an original nondilutive grant of up to $18.7 million awarded in 2016 to support Salarius’ operations and development of its lead drug candidate, seclidemstat, for the treatment of Ewing sarcoma and other cancers. Seclidemstat is a reversible LSD1 inhibitor being studied in two clinical trials, one in relapsed/refractory Ewing sarcoma and one in advanced solid tumors.

Synedgen Inc., of Claremont, Calif., said the University of New South Wales, in partnership with Synedgen, was awarded a AU$600,633 (US$452,341), three-year research grant from the Australian Research Council to advance knowledge of the biochemical and biophysical structure of the endothelial glycocalyx. The resulting study will be the first to explore how charged glycopolymers interact with the endothelial glycocalyx with the goal of mapping the lifecycle of the network of membrane-bound proteoglycans and glycoprotein.

Vaccibody A/S, of Oslo, Norway, published preclinical data on preprint server Biorxiv showing single-dose immunization of its COVID-19 DNA vaccine candidate, VB10.COV2, which encodes a chimeric homodimeric protein targeting receptor binding domain to antigen-presenting cells, induced rapid strong and long-lasting neutralizing IgG, Th1 dominated CD4-positive T cells and strong CD8-positive T-cell responses in mice.