Avicanna Inc., of Toronto, expanded its collaboration with Jibran Khokhar, assistant professor at the University of Guelph. The expansion of the project includes pharmacokinetic and behavioral testing of Avicanna’s RHO Phyto formulations as well as studying their efficacy in alleviating neuropathic pain and addiction. RHO Phyto is a line of cannabinoid products sold in Canada and Colombia.

Betterlife Pharma Inc., of Vancouver, British Columbia, engaged Equilab International, of Jakarta, Indonesia, to manage the upcoming clinical trials for its formulation of interferon alpha2b (AP-003) in mild to moderate cases of COVID-19 infection. Betterlife said it believes that its inhaled IFN-α2b, AP-003, could lessen the severity and duration of COVID-19 and decrease the need for hospital admissions.

Beximco Pharmaceuticals Ltd., of Dhaka, Bangladesh, signed a binding commitment with Sanofi SA, of Paris, regarding the acquisition of a majority stake in Sanofi Bangladesh Ltd. for a base price consideration of about £35.5 million (US$48.7 million). The deal is subject to approval by the foreign exchange investment department of Bangladesh Bank and completing the share purchase agreement. The arrangement expands the company’s product offering and reinforces its strategy to diversify into new and expanding specialty therapy areas, Beximco said.

Codiak Biosciences Inc., of Cambridge, Mass., disclosed the advance online publication of a new manuscript. The paper, titled “A versatile platform for generating engineered extracellular vesicles with defined therapeutic properties,” will appear in an upcoming print issue of Molecular Therapy, the journal of the American Society of Gene and Cell Therapy. The publication describes the identification and characterization of two novel exosome-associated proteins, PTGFRN and BASP1, that enable Codiak’s engEx platform and facilitate precise design and engineering of exosomes for potential therapeutic purposes, the company said.

Evgen Pharma plc, of Cheshire, U.K., said its collaboration with a prominent European university has generated positive data for SFX-01 in preclinical models of glioma and glioblastoma. The data generated for SFX-01 in standard preclinical models and orthotopic models (where glioma cells are implanted in brain tissue representing a more disease-relevant model) show tumor shrinkage and significantly extended survival times. SFX-01 was also found to potentiate the therapeutic effect of radiotherapy in those models.

Galapagos NV, of Mechelen, Belgium, said the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has issued a final appraisal determination recommending the use of the daily oral pill Jyseleca (filgotinib) on the National Health Service in England for the treatment of eligible adult patients with moderate to severe active rheumatoid arthritis (RA). This is the first time in the U.K. that an advanced therapy has been recommended in people with moderate RA, the company noted.

Intravacc, of Bilthoven, the Netherlands, disclosed the World Health Organization prequalification for the Sabin-IPV vaccine Eupolio, developed by Intravacc and out-licensed to LG Chem Ltd., of Seoul, South Korea, in 2014. The vaccine was developed by Intravacc for technology transfer to manufacturers in low- and middle-income countries in the context of the global polio eradication initiative.

Mitsubishi Tanabe Pharma America Inc., part of Mitsubishi Tanabe Pharma Corp., of Tokyo, and Aquestive Therapeutics Inc., of Warren, N.J., disclosed a licensing and supply deal for the U.S. rights to commercialize Exservan (riluzole), an oral film formulation of riluzole for the treatment of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. Mitsubishi will commercialize Exservan in the U.S. Aquestive will receive up-front consideration, milestone payments, royalties on net sales and will earn revenue pursuant to the exclusive supply agreement.

Probiogen AG, of Berlin, said it signed a commercial license agreement with Abbvie Inc., of North Chicago, covering application of Probiogen’s Glymaxx technology to boost antibody-dependent cell-mediated cytotoxicity. Financial terms were not disclosed.

Salarius Pharmaceuticals Inc., of Houston, said it was notified that it regained compliance with Nasdaq’s minimum bid price listing requirement. On Jan. 21, the company’s shares (NASDAQ:SLRX) finished at $1.26, down 9 cents.

Trigr Therapeutics Inc., of Irvine, and privately held Elpiscience Biopharmaceuticals Co. Ltd., of Shanghai, said they agreed to an exclusive license to develop and commercialize TR-009 in mainland China, Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan. Trigr is set to receive $7 million up front and is eligible to receive development and commercial milestones of $110 million plus sales royalties. Elpiscience, which obtained exclusive rights across all oncology indications for the dual angiogenic bispecific antibody that targets DLL4/VEGF, will lead development and commercialization in the licensed territory. The companies plan to form a joint development committee to collaborate and harmonize the agent’s global development.

Ubiquigent Ltd., of Dundee, U.K., and the Mottram Laboratory at the University of York said they agreed to collaborate to investigate the inhibition of deubiquitylase (DUB) enzymes expressed by the protozoan Leishmania mexicana for the treatment of leishmaniasis. To support the effort, U.K. Research and Innovation awarded a Global Challenges Research Fund grant as part of the Global Network for Neglected Tropical Diseases research consortium. The initial objective will be to screen one of Ubiquigent’s compound libraries against selected L. mexicana DUBs to identify inhibitors to seed a drug discovery program.

VBI Vaccines Inc., of Cambridge, Mass., said the protective efficacy of VBI-2902, its monovalent vaccine candidate expressing the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein, was assessed with two adjuvant formulations in hamsters, where SARS-CoV-2 infection resembles features found in humans with moderate COVID-19 infection and is characterized by rapid weight loss starting two days post-infection. Challenge study data reaffirmed high antibody binding and neutralizing antibody titer data seen in previous preclinical studies. Additionally, VBI-2902, regardless of adjuvant formulation, was shown to stop and reverse the characteristic weight loss, leading animals to regain normal weight seven days post-infection. In comparison, animals that received placebo lost an average of 15% of body weight over the same period. Additional observations showed prevention of peak viral replication in the lungs by approximately 10,000-fold and reduced lung inflammation in the vaccinated cohorts vs. placebo.

Xbiotech Inc., of Austin, Texas, said its True Human COVID-19 antibody candidate, known as Fluvid, also may be effective to treat the COVID-19 mutant virus that emerged in the U.K. Although the mutant COVID-19 virus has alterations to the spike protein that reportedly make it more contagious, Xbiotech said its candidate targets the spike protein and neutralizes the ability of the virus to infect cells. Company scientists employed bio-layer interferometry to analyze binding of its COVID-19 True Human antibody to the spike protein of the mutant strain and showed the antibody bound to the mutant spike protein with same affinity as to the original COVID-19 virus.