Alterity Therapeutics Ltd., of Melbourne, Australia, presented expanded data from an animal model of multiple system atrophy to support the commercialization of its lead compound ATH-434 in clinical development for the treatment of Parkinsonian disorders, at the American Academy of Neurology meeting. The data independently confirm and extend previous findings demonstrating that ATH-434 reduces α-synuclein pathology, preserves neurons, and improves motor function. The data also indicate that the compound preserves neurons not only in the substantia nigra, a main area of pathology in Parkinson's disease, but also in the striatum, a region of the brain that integrates information from the cortex and substantia nigra to achieve fine motor control.

Atriva Therapeutics GmbH, of Tübingen, Germany, said it secured up to €11.4 million (US$13.71 million) in federal funding that will be used to advance its drug ATR-002 that is in a phase II COVID-19 study. The RESPIRE trial aims to evaluate the efficacy and safety of the drug candidate in 220 adults and the first patient was treated this month. ATR-002 is a MEK inhibitor drug candidate targeting the intracellular Raf/MEK/ERK signaling pathway that is central for replication of many RNA viruses, such as the influenza virus, hantavirus or respiratory syncytial virus and also SARS-CoV-2. ATR-002 has the potential, the company says, to modulate the pro-inflammatory cytokine response of the body, thus avoiding the overshooting cytokine response that can be caused by such viral infections.

Plasma products specialist China Biologic Products Holdings Inc., of Beijing, completed a merger with a subsidiary of CBPO Holdings Ltd. that and, as part of going private, a planned delisting of its shares from the Nasdaq Global Select Market.

Cybin Inc., of Toronto, said an evaluation of the company’s portfolio of psychedelic tryptamine molecules confirms that selective deuteration retains "full therapeutic pharmacology across a panel of serotonin receptors that is seen with the non-deuterated parent molecules." Cybin CEO Doug Drysdale said the data supported moving Cybin's development candidates, CYB-003 and CYB-004, toward IND filings with the FDA.

Enzychem Lifesciences Corp., of Englewood Cliffs, N.J., said it has been selected to collaborate with the Chemical Countermeasures Research Program at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority and Battelle to evaluate the efficacy of EC-18 (mosedipimod) as a medical countermeasure for inhalation sulfur mustard exposure. The candidate, a synthetic monoacetyl-diglyceride, derived from Sika deer antler, is the subject of two phase II trials for chemoradiation-induced oral mucositis and COVID-19.

Excellthera Inc., of Montreal, and San Francisco-based Ossium Health Inc. agreed to collaborate on an evaluation of Ossium-collected adult stem cells from deceased donor in conjunction with Excellthera’s ECT-001 cell expansion and rejuvenation technology to treat blood cancers, improve solid organ tolerization and repair damage from radiation.

Hemoshear Therapeutics Inc., of Charlottesville, Va., said it identified a second drug target for the treatment of gout under its collaboration with Horizon Therapeutics plc, established in January 2019. Neither details of the new target nor any financial information relating to potential milestone payments for the program were disclosed. Horizon paid Hemoshear $6 million upfront in 2019 as part of the deal, which Hemoshear said includes milestone payments of potentially more than $500 million plus royalties.

Kancera AB, of Solna, Sweden, produced its fractalkine blocker KAND-145 at the kilogram scale, enough to run clinical studies. The company plans to start toxicological studies for KAND-145 during the fourth quarter of 2021. Kancera also disclosed plans to study its PFKFB3 inhibitor KAND-757 as a treatment for renal cancer. The company will study a depot formulation of the drug in preclinical models and decide in 2022 about whether to take KAND-757 into clinical development.

New data from Marinomed Biotech AG, of Korneuburg, Austria, showed that Carragelose, a sulfated polymer from red seaweed, inactivated new variants and SARS-CoV-2 wildtype with similar efficacy in vitro. During in vitro tests, Marinomed included four lentiviruses differently pseudotyped with the spike protein of wild-type SARS-CoV-2 or one of the three variants B.1.1.7, B1.351 and P1. Carragelose inactivated all four virus forms at concentrations below 5 µg/ml, the company said. Two of the three SARS-CoV-2 variants, B1.1.7 and B1.351, were independently tested in Vero cell tissue culture. Carragelose showed similar effectiveness against the SARS-CoV-2 wild type and the tested variants, Marinomed added.

Moderna Inc., of Cambridge, Mass., said it entered a new supply agreement with Israel for 2022. Israel retained an option to purchase doses of one of Moderna’s variant-specific vaccine candidates subject to regulatory approval. Earlier agreements between Israel and Moderna involved supplying 10 million doses of the vaccine. The Israeli Ministry of Health authorized the vaccine Jan. 4.

Fresh study data from Nasus Pharma Ltd., of Tel Aviv, Israel, demonstrated that the gel layer produced by Taffix powder after administration of a tissue culture infectious dose of the virus effectively blocked 100% of British and South African SARS-CoV-2 virus variants as shown by qt PCR testing of cells incubated with Taffix inoculated with the viruses. The results conform with prior in vitro studies performed with Taffix where 99.99% of SARS- CoV-2 viruses were blocked by Taffix, the company said, as well as other viruses known to cause upper respiratory infections. Taffix powder creates a thin acidified gel above the nasal mucosa that lasts five hours, significantly shielding the nasal cells from inhaled viruses, the company added.

The Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) and Argentina’s Laboratorios Richmond SACIF said they produced the first batch of the Sputnik V vaccine against coronavirus in Argentina. Sputnik V produced in Argentina could be exported to countries of Central and Latin America, the RDIF said. Argentina is the first Latin America country to start production of Sputnik V.

Valneva SE, of Saint-Herblain, France, said it is focusing on bilateral discussions, on a country-by-country basis, to supply its inactivated, adjuvanted COVID-19 vaccine candidate, VLA-2001, and is deprioritizing ongoing centralized discussions with the European Commission. Valneva said it has the only inactivated vaccine candidate in clinical trials against COVID-19 in Europe and is preparing a pivotal, comparative immunogenicity phase III clinical trial it said it expects to commence in April. In September, Valneva said it was providing the U.K. government up to 190 million doses of VLA-2001 through 2025.

Willow Biosciences Inc., of Vancouver, British Columbia, said studies demonstrated that Willow CBG is safe when applied to skin and eye areas and can act as a more potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory for certain skin applications when compared to plant-derived cannabidiol. Willow CBG demonstrated a robust safety profile, showing no signs of skin irritation, eye irritation or phototoxicity, the company added. Based on the safety profile using these in vitro skin models, a Human Repeat Insult Patch Test clinical trial was performed on more than 100 volunteers in which Willow CBG was demonstrated to be safe for sensitive skin, the company said. Activity tests demonstrated that Willow CBG showed anti-inflammatory properties by inhibiting ultraviolet light and C. acnes-induced pro-inflammatory cytokine release.