U.K.-based seed investor Lifearc Ventures is celebrating a second major deal from its portfolio of companies, after Abbvie Inc. bought the tiny former “garage start-up" DJS Antibodies Ltd. for $255 million up front plus undisclosed milestone payments. DJS’ lead program is DJS-002, a potential first-in-class lysophosphatidic acid receptor 1 antagonist antibody in preclinical studies for the potential treatment of idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis and other fibrotic diseases.

Hookipa joins Roche in oncology collaboration

In its first oncology licensing collaboration, Hookipa Pharma Inc. is partnering with Roche Holding AG to develop an arenaviral for treating KRAS-mutated cancers. HB-700 is being guided to a phase Ib study by Hookipa and, once completed, Roche may take over development duties. The collaboration also includes an option for Roche to license an as-yet unnamed second arenaviral cancer therapy from Hookipa. Roche will pay an up-front $25 million to Hookipa, which could ultimately bring in about $930 million in milestone-based payments. The company’s stock (NASDAQ:HOOK) took a strong upward swing, trading 15.8% higher at midday.

Galecto making progress in LOXL2; Gilead, Pharmaxis also busy in the space

Galecto Inc. in late September chalked up positive data from its ongoing phase IIa trial with GB-2064 in myelofibrosis, news that boosted shares of the Boston-based firm and drove further interest in the target: lysyl oxidase-like 2 (LOXL2). The open-label, single-arm study in 21 subjects is designed to evaluate the oral compound over a nine-month period. Gilead Sciences Inc. and Pharmaxis Ltd. also are pursuing programs in LOXL2.

UK creates national monkeypox research consortium

The U.K. is launching a coordinated national program of research into the unprecedented outbreak of monkeypox that has spread across Europe and North America – regions where the disease is not endemic – over the past six months. Taking a lead from the SARS-CoV-2 playbook, there will be work to sequence the viral genome and to study how it is evolving, linking this to changes in the transmission and pathology of the virus.

First cancer drug licensing deal a big splash in global patent pool

Expanding its mandate to accelerate access to essential medicines to people in low- and middle-income countries, the Medicines Patent Pool (MPP) signed its first voluntary licensing agreement for a cancer treatment, Novartis AG’s Tasigna (nilotinib). A twice-daily oral drug, Tasigna is included on the World Health Organization’s Model List of Essential Medicines as a second-line treatment for chronic myeloid leukemia. The licensed territory covers seven middle-income countries – Egypt, Guatemala, Indonesia, Morocco, Pakistan, the Philippines and Tunisia. “Although the remaining patent life is relatively short, this voluntary license in the noncommunicable disease space sets a vital precedent that I hope other companies will follow,” MPP Executive Director Charles Gore said in announcing the agreement today on the sidelines of the World Cancer Congress in Geneva.

Inxmed collaborates with Huaota to develop combination therapy for solid tumors

Inxmed Co. Ltd. has formed a partnership with Shanghai Huaota Biopharmaceutical Co. Ltd. to combine the former’s IN-10018 and the latter’s HB-0030 for the treatment of solid tumors by jointly running preclinical studies and clinical trials. The duo will share the cost of clinical trials for the combination therapy as well as rights and interests related to the programs. IN-10018 is a focal adhesion kinase inhibitor while HB-0030 is a T-cell immunoreceptor with Ig and ITIM domains (TIGIT)-targeted antibody.

Also in the news

Abeona, Amgen, Apogenix, Astrazeneca, Bexion, Biovie, Brii, C4XD, Clairvoyant, Denali, Domain, Everest, Hitgen, HMNC Brain Health, Moderna, Ocuterra, Origin, PIC, Plus, Polypid, Prime Medicine, Providence, PTC, Radiopharm, Scynexis, Sebela, Sumitomo, Sunshine, Takeda, Trethera, Tvardi, Vivasc