Obesity candidate Maritide (maridebart cafraglutide) took center stage during Amgen Inc.’s first-quarter earnings call after market close May 2, with company executives touting early phase II data and a differentiated profile for the bispecific molecule designed to simultaneously target the GIP receptor and GLP-1 receptor. Specific details were scant, with full 52-week data set to read out later this year, but that did not stop investor enthusiasm, as shares of Amgen (NASDAQ:AMGN) were up 13% at midday May 3. Meanwhile, Novo Nordisk A/S reported sales of its obesity drug, Wegovy (semaglutide), more than doubled in the first quarter, despite supply constraints and competition from Eli Lilly and Co.’s Zepbound (tirzepatide), both highlighting the multibillion-dollar opportunity and drawing attention from some U.S. officials questioning the drugs’ cost-effectiveness.

Aeon tumbles on phase II miss in migraine

Shares of Aeon Biopharma Inc. (NYSE:AEON) plunged $1.79, or 53%, to trade at $1.57 on word that the planned interim analysis of the phase II trial with ABP-450 (prabotulinumtoxinA) for preventing migraine did not meet the primary endpoint. The Irvine, Calif.-based firm said it has “immediately commenced cash preservation measures and will review all strategic options.”

Backed by $54M, biotech veterans, Latus targets new gene therapies

Philadelphia-based Latus Bio Inc., co-founded by serial biotech entrepreneurs P. Peter Ghoroghchian and Beverly Davidson, launched on May 2 with two leading adeno-associated virus-based gene therapy candidates and $54 million in series A financing. "With this initial close of our Series A financing, we are poised to accelerate the development of our innovative candidates for CLN2 disease – with first-in-human dosing planned in late 2025 – and for Huntington’s disease, as we seek to address these challenging conditions,” said Latus CEO and physician-entrepreneur Ghoroghchian, who previously founded Ceptur Therapeutics Inc.

Australia poised to harness the power of radiopharmaceuticals

Australia is poised to play a leading role in the rise of the global radiopharmaceutical industry, as advanced therapies drive significant investment and rapid expansion, according to a new discussion paper from industry accelerator MTPConnect. As reported in BioWorld, global interest in radiopharmaceuticals continues to soar, and the global market is expected to grow 10% over the next decade to $13.67 billion by 2032. Novartis AG, the market leader, struck two deals in a matter of days to bolster its radiopharma pipeline, announcing plans to acquire Mariana for $1.75 billion, and expanding a peptide collaboration deal with Japan’s Peptidream for $2.7 billion.

Human iPSCs restore muscle, function in monkeys with heart failure

Japanese researchers have transplanted human induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) in a primate model of myocardial infarction and were able to restore heart muscle and function in monkeys. Developed by Tokyo-based Heartseed Inc., the grafted iPSCs consist of clusters of purified heart muscle cells (cardiomyocyte spheroids) that are injected into the myocardial layer of the heart. Published in Circulation on April 26, 2024, the study showed that the cardiomyocyte spheroids survived long term and showed improved contractile function with low occurrence of post-transplant arrhythmias, which has been the biggest stumbling block in realizing regenerative medicine for cardiac repair, Heartseed co-founder and CEO Keiichi Fukuda told BioWorld.

Gut microbe enzymes can produce universal donor blood cells

Researchers have identified enzymes in gut microorganisms that could cleave A and B antigens from red blood, transmuting them to O negative cells. This is “a decisive step forward” in the quest to develop a universal donor blood that can be administered to people of any blood group without eliciting a harmful immune response, according to Maher Abou Hachem of the Technical University of Denmark, who co-led the research. “We are close to being able to produce universal blood from group B donors, while there is still work to be done to convert the more complex group A blood,” Hachem told BioWorld.

Also in the news

60 Degrees, Aavantgarde, Abeona, Aditxt, Allarity, Alpha-9 Oncology, Amo, Amolyt, Arcturis, Arrowhead, Aslan, Astrazeneca, Aubex, Cellectis, Cerevance, Compass Pathways, Context, Cyclacel, Galecto, Guangzhou Bio-Gene Technologies, Immutep, Merck, Micron Biomedical, Mustang, Organogenesis, Palatin, Pluri, Remix, Royalty, Sanofi, Smart Immune, Soleno, Stalicla, Stallergenes Greer, Taysha Gene Therapies, Traverse, Vor