Although gene therapy is now “a clinical reality,” it still remains an early stage therapeutic modality. That’s the view of Caroline Man Xu, CEO and co-founder of Vigeneron GmbH, a German gene therapy company that has maintained a low profile while steadily staking out a promising position in gene therapies for inherited retinal disease.
Visus Therapeutics Inc. has out-licensed phase III candidates Brimochol and Carbachol to Hong Kong’s Zhaoke Ophthalmology Ltd. to develop and commercialize its long-acting, presbyopia-correcting eye drops in greater China, South Korea and select Southeast Asian territories.
Askgene Pharma Inc., which less than two weeks ago reported positive initial data from an ongoing phase I/II trial testing its claudin 18.2-targeting candidate, ASKB-589, added $20 million in a series A round, intended to advance the company’s clinical pipeline and support further development of its Smartkine cytokine drug platform.
Shares in Oxurion NV dropped 40.3% percent May 9 on news that one of its two clinical-stage assets, THR-687, failed to demonstrate efficacy in a phase II trial in diabetic macular edema (DME). The candidate, a small-molecule pan integrin receptor antagonist, failed to demonstrate efficacy in Part A of the trial, called Integral, in which treatment-naïve patients received one of two doses of THR-687.
IPOs continue to be sluggish but two companies, Pepgen Inc. and Bausch & Lomb Corp., that began trading May 6 managed to sidestep the turbulence despite having to lower their expectations before the market opened. Pepgen stock (NASDAQ:PEPG) closed at $12.89 per share May 6, up 7.4% on the day. Bausch & Lomb also had a solid IPO launch May 6 as shares (NYSE:BLCO) closed 11.1% upward at $20 each.
Ashvattha Therapeutics Inc. secured $69 million in a series B financing that it said will strengthen its ability to develop hydroxyl dendrimer-based medicines and accelerate efforts to advance its candidates to the clinic.
Privately held Orasis Pharmaceuticals Ltd. is a step closer to challenging Abbvie Inc.’s Vuity (pilocarpine hydrochloride) ophthalmic solution for treating presbyopia, a version of farsightedness. Orasis plans to submit an NDA to the U.S. FDA in the second half of the year based on phase III results from two studies showing CSF-1 hit its primary and secondary endpoints.
Ji Xing Pharmaceuticals Ltd. has acquired greater China rights to two candidates from Lenz Therapeutics Inc. for the treatment of presbyopia in greater China in a deal worth up to $110 million. San Diego-based Lenz will receive $15 million in up-front payments, up to $95 million in regulatory and commercial milestone payments, and potential royalty payments based on net sales.
Shares in Gensight Biologics SA dropped by as much as 41% April 7 on news that the Paris-based gene therapy firm failed to complete a second manufacturing campaign within five months, a setback that could delay a commercial launch of its lead product, Lumevoq, by at least a year.