TORONTO – How confident is Canada’s government that Abcellera Biologics Inc. can identify viral antibodies to help stop COVID-19 in its tracks and build the manufacturing infrastructure for antibody therapies against future pandemic threats? Enough to award the Vancouver, British Columbia-based biotech CA$175.6 million (US$124.7 million) for the application of its antibody discovery platform to the analysis of patients who have recovered from COVID-19.
The FDA’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic has been matched by device makers, but the ID Now molecular test by Abbott Park, Ill.-based Abbott Laboratories has been the target of recent criticism. Tim Stenzel, director of the Office of In Vitro Diagnostics and Radiological Health, said at a May 20 town hall meeting that Abbott has agreed to yet another study of the ID Now, the terms of which were under negotiation at the time of the meeting.
Just days after Clovis Oncology Inc.'s Rubraca (rucaparib) became the first PARP inhibitor approved by the FDA to treat certain cases of metastatic prostate cancer (mCPRC) in third-line care, the agency granted an even broader label in the indication to its first-in-class competitor, Lynparza (olaparib). Endorsement of second-line use of Lynparza in mCPRC and an overall survival (OS) benefit listed in its updated label will help rapidly establish it as "the drug of choice in the [second] line, leaving little commercial opportunities for Rubraca downstream," SVB Leerink analyst Andrew Berens said.
LONDON – Heart disease is now known to be both a cause and an effect of serious COVID-19 infection, with more than 1 in 10 patients who have underlying cardiac conditions being killed by the virus, while others with no previous record of cardiovascular problems are suffering significant COVID-19 induced weakening of their hearts.
Quidel Corp., of San Diego, has scored another win at the U.S. FDA, receiving emergency use authorization (EUA) for the Lyra Direct SARS-CoV-2 Assay to allow direct sample processing. What’s special about this assay is that it does not require an up-front sample extraction. Instead, it uses a reformulated buffer that replaces that process with a simple 10-minute heat step, saving about 50 minutes in processing time.
The FDA has granted an emergency use authorization (EUA) for the home sample collection kit made by Austin, Texas-based Everlywell Inc., which can be run on two lab-developed tests. However, the agency has also shut down a Gates Foundation-backed effort in Seattle to develop another home sample collection kit even though the organization behind the effort has been authorized by state health authorities. The FDA announced the news about the Everlywell EUA with the stipulation that the user of the kit has completed an online questionnaire that is subsequently reviewed by a health care professional.
C2n Diagnostics LLC has received a $20 million investment in its Alzheimer’s blood test, APTUS-Aβ, from the philanthropy group GHR Foundation. The test measures various types of amyloid beta in the blood and then factors in additional data, such as age, to develop a probability score for amyloid-related pathology in the brain.
Abbott Laboratories’ ID Now test for the SARS-CoV-2 virus made waves when it was introduced thanks to the rapid turnaround time the molecular test promised. But questions about the test’s performance have surfaced several times in recent weeks. The latest criticism comes from a study conducted at the New York University Langone Medical Center, which claims the diagnostic compared poorly against a competitor. However, the U.S. FDA said that it has questions about the swabs and transport media used in connection with the test. As a result, it will stand pat regarding the ID Now’s place in the emergency use authorization (EUA) program.
PARIS – Intrasense SA, of Montpellier, France, has gained CE marking for its CT scanner reading protocol designed for COVID-19. “This major step forward, coming at the same time as U.S. FDA clearance, will allow a true mass rollout of our Myrian XP-Lung system designed for COVID-19,” Nicolas Reymond, CEO of Intrasense, told BioWorld.
“Our window of opportunity is closing. If we fail to develop a national coordinated response, based in science, I fear the pandemic will get far worse and be prolonged, causing unprecedented illness and fatalities,” Rick Bright, former director of the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, said today as he testified at a House subcommittee hearing on the U.S. response to COVID-19.