Korean neurodegenerative disease-focused Aribio Co. Ltd. gained the U.K.’s regulatory clearance to start the phase III Polaris-AD trial on AR-1001 (mirodenafil), an investigative therapy for early Alzheimer’s disease (AD). The U.K.’s Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency gave notice of acceptance to Seoul, South Korea- and San Diego-based Aribio for the clinical study on Feb. 21 after “confirming a favorable ethical opinion,” Aribio said. AR-1001 is an oral phosphodiesterase-5 inhibitor under development to treat early AD.
Chief executives of U.K. medical research charities have issued a call for speedier uptake and more equitable access to new drugs that have received a cost-effectiveness seal of approval from the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence. In a joint report with the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry, the heads of eight charities examined a number of cases where access has been limited and set out recommendations to address the challenges of equity, uptake and health inequalities.
Seven new therapies, including two influenza vaccines, were recommended for approval by the EMA’s Committee for Medicinal Products for Human Use during its February 2024 meeting. One of these was sparsentan by CSL Vifor Pharma Inc. and Travere Therapeutics Inc. for the treatment of IgA nephropathy (IgAN), for which the committee has awarded conditional marketing authorization.
Inventiva SA has halted enrollment in its pivotal phase III Nativ3 trial with nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) candidate lanifibranor after a patient experienced raised liver enzymes indicative of autoimmune hepatitis. The resulting delays to the study could spell trouble for the firm, which estimates its cash runway will only see it through to the start of the third quarter 2024.
The European Commission approved two therapies for progressive, genetic diseases: Biogen Inc.’s Friedreich’s ataxia drug, Skyclarys (omaveloxolone), and Crispr Therapeutics AG’s CRISPR/Cas9 gene therapy for sickle cell disease and transfusion-dependent beta-thalassemia, Casgevy (exagamglogene autotemcel, exa-cel).
Redx Pharma plc has closed its biggest transaction to date, selling a preclinical KRAS inhibitor program to Jazz Pharmaceuticals plc in a potential $880 million deal. Of that, $10 million will be paid up front, with the balance to come in development and commercialization milestones. For any product that makes it to market, Redx will in addition receive tiered mid-single digit percentage royalties.
The EU’s proposed update of its pharmaceutical legislation will break the model of small companies acting as the vehicle for translating Europe’s rich research base for onward development by pharma, according to an analysis looking specifically at the impact the new rules would have on the biotech sector.
After almost 10 years on the market, the EMA is to withdraw its conditional approval of the Duchenne muscular dystrophy treatment Translarna (ataluren), after concluding there is still not enough evidence of its effectiveness.
In the face of the short supply of venture capital, the U.K. biotech sector weathered the storm in 2023, raising a total of £1.25 billion (US$1.6 billion) across 69 deals. That was 6% down on 2022, but has to be seen against the backdrop of U.K. VC investment across all sectors falling by a massive 43%. With follow-on financing by quoted companies, biotechs raised £1.8 billion overall.