DUBLIN – A strong performance in the final quarter of 2021 pushed equity investment in European biotech firms engaged in discovering and developing therapeutics to a new record of $15.193 billion, a 19.8% increase on last year’s total of $12.682 billion. European biotech firms have now set a new investment benchmark for each of the past five years.
It’s been seven years since economist Jim O’Neill began his review on antimicrobial resistance, commissioned by the U.K. government to find ways to encourage development of badly needed new antibiotics. Since then, the pandemic has produced radical changes in society and forced pharma to refocus its R&D priorities at short notice. But COVID-19 has also raised awareness about the devastating effect that rogue pathogens can pose to society, and there are now serious moves to prevent a global catastrophe caused by antibiotic resistant bacteria.
LONDON – Novo Holdings has inspired the formation of the second new fund in 18 months aiming to feed more capital into the commercialization of Scandinavian science, acting as cornerstone investor in Sound Bioventures Fund I. The new fund greeted the New Year with a first close of €110 million (US$124 million), to be invested in private biopharmas with late preclinical or clinical programs, primarily in rare diseases.
Pfizer Inc.'s oral antiviral for the treatment of mild to moderate COVID-19 will soon be available in Great Britain after the U.K. Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) granted conditional authorization for the medicine, called Paxlovid (PF-07321332, ritonavir).
Nurix Therapeutics Inc.’s Dec. 12 disclosure that the U.K. Medicines & Healthcare products Regulatory Agency granted to clearance for the company to kick off a phase I study with Bruton tyrosine kinase (BTK) inhibitor NX-5948 pumped more juice into the space, which has been consistently intriguing since the first drug in the class was approved about eight years ago by the FDA. The San Francisco-based firm will start an experiment in patients with relapsed and refractory B-cell malignancies at clinical sites in the U.K., with dosing of the first subject expected in the first half of 2022.
It is acknowledged that the huge bias toward individuals of European ancestry means studies of the contribution of genetics to disease may not translate well to other ethnicities. That point is underlined in the first large-scale investigation of the population structure and demographic history of British Pakistanis, which shows an increased number and length of regions of homozygosity inherited from a common ancestor, and greatly elevated identity by descent, compared to the population at large.
Astrazeneca plc has confirmed it is working with Oxford University to produce a vaccine against the Omicron variant of the SARS-CoV-2 virus. The Cambridge, U.K.-based pharma was one of the first to get a COVID-19 vaccine okayed by regulators, after acquiring rights to the shot from Vaccitech plc, a spin-out from Oxford University’s Jenner Institute specialist vaccine unit.
Following extensive discussions with their British counterparts, the European Commission (EC) advanced proposals to ensure the continued long-term supply of medicines from Great Britain to Northern Ireland and to address supply concerns in Cyprus, Ireland and Malta, which historically have been dependent on drugs from the U.K.
The U.K.’s National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) will welcome a new chief executive in February. Samantha Roberts was named to succeed Gillian Leng, who is retiring after 20 years at the agency. With extensive experience in health care delivery and as a clinician, Roberts currently serves as managing director for health and care at NHS England.