Less than a year after backing Tscan Therapeutics Inc.'s $48 million series B round, Novartis AG is tapping the Waltham, Mass.-based company to discover and develop new T-cell receptor (TCR)-engineered T-cell therapies for up to three new solid tumor targets. The collaboration includes an up-front technology access fee and research funding totaling $30 million, as well as potential clinical, regulatory and sales-based milestone payments that could total hundreds of millions of dollars, Tscan said.
Two phase III studies in China testing Gilead Sciences Inc.’s antiviral drug, remdesivir, in patients with COVID-19 infection have been halted after Chinese authorities reported a lack of eligible patients. Other studies, including trials sponsored by the Foster City, Calif.-based company, remain ongoing.
The collection of nasal and throat swab samples to detect the presence or absence of the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 has proven problematic on a few fronts, particularly in the U.S. The swabs themselves often have become scarce and difficult to obtain, while health care workers are routinely risking their own health commonly in the absence of proper protective equipment. In addition, sampling difficulties have largely been blamed for a very high false negative rate that could be as much as 25%.
Regulatory snapshots, including global drug submissions and approvals, clinical trial approvals and other regulatory decisions and designations: Algernon, Athersys, Forma, Gensight, Harbour, Humanigen, Pfenex, Remegen, Sinovac, Tetra, Urogen.
The age of molecular testing for the COVID-19 pandemic is still with us, but the emphasis in the months ahead will be on serological testing as a quicker, more useful mass testing alternative. However, test developers have a number of hurdles to overcome in devising these serological tests, including that antibodies for the virus’s antigens emerge at different times in the disease cycle, just one of several challenges that have to be met in the effort to bring the SARS-CoV-2 virus to heel.
Since April 10, 2020, the FDA has issued emergency use authorizations (EUAs) to several companies that make blood purification devices that can clear excess cytokines in the blood of patients with COVID-19. Monmouth Junction, N.J.-based Cytosorbents Corp.; Lakewood, Colo.-based Terumo BCT Inc.; and Marker Therapeutics AG, a subsidiary of Marker AG, of Zug, Switzerland, have all recently received EUAs for use of their products in adults with confirmed COVID-19 infections who are admitted to intensive care.