Stemirna Therapeutics Co. Ltd., which specializes in mRNA technology, said it raised nearly $200 million to speed up the clinical study of its COVID-19 vaccine candidate, SW-0123. It is in phase I study in China and preclinical data have been published in Nature.
LONDON – In a sizeable seed round for a U.K. biotech, Transine Therapeutics Ltd. has raised £9.1 million (US$12.9 million) to take forward a novel method for up-regulating endogenous protein production using a naturally occurring class of long noncoding RNAs.
As COVID-19 deaths across the globe top 3 million, with more than 1 million in Europe alone, the global demand is increasing for mRNA vaccines, even as sponsors of adenovirus vaccines push back against ongoing safety concerns. Last week, the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Regional Office for Europe reported that the confirmed COVID-19 death toll for the region had surpassed 1 million, with 1.6 million new cases being reported every week. More than 171 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines have been administered in the region, translating to nearly 13% of the European population receiving one dose and close to 6% completing both doses of the vaccines.
In a move that Sanofi SA said will bring it an mRNA-based research platform with applications in oncology, immunology and other diseases, the company has acquired Tidal Therapeutics Inc. for $160 million up front and up to $310 million in milestone payments. The preclinical startup, led by Merrimack Pharmaceuticals Inc. and Torque Therapeutics Inc. co-founder Ulrik Nielsen, is based in Cambridge, Mass.
Small-molecule mRNA translation expert Anima Biotech Inc. has landed a significant new preclinical research deal with Takeda Pharmaceutical Co. Ltd., covering as many as six programs for genetically defined neurological diseases. The deal starts with $120 million in up-front and preclinical research milestone payments for Anima, but altogether the two-part collaboration could hold as much as $2.3 billion.
Small-molecule mRNA translation expert Anima Biotech Inc. has landed a significant new preclinical research deal with Takeda Pharmaceutical Co. Ltd., covering as many as six programs for genetically defined neurological diseases. The deal starts with $120 million in up-front and preclinical research milestone payments for Anima, but altogether the two-part collaboration could hold as much as $2.3 billion in clinical and commercial milestone payouts for the company, providing substantial support for its internal pipeline, Anima co-founder and CEO Yochi Slonim told BioWorld.
The rapid development of mRNA vaccines to combat COVID-19 has highlighted the importance of this single-stranded molecule. Although there have been some costly developmental bumps along the way, interest in RNA-targeted therapies is once again surging.
By combining synthetic biology and RNA therapy, the team at startup Strand Therapeutics Inc. hopes to make mRNA therapy more effective. Strand recently announced an immuno-oncology deal with Beigene Ltd. that netted the company $5 million to begin with and could end up being worth more than $250 million. Beyond immuno-oncology, the company’s basic technology could be broadly useful for both mRNA- and cell-based therapies.
DUBLIN – Bowing to public and political pressure, the EMA has brought forward its review of BNT-162b2, the mRNA-based COVID-19 vaccine jointly developed by Pfizer Inc. and Biontech SE, to Dec. 21, more than a week ahead of its originally scheduled date of Dec. 29.
LONDON – The first of 800,000 commercial doses of Pfizer Inc./Biontech SE’s COVID-19 vaccine arrived in the U.K., after the Medicines and Healthcare products Agency (MHRA) became the first regulator to grant conditional approval. A total of 1,500 immunization centers in the U.K. are preparing to receive the vaccine, with administration beginning Dec. 8.