Novartis looks set to repurpose cancer drug in MS after trial wins

pharmaphorum | August 30, 2019

Novartis has announced data supporting a cancer drug it acquired from GlaxoSmithKline and Genmab in a new use in multiple sclerosis, with plans for regulatory filings later this year. The Swiss pharma already markets ofatumumab under the brand name Arzerra, after acquiring rights in all indications including autoimmune diseases in 2015 for $1 billion from the UK pharma. Novartis is now repurposing Arzerra as an MS drug, announcing last year that it would only be available in the US to treat chronic lymphocytic leukaemia (CLL) on a compassionate use basis. The Swiss pharma decided that competition from the likes of Roche’s Gaxyva (onibutuzumab) was too tough in CLL, saying it would only be available in the US on special request from doctors, and has decided to focus on its potential in MS instead. Novartis bought the drug from GSK as part of a $16 billion asset swap and joint venture deal in 2014, where the Swiss firm received the UK firm’s portfolio of cancer drugs and its vaccines business went the other way. The 2015 deal with GSK settled the outstanding rights issues to Arzerra, while co-developer Genmab still earns a royalty from net sales. Ofatumumab works by targeting the CD20 molecule on the surface of B-cells, causing them to die – a mechanism that is useful in leukaemia, when there are too many of these cells, and in MS when they become over-active and begin to attack the patient’s own nervous system. Novartis said the twin phase 3 ASCLEPIOS I and II studies met their primary endpoints, where ofatumumab showed a highly significant and clinically meaningful reduction in the number of confirmed relapses, evaluated as the annualised relapse rate (ARR).

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Production of protein therapeutics by mammalian cells is the most widely used bioprocess because of its ability to properly produce and fold a recombinant protein. 60-70% of biopharmaceuticals are produced by this bioprocess. Bioreactor parameters affect cell metabolic processes and detailed bioreactor knowledge is needed to achieve a balanced and consistent metabolic state of cultured cells.

Spotlight

Production of protein therapeutics by mammalian cells is the most widely used bioprocess because of its ability to properly produce and fold a recombinant protein. 60-70% of biopharmaceuticals are produced by this bioprocess. Bioreactor parameters affect cell metabolic processes and detailed bioreactor knowledge is needed to achieve a balanced and consistent metabolic state of cultured cells.

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Alnylam Announces FDA Approval of Supplemental New Drug Application for OXLUMO® (lumasiran) in Advanced Primary Hyperoxaluria Type 1

Alnylam Pharmaceuticals, Inc. | October 07, 2022

Alnylam Pharmaceuticals, Inc. the leading RNAi therapeutics company, announced that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved a label expansion for OXLUMO® an RNAi therapeutic administered via subcutaneous injection, now indicated for the treatment of primary hyperoxaluria type 1 to lower urinary oxalate and plasma oxalate levels in pediatric and adult patients. The approval is based on positive efficacy and safety results of the ILLUMINATE-C Phase 3 study of OXLUMO in patients with severe renal impairment, including those on hemodialysis. PH1 is an ultra-rare genetic disease characterized by oxalate overproduction in the liver. The excess production of oxalate results in the deposition of calcium oxalate crystals in the kidneys and urinary tract and can lead to the formation of painful and recurrent kidney stones and nephrocalcinosis, which can progress to kidney failure. PH1 can also lead to oxalate deposition in multiple organs beyond the kidney, a condition known as systemic oxalosis. The label expansion for OXLUMO is based on positive six-month results from ILLUMINATE-C, where treatment with lumasiran resulted in a substantial reduction in POx from baseline to Month Six in both dialysis-independent and -dependent patients. Patients in both cohorts had a reduction in POx as early as Month One. In Cohort A treatment with OXLUMO led to a 33% least squares (LS) mean reduction in POx from baseline to Month Sixand in Cohort B, treatment with OXLUMO led to a 42% LS mean reduction in POx from baseline to Month Six. OXLUMO demonstrated an encouraging safety and tolerability profile with no deaths or drug-related serious adverse events among enrolled patients. There were two treatment discontinuations due to adverse events in the extension period of the study, neither of which was drug related. The most common AE related to lumasiran was injection-site reaction reported in five of 21 patients which were all mild and transient. “The significance of the label expansion of OXLUMO cannot be overstated, as this milestone provides crucial reassurance among a patient population with the highest unmet need, as well as their caregivers and loved ones, that OXLUMO is available in the US for patients living with PH1, including those with advanced disease. We are grateful to Alnylam for their continued commitment to the PH1 community and for ensuring that all patients — no matter how severe their disease — have the same opportunity to potentially benefit from OXLUMO treatment.” Kim Hollander, Executive Director of the Oxalosis and Hyperoxaluria Foundation In November of 2020, OXLUMO was approved by the FDA for the treatment of PH1 to lower UOx levels in pediatric and adult patients. It was also approved by the European Medicines Agency (EMA) for the treatment of PH1 in all age groups. The Committee for Medicinal Products for Human Use (CHMP) of the EMA delivered a positive opinion recommending variation to the marketing authorization of OXLUMO based on ILLUMINATE-C data from patients with advanced PH1 in September 2022. Lumasiran is also being evaluated in a global Phase 2 study as an investigational treatment in patients with recurrent kidney stone disease and elevated UOx levels. About OXLUMO OXLUMO® is an RNAi therapeutic targeting hydroxyacid oxidase 1. HAO1 encodes glycolate oxidase. Thus, by silencing HAO1 and depleting the GO enzyme, OXLUMO inhibits production of oxalate – the metabolite that directly contributes to the pathophysiology of PH1. OXLUMO utilizes Alnylam’s Enhanced Stabilization Chemistry GalNAc-conjugate technology, which enables subcutaneous dosing with increased potency and durability and a wide therapeutic index. OXLUMO has received regulatory approvals from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for the treatment of primary hyperoxaluria type 1 to lower urinary and plasma oxalate levels in pediatric and adult patients and from the European Medicines Agency for the treatment of PH1 in all age groups. In the pivotal ILLUMINATE-A study, OXLUMO was shown to significantly reduce levels of urinary oxalate relative to placebo, with the majority of patients reaching normal or near-normal levels. In the ILLUMINATE-B pediatric Phase 3 study, OXLUMO demonstrated an efficacy and safety profile consistent to that observed in ILLUMINATE-A. In the ILLUMINATE-C study, OXLUMO resulted in substantial reductions in plasma oxalate in patients with advanced PH1. Across all three studies, injection site reactions were the most common drug-related adverse reaction. OXLUMO is administered via subcutaneous injection once monthly for three months, then once quarterly beginning one month after the last loading dose at a dose based on actual body weight. For patients who weigh less than 10 kg, ongoing dosing remains monthly. About Alnylam Pharmaceuticals Alnylam has led the translation of RNA interference into a whole new class of innovative medicines with the potential to transform the lives of people afflicted with rare and prevalent diseases with unmet need. Based on Nobel Prize-winning science, RNAi therapeutics represent a powerful, clinically validated approach yielding transformative medicines. Since its founding 20 years ago, Alnylam has led the RNAi Revolution and continues to deliver on a bold vision to turn scientific possibility into reality. Alnylam’s commercial RNAi therapeutic products are ONPATTRO® GIVLAARI® OXLUMO® AMVUTTRA® and Leqvio® being developed and commercialized by Alnylam’s partner, Novartis. Alnylam has a deep pipeline of investigational medicines, including six product candidates that are in late-stage development. Alnylam is executing on its “Alnylam P5x25” strategy to deliver transformative medicines in both rare and common diseases benefiting patients around the world through sustainable innovation and exceptional financial performance, resulting in a leading biotech profile. Alnylam is headquartered in Cambridge, MA.

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Advaxis and Ayala Pharmaceuticals Enter into Merger Agreement

Advaxis and Ayala Pharmaceuticals | October 20, 2022

Ayala Pharmaceuticals, Inc. a clinical-stage oncology company focused on developing and commercializing small molecule therapeutics for patients suffering from rare tumors and aggressive cancers and Advaxis, Inc. a biotechnology company devoted to the discovery, development and commercialization of immunotherapies based on a technology which uses engineered Listeria monocytogenes, today announced that they have entered into a definitive merger agreement. The merger would result in a combined company that will focus predominantly on the development and commercialization of Ayala’s lead program AL102 for the treatment of desmoid tumors and Advaxis’s candidate ADXS-504 in development for prostate cancer. Kenneth A. Berlin, President and Chief Executive Officer of Advaxis, said, “Advaxis took a thorough approach in our quest to find the right partner with the right products. This merger is expected to enhance Advaxis’s portfolio of clinical assets, with Ayala’s proprietary gamma secretase inhibitors that are being developed as targeted therapies for rare and aggressive tumors. Ayala’s lead candidate, AL102, is currently being investigated in the Phase 2/3 RINGSIDE study in desmoid tumors, which we believe will accelerate the stage of product development for the combined company dramatically. We are particularly excited about very promising interim data from RINGSIDE, which showed that AL102 monotherapy had meaningful anti-tumor activity with tumor shrinkage in the majority of patients that appeared to be deepening over time. The combined management team has extensive commercial and R&D experience, and we believe we have the cash to advance the combined portfolio through key milestones in 2023, including longerterm data from Part A of RINGSIDE, clarity on the registration path for AL101 in recurrent/metastatic adenoid cystic carcinoma (ACC) and initial clinical and PSA data from the Phase 1 trial of ADXS-504 in prostate cancer. We believe that this transaction will also help drive our efforts to return to a Nasdaq listing and enhance our ability to access capital.” “We are pleased to announce the proposed merger with Advaxis, which is expected to provide our pipeline and AL102 with additional financial resources as well as additional infrastructure in the U.S. The two companies have a shared mission to develop innovative therapies to improve the lives of patients with cancer and I believe we have found a good partner to advance our pipeline and create value for our stakeholders.” Roni Mamluk, Ph.D., President and Chief Executive Officer of Ayala Consummation of the merger is subject to certain closing conditions, including, among other things, approval by the stockholders of Ayala. At the closing of the merger, Ayala will be delisted from The Nasdaq Global Market. The combined company’s common stock is expected to begin trading on the OTCQX at the effective time of the merger, subject to Advaxis’ planned efforts to have the stock of the combined company listed on Nasdaq, as to which no assurances can be made. About Ayala Pharmaceuticals, Inc. Ayala Pharmaceuticals, Inc. is a clinical-stage oncology company focused on developing and commercializing small molecule therapeutics for patients suffering from rare tumors and aggressive cancers. Ayala’s approach is focused on predicting, identifying and addressing tumorigenic drivers of cancer through a combination of its bioinformatics platform and next-generation sequencing to deliver targeted therapies to underserved patient populations. The company has two product candidates under development, AL101 and AL102, targeting the aberrant activation of the Notch pathway with gamma secretase inhibitors to treat a variety of tumors, including adenoid cystic carcinoma and desmoid tumors. AL102 has received Fast Track Designation from the U.S. FDA and is currently in the Phase 3 portion of a pivotal study for patients with desmoid tumors. AL101 has received Fast Track Designation and Orphan Drug Designation from the U.S. FDA and is currently in a Phase 2 clinical trial for patients with ACC bearing Notch activating mutations. About Advaxis, Inc. Advaxis, Inc. is a clinical-stage biotechnology company focused on the development and commercialization of proprietary Lm-based antigen delivery products. These off-the-shelf immunotherapies are a significant advancement in immunotherapy as they integrate multiple functions into a single therapy by directing antigen presenting cells to stimulate T-cells and other components of the immune system, while reducing tumor protection in the tumor microenvironment, facilitating the elimination of tumors. The company has two programs in the clinic: ADXS-503 for late-stage lung cancer and ADXS-504 for early-stage prostate cancer.

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Cambrex Completes First Phase of $30 Million Capacity Expansion Project in High Point, North Carolina

Cambrex | September 05, 2022

Cambrex today announced the completion of the first phase of its $30 million investment in its small molecule active pharmaceutical ingredient manufacturing facility in High Point, North Carolina. The newly constructed space adds analytical and chemical development laboratories totaling 30,000 square feet and provides future workspace for 85 analytical and chemical development scientists. These laboratories will support the development of APIs to be manufactured in the facility's current clinical manufacturing area, as well as the future expanded clinical manufacturing and commercial manufacturing suites. "With the growing number of therapies in clinical development and trend toward more targeted therapeutics, including orphan drugs, this expansion is preparing Cambrex to support the growing demand for small-scale API manufacturing. Our expansion goes beyond providing capacity – it provides state-of-the-art technology and laboratory equipment, an energy efficient infrastructure, and an ideal space for our scientific experts to work side-by-side with our clients." Tom Loewald, CEO, Cambrex Phase 2 of the project is ongoing and will approximately double the facility's manufacturing capacity with the addition of clinical and commercial manufacturing suites with reactors up to 2,000 liters. The new commercial area will provide an ideal scale for the manufacturing of orphan drugs and niche therapies, while larger volume products developed at the facility can be manufactured commercially at one of Cambrex's larger scale facilities in Iowa and Sweden. This expansion follows Cambrex's 2021 investment in the Cambrex High Point continuous flow R&D center of excellence, including expanded capabilities for continuous flow process development, manufacturing, and scale up. Cambrex continues to expand its capabilities and capacity across its North American and European network to meet the growing demand for outsourced product development and manufacturing services. About Cambrex Cambrex is a leading global contract development and manufacturing organization that provides drug substance, drug product, and analytical services across the entire drug lifecycle. With over 40 years of experience and a growing team of over 2,300 experts servicing global clients from North America and Europe, Cambrex is a trusted partner in branded and generic markets for API and finished dosage form development and manufacturing. Cambrex offers a range of specialized drug substance technologies and capabilities, including biocatalysis, continuous flow, controlled substances, solid-state science, material characterization, stability storage, and highly potent APIs. In addition, Cambrex can support conventional dosage forms, including oral solids, semi-solids, and liquids, and has the expertise to manufacture specialty dosage forms such as modified-release, fixed-dose combination, pediatric, bi-layer tablets, stick packs, topicals, controlled substances, sterile, and non-sterile ointments.

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