Novavax, advancing COVID-19 shot, recruits AstraZeneca exec as its chief medical officer

Fiercepharma | June 17, 2020

On the heels of some big fundraising moves and in the hunt for a COVID-19 vaccine, Novavax is adding some Big Pharma experience to its executive team.  Joining the company's leadership team as chief medical officer is Filip Dubovsky, an AstraZeneca veteran. Dubovsky joins Novavax directly from the British drugmaker, where he served as head of clinical engagement and policy, plus as chief medical officer for clinical affairs. Before that role, he oversaw a portfolio of more than two dozen malaria vaccines at the PATH Malaria Vaccine Initiative.  Dubrovsky will be tasked with overseeing development of the company's COVID-19 candidate. The company in late May kicked off a phase 1/2 study of the prospect, and it's been working through steps to scale up its manufacturing in parallel. Aside from its COVID-19 work, the company is getting ready to submit an FDA application for its flu vaccine, NanoFlu.

Spotlight

What are drugs? What do they do? How do they do what they do? These questions are part of the field of pharmacology, and over this series we will learn all about a wide variety of different drugs that have clinical use. This will require a lot of prerequisite knowledge in other fields, so make sure to check out some of my other playlists as well, but when you're ready, let's dive into the world of drugs!

Spotlight

What are drugs? What do they do? How do they do what they do? These questions are part of the field of pharmacology, and over this series we will learn all about a wide variety of different drugs that have clinical use. This will require a lot of prerequisite knowledge in other fields, so make sure to check out some of my other playlists as well, but when you're ready, let's dive into the world of drugs!

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BUSINESS INSIGHTS

Atomwise Signs Strategic Multi-Target Research Collaboration with Sanofi for AI-Powered Drug Discovery

Atomwise | August 22, 2022

Atomwise, a leader in using artificial intelligence (AI) for small molecule drug discovery, announced that it has established a strategic and exclusive research collaboration with Sanofi that will leverage its AtomNet® platform for computational discovery and research of up to five drug targets. The Atomwise approach shifts the mode of drug discovery away from serendipitous discovery and toward search based on structure, making the drug discovery process more rational, effective, and efficient. The AtomNet platform incorporates deep learning for structure-based drug design, enabling the rapid, AI-powered search of Atomwise’s proprietary library of more than 3 trillion synthesizable compounds. “At Sanofi, we are committed to bringing higher quality medicines to patients faster, empowered by our advanced AI drug discovery engine. We are excited to partner with Atomwise, given their leadership in the field of virtual screening and AI-based molecular design. Together, we aim at making the drug discovery process more efficient and effective in particular when very limited information is available to support drug design.” Frank Nestle, Global Head of Research and Chief Scientific Officer at Sanofi As part of this agreement, Sanofi will pay Atomwise $20 million upfront to identify, synthesize, and advance lead compounds for up to five targets which will be exclusive to Sanofi. Subsequent payments pegged to key research, development, and sales milestones could total more than $1 billion. In addition, tiered royalties have been established for products developed through the collaboration. “At Atomwise, our mission is to use our unique technology to make better medicines, faster, by unlocking targets that have been inaccessible to traditional small molecule discovery approaches,” said Abraham Heifets, co-founder and CEO of Atomwise. “We are pleased to enter into this collaboration with Sanofi, which serves as continued validation of the important role that AI-powered platforms will play in accelerating the discovery of new therapies for diseases and conditions that may have gone untreated due to challenging or uncharacterized drug targets.” About Atomwise Atomwise is a technology-enabled pharmaceutical company leveraging the power of AI to revolutionize small molecule drug discovery. The Atomwise team invented the use of deep learning for structure-based drug design; this technology underpins Atomwise’s best-in-class AI discovery engine, which is differentiated by its ability to find and optimize novel chemical matter. Atomwise has extensively validated its discovery engine, having demonstrated the ability to find compounds with therapeutic potential for biological targets in 90% of internal programs and more than 70% of the company’s 270 academic collaborations, including across a wide variety of protein types and multiple “hard to drug” targets. Atomwise is building a wholly-owned pipeline of small-molecule drug candidates, with three programs in lead-optimization and over 30 programs in discovery. The company has raised over $194 million from leading venture capital firms and collaborations to advance its mission to make better medicines, faster.

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PHARMA TECH

Armata Pharmaceuticals Announces Clearance of IND for Prosthetic Joint Infections

Armata Pharmaceuticals, Inc | August 02, 2022

Armata Pharmaceuticals, Inc. a biotechnology company focused on pathogen-specific bacteriophage therapeutics for antibiotic-resistant and difficult-to-treat bacterial infections, today announced that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has cleared Armata's Investigational New Drug application for AP-SA02 in prosthetic joint infection. The company is initiating start-up activities for the Phase 1b/2a trial that will explore the safety, tolerability, and pharmacokinetics of intravenous and intra-articular doses of AP-SA02 as an adjunct to standard of care antibiotics in subjects with PJI. "Prosthetic joint infection is one of the most serious complications of prosthetic joint implantation. Staphylococcus aureus is a dominant pathogen that drives the need for surgical intervention and prolonged courses of antibiotic therapy. The ability of S. aureus to create biofilms that are refractory to standard of care antibiotics highlights the need for a novel therapy. Phage therapy may fill this need for PJI patients as phage have demonstrated the ability to disrupt biofilm and work synergistically with antibiotics." Dr. Mina Pastagia, Armata's Senior Vice President of Clinical Development "Armata is excited to explore AP-PA02 in patients who suffer from complicated joint infections that don't respond adequately to standard of care antibiotics. PJI is a logical extension of our diSArm trial which is targeting complicated S. aureus bacteremia," said Brian Varnum, Chief Executive Officer of Armata. "With this IND approval, Armata now has four active clinical programs. Today marks an important development milestone for Armata and its investors who set a course three years ago to transform phage therapy from a promising new technology to one that is explored in rigorous clinical settings." In addition to evaluating AP-SA02 in PJI and bacteremia due to S. aureus, Armata has advanced AP-PA02 into the Phase 2a component of the SWARM-P.a. study which targets chronic Pseudomonas aeruginosa infections in people with cystic fibrosis (CF). In February, the company gained IND clearance for AP-PA02 in a second indication, non-cystic fibrosis bronchiectasis targeting patients with chronic P. aeruginosa infections in a Phase 2 trial. About Armata Pharmaceuticals, Inc. Armata is a clinical-stage biotechnology company focused on the development of precisely targeted bacteriophage therapeutics for the treatment of antibiotic-resistant and difficult-to-treat bacterial infections using its proprietary bacteriophage-based technology. Armata is developing and advancing a broad pipeline of natural and synthetic phage candidates, including clinical candidates for Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Staphylococcus aureus, and other pathogens. In addition, in collaboration with Merck, known as MSD outside of the United States and Canada, Armata is developing proprietary synthetic phage candidates to target an undisclosed infectious disease agent. Armata is committed to advancing phage with drug development expertise that spans bench to clinic including in-house phage specific GMP manufacturing.

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PHARMA TECH

House Rx to Launch Specialty Drug Dispensing Inside Rheumatology Clinics By Partnering with Three Leading Practices

House Rx | August 04, 2022

House Rx, the platform for medically integrated dispensing of specialty medications, announced it has partnered with three new rheumatology clinics to integrate in-house specialty drug dispensing – also known as medically integrated dispensing (MID) – into the clinics' operations. The three practices are: Arizona Arthritis & Rheumatology Associates (AARA), Arthritis & Osteoporosis Consultants of the Carolinas (AOCC), and Arthritis Associates of Tennessee and represent an additional 68 providers that will dispense specialty medications through the House Rx platform, bringing the total number of providers on House Rx's platform to 137. While MID has grown in oncology, House Rx's partnership with these practices is one of the first to bring the model to rheumatology care. "It's very exciting to partner with key thought leaders in rheumatology to bring medically integrated dispensing to this specialty. Each one of these practices is a leader in their region, and we look forward to partnering very closely with them to define a new standard for a better patient experience and improved outcomes for patients living with rheumatic diseases." Ogi Kavazovic, Co-Founder and CEO of House Rx By bringing specialty dispensing into the physician's office, the partnership with House Rx aims to dramatically improve the specialty medication experience for patients. The MID care model provides a seamless and efficient way for patients to receive prescribed therapies directly from their doctor – which research has demonstrated improves outcomes, including quality of life and increased survivability, when contrasted with the Pharmacy Benefit Manager-controlled specialty pharmacy approach. "This partnership will increase patient satisfaction by providing prescription medication in-house, and House Rx's technology and expertise will help us achieve this," said Prakash Viswanathan, CFO of AARA. "It is motivating to help trailblaze a new path in rheumatology and be one of the first practices to bring specialty medication dispensing under our roof, making it far easier and quicker for patients to get the medications they need." "We couldn't be more excited about this partnership, which will bring immediate benefits for our patients," said Scott Gilomen, CEO of AOCC. "Having managed an oncology practice earlier in my career, I've seen first-hand the advantages of the MID model and look forward to how House Rx's approach to MID will propel the rheumatology field forward – with our practice at the forefront." "The House Rx model will transform how rheumatology care is delivered, making it more coordinated and improving our patients' experience," said Beth Simpson, DO and managing physician partner at AATN. "We look forward to our patients not being on hold for hours on end waiting to speak with a specialty pharmacy. Instead, they'll speak immediately with House Rx's integrated team of pharmacy experts who understand their rheumatologic conditions." While the concept of dispensing specialty medications in rheumatology is not new — a handful of clinics attempted dispensing in the past but ultimately were unsuccessful due to a lack of technological and operational support — House Rx's model approaches in-office dispensing in a new way. By providing clinics with specialized technology and operational support from pharmacists and pharmacy technicians who work integrated with the clinic, practices can keep the service under their roof while reducing the heavy lifting of implementing and maintaining a successful MID program. In addition, clinics can repurpose staff resources normally spent on prior authorizations and financial assistance for patients to focus on direct patient care or other activities critical to the viability and financial independence of community rheumatology clinics. About House Rx House Rx is a healthcare technology and services company focused on making specialty medication more accessible and affordable. The company partners with specialty clinics across the country to help these community clinics offer medically integrated dispensing, bringing together clinical and pharmacy expertise to better serve patients, lower the cost of care, and create a better experience for patients and their caregivers. Learn more at www.houserx.com. About Arizona Arthritis & Rheumatology Associates With 19 physicians, 30 advanced practice providers, and 10 clinics around the state of Arizona, AARA is one of the largest rheumatology practices in the country bringing world-class expertise to patients managing autoimmune conditions. A member of the American Rheumatology Network, and always at the forefront of rheumatology care, AARA has led the way in addressing the rheumatologist workforce shortage by integrating advanced practice providers into their practice, which has allowed the practice to scale clinical operations and meet the demand of a growing patient population. About Arthritis & Osteoporosis Consultants of the Carolinas Based in Charlotte, North Carolina, AOCC has 10 physicians and 5 advanced practice providers caring for patients across two clinics. Combining years of experience in private practice, academic teaching and clinical research, the clinic staff provides highly individualized and state-of-the-art care. About Arthritis Associates Founded in 1975, Arthritis Associates has been at the forefront of rheumatological care in Chattanooga, TN and is the only practice in the area treating both adult and pediatric patients. Arthritis Associates has an excellent, experienced and knowledgeable team including skilled nurses who can administer intravenous treatments onsite, supervised by a board-certified rheumatologist.

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