Roches Genentech targets cancer cells via video game with Tumor Quest

fiercepharma | June 21, 2019

Roches Genentechs latest innovation targets cancer cells in a video game. Called Tumor Quest, the game is aimed at engaging people in an out of the-ordinary way to talk about tumor types and biomarker testing. The game begins with a short intro video about genomic profiling and testing, with players then able to choose from three different paths—non-specific, tumor-specific or tumor-agnostic—to try to eliminate cancer cells. Tumor Quest uses “Bejeweled” type matching play, where players line up three or more mutations associated with different tumor types that then disappear. For instance, in tumor-agnostic, a player earns points for matching a colon, lung and pancreas based on the same mutation. Genentech launched the game on its website gene.com around ASCO earlier this month knowing that many of its priority audiences would be attending. Genentech promoted it on Twitter (@genentech), shared it on Facebook and LinkedIn and sent it to key influencers in the community. “While (personalized medicine) is obviously an extremely complex topic, we’ve peeled it back to its most basic concepts to hopefully make it easy to understand how we can tailor treatments based on the unique biology of an individual’s cancer. And we’ve used a gaming platform that will feel familiar and intuitive to most players,” Josh Baldwin, Genentech's director of digital strategy and channels, corporate relations, said in an email interview. For Genentech, the video game is the latest in trying to engage people with content that goes beyond traditional editorial and video, which have already included animations, comic strips, podcasts and other video games.

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PHARMACY MARKET

Walgreens Boots Alliance Completes Majority Share Acquisition of CareCentrix

Walgreens Boots Alliance and CareCentrix | September 01, 2022

Walgreens Boots Alliance, Inc. announced it has completed its previously announced majority share acquisition of CareCentrix, Inc.—the leading independent home-centered platform that coordinates care to the home for health plans, patients and providers. The majority investment in CareCentrix accelerates Walgreens Health’s capabilities in delivering quality healthcare across a spectrum of settings including primary care, specialty pharmacy care, post-acute care and home care. By bringing together Walgreens trusted health services and community presence with CareCentrix’s technology-enabled, care-at-home solutions, the partnership better addresses the needs of people with complex or chronic conditions as they transition out of the hospital. CareCentrix’s advanced data analytics capabilities enable highly personalized care plans to help people transition to the right site of care, prioritizing care in the home when appropriate. This approach supports both care quality and value by reducing hospital readmissions and improving patient satisfaction and outcomes. “We created Walgreens Health to reimagine local healthcare and wellbeing for all. This partnership advances our ability to address the needs of people across care settings immediately following hospital discharge. Our collaboration with CareCentrix is one of the many ways we are expanding on our pharmacy and patient expertise to surround individuals with care when and how they need it.” Roz Brewer, CEO, WBA Healthcare services delivered after discharge, including care delivered in the home, are one of the fastest growing segments in healthcare today. Caring for patients from the hospital to the home represents more than $75 billion in annual healthcare costs for payers, providers and patients. “The most challenging part of the healthcare journey is the last mile – extending healthcare delivery into people’s homes,” said John Driscoll, CEO, CareCentrix. “Together with Walgreens Health, CareCentrix is able to combine Walgreens trusted community presence with our powerful technology-enabled care to better address patients’ unique health needs in their homes.” In addition to home-based care, CareCentrix connects patients to appropriate providers and sites of care post-discharge, utilizing a predictive analytics platform, HomeFirst Analytics. This level of customization also includes pairing patients with care transition teams that support patient engagement for 90 days post-discharge to improve quality metrics. Walgreens Health will continue to advance capabilities that integrate CareCentrix data analytics and home care expertise with WBA’s portfolio of health solutions to identify and close care gaps, as well as coordinate patient care across conditions, settings and provider networks. These capabilities will enable Walgreens to support medication reconciliation for CareCentrix patients transitioning from hospital to home and provide primary care options to patients when needed, including Village Medical physicians and advanced practice providers. CareCentrix will also play a critical role in Walgreens Health integrated offerings to manage population level risk for benefits management and post-acute spend and outcomes. CareCentrix manages care for 19 million members through approximately 7,400 provider locations, and empowers more people to live, heal and age at home. By partnering with health plans and health systems, CareCentrix has reduced total cost of care for members by 20 percent, including a greater than 11 percent reduction in emergency department usage and a 23 percent reduction in skilled nursing costs. This investment gives WBA majority ownership of CareCentrix, investing approximately $330 million for 55 percent of the company at an $800 million valuation, net of debt, with the option to acquire the remaining equity interests in the future. In WBA’s fiscal year 2021, CareCentrix delivered pro forma sales of $1.5 billion. Following the completion of the investment, CareCentrix will continue to operate as an independent company under its current executive leadership. Sidley Austin LLP acted as lead legal advisor for WBA, along with Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP. Citi acted as financial advisor for CareCentrix, Inc., and Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP acted as lead legal advisor. About Walgreens Boots Alliance Walgreens Boots Alliance is an integrated healthcare, pharmacy and retail leader serving millions of customers and patients every day, with a 170-year heritage of caring for communities. A trusted, global innovator in retail pharmacy with approximately 13,000 locations across the U.S., Europe and Latin America, WBA plays a critical role in the healthcare ecosystem. The company is reimagining local healthcare and well-being for all as part of its purpose – to create more joyful lives through better health. Through dispensing medicines, improving access to a wide range of health services, providing high quality health and beauty products and offering anytime, anywhere convenience across its digital platforms, WBA is shaping the future of healthcare. WBA has more than 315,000 team members and a presence in nine countries through its portfolio of consumer brands: Walgreens, Boots, Duane Reade, the No7 Beauty Company, Benavides in Mexico and Ahumada in Chile. Additionally, WBA has a portfolio of healthcare-focused investments located in several countries, including China and the U.S. About CareCentrix CareCentrix offers value-based home solutions to payors and health systems to help more of their members access the home care they need, when they need it. Through a single platform, CareCentrix coordinates multiple, complex home care needs for over 19 million members through a national network of approximately 7,400 provider locations, resulting in a simplified patient and physician experience. For over 25 years, CareCentrix’s focus on the whole person has improved continuity of care, reduced unnecessary readmissions and unnecessary emergency department utilization, and has delivered positive financial results for health plans. With proprietary HomeFirst Analytics to stratify risk and optimize care delivery, CareCentrix takes on the complexities of care coordination and management of care in the home to provide our clients with essential insights into care at home. CareCentrix has been named one of Fierce Healthcare’s 2022 “Fierce 15” companies and FORTUNE’s Best Workplaces for Aging Services.

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BUSINESS INSIGHTS

Merck Enters Collaboration and Option to License Agreement with Nerviano Medical Sciences to Develop Next-Generation PARP1 Selective Inhibitor

Merck | September 22, 2022

Merck, a leading science and technology company, announced a collaboration agreement with licensing option with Nerviano Medical Sciences S.r.l. for the next-generation highly selective and brain-penetrant PARP1 inhibitor, NMS-293. NMS-293 has strong potential in combination with a wide variety of DNA-damaging agents, including systemic or targeted chemotherapy or with DNA damage response inhibitors, in numerous tumor types. NMS-293 is in early clinical development for the treatment of patients with BRCA-mutated tumors as a single agent and in combination with temozolomide in recurrent glioblastoma. “Building on the therapeutic impact that PARP inhibitors have had over the last several years, we believe this new PARP1 program, if successful, could fill a significant unmet need for patients unresponsive to existing PARP inhibitors with an improved hematological adverse event profile. The work of NMS to discover and advance this next generation PARP1 selective inhibitor coupled with our deep expertise in developing therapies which modify DNA damage response mechanisms, creates a strong foundation to further develop this investigational therapy for patients.” Victoria Zazulina, M.D., Head of Development Unit Oncology for the Healthcare business of Merck PARP is key in the repair of DNA damage, and PARP inhibitors have been shown to be highly efficacious in the treatment of patients with tumors deficient in homologous recombination repair, such as breast, ovarian, prostate and pancreatic cancers with BRCA-mutations. Under the current agreement, Merck will make early payments (up-front and option exercise fees) of up to $65 million to NMS. Furthermore, NMS will receive payments for the achievement of certain development, regulatory and commercial milestones and tiered royalties on net sales by Merck. Upon exercise of the option, NMS will grant to Merck the exclusive rights to research, develop, manufacture, and commercialize NMS-293. During the option period, NMS and Merck will collaborate on the clinical development of NMS-293, with NMS designing, sponsoring, conducting, and funding global clinical trials. About NMS-293 NMS-293 is an orally available small molecule inhibitor of PARP1 and is currently in early clinical development for the treatment of patients with BRCA mutated tumors as single agent and with recurrent Glioblastoma (GBM), a brain tumor with very high medical need, in combination with temozolomide (TMZ). About Merck Merck, a leading science and technology company, operates across life science, healthcare and electronics. More than 60,000 employees work to make a positive difference to millions of people’s lives every day by creating more joyful and sustainable ways to live. From advancing gene editing technologies and discovering unique ways to treat the most challenging diseases to enabling the intelligence of devices – the company is everywhere. In 2021, Merck generated sales of € 19.7 billion in 66 countries.

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PHARMACY MARKET

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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