AstraZeneca's Calquence sets Imbruvica in its sights with big CLL survival numbers

fiercepharma | June 17, 2019

When AstraZeneca ended a late-stage trial for Calquence early after seeing promising results, the news boded well for the drug’s chances in previously treated chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL). Now, the drugmaker has unveiled the detailed data it plans to take before regulators later this year. At an average of 16.1 months, Calquence reduced the risk of CLL progression or death by 69% compared with standard-of-care regimens of Roche's Rituxan combined with chemo drug bendamustine or Gilead's Zydelig. At 12 months, it had stopped CLL progression in 88% of patients, compared with just 68% of those in the control arm, according to data from a phase 3 trial dubbed Ascend. “These data add to the growing body of evidence to support the profile of Calquence as a selective BTK inhibitor that offers a chemotherapy-free treatment option with a favorable safety profile in chronic lymphocytic leukemia, a life-threatening disease,” José Baselga, AstraZeneca’s VP of oncology R&D, said in a statement. Baselga said AstraZeneca would take data from the Ascend trial before regulators later this year. If the company can eventually snag a green light in CLL, it'll mean a big boost to Calquence's potential patient population. CLL is the most common form of leukemia, with an estimated 191,000 new cases globally and 20,720 new cases in the U.S. each year, AstraZeneca said. Calquence was first approved to treat mantle cell lymphoma (MCL) in previously untreated patients in October 2017.

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Bluestar Genomics Receives CAP Accreditation for Its Clinical Laboratory

Bluestar Genomics | October 11, 2022

Bluestar Genomics, Inc., an early cancer detection company leading the development and commercialization of next-generation liquid biopsy tests focused on non-invasive detection of high-mortality cancers in high-risk patient populations, today announced it received accreditation for its clinical laboratory from the College of American Pathologists (CAP). The certification enables the company to serve physicians and patients globally as it works towards broad commercialization of its first test for the detection of pancreatic cancer. CAP Accreditation is an internationally recognized program that awards laboratories that meet stringent requirements of quality, accuracy, and consistency. This milestone further solidifies Bluestar Genomics’ commitment to providing the highest standards of testing results. The company’s proprietary approach to detecting cancer early is anchored in epigenomic process of tracking dynamic changes in cells in the body by measuring levels of the biomarker 5-hydroxymethylcytosine (5hmC) in a person’s blood. “This accreditation—on the heels of our CLIA certification and combined with our growing body of scientific evidence supporting the utility of our 5hmC-based epigenomic testing—positions us to become the first cancer detection company to offer non-invasive epigenomic blood-based testing for early pancreatic cancer detection. These milestones are a testament to our focus on preparing our company to serve customers around the world, helping millions of patients avoid late-stage, untreatable cancer diagnosis.” David Mullarkey, chief executive officer of Bluestar Genomics Bluestar Genomics’ pancreatic cancer early detection test has been analytically validated and previously received FDA Breakthrough Device Designation. It is designed to analyze a person’s changing biology and uses novel 5hmC-based epigenomic analysis to detect when cells become cancerous. The company has a prospective, large clinical validation study underway to further study its test. About Bluestar Genomics Bluestar Genomics is an early cancer detection company focused on the development and commercialization of non-invasive epigenomic tests to detect cancer through a standard blood draw, earlier than existing methods and when the disease is still treatable. The company uses its one-of-a-kind epigenomic platform that combines best-in-class bioinformatics and genomic technologies to analyze individuals’ changing biology that is yet to produce symptoms. Leveraging its novel liquid biopsy technology, Bluestar Genomics is initially focused on high-mortality cancers with the greatest need for early detection, starting with pancreatic and women’s cancers. With locations in San Diego and the San Francisco Bay Area, Bluestar Genomics collaborates with top research institutions and is supported by multiple global healthcare and technology investors and pharmaceutical collaborations.

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BUSINESS INSIGHTS

Inversago Pharma Raises $95 million CAD in Series C Financing

Inversago Pharma Inc. | October 18, 2022

Inversago Pharma Inc. a clinical stage biotech company with a unique portfolio of peripherally-acting CB1 inverse agonists, announced the completion of a Series C funding of $95 million CAD led by New Enterprise Associates. Additional new investors Forbion’s Growth Opportunities Fund and Amgen Ventures joined current investors including Forbion’s Ventures Fund IV Fonds de solidarité FTQ, Genesys Capital, AmorChem, JDRF T1D Fund and adMare BioInnovations in the financing round. Proceeds from the Series C financing will be used to move Inversago’s lead program, INV-202, into a Phase 2 clinical trial in Diabetic Kidney Disease in Q4 2022. This follows the previously announced IND clearance from the FDA and the upcoming promising Phase 1b topline results in subjects with metabolic syndrome. Additionally, the funds will accelerate the Company’s other key programs currently in pre-clinical development, while establishing its leadership in the field of CB1 blockers. “We are privileged to have the support and commitment of such an impressive investor syndicate at this critical stage of the Company’s development. This new round of financing is a strong endorsement of the whole Inversago team, who have carried the vision to leverage the potential of the CB1 blockade in developing potent treatments for a growing number of patients suffering from metabolic conditions, such as Diabetic Kidney Diseases and other diabetes-related conditions”. François Ravenelle, PhD, Chief Executive Officer of Inversago Pharma Commenting on the investment, Ed Mathers, General Partner at NEA, said: “Inversago has demonstrated that peripherally-acting CB1 blockers have an untapped potential to create a new class of target therapies that serve diabetic patient populations. Today’s financing reflects our shared vision and collaboration with the Company’s management as they initiate a Phase 2 clinical trial with INV-202”. Nanna Lüneborg, General Partner at Forbion Growth, added: “We are delighted to join this Series C financing of Inversago, and support the Company to develop a pipeline of new therapies which promise to make a profound impact on the lives of patients with cardiometabolic diseases. We have been impressed by the terrific progress of Inversago since Forbion led the Company’s Series B round two years ago and are excited to further support the Company from both Forbion Growth and Forbion Ventures”. About NEA New Enterprise Associates, Inc. is a global venture capital firm focused on helping entrepreneurs build transformational businesses across multiple stages, sectors and geographies. With nearly $24 billion in cumulative committed capital since the firm's founding in 1977, NEA invests in technology and healthcare companies at all stages in a company's lifecycle, from seed stage through IPO. The firm's track record of investing includes more than 260 portfolio company IPOs and more than 440 mergers and acquisitions. About Forbion Forbion is a dedicated life sciences venture capital firm with offices in The Netherlands, Germany and Singapore. Forbion invests in life sciences companies that are active in the (bio-) pharmaceutical space. Forbion manages well over EUR 2 billion across multiple fund strategies that cover all stages of pharmaceutical drug development. Forbion’s current team consists of over 30 life sciences investment professionals that have built an impressive performance track record since the late nineties with investments in 92 companies. Besides financial objectives, Forbion selects investments that will positively affect the health and well-being of patients. The firm is a signatory to the United Nations Principles for Responsible Investment. Forbion operates a joint venture with BGV, the manager of seed and early-stage funds, especially focused on Benelux and Germany. About Amgen Ventures Amgen Ventures is Amgen's corporate venture capital fund, dedicated to investing in emerging companies and technologies to advance promising new medicines and solutions to healthcare’s biggest challenges. About Inversago Pharma Located in Montreal, Inversago Pharma is a privately owned Canadian biotech company at clinical stage, specialized in the development of new therapies focusing on CB1 blockade, based on first-in-class, peripherally-acting CB1 inverse agonists. Inversago aims to provide new treatment options that improve the lives of patients affected by metabolic conditions such as Diabetic Kidney Disease including Diabetic Nephropathy Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes Non-Alcoholic Steatohepatitis complications of obesity and hypertriglyceridemia as well as fibrotic indications like Progressive Fibrosis-Interstitial Lung Disease including Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis and other conditions.

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BUSINESS INSIGHTS

Cellusion and Celregen a member of Fosun Pharma, Enter into Exclusive License Agreement of CLS001 for a Corneal Endothelial Cell Regenerative

Cellusion and Celregen | September 12, 2022

Cellusion Inc. a Japanese regenerative medicine startup aiming to solve the global corneal transplant waiting list problem with a unique differentiation induction method from iPS cells to Corneal Endothelial Cell Substitute from iPS Cells for bullous keratopathy novel treatment and Hangzhou Celregen Therapeutics Ltd. a member of Shanghai Fosun Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd. and focus on regenerative medicine and cell therapy and incubated by New Drug Fund of Fosun Health Capital announced an exclusive license agreement in the Greater China region for Celregen to develop, manufacture and commercialize CLS001. Under the Agreement, Celregen will have the exclusive right to develop, manufacture and commercialize CLS001 for bullous keratopathy in the Greater China region, including Mainland China, Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan. On the other hand, Cellusion retains the rights of development, manufacturing and commercialization of CLS001 in other regions including Japan, the USA, and EU. Under the terms of the agreement, Cellusion will potentially receive over 100 million US dollars including upfront payment, development milestones and sales milestones as well as tiered royalties. “We are very enthusiastic about combining our knowledge of the underlying iPS cellular biology with Celregen and Fosun Pharma in the development and commercialization of innovative medicine in China. Together, we are committed to make best efforts on launching CLS001 for the patient suffering from bullous keratopathy due to the cornea donor shortage in the greater China region.” Shin Hatou, M.D. Ph.D., CEO of Cellusion “Today’s announcement with a global industry leader in iPS cells derived corneal endothelial regenerative therapy such as Cellusion, is an important and strategic step to build a long-term foundation for cell therapy in China,” said Cui Zhiping, the Chairman of Celregen, Fosun Global Partner, Chief Consultant of VC investment of Fosun Pharma and CEO of Fosun New Drug Fund. “This partnership, which leverages each company’s respective strengths, will help us bring novel regenerative medicine products to patients in greater China.” According to reports, there are about millions of people in China who are blind due to corneal diseases, and this number is increasing at a rate of 100,000 per year. Most of the patients with corneal blindness need corneal transplantation to restore their sight, but only less than 20,000 corneal transplants are conducted due to severe donor cornea shortage issues. Cellusion has already announced that the patient recruitment began for the First-in-Human Investigator-Initiated Study of CLS001 to initiate in 2022 at the Keio University Hospital and has been preparing to start Cellusion initiated clinical trial in Japan within a few years followed by global studies in the US and EU region. Cellusion is developing CLS001, CECSi cells for Corneal Endothelial regeneration to cure Bullous Keratopathy which is applied to more than half of all cases of corneal transplantation. CLS001 is expected to replace the current supply limitations by combining “CECSi Cells made from iPS cells with excellent proliferative properties” and “a simple injection cell delivery procedure without needs of human expertise.” About Celregen Celregen, incubated by New Drug Fund of Fosun Health Capital, focuses on stem cell and transformed cellular regenerative medicine. This platform adopts a variety of modes of cooperation with leading biotech and scientists. It is expected to be a head biotech in regenerative medicine in China. About Fosun Pharma Founded in 1994, Fosun Pharma is a global innovation-driven pharmaceutical and healthcare industry group deep-rooted in China. Fosun Pharma directly operates businesses including pharmaceutical manufacturing, medical devices, medical diagnosis, and healthcare services. As a shareholder of Sinopharm Co., Ltd., Fosun Pharma expands its areas in the pharmaceutical distribution and retail business. Fosun Pharma is patient-centered and clinical needs-oriented. The company enriches its innovative product pipeline through diversified and multi-level cooperation models such as independent research and development, cooperative development, license-in, and in-depth incubation. Fosun Pharma has formed technological platforms for innovative small molecule drugs, antibody drugs, and cell therapy with a focus on key disease areas including oncology and immunomodulation, metabolism and digestive system, and central nervous system. About Fosun New Drug Fund New Drug Fund, under the management of Fosun Health Capital, is the first VC established by Fosun Pharma. The Fund focuses on innovative biopharmaceutical-based drug fields at the start-up and expansion stages, including gene therapy, cell therapy, bio-conjugate drugs, and medical aesthetics, etc. The Fund has committed to incubate cutting-edging science and revolutionary technologies from world top universities, research institutes and biotech, through which path we can establish and adopt a variety of models of cooperation.

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BUSINESS INSIGHTS, PHARMACY MARKET

Novo Nordisk & ATLATL announce winners in their joint program EntreStar

Novo Nordisk & ATLATL | December 06, 2022

Novo Nordisk Research Centre China and ATLATL jointly announce the winners of EntreStar program. Hangzhou DNano MetaBio and Modit Medicine stood out among all participants and won the awards. The two winners will be given priority access to one of ATLATL’s nation-wide facilities in China, and a prize of CNY 500K RMB each to pay for the ATLATL facilities and services. They are also entitled to mentoring by relevant experts of Novo Nordisk. There will be no strings attached for the two companies. Founded in 2022, Hangzhou DNano MetaBio Technology has been focusing on the design of nucleic acid nanocarriers with customized functions and great potential in clinical translation. The team has rich experience in nucleic acid structure design, which enables them to accurately regulate the organ-targeting ability and the on-demand drug release performance of the nanocarriers. “It’s our great honour to participate in EntreStar. We look forward to exploring collaboration opportunities with the community. Meanwhile, it is very much appreciated that we can receive guidance and help from Novo Nordisk’s experts in relevant fields, so that our company can develop in a healthy way.” Dr. Baoquan DING, President & Chief Scientist of DNano expressed his hopes in the award ceremony, Modit Medicine Inc., founded in 2022, is a biotech company focusing on RNA editing and therapeutics. The company owns cutting-edge and propriety RNA modification and editing methodologies and is devoted to the development of novel platform technologies. Instead of manipulating DNA sequences, technologies of Modit Medicine Inc. correct genetic errors at the RNA level, thereby providing opportunities for safe, efficacious and innovative therapeutics to treat human rare diseases, cancers, etc. Dr. Chengqi YI, Founder of Modit Medicine and Boya Professor of Peking University, commented on his participation, “By participating in the EntreStar program, Modit Medicine Inc. hopes to learn from global pharma about their insights on technology platform and marketing strategies in gene therapy, as well as to seek and form potential collaborations with Novo Nordisk. We also appreciate advice and suggestions from ATLATL about useful tips for start-up companies to connect with government and industry.” Dr. Dan HAN, President of NNRCC, shared her remarks: “We see great potential in the novel concepts proposed by DNano and Modit. By leveraging knowledge and experiences in our global organisation, we hope that Novo Nordisk can help pushing their research projects forward more effectively. As a Novo Nordisk affiliate in China, we partner with brilliant minds via INNOVO® program to facilitate translational research, with EntreStar initiative as its latest addition.” Dr. Pengcheng ZHU, Founder of ATLATL Innovation Center, commented on the role ATLATL plays: “It is my greatest pleasure to help make the EntreStar winners thrive at ATLATL’s platform, with access to global resources, such as our partners like Novo Nordisk. The ATLATL Innovation Center is a world-class scientific hub for the life sciences. We streamline the elements of R&D to improve resource utilization, and revolutionize the traditional asset-heavy investment model into an asset-light operation model. I am looking forward to collaborating with even more leading biopharmaceuticals and bringing success to these talented people.” About Novo Nordisk Novo Nordisk is a leading global healthcare company, founded in 1923 and headquartered in Denmark. Our purpose is to drive change to defeat diabetes and other serious chronic diseases. We do so by pioneering scientific breakthroughs, expanding access to our medicines, and working to prevent and ultimately cure disease. Novo Nordisk employs about 49,300 people in 80 countries and markets its products in around 170 countries. Novo Nordisk Research Centre China founded in 1997, takes pride in being the first research centre established by a multinational pharmaceutical company in China. With a focus on protein and peptide therapeutics, NNRCC has full capabilities and rich experiences in drug discovery research. About ATLATL The ATLATL Innovation Center is a world-class scientific hub for global life sciences. ATLATL streamlines the elements of R&D to improve resource utilization and revolutionizes the traditional asset-heavy investment model into an asset-light operation model. This much more time and cost-efficient model originated in Boston and continues to be optimized from 2017 onwards in China. ATLATL provides not only state-of-the-art facilities and professional operational management but also many R&D platforms staffed with scientists and project managers specializing in various fields. By collaborating with leading biopharma ATLATL integrates global resources to stimulate innovative developments. ATLATL currently has R&D platforms in Beijing, Shanghai, Suzhou, etc., leveraging the uniqueness of each site to help innovators quickly reach the next milestone.

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