Bayer may merge animal health unit with Elanco

pharmaphorum | July 10, 2019

Bayer has delayed a planned sale of its animal health unit to private equity interests in order to explore a merger with US firm Elanco, claims Reuters. Citing three separate anonymous sources, the news agency says the two companies are already working with banks to ensure any merger would secure regulatory approvals. However it also suggests Elanco may not have the cash needed to complete the deal. Elanco – formerly part of Eli Lilly before being spun off last year – is the fourth-largest animal health company and adding Bayer’s fifth-ranked business would create an industry giant to challenge rivals like Pfizer’s Zoetis, Boehringer Ingelheim and Merck & Co. Elanco is weighed down with debt that it inherited after separating from Lilly, however, it ended last year with an exposure of around $2.5 billion, so Bayer would likely have to keep a stake in the merged company to secure a deal. A spokesman for Bayer told Reuters that “after the strategic review of the possibilities, the main focus is on a sale”, although he said the company will “consider all value-maximising options.” Investors have been calling for Bayer to shed the animal health business for some time to narrow its focus on higher-margin operations like human pharmaceuticals and raise cash in the wake of its $63 billion takeover of Monsanto.

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BUSINESS INSIGHTS

Agilent Announces the Innovative Seahorse XF Pro Analyzer

Agilent Technologies Inc. | January 25, 2022

Agilent Technologies Inc. announced the release of the Agilent Seahorse XF Pro Analyzer, featuring new pharma-oriented workflow solutions incorporating advanced experimental design and analysis tools. With enhanced performance, more robust and efficient workflows, and an optimized user experience, the XF Pro enables operators at any skill level to access the most advanced cellular metabolism analysis technology for understanding cellular fate, fitness, and function. Preclinical therapeutic discovery workflows place high demands on cellular analysis, with immunology and disease researchers increasingly using rare, ex vivo, and genetically engineered cells to build better disease models. To address the increasing interest in monitoring live cells in real-time, the new XF Pro Analyzer incorporates a suite of hardware and software enhancements that improve measurement performance and data interpretation. These enhancements will make it easier to identify novel drug targets, validate target effect on cellular function, optimize disease models, and determine drug safety and antitumor potential of T cell therapies. “With dedicated workflow solutions the XF Pro provides enhanced performance and customer experience, particularly within pharma and biopharma therapeutic development, and toxicity programs. This underlines Agilent’s commitment towards developing intentional end-to-end solution-focused innovations that continue to lead the way for applied analytical and research applications, including direct metabolic analysis.” Richard Fernandes, associate vice president and general manager of Agilent’s Cell Analysis, Seahorse, Luxcel, and microplates businesses "The launch of the XF Pro is very much a customer-driven event. Through collaboration and intentional conversations with our customers and key opinion leaders, we recognized the need for a live-cell metabolic analysis platform which makes sophisticated analysis even more accessible for both experienced users as well as novices,” added Chris Braun, associate vice president of Marketing for Agilent’s Cell Analysis Division. “Primarily targeting the pharma/biopharma sector, but beneficial to all our customers, the XF Pro incorporates critical metabolic insights into researchers’ discovery workflows to facilitate even higher quality data where it matters most.” The XF Pro Analyzer is expected to enhance critical aspects of live-cell analysis, particularly for researchers working in immunotherapy, early drug discovery, and preclinical safety assessment. By delivering better precision at a low oxygen consumption rate (OCR), the XF Pro Analyzer allows analysts to confidently interrogate more immune cell types, as well as cell types that are bioenergetically compromised. The instrument also features pharma-tailored workflows for harnessing robust cellular metabolism measurements while handling suspension cell types, along with simplified automation enablement and analytical instrument qualification (AIQ). About Agilent Technologies Agilent Technologies Inc. is a global leader in the life sciences, diagnostics, and applied chemical markets, delivering insight and innovation that advance the quality of life. Agilent’s full range of solutions includes instruments, software, services, and expertise that provide trusted answers to our customers' most challenging questions. The company generated revenue of $6.32 billion in fiscal 2021 and employs 17,000 people worldwide.

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BUSINESS INSIGHTS

Sygnature Discovery to Deploy Iktos’s AI for Drug Design Software Makya™

Iktos | May 11, 2022

Iktos, a leading integrated drug discovery CRO headquartered in Nottingham, UK, with expertise across a range of therapeutic and biological target classes today announced a collaboration agreement in AI for new drug design. Under the 3-year agreement, Sygnature will deploy Iktos’ de novo generative design software Makya™, which will be used by Sygnature scientists to facilitate rapid and efficient design of novel compounds and accelerate hit-to-lead/lead optimisation, reinforcing Sygnature Discovery’s drug design expertise delivering its integrated drug discovery solutions to its world-wide customer base. In the recent years, Iktos has emerged as one of the world leaders in AI for drug design, establishing multiple collaborations with renowned pharmaceutical companies and successfully developing the AI software platforms Makya™ for new drug design and Spaya™ for synthesis planning. Makya™, a generative AI-driven de novo design software for Multi-Parametric Optimization (MPO), is available either as a SaaS platform or for implementation on customer premises or in the customer’s Virtual Private Cloud (VPC). Makya’s user-friendly interface enables it to be used by medicinal or computational chemists, and Makya can also be operated as a Python package through a Jupyter notebook interface. Makya is based on Iktos’ generative AI technology, which helps bring speed and efficiency to the drug discovery process by automatically designing virtual novel molecules that have desired activities for treating a given disease. It is a novel solution, validated through many collaborations, to one of the key challenges in drug design: the rapid identification of molecules that simultaneously satisfy multiple parameters, such as potency, selectivity, safety, and project-specific properties. Sygnature Discovery serves its growing customer base with fully integrated drug discovery services from target validation through to preclinical candidate selection. The company has a relentless focus on quality and continually looks to improve on its ability to deliver novel therapeutics to the clinic. Colin Sambrook-Smith, Director of Computational Sciences at Sygnature Discovery commented: “Late stage lead optimisation projects routinely generate substantial data sets which are ideally placed for exploitation by AI and Machine Learning technologies. Our experience with the Iktos Makya AI/ML technology demonstrates that it generates high quality compound ideas, the QSAR models can be rapidly updated, and the interface allows us to distribute the software broadly and quickly. We believe that Makya will allow us to blend our proven medicinal and computational chemistry expertise with the benefit of AI/ML technologies to impact compound design. This is why we have selected Makya to enhance how we help our customers with their lead optimisation projects, with a view to reducing the number of compounds required to identify pre-clinical candidates and so keep overall costs and timelines down.” "We are very pleased to collaborate with Sygnature Discovery, they truly are a leading integrated drug discovery CRO and with a great track record. We are excited and proud to announce our first multi-year collaboration deal in the dynamic CRO sector and to have Sygnature’s scientists use our software to speed up their customers’ discovery programs. We are more than ever committed to make our technology available to biopharma companies around the world and maximize the impact of AI on the productivity of drug discovery." Yann Gaston-Mathé, Co-founder and CEO of Iktos About Iktos Incorporated in October 2016, Iktos is a start-up company specializing in the development of artificial intelligence solutions applied to chemical research, more specifically medicinal chemistry and new drug design. Iktos is developing a proprietary and innovative solution based on deep learning generative models, which enables, using existing data, the design of molecules that are optimized in silico to meet all the success criteria of a small molecule discovery project. The use of Iktos technology enables major productivity gains in upstream pharmaceutical R&D. Iktos offers its technology both as professional services and as a SaaS software platform, Makya™. Iktos is also developing Spaya™, a synthesis planning software based upon Iktos’s proprietary AI technology for retrosynthesis.

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BUSINESS INSIGHTS

Breckenridge Signs New-Product Agreement with PTS Pharma

Breckenridge Pharmaceutical, Inc. | April 23, 2022

Breckenridge Pharmaceutical, Inc. announces today that it has signed a new-product agreement with PTS Pharma, LLC. under which PTS will support a technology transfer to Towa Pharmaceutical Europe, S.L. of a complex "For Suspension" product developed by PTS. The remainder of development and commercialization will be performed at the Towa facility. According to industry sales data, the product and its generics had annual sales of approximately $75 million during the twelve months ending February 2022. The companies are actively negotiating and look forward to collaborating on additional complex formulations under the same business model. About Breckenridge Breckenridge Pharmaceutical, Inc., a subsidiary of Towa Pharmaceutical, partners with manufacturers nationwide and around the world to bring quality, cost-effective generic pharmaceuticals to U.S. patients. With our dedication to customer service, on-time delivery, reliable supply and quality manufacturing, we improve the health and quality of life of the patients we and our customers serve. About PTS Pharma, LLC PTS Consulting, LLC and PTS Pharma LLC., is a formulation development, clinical trial production, regulatory services and analytical control laboratory based in Kansas. PTS Consulting is actively involved in regulatory consulting services. PTS Pharma operations include the capability and expertise to develop complex formulations of tablets, capsules, granules, modified dosage forms, topical dosage forms, suppositories, film products, solution, and suspension formulations and sterile injectables, with involvement in multiple aNDA and NDA filings over the years. The activities are housed in dedicated GMP suites in the facility in Kansas City, USA. PTS Pharma is also involved in active raw material clinical production by fermentation technology processes. The firm was founded in 2003 by Paul Sudhakar, an industry veteran who is the Owner, President, and CEO of the firm.

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PHARMA TECH

n-Lorem Foundation Partners with Alnylam to Expand Technology Access to RNAi Therapeutics for Patients with Nano-rare Diseases

n-Lorem a nonprofit Foundation | January 20, 2022

n-Lorem, a nonprofit Foundation, discovering and providing experimental antisense oligonucleotide medicines to nano-rare disease patients for free, for life, today announced a new partnership with Alnylam Pharmaceuticals Inc. “Discovering, developing and providing individualized medicines for nano-rare patients is a monumental task. At n-Lorem, using ASO technology, we take advantage of three decades of experience, unparalleled quality control and integrated safety databases that are used to select frequency and dosage for each individual ASO therapy. As we expand our highly selective and versatile model to other amendable technologies, it is important for us to maintain a high level of quality,” said Stanley T. Crooke, M.D., Ph.D., Founder, Chief Executive Officer and Chairman, n-Lorem Foundation. “Alnylam’s RNAi therapeutic technology is the perfect complement to Ionis’ ASO technology, both are well understood, proven drug discovery technologies. Adding Alnylam as a partner is another step in the creation of a broad network of partner stakeholders committed to treating nano-rare patients.” “We are pleased to partner with the n-Lorem Foundation in identifying opportunities to bring our novel RNAi technology platform to potentially help patients with nano-rare diseases. At Alnylam, we are committed to identifying pathways to expand access to our medicines and we applaud the work of the foundation in bringing together industry partners who are driven to provide options for patients that have little or no options for treatment,” Akshay Vaishnaw, M.D., Ph.D., President at Alnylam “Although we have the tools and expertise to understand nano-rare patients at a genetic level, the extreme rarity of these patients present insurmountable challenges to the current healthcare systems,” said Dr. Sarah Glass, Chief Development Officer, n-Lorem Foundation. “n-Lorem is addressing these challenges one nano-rare patient at a time and is supported through a consortium of well-renowned and diverse organizations worldwide. These include our biotechnology and pharmaceutical partners, including Ionis Pharmaceuticals, Biogen, Ultragenyx and today Alnylam; our clinical research partners, including Charles River Labs, Korea Institute of Toxicology and Parexel; our contract manufacturing partners, including ChemGenes, Cytiva and Nitto Avecia; and many other collaborations that make n-Lorem’s mission possible.” Alnylam is leading 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 genetic, cardio-metabolic, hepatic infectious, and central nervous system ocular diseases. Based on Nobel Prize-winning science, RNAi therapeutics represent a powerful, clinically validated approach for the treatment of a wide range of severe and debilitating diseases. Founded in 2002, Alnylam is delivering on a bold vision to turn scientific possibility into reality, with a robust RNAi therapeutics platform. Alnylam’s commercial RNAi therapeutic products are ONPATTRO®, GIVLAARI® (givosiran), and OXLUMO®, as well as Leqvio®, which is 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. About n-Lorem n-Lorem Foundation is a non-profit organization established to apply the efficiency, versatility and specificity of antisense technology to charitably provide experimental antisense oligonucleotide medicines to treat nano-rare patients diagnosed with diseases that are the result of a single genetic defect unique to only one or very few individuals. Nano-rare patients describe a very small group of patients who, because of their small numbers, have few if any treatment options. n-Lorem Foundation was created to provide hope to these nano-rare patients by developing individualized ASO medicines, which are short strands of modified DNA that can specifically target the transcripts of a defective gene to correct the abnormality. The advantage of experimental ASO medicines is that they can be developed rapidly, inexpensively and are highly specific. To date, n-Lorem has assisted in the development and treatment of 14 nano-rare patients and received over 100 applications for treatment with more than 40 nano-rare patients approved. n-Lorem was founded by Stanley T. Crooke, M.D., Ph.D., former chairman and CEO of Ionis Pharmaceuticals, who founded Ionis Pharmaceuticals in 1989 and, through his vision and leadership, established the company as the leader in RNA-targeted therapeutics.

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Spotlight

In this short video, Ruth March explains what drives her passion for working in personalised healthcare, why it is important for pharma and patients, how AstraZeneca is integrating this approach into its research and development and what benefit is already being delivered to patients in different disease areas.

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