bluebird bio gets CHMP nod for gene therapy Zynteglo

PharmaPhorum | April 01, 2019

bluebird bio gets CHMP nod for gene therapy Zynteglo
A European Medicines Agency advisory panel has recommended a conditional approval for Zynteglo, bluebird bio’s lead gene therapy for thalassemia, a rare blood disorder. The Committee for Medicinal Products for Human Use (CHMP) confirmed on Friday that it had issued a positive opinion for the therapy – previously known as LentiGlobin – as a treatment for patients aged 12 years and older with transfusion-dependent beta-thalassemia (TDT) who do not have a specific β0/β0 genotype. The announcement came after a couple of medical charities jumped the gun and prematurely issued notices of the panel’s endorsement last week, hailing it as a major advance for patients with TDT who typically need frequent blood transfusions to manage the disease. The positive opinion for Zynteglo (autologous CD34+ cells encoding βA-T87Q-globin gene) puts bluebird bio on course for its first gene therapy approval in the coming weeks and could give thalassaemia patients a new one-shot treatment option that tackles the underlying genetic cause of the disease.

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RESEARCH

DEBIOPHARM INVESTS IN VERISIM LIFE'S $15M SERIES A ROUND TO ADVANCE AI-ENABLED DRUG RESEARCH

Debiopharm International SA | January 11, 2022

Debiopharm a Swiss biopharmaceutical company, announced their co-investment in California-based start-up VeriSIM Life's $15 Million Series A Round to advance their mission to accelerate drug development via technology powered by artificial intelligence. VeriSIM Life's computational platform reduces time and cost of drug development as well as reduces the need for animal testing that, in the vast majority of cases, does not translate well to humans. Debiopharm's co-investment in VeriSIM contributes to the growth plan of the start-up and will help to expand and establish transformational partnerships with industry and academia using their first-in-class 'virtual drug development engine' BIOiSIM™. The investment aligns with Debiopharm's focus to invest in digital health solutions that improve the cancer patient journey, transform pharmaceutical R&D, and shift healthcare towards a more patient-centric approach. With the financing round led by Morpheus Ventures, Debiopharm Innovation Fund joins new investors including Colorcon Ventures along with existing investors OCA Ventures, Intel Capital, Serra Ventures and Susa Ventures. Founded in 2017 by Jo Varshney, DVM and PhD alongside a cross-functional team of pharmaceutical scientists, software engineers and AI/ML and simulation experts, the start-up offers a range of translational-based solutions, customized for pre-clinical and clinical programs. "We're moving into a time where AI-based technology will play a critical role in drug development. We absolutely need to reduce the time, costs & risks of drug development in order to be more efficient – that's exactly what the BIOiSIM™ is proven to do. The value of using this AI-based platform is the potential decrease in the need for animal testing and the acceleration of the pre-clinical, translational stage, helping drug research companies to more quickly select which early-stage medicines will most likely benefit patients and cure their disease." Tanja Dowe, CEO of the Debiopharm Innovation Fund More than 90% of drugs tested in animals fail to pass human clinical trials, resulting in delayed development and high costs. VeriSIM's BIOiSIM platform, driven by AI and machine learning (ML), de-risks R&D decisions by providing meaningful insights much earlier in the drug development process with unprecedented accuracy and scalability. VeriSIM's platform solves this decade-old translatability problem within the drug development phase and ensures clinical success of drugs intended for highly unmet needs. With its first-in-class platform, VeriSIM is transforming the way pharmaceutical and biotech companies address the most challenging diseases impacting humankind. About VeriSIM Life VeriSIM Life has developed a sophisticated computational platform that leverages advanced AI and ML techniques to significantly improve drug discovery and development by greatly reducing the time and money it takes to bring a drug to market. BIOiSIM is a first-in-class 'virtual drug development engine' that offers unprecedented value for the drug development industry by narrowing down the number of drug compounds that offer anticipated value for the treatment or cure of specific illnesses or diseases. The program not only reduces the time and cost of drug discovery and development, it also greatly reduces the need for animal testing that, in the vast majority of cases, does not translate to humans. Debiopharm's commitment to patients Debiopharm develops, manufactures and invests in innovative therapies and technologies that respond to high unmet medical needs in oncology and bacterial infections. We aim to provide strategic funding and guidance for companies with Smart Data & Digital Health solutions with the ambition to change the way drugs are developed and the way patients are treated. Our growing portfolio company achievements includes 18 FDA clearances or CE marks and 2 IPOs. Since 2018 Debiopharm has invested over USD 120 million, typically leading the investment rounds of its 16 portfolio companies.

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PHARMA TECH

CSL Limited announces tender offer to acquire Vifor Pharma Ltd

Vifor Pharma Group | December 15, 2021

Global biotechnology leader CSL Limited and Vifor Pharma Ltd, a global specialty pharmaceutical company with leadership in iron deficiency, nephrology & cardio-renal therapies, announced that they have entered into a definitive agreement for CSL to acquire Vifor Pharma for an aggregate equity value for Vifor Pharma of US$ 11.7 / CHF 10.9 billion. CSL has offered to acquire Vifor Pharma in an all-cash tender offer of US$179.25 per share, payable in U.S. dollars.1 The offer assumes a dividend of CHF 2 expected to be declared at the AGM of 26 April, consistent with past practice. The tender offer represents an implied premium of approximately 61% to the unaffected closing price of Vifor Pharma on 1 December 2021 and a 47% premium to Vifor Pharma’s unaffected 1-month VWAP as of 1 December 2021.2 Patinex AG, Vifor Pharma’s largest shareholder holding 23.2% has agreed to tender its shares into the offer. The Transaction remains subject to the conditions and further terms including: Minimum acceptance rate of 80% of all Vifor Pharma shares on a fully diluted basis; and further customary offer conditions, including regulatory approvals. The tender is currently expected to commence around 18 January 2022 and the transaction is expected to complete around mid-2022. The Board of Directors of Vifor Pharma considers that the proposed transaction respects the interests of all stakeholders and is unanimously recommending the offer to shareholders. There is committed financing for the deal and a strong commitment to pursue regulatory clearances. “Vifor Pharma's strategy has been to focus towards continuing being a market leader in iron deficiency, nephrology and cardio-renal therapies. The offer provides an excellent strategic opportunity for Vifor Pharma to optimize future market opportunities from a position of strength and to create substantial value for all stakeholders.” Jacques Theurillat, Chairman of the Board of Directors Vifor Pharma Group The transaction will enable Vifor Pharma to leverage CSL’s global reach, balance sheet and capabilities to bring more products to patients within its key categories. The transaction also enables Vifor Pharma to accelerate growth in cardiovascular-metabolic, renal and transplant. Centerview Partners UK LLP is acting as exclusive financial advisor to Vifor Pharma on the transaction. IFBC have been retained as Fairness Opinion providers by the Vifor Pharma Board of Directors. About Vifor Pharma Group Vifor Pharma Group is a global pharmaceuticals company. It aims to become the global leader in iron deficiency, nephrology and cardio-renal therapies. The company is a partner of choice for pharmaceuticals and innovative patient-focused solutions. Vifor Pharma Group strives to help patients around the world with severe and chronic diseases lead better, healthier lives. The company develops, manufactures and markets pharmaceutical products for precision patient care. Vifor Pharma Group holds a leading position in all its core business activities and consists of the following companies: Vifor Pharma and Vifor Fresenius Medical Care Renal Pharma Vifor Pharma Group is headquartered in Switzerland, and listed on the Swiss Stock Exchange About CSL CSL is a leading global biotechnology company with a dynamic portfolio of life-saving medicines, including those that treat hemophilia and immune deficiencies, as well as vaccines to prevent influenza. Since our start in 1916, we have been driven by our promise to save lives using the latest technologies. Today, CSL — including our two businesses, CSL Behring and Seqirus- provides life-saving products to more than 100 countries and employs more than 25,000 people. Our unique combination of commercial strength, R&D focus and operational excellence enables us to identify, develop and deliver innovations so our patients can live life to the fullest.

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PHARMACY MARKET

The McQuade Center for Strategic Research and Development and Mindset Pharma Collaborate to Develop Psychedelic Medicines

McQuade | January 06, 2022

The McQuade Center for Strategic Research and Development, LLC, a member of the global Otsuka family of pharmaceutical companies, and Mindset Pharma Inc. announce a collaboration that will support the development of psychedelic medicines. MSRD has made a strategic investment to support the discovery and development of novel chemical entity assets of Mindset, a drug discovery and development company focused on creating optimized and patentable next-generation psychedelic medicines to treat neurological and psychiatric disorders with unmet medical needs. “Exploring multiple paths is essential as we work to address the unique needs of individuals living with mental health conditions. We look forward to collaborating with Mindset on these assets and are hopeful that medical psychedelics could be approved to treat mental illness in the future.” Robert McQuade, Ph.D., president, McQuade Center for Strategic Research and Development, LLC, and chief strategic officer, Otsuka Pharmaceutical Development & Commercialization, Inc MSRD, which identifies and supports early-stage opportunities that can change the landscape of treatments for mental illness and renal disorders, will financially and operationally support the development of two families of Mindset’s novel medical psychedelic compounds through Phase 1a and Phase 1b clinical trials. MSRD has made an upfront cash payment of $5 million USD to Mindset and under the terms of the agreement, MSRD and Mindset may agree to expand the collaboration to continue to develop the compounds as pharmaceutical products. In addition, Mindset has granted MSRD a right of first refusal with respect to any asset sale, exclusive licensing or collaboration opportunities pertaining to the drugs and a right of first negotiation with respect to a merger, acquisition or asset sale related to Mindset, both in exchange for the upfront payment, further collaboration, and funding of the development of Mindset’s novel compounds. MSRD also has the ability to potentially receive single-digit percentage royalty payments under certain circumstances when the right of first refusal is not consummated or the agreement is terminated. “It is our great pleasure to collaborate with MSRD, a member company of Otsuka, to further the development of two of our families of novel psychedelic compounds. We look forward to leveraging their extensive experience in drug development and CNS indications to accelerate and de-risk our development pathway as we prepare to launch clinical trials,” said James Lanthier, chief executive officer of Mindset. “There is a high unmet need for innovative treatments of mental illness. This collaboration further validates our belief that optimized and patentable next-generation psychedelic compounds will be the future of treatments for mental illness.” Mr. Richard Patricio, chairman of Mindset’s board, added, “This transformational transaction is a validation of what our team has accomplished over the last several years. We are ecstatic that Otsuka has chosen to collaborate with Mindset in the novel psychedelic drug development space and see this as a pivotal moment in Mindset’s maturation. Our team is excited to work closely with MSRD to help meet the unmet needs of millions of people worldwide suffering with a variety of mental disorders. The future is truly exciting.” About Mindset Pharma Mindset Pharma Inc. is a drug discovery and development company focused on creating optimized and patentable next-generation psychedelic medicines to treat neurological and psychiatric disorders with unmet needs. Mindset was established in order to develop next generation pharmaceutical assets that leverage the breakthrough therapeutic potential of psychedelic drugs. Mindset is developing several novel families of next generation psychedelic compounds, as well as an innovative process to chemically synthesize psilocybin as well as its own proprietary compounds. For further information on Mindset, About the McQuade Center for Strategic Research and Development (MSRD) Established in 2019, by the Otsuka pharmaceutical business in the U.S., the mission of MSRD is to search for, identify, and fund innovative early-stage research and development programs that have the potential to build the future portfolio of Otsuka products. Otsuka is dedicated to investing in innovative and creative products in areas of unmet need and MSRD was created as an extension of this commitment to support and identify early-stage opportunities that can change the landscape of treatments for mental illness and renal disorders. About Otsuka Otsuka Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd. is a global healthcare company with the corporate philosophy: “Otsuka–people creating new products for better health worldwide.” Otsuka researches, develops, manufactures, and markets innovative products, with a focus on pharmaceutical products to meet unmet medical needs and nutraceutical products for the maintenance of everyday health.

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BUSINESS INSIGHTS

Stallergenes Greer Strengthens Precision Medicine Approach in Allergen Immunotherapy With Imperial College London Research Collaboration

Stallergenes Greer | January 17, 2022

Stallergenes Greer, a global healthcare company specialising in allergen immunotherapy (AIT), today announced that the company has entered into a research collaboration on the discovery of biomarkers of AIT efficacy with Imperial College London, a global top ten university with a world-class reputation in science, engineering, business and medicine. This long-term research collaboration, which combines the long-standing expertise of Stallergenes Greer in AIT with the prestigious research capabilities of Imperial College London, aims to push the boundaries of allergic patient care by identifying biomarkers of AIT efficacy and expanding the knowledge of the pathophysiology of allergic diseases and their treatment with AIT. “We are thrilled about this collaboration with Imperial College London which will contribute to both deciphering the mode of action of AIT and identifying key markers that can be used in the routine practice of allergology for the benefit of patients and healthcare practitioners. Based on the understanding of specific phenotypes and the responses of patients with allergies, allergologists will be able to tailor treatment modalities with the right dosing at the right time for each individual. This underscores our commitment to advancing precision medicine for allergy sufferers”, Amer Jaber, Executive VP Operations Europe and International and President of Stallergenes SAS “This research collaboration is a remarkable opportunity for a fruitful partnership between Imperial College London, a pioneer and world-leading university in the biomarker field, and Stallergenes Greer. It will build on the recent advances of biomarker research to further develop precision medicine in AIT for the benefit of patients with allergic diseases,” said Dr Mohamed Shamji, Head of the Immunomodulation and Tolerance Group, Imperial College London. The results of this research collaboration will be shared in international congresses and peer review publications. About Allergen Immunotherapy Allergies are the most prevalent and fastest growing chronic diseases in the industrialised world, affecting over one billion people worldwide. Allergen immunotherapy uniquely alters the natural course of respiratory allergies. It is the only therapeutic class capable of modifying disease progression and potentially preventing the onset of the disease by inducing tolerance in the immune system. About Stallergenes Greer Headquartered in London (UK), Stallergenes Greer Ltd is a global healthcare company specialising in the diagnosis and treatment of allergies through the development and commercialisation of allergen immunotherapy products and services. Stallergenes Greer Ltd is the parent company of Greer Laboratories, Inc. About Imperial College London Imperial College London is one of the world's leading universities. The College's 20,000 students and 8,000 staff are working to solve the biggest challenges in science, medicine, engineering, and business. Imperial is University of the Year 2022 in the Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide. It is the world’s fifth most international university, according to Times Higher Education, with academic ties to more than 150 countries. Reuters named the College as the UK's most innovative university because of its exceptional entrepreneurial culture and ties to industry.

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