Charity backs R&D into Parkinson’s drugs targeting mitochondria

Pharmaphorum | July 01, 2019

The charity Parkinson’s UK has struck a £1 million partnership with NRG Therapeutics to develop drugs targeted at mitochondria that could protect cells producing dopamine, which have been damaged by the condition. The research will build on recent discoveries showing a direct link between mitochondrial dysfunction and the loss of dopamine cells. Parkinson’s UK will invest up to £1 million in NRG Therapeutics to develop and translate this research into a potential therapeutic drug. NRG Therapeutics is a new UK-based biotech developing novel drugs acting through preservation of mitochondrial function, targeting degenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s disease and motor neuron disease. Dr Arthur Roach, director of research at Parkinson’s UK, has joined the board of NRG Therapeutics as a non-executive director. He said: “We all know there is a tremendous need to find better treatments for Parkinson’s that can slow down the progression of the condition. This pioneering research could be the first step towards identifying molecules that can protect mitochondria within dopamine-producing cells. “I look forward to working with them as we strive to reach our goal of bringing forward better treatments and finding a cure for Parkinson’s.” Dr Neil Miller, CEO of NRG Therapeutics, said: “We welcome this endorsement of our scientific strategy and look forward to partnering with Parkinson’s UK in developing first-in-class molecules for the disease-modifying treatment of Parkinson’s.” Mitochondria are the powerhouses of cells and manage large amounts of calcium ions that continually flow into the cell when it is active, but can become toxic if not removed. When mitochondria become overloaded with calcium and stop producing energy effectively, a pore in the mitochondria – known as the mitochondrial permeability transition pore – is opened.

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FogPharma Announces $178 Million Series D Financing to Advance Pipeline of First-in-Class Helicon Polypeptide Therapeutics

FogPharma | November 28, 2022

FogPharma®, a biopharmaceutical company pioneering a new class of precision medicines that could ultimately prove applicable to the vast majority of therapeutic targets, including those previously considered “undruggable,” announced a $178 Million Series D financing. The financing round includes new investors ARCH Venture Partners, Milky Way Investments and Fidelity Management & Research Company and existing investors VenBio Partners, Deerfield Management, GV, Cormorant Asset Management, funds and accounts advised by T. Rowe Price Associates, Inc., Invus, Farallon Capital Management, HBM Healthcare Investments, Casdin Capital, and PagsGroup, also participated. Proceeds from the Series D financing will be used to advance and accelerate FogPharma’s growing pipeline of hyperstabilized α-helical (Helicon™) polypeptide therapeutics, a proprietary new class of drugs designed to overcome the limitations of today’s precision medicines with broad applicability to the vast majority of disease targets and therapeutic areas. FogPharma’s lead Helicon polypeptide development candidate, FOG-001, a first-and-only-in-class direct TCF-blocking β-catenin inhibitor with potential applicability to significant cancer patient populations, is expected to enter clinical development in mid-2023. In addition, FogPharma is advancing other first-in-class programs against important, biologically validated cancer targets that have remained elusive to other approaches including TEAD, NRAS, Pan-KRAS, ERG and Cyclin E1. “FogPharma continues to make rapid progress on our moonshot mission to achieve universal druggability – a world where no targets are off-limits to medicine. We believe that Helicon polypeptides, a compelling new therapeutic modality, represent the future of precision medicine. We are thrilled by the support of our investors and will continue to build our platform capabilities, product pipeline which aims to address a significant percentage of cancer patient populations, and our phenomenal team across all levels as we aim to create one of the most impactful new classes of drugs in history.” Gregory Verdine, Ph.D., founder, chairman and chief executive officer of FogPharma In connection with the Series D Financing, Rick Klausner, M.D., has been appointed to FogPharma’s board of directors. In addition, Dr. Verdine has been appointed as chairman of the board. “The team at FogPharma is building an unprecedented new therapeutic modality and robust pipeline with the potential to make a meaningful difference in the lives of cancer patients,” said Dr. Klausner. “I am excited to join the board of directors and be part of something special particularly at this important time as FogPharma continues to impressively scale its science, team, operations and infrastructure, with the goal of advancing its first Helicon polypeptide therapeutic into the clinic.” Dr. Klausner is currently the founder and chief scientist of Altos Labs and founder and chairman of Lyell Immunopharma. Dr. Klausner was founder and director of Juno Therapeutics and founder and director of GRAIL. He is also the chairman of Sonoma Biotherapeutics and co-founder and chairman of Lifemine Therapeutics. Previously, Dr. Klausner served as senior vice president, chief medical officer and chief opportunity officer of Illumina Corporation and as executive director for global health for the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Dr. Klausner was appointed by Presidents Clinton and Bush as the eleventh director of the U.S. National Cancer Institute between 1995 and 2001. Dr. Klausner served as chief of the Cell Biology and Metabolism Branch of the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development as well as a past president of the American Society of Clinical Investigation. He has served in senior advisory roles to the U.S., Norwegian, Qatari and Indian governments. About FogPharma’s Universal Druggability Platform and Helicon™ Polypeptide Therapeutics Existing drug classes are limited in both reach and applicability, with more than 80% of known human protein disease targets considered “undruggable” because they are beyond the reach of both antibodies and small molecules. FogPharma’s Helicon peptide drug discovery engine integrates directed evolution, proprietary α-helix conformational hyperstabilization chemistry, highly multiplexed drug optimization technology, artificial intelligence including deep learning and machine learning, structure-based drug discovery, cancer genomics and biology, and multiscale manufacturing to rapidly discover Helicon polypeptide therapeutics. This novel therapeutic modality combines the targeting strength and specificity of antibodies with the broad tissue distribution, intracellular target engagement and oral dosing optionality of small molecules to address the limitations of today’s precision medicines and reach the most difficult targets – achieving universal druggability. About FOG-001 FogPharma’s lead Helicon polypeptide development candidate, FOG-001, a first-and-only-in-class direct TCF-blocking β-catenin inhibitor. Dysregulation of the Wnt/β-catenin signaling pathway has been shown to occur in at least 20% of all human cancers. In the U.S. alone, FOG-001 has the potential to become a new treatment option for >1 million patients suffering from a broad range of intractable cancers. In biochemical and cellular studies, FOG-001 has been shown to potently, precisely and selectively disrupt the interaction of β-catenin with its obligate downstream transcription factor, TCF. Preclinical studies have demonstrated the ability of FOG-001 to cause tumor growth inhibition and regression by disrupting β-catenin-dependent signaling. FOG-001 is the inaugural member of FogPharma’s TCF-Catenix family of direct-acting β-catenin antagonists and combines key features that distinguish it from previously reported Wnt/β-catenin pathway modulators: FOG-001 acts inside the cell, where it directly binds the key oncogenic driver β-catenin; and FOG-001 blocks TCF-β-catenin engagement at the most downstream node in the canonical Wnt pathway, thus abrogating the signal transmission mechanism by which most, if not all, known Wnt pathway mutations are believed to drive oncogenesis. About FogPharma FogPharma is a biopharmaceutical company pioneering the discovery and development of Helicon™ polypeptides. Through this novel therapeutic modality, FogPharma aims to address the limitations of existing drug classes and achieve universal druggability – a world where no targets are off-limits to new medicines. Spun out of Harvard University by pioneering academic scientist and successful biotech company builder Dr. Gregory Verdine, FogPharma is advancing a broad pipeline of Helicon polypeptide therapeutics against important and biologically validated cancer targets that have remained elusive to other approaches, with the goal of providing new targeted treatment options for significant cancer patient populations. FogPharma is headquartered in Cambridge, Mass., and has raised more than $360 million to date from leading life sciences investors.

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Mirion Technologies to Divest Biodex Physical Medicine

Biodex Medical Systems | November 30, 2022

Mirion Technologies, Inc. announced that it has entered into a definitive agreement to sell the physical medicine assets of Biodex Medical Systems, Inc. to Salona Global Medical Device Corporation for $5 million in cash at closing and up to an additional $3 million in deferred cash payments. The deferred cash payments are contingent on the performance of the assets during the 12-month period following closing. The assets generated approximately $18 million in revenue with estimated gross margins of 30% during the most recent trailing twelve-month period. “Divesting the physical medicine assets of Biodex enables Mirion Medical to focus on our strategic priorities and better aligns the group with Mirion’s mission of harnessing our unrivaled knowledge of ionizing radiation for the greater good of humanity. We are pleased to see the physical medicine business in the hands of an owner whose core mission and strategy is better aligned with investing in the future of the product line and finding valued employees the right home for their skills and contributions,” Mike Rossi, President of Mirion Medical About Mirion Mirion Technologies is a leading provider of detection, measurement, analysis and monitoring solutions to the nuclear, defense, medical and research end markets. The organization aims to harness its unrivaled knowledge of ionizing radiation for the greater good of humanity. Many of the company's end markets are characterized by the need to meet rigorous regulatory standards, design qualifications and operating requirements. Headquartered in Atlanta (GA – USA), Mirion employs around 2,800 people and operates in 13 countries. About Biodex Medical Systems Biodex Medical Systems, Inc. is part of Mirion Medical, Inc., a group of healthcare-focused brands within Mirion Technologies. Mirion Technologies, Inc. uses science and technology to drive treatment innovation across physical medicine, nuclear medicine and medical imaging categories. With a history of manufacturing and engineering excellence that spans more than 60 years, the Biodex™ mission is to provide innovative solutions and customer-driven support to medical facilities and wellness centers around the globe.

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BioMarin Announces Advancements in FDA Review of ROCTAVIAN™ (Valoctocogene Roxaparvovec) for Adults with Severe Hemophilia A

BioMarin Pharmaceutical Inc. | November 24, 2022

BioMarin Pharmaceutical Inc. announced advancements in the U.S. Food and Drug Administration review of the Biologics License Application of ROCTAVIAN™ for adults with severe hemophilia A. The Company was recently notified by the FDA that after further consideration, at this time, the Agency no longer plans to hold an advisory committee meeting to discuss the BLA for ROCTAVIAN that is currently under review. Previously, the FDA communicated to the Company that it did intend to hold an advisory committee meeting but did not specify a date. The Company also remains on track to host the scheduled FDA Pre-Licensure Inspection (PLI) of BioMarin's gene therapy manufacturing facility located in Novato, CA. "The review of a BLA is a dynamic process, and we appreciate FDA's ongoing engagement as we work toward delivering a potentially transformative treatment choice to those patients with severe hemophilia A. We look forward to further dialogue with the Agency as it reviews our application." Hank Fuchs, M.D., President of Worldwide Research and Development at BioMarin About valoctocogene roxaparvovec The FDA granted Regenerative Medicine Advanced Therapy designation to valoctocogene roxaparvovec in March 2021. RMAT is an expedited program intended to facilitate development and review of regenerative medicine therapies, such as valoctocogene roxaparvovec, that are expected to address an unmet medical need in patients with serious conditions. The RMAT designation is complementary to Breakthrough Therapy Designation, which the Company received for valoctocogene roxaparvovec in 2017. In addition to the RMAT Designation and Breakthrough Therapy Designation, BioMarin's valoctocogene roxaparvovec also received orphan drug designation from the EMA and FDA for the treatment of severe hemophilia A. Orphan drug designation is reserved for medicines treating rare, life-threatening, or chronically debilitating diseases. The European Commission (EC) granted conditional marketing authorization to valoctocogene roxaparvovec gene therapy under the brand name ROCTAVIAN™ on August 24, 2022. Robust Clinical Program BioMarin has multiple clinical studies underway in its comprehensive gene therapy program for the treatment of severe hemophilia A. In addition to the global Phase 3 study GENEr8-1 and the ongoing Phase 1/2 dose escalation study, the Company is also conducting a Phase 3, single arm, open-label study to evaluate the efficacy and safety of valoctocogene roxaparvovec at a dose of 6e13 vg/kg with prophylactic corticosteroids in people with severe hemophilia A. Also ongoing is a Phase 1/2 Study with the 6e13 vg/kg dose of valoctocogene roxaparvovec in people with severe hemophilia A with pre-existing AAV5 antibodies (Study 270-203) and a Phase 1/2 Study with the 6e13 vg/kg dose of valoctocogene roxaparvovec in people with severe hemophilia A with active or prior Factor VIII inhibitors. About Hemophilia A People living with hemophilia A lack sufficient functioning Factor VIII protein to help their blood clot and are at risk for painful and/or potentially life-threatening bleeds from even modest injuries. Additionally, people with the most severe form of hemophilia A often experience painful, spontaneous bleeds into their muscles or joints. Individuals with the most severe form of hemophilia A make up approximately 50 percent of the hemophilia A population. People with hemophilia A with moderate or mild disease show a much-reduced propensity to bleed. Individuals with severe hemophilia A are treated with a prophylactic regimen of intravenous Factor VIII infusions administered 2-3 times per week or a bispecific monoclonal antibody that mimics the activity of Factor VIII administered 1-4 times per month. Despite these regimens, many people continue to experience breakthrough bleeds, resulting in progressive and debilitating joint damage, which can have a major impact on their quality of life. Hemophilia A, also called Factor VIII deficiency or classic hemophilia, is an X-linked genetic disorder caused by missing or defective Factor VIII, a clotting protein. Although it is passed down from parents to children, about 1/3 of cases are caused by a spontaneous mutation, a new mutation that was not inherited. Approximately 1 in 10,000 people have hemophilia A. About BioMarin BioMarin is a global biotechnology company that develops and commercializes innovative therapies for people with serious and life-threatening genetic diseases and medical conditions. The Company selects product candidates for diseases and conditions that represent a significant unmet medical need, have well-understood biology and provide an opportunity to be first-to-market or offer a significant benefit over existing products. The Company's portfolio consists of eight commercial products and multiple clinical and preclinical product candidates for the treatment of various diseases.

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ICON selected by BARDA to conduct anthrax vaccine clinical trial

ICON plc | October 07, 2022

ICON plc. a world-leading healthcare intelligence and clinical research organisation, announces that it has been selected by the US Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority part of the Administration for Strategic Preparedness and Response in the Department of Health and Human Services to execute an anthrax vaccine clinical trial. BARDA is providing funding to the Government and Public Health Solutions team at ICON to develop and execute a clinical trial that will evaluate the immune response to the next-generation anthrax vaccine AV7909. The team will support the evaluation of AV7909 immunogenicity kinetics by conducting clinical trial activities including but not limited to project management, clinical operations and quality assurance. ICON has extensive experience in supporting vaccine clinical trials. It has participated in over 160 vaccine studies in the past five years. ICON’s vaccine clinical research professionals are therapeutically aligned with a leadership team that brings more than 200 years of combined experience in vaccine clinical development for commercial businesses, government, NGOs and multinational health organisations. “We are pleased to have been selected to execute this important clinical trial. The potential for an anthrax attack is still a very real and serious threat, and we are proud to be playing our part to increase the understanding of treatment options for anthrax exposure, ultimately supporting human health.” Edward Wright, President, ICON Government and Public Health Solutions This clinical study will inform operational logistics and use of AV7909 should an anthrax emergency occur. The clinical studies will not expose participants to anthrax. The trial will enrol healthy adults aged 18 and older and will be conducted in the United States starting in early 2023. BARDA, part of the Administration for Strategic Preparedness and Response within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, is responsible for developing medical countermeasures to secure the U.S. against chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear threats, as well as pandemic influenza and emerging infectious diseases. Since 2014, ICON has been a member of BARDA’s Medical Countermeasures Clinical Studies Network (CSN). The network is responsible for planning and executing clinical studies to support medical countermeasure development. Bacillus anthracis, the agent that causes anthrax, is a serious bioterrorism threat due to the delivery of aerosolised spores that can cause high-mortality disease through gastrointestinal, cutaneous, inhalational or injection routes. Although clinical manifestations of the disease differ by route, inhalational anthrax is the most lethal. Inhalational anthrax infection usually develops within a week after exposure but can take up to two months. Without treatment, only about 10% to 15% of patients survive after exposure to inhaled B. anthracis spores. Since 2015, BARDA has supported the late-stage development of AV7909, a next-generation anthrax vaccine which uses the U.S. Food and Drug Administration licensed anthrax vaccine Biothrax in combination with an immune system stimulant or adjuvant. The vaccine is being developed in partnership with its manufacturer Emergent Biosolutions Inc. to protect against anthrax post-exposure when used in combination with the recommended antibiotics. About ICON plc ICON is the world’s leading clinical research organisation, powered by healthcare intelligence. From molecule to medicine, we advance clinical research providing outsourced development and commercialisation services to pharmaceutical, biotechnology, medical device and government and public health organisations. We develop new innovations, drive emerging therapies forward and improve patient lives. With headquarters in Dublin, Ireland, ICON employed approximately 40,500 employees in 119 locations in 53 countries as at June 30, 2022. About ICON Government & Public Health Solutions ICON Government & Public Health Solutions is ICON's business unit focused on direct US Government engagement, Non-Government Organisations (NGOs) and academia, providing full service and functional research solutions. In addition, ICON GPHS coordinates a Government Centre of Excellence (CoE) to lend internal federal government subject matter expertise that can be leveraged by other ICON business units when commercial clients receive federal funding on ICON awarded contracts. About BARDA’s Medical Countermeasures Clinical Studies Network (CSN) The CSN provides BARDA partners and medical countermeasure developers with essential tools and services to develop vaccines, therapeutics, diagnostics, and medical devices. The CSN provides comprehensive (Phases 1-4) clinical study services.

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Medication errors remain an unnecessary public health menace. While industry awareness of the problem has existed for some time, efforts to reduce the incidence and impact of medication errors have not yet yielded much success. Consequently, the significant patient harm, death toll, and economic burden caused by these preventable errors persist.

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