Dicerna enters alliance to develop hepatitis B drugs

Pharmaceutical Technology | November 01, 2019

Dicerna Pharmaceuticals has signed a research collaboration and licensing agreement with Roche to create treatments for chronic hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection. The partnership will leverage Dicerna’s GalXC RNAi platform, designed to develop RNAi-based therapies that silence genes, which cause diseases in the liver and other organs. Initially, the companies will work to develop and commercialise Dicerna’s investigational drug, DCR-HBVS, worldwide. DCR-HBVS is currently in Phase I development for chronic HBV infection treatment. It uses RNA interference to target specific genes associated with the formation of HBV messenger RNA (mRNA) and the virus entry into liver cells. The companies also intend to use their technologies to identify and develop therapies that act on various viral and human genes involved in HBV infection. Dicerna Pharmaceuticals president and CEO Douglas Fambrough said: “With its deep expertise in HBV and established global infrastructure, Roche is ideally suited to help us accelerate the development and commercialisation of DCR-HBVS, pursue a cure for chronic HBV infection and address this serious global threat to public health.”

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Algernon Pharmaceuticals CEO Christopher Moreau joined Steve Darling from Proactive to share news the company has announced its subsidiary, Algernon NeuroScience has dosed the first subject in the Phase 1 DMT clinical stroke study.


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VIEWS AND ANALYSIS, PHARMA TECH

Virpax Pharmaceuticals Reports on FDA Pre-IND Response for NobrXiol™ (formerly VRP324)

Virpax Pharmaceuticals | December 15, 2022

Virpax® Pharmaceuticals, Inc. a company specializing in developing non-addictive products for pain management, post-traumatic stress disorder, central nervous system disorders and viral barrier indications, today announced that it has received pre-Investigational New Drug application guidance from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for NobrXiol™, the Company’s product candidate for the delivery of cannabidiol in the management of epilepsy in children and adults. NobrXiol utilizes the Nanomerics Molecular Envelope Technology as its delivery system to cross the blood brain barrier, propelling the cannabidiol nanoparticles through the nose to the brain via the olfactory nerve. The main purpose of a pre-IND submission is to obtain FDA guidance on the overall development plan for a new drug and to identify any need for further data prior to submitting the IND. “Virpax now has guidance on how to proceed with the IND enabling studies and possible regulatory pathways to pursue for NobrXiol. Based on the written responses from the FDA and its recommendations, we believe that we can proceed with the next steps in the process towards an IND application for this product candidate.” Dr. Sheila A. Mathias, Chief Scientific Officer for Virpax “This is a significant step forward for the NobrXiol project and we are very pleased with the outcome of the pre-IND meeting with the FDA,” said Anthony P. Mack, Chairman and CEO of Virpax. “We believe this product candidate has potential benefits over existing oral CBD treatments for epilepsy including Dravet Syndrome and Lennox-Gastaut Syndrome. We believe that by using the MET delivery system there may be significant advantages for patients including fewer side effects, avoidance of drug-to-drug interaction and lower dosing of CBD required,” concluded Mr. Mack. About NobrXiol™ Virpax has acquired the exclusive worldwide rights from Nanomerics to use Nanomerics' MET platform for the nasal delivery of cannabidiol or the management of epilepsy in children and adults. As part of this agreement, Nanomerics is developing an investigational formulation delivered via the nasal route to enhance CBD transport to the brain which could potentially eliminate any drug interaction issues and bypass the digestive system, possibly eliminating many of the side effects associated with the product currently in use on the market. Nanomerics demonstrated the ability of its platform technology to deliver CBD directly to the brain in an animal model. About Virpax Pharmaceuticals Virpax is developing branded product candidates for non-addictive pain management and neurological disorders using its proprietary technologies that optimize and target drug delivery. Virpax is initially seeking FDA approval of its three different patented drug delivery platforms. Epoladerm™ is a topical diclofenac spray film formulation being developed to manage pain associated with osteoarthritis of the knee. Probudur™ is a single injection long-acting liposomal bupivacaine formulation being developed to manage post-operative pain. Envelta™ is an intranasal Molecular Envelope Technology enkephalin formulation being developed for the management of acute and chronic pain, including pain associated with cancer, as well as post-traumatic stress disorder under the name PES200. MET technology is also used in AnQlar™, a candidate to inhibit viral replication caused by influenza or SARS-CoV-2. Virpax acquired global rights to NobrXiol™, a product candidate for the nasal delivery of a pharmaceutical-grade cannabidiol for the management of epilepsy in children and adults.

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BUSINESS INSIGHTS

Illuccix® Available on High Activity Gallium Generator Technology to Meet High Demand

Telix Pharmaceuticals Limited | November 23, 2022

Telix Pharmaceuticals Limited announces Illuccix® with up to 50mCi for radiolabeling is available for use on 100mCi gallium generators, an important development in radioisotope production. High activity generators from Eckert & Ziegler Strahlen- und Medizintechnik AG increase activity from 50mCi to 100mCi and will be integral to expanding patient access to gallium-based radiopharmaceuticals as demand for PSMA-PET imaging in the United States continues to grow. This technology increases the number of daily elutions and activity in each elution, enabling hospitals and radiopharmacies to increase the number of daily doses produced, expand their service area and gain greater production efficiency. "As the only commercially available kit that can take advantage of high activity generators for up to 50mCi radiolabeling, Illuccix gives hospitals, pharmacies, and physicians added confidence that their dose scheduling needs – and the needs of their patients – can be met today and in the future as the potential of 68Ga PSMA-11 is realized in the diagnostic market. We are pleased to continue our collaborative relationships with IRE ELiT and EZAG to continue to make 68Ga PSMA-11 accessible and convenient to use for customers across the United States." Dr. Christian Behrenbruch, Group CEO and Managing Director of Telix Jay Simon, Managing Director of Eckert and Ziegler North America said, "The high activity GalliaPharm® generator may allow for broader availability and expanded service areas. It is about delivering doses when and where they are needed, whether you're a remotely located clinic, a busy metropolitan hospital or a pharmacy. We are pleased to be working with Telix to harness this innovation to maximize the efficiency for our customers and ultimately, their patients." Jean Bonnet, Head of Sales, Strategy and Marketing at IRE Group said, "While current generator technology is sufficient to meet today's demands, the rollout of the higher activity 100mCi generators are future-proofing the ability to meet demand in a market which is growing exponentially. The use of high activity generators has the potential to increase daily elutions and increase the activity in each elution. When radiolabeled up to 50mCi with Illuccix, the result could potentially provide more flexibilitty in meeting the growing demand for 68Ga radiopharmaceuticals while giving customers the benefit of greater dose scheduling flexibility and efficient production." About Telix Pharmaceuticals Limited Telix is a biopharmaceutical company focused on the development and commercialisation of diagnostic and therapeutic radiopharmaceuticals. Telix is headquartered in Melbourne, Australia with international operations in the United States, Europe (Belgium and Switzerland), and Japan. Telix is developing a portfolio of clinical-stage products that aims to address significant unmet medical need in oncology and rare diseases. Telix is listed on the Australian Securities Exchange.

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BUSINESS INSIGHTS, PHARMACY MARKET

Annogen Announces Research Project with Pfizer to Test Non-coding Genetic Sequences

Annogen | December 14, 2022

Annogen, the Amsterdam based biotech company behind the SuRE™ technology for the functional annotation of the non-coding part of the genome, today announced it has begun a research project with Pfizer to functionally test tens of thousands of disease-related non-coding sequence variants for their effect on gene regulation. The results may contribute to drug discovery by identifying functionally relevant non-coding variants that play a central role in diseases. More than 95 percent of disease- and trait-related variants are found in the non-coding genome. However, identifying the important causal variants amongst the thousands of non-functional ones is a major challenge, as non-coding variant functionality cannot be deduced from sequence alone. Using its SuRE™ methodology, Annogen can obtain a functional read-out for up to millions of non-coding variants in parallel. “We are very proud of this research project with Pfizer. We believe the non-coding part of the genome represents a huge opportunity for drug discovery that has been largely overlooked. We are now working with several top-tier biopharma companies on a broad array of projects, which demonstrates the interest in the SuRE™ platform and the AIM™ service for gene & cell therapy, drug discovery, and recombinant protein production”. Joris van Arensbergen, Annogen’s founder and CEO, is pleased to establish another project in this field About Annogen At Annogen we use our SuRE™ technology to identify regulatory DNA elements to be used for controlled gene expression valuable for gene & cell therapy, as well as for recombinant protein production. In addition, we offer the AIM™ service to identify favorable gene insertions and their expression levels for more than 100,000 integrations in parallel. These approaches enable researchers to qualitatively interpret the non-coding genome in humans, animals and plants.

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PHARMACY MARKET

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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