Feinstein Institutes | November 29, 2022
Peptides, short sections of proteins made up of chains of amino acids, are an important area of new drug development due to their potential for increased specificity and fewer side effects. Their main drawback is the rapid degradation by the body’s own enzymes, which has led to the need to develop longer-lasting peptide alternatives. Azapeptides are one type of peptide alternative that has shown great potential as therapeutics, exemplified by the HIV drug, Atazanavir.
A new paper published in the journal Nature Communications by researchers at The Feinstein Institutes for Medical Research details proprietary reagents and methods that can selectively replace only those amino acids known to be targeted by enzymes with more stable versions to create azapeptides.
The paper, authored by Yousef Al-Abed, PhD, co-director of the Institute of Bioelectronic Medicine at the Feinstein Institutes, describes the proprietary building blocks and method used to conduct systematic and robust peptide editing, replacing targeted amino acids with aza-amino acids to form more stable and efficient azapeptides. The azapeptides created could expedite the novel therapies to treat many diseases and conditions, including metabolic disease, influenza, pulmonary arterial hypertension, Crohn’s disease, arthritis, and irritable bowel diseases, among others.
The paper, titled “Thiocarbazate building blocks enable the construction of azapeptides for rapid development of therapeutic candidates,” provides multiple examples of azapeptide construction, screening, and selection using a known peptide inhibitor of inflammation and bradykinin.
“Peptides as drug candidates are easy to discover yet difficult to develop as final drugs because of their fast degradation in our body. A technology that circumvents these problems inherent to native peptides will change the future landscape of drug discovery. Our technology provides a platform of tools that enable minimal modification of any peptide at highly prone degradation sites, thereby increasing its life span in our body, allowing it more time to find its target and neutralize it.”
Through peptide editing, going from peptide to azapeptide, using methods that Dr. Al-Abed and his team detail in the new paper, scientists can create potential therapies that have enhanced characteristics compared to natural peptides, like longer stabilities in a more efficient manner. Dr. Al-Abed and his team have precisely engineered thiocarbazates (a novel functional group) in the proprietary process to achieve an almost universal and more efficient means to selectively replace amino acids in a peptide chain.
“Peptide drugs are a crucial resource for patients and the global pharmaceutical industry,” said Kevin J. Tracey, MD, president and CEO of the Feinstein Institutes and Karches Family Distinguished Chair in Medical Research. “Dr. Al-Abed and his team invented a fully automated chemical strategy using novel chemistry to make new peptide drugs which is an important new avenue for peptide drug discovery.”
About the Feinstein Institutes
The Feinstein Institutes for Medical Research is the research arm of Northwell Health, the largest health care provider and private employer in New York State. Home to 50 research labs, 3,000 clinical research studies and 5,000 researchers and staff, the Feinstein Institutes raises the standard of medical innovation through its five institutes of behavioral science, bioelectronic medicine, cancer, health innovations and outcomes, and molecular medicine. We make breakthroughs in genetics, oncology, brain research, mental health, autoimmunity, and are the global scientific leader in bioelectronic medicine – a new field of science that has the potential to revolutionize medicine.
Teva Pharmaceuticals | November 21, 2022
Teva Pharmaceuticals, a U.S. affiliate of Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd. announced a new collaboration with HealthSnap, a leading full-service Virtual Care Management Platform for chronic disease management.
The collaboration will enable more consumers to have access to Teva’s Digihaler® system, a digital health platform designed to enable patients to have more informed treatment discussions with their healthcare providers through personalized care. The collaboration will enable healthcare providers to better integrate patient data into their workflows, supporting proactive remote care across large populations.
The platform can be used to monitor and manage large populations by a network of health systems. It can capture objective and actionable data for asthma patients, thereby creating the mechanism for personalized care.
“Digital health platforms will succeed only by seamlessly integrating multiple data sources into workflows and systems like electronic medical records (EMR). We believe in building an ecosystem and are delighted to partner with HealthSnap as we seek to expand the reach of our platform, and continue to shape digital therapeutics and the integrated care landscape,” said Manny Montalvo, Senior Vice President, Head of Digital Health & Innovation at Teva. “We believe that the future of healthcare is in predictive and preventative care, which is a significant paradigm shift from the standard of care today. That is why we will focus our collaboration and our services on facilitating this change, to help providers deliver better care and help patients manage their condition.”
“With a rich heritage of delivering innovative medicines, alongside technology development capabilities, Teva is uniquely positioned to help the healthcare ecosystem move toward greater integration of objective health data, and create meaningful population-scale solutions to help patients and providers. We envision broad utilization of our platform by consumers, healthcare providers and other technology organizations. In respiratory care, our long-term vision is ambitious and clear: harnessing the power of technology and therapeutics to predict asthma attacks.”
Montalvo continued, “Over the past few years, through a talented and continuously evolving in-house team we have built a robust technology arm within Teva to continue exploring ways to improve patient outcomes. Through our vision for connected therapy, we strive to be at the nexus between patients, healthcare providers, technology, and the future of medicine, exploring new ways for digital health to serve as an economically sustainable solution for small and large healthcare provider organizations, offering timely, data-driven solutions to benefit patients. Our hope is that by working with HealthSnap and other capable companies in this space, we will fulfill our mission of improving the lives of patients, and do so by improving the health and effectiveness of our healthcare system – and we’re just getting started.”
“By partnering with Teva, HealthSnap is expanding its reach to patients with respiratory diseases, allowing them to receive personalized care based on their data. HealthSnap is continuously seeking partnerships and we look forward to delivering quality at home programs with this new and exciting collaboration with Teva,”
Samson Magid, Co-Founder and CEO of HealthSnap
Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd. has been developing and producing medicines to improve people’s lives for more than a century. We are a global leader in generic, biosimilar and specialty medicines with a portfolio consisting of over 3,500 products in nearly every therapeutic area. Around 200 million people around the world take a Teva medicine every day, and are served by one of the largest and most complex supply chains in the pharmaceutical industry. Along with our established presence in generics, we have significant innovative research and operations supporting our growing portfolio of specialty and biopharmaceutical products. Learn more at www.tevapharm.com
About Teva Digital Health
Teva aims to be a global leader in personalized, predictive care, continuously investing in platforms and regulatory-compliant systems that will help change the nature of digital health as we know it. Teva’s proprietary software platform Digihaler® – developed and maintained in-house by a team of research specialists and programmers – is built into a series of FDA-approved inhalers, currently marketed in the U.S., and with plans to expand to Europe in 2023.
HealthSnap is an integrated Virtual Care Management Platform that helps healthcare organizations improve patient outcomes, reduce utilization, and diversify revenue streams. From chronic disease-agnostic Remote Patient Monitoringand Chronic Care Management to AI-guided care coordination, virtual care delivery, automated care management billing, population analytics - and so much more, HealthSnap is the simplest way to manage chronic conditions remotely.
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.
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.
VIEWS AND ANALYSIS, PHARMA TECH
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.
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.