ImaginAb joins with AZ, Pfizer and Takeda to develop tumour imaging tech

pharmaphorum | October 14, 2019

LA-based biotech ImaginAb has signed a multi-party agreement with pharma giants AstraZeneca, Pfizer, and Takeda, for technology that allows scientists to see inside tumours, and monitor whether immunotherapies are taking effect. ImaginAb’s imaging technology targets and visualises CD8+ T cells that are called in to attack tumours by immunotherapies. The company’s ‘Minibody’ platform can assess the immunological status of each cancer lesion within a patient, potentially enabling treatment to be tailored quickly and specifically to the needs of a patient. Under the terms of the agreement, the collaborators will help guide a current ImaginAb-sponsored clinical trial that aims to evaluate the utility and value of CD8 ImmunoPET in immuno-oncology drug development. In return, the collaborators will gain early access to clinical and imaging data, and collectively contribute to the post-trial data analysis. The agreement builds on an impressive list of collaborators that are already helping to guide the technology: Imaginab is already working with Merck & Co., Boehringer Ingelheim, Nektar and Roche, some of the major players in cancer immunotherapy. ImaginAb was founded in 2007 by professor Anna Wu, and scientific advisor Robert Reiter. Beyond the founders, the company boasts a highly experienced executive team, board of directors and scientific advisory board including AACR President Dr Antoni Ribas, 2018 Nobel Laureate Dr James Allison, Dr Ramy Ibrahim of the Parker Institute and Dr Tim Irish, who also works for NICE as a non-executive director.

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Spotlight Therapeutics Appoints Visionary Global Pharma Drug Developer Antoine Yver, M.D., M.Sc. as First Independent Board Member

Spotlight Therapeutics | July 18, 2022

Spotlight Therapeutics, Inc. a biotechnology company applying new insights to develop cell-targeted in vivo CRISPR gene editing biologics, announced the appointment of Antoine Yver, M.D., M.Sc. to the Spotlight Board of Directors. Trained as an oncologist and immunologist, Dr. Yver’s extensive industry experience and perceptive acumen will be extremely valuable as Spotlight continues to strengthen its highly differentiated TAGE platform and advance lead therapeutic candidates towards the clinic. “We are thrilled to welcome Antoine to Spotlight’s Board of Directors. Few people in our industry enjoy such a remarkable track record of successful drug development, exercising extreme rigor in following the science to deliver practice-changing medicines that serve patients with significant unmet medical needs.” Mary Haak-Frendscho, Ph.D., President and Chief Executive Officer of Spotlight As Executive Vice President and Global Head of Oncology R&D at Daiichi Sankyo, Dr. Yver played a key role in the development of the new breakthrough cancer biologic, Enhertu®, that is redefining breast cancer treatment and promises to set a new standard of care, as well as other Daiichi Sankyo DXd ADCs. From 2009 to 2016, Dr. Yver held executive leadership positions at AstraZeneca, including SVP & Global Head of Oncology Development. Under his leadership, Tagrisso® and Lynparza® were successfully developed and commercialized for patients. Prior to joining AstraZeneca, Dr. Yver held roles at Merck, Johnson & Johnson, Aventis and Rhone-Poulenc Rorer. Dr. Yver is Executive Vice President and Chairman of Development at Centessa Pharmaceuticals plc and currently serves as an Independent Director of the Board of Directors at Sanofi. “I am delighted to join the Spotlight Board and support the mission to unlock the full potential of gene editing and enable effective single administration therapeutics for patients,” said Dr. Yver. “Spotlight’s biologics-based delivery approach has the potential to forge a new generation of cell-targeted in vivo CRISPR gene editing medicines across multiple therapeutic areas.” “Antoine’s deep insights and vast global pharma experience will help propel Spotlight to becoming a clinical stage company,” said Craig Gordon, M.D., Spotlight board member, Founder, CEO, and CIO of GordonMD™ Global Investments. “We look forward to working together to impact the strategic decisions of the company that will ultimately provide benefit to patients.” About Spotlight Therapeutics Established in mid-2018, Spotlight Therapeutics is a privately held biotechnology company advancing a pipeline of cell-targeted in vivo CRISPR gene editing therapies. Spotlight's proprietary technology platform TAGE is a new class of biologics, CRISPR effectors engineered for direct delivery in vivo, to achieve cell-selective therapeutic genome editing. Spotlight's pipeline is advancing its modular programmable CRISPR effectors towards clinical studies in immuno-oncology, ophthalmic diseases and hemoglobinopathies.

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BUSINESS INSIGHTS

BD Completes Acquisition of Parata Systems

BD | July 19, 2022

BD announced it has completed the acquisition of Parata Systems. Parata advances BD's transformative solutions strategy by providing a portfolio of innovative pharmacy automation solutions that power a growing network of pharmacies to reduce costs, enhance patient safety and improve the patient experience for retail, hospital and long-term care pharmacies. As a combined company, BD is positioned to offer a comprehensive set of technologies to the $600 million pharmacy automation market segment that is expected to grow approximately 10% annually to $1.5 billion in the U.S. alone over 10 years. "Completing this acquisition represents an important step towards advancing our 2025 growth strategy around smart, connected care and enabling new care settings. I'd like to officially welcome the Parata team to BD as we join together to uniquely provide a more comprehensive set of smart, connected care technologies to support our customers as they expand care to new settings and centralize their pharmacy operations." Tom Polen, chairman, chief executive officer and president of BD The acquisition builds on BD's legacy and experience of seamlessly integrating teams to drive future growth and innovation. The Parata portfolio will become part of the solutions offered by BD's Medication Management Solutions business within the BD Medical segment. Together, the combined BD and Parata team will help pharmacy leaders address critical trends, such as clinician shortages, wage inflation, centralization of pharmacy services and increased clinical demands on pharmacy staff. About BD BD is one of the largest global medical technology companies in the world and is advancing the world of health by improving medical discovery, diagnostics and the delivery of care. The company supports the heroes on the frontlines of health care by developing innovative technology, services and solutions that help advance both clinical therapy for patients and clinical process for health care providers. BD and its 75,000 employees have a passion and commitment to help enhance the safety and efficiency of clinicians' care delivery process, enable laboratory scientists to accurately detect disease and advance researchers' capabilities to develop the next generation of diagnostics and therapeutics. BD has a presence in virtually every country and partners with organizations around the world to address some of the most challenging global health issues. By working in close collaboration with customers, BD can help enhance outcomes, lower costs, increase efficiencies, improve safety and expand access to health care.

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VIEWS AND ANALYSIS

Innovent and IASO Bio Present Updated Data of BCMA CAR-T Cell Therapy (Equecabtagene Autoleucel) at EHA 2022

Innovent Biologics | June 13, 2022

Innovent Biologics, Inc. a world-class biopharmaceutical company that develops, manufactures and commercializes high-quality medicines for the treatment of oncology, autoimmune, metabolic, ophthalmology and other major diseases, and IASO Biotherapeutics a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company engaged in discovering, developing, and manufacturing innovative cell therapies and antibody products, today jointly announced that the updated data from phase 1/2 study of Equecabtagene Autoleucel (Innovent R&D code: IBI326, IASO Bio R&D code: CT103A), a fully-human anti-B cell maturation antigen chimeric antigen receptor T-cell therapy for the treatment of relapsed and/or refractory multiple myeloma (R/R MM), was presented in the form of an oral presentation at the 27th European Hematology Association Annual Meeting in Vienna on June 9-12, 2022. The updated data from the Phase 1/2 study with a longer duration of follow-up in more patients has showed durable and deepening efficacy, manageable safety and long-term in vivo persistence, indicating that Equecabtagene Autoleucel has the potential to be a breakthrough therapy for patients with R/R MM. The updated data is from the 14 clinical sites involved in the Phase 1/2 clinical study of Equecabtagene Autoleucel (ChiCTR1800018137, NCT05066646) in the treatment of patients with R/R MM. As of the data cutoff date of January 21, 2022, 79 patients received recommended phase 2 dose of 1.0×106 CAR-T cells/kg with the median follow-up of nine months (range 1.2, 19.6) and median prior five lines of therapy (range 3,23). Among the 79 patients, 34.2% (27/79) had high-risk cytogenetic abnormalities, 34.2%(27/79)had extramedullary multiple myeloma (EMM), and 15.2%(12/79)had received prior CAR-T therapy. Equecabtagene Autoleucel demonstrated a favorable and manageable safety profile: Among the 79 patients, 94.9% (75/79) experienced cytokine release syndrome (CRS). The majority experienced 1~2 CRS, and no patient experienced grade 3 CRS. The median time to CRS onset was six days after infusion, and the median duration of CRS was five days. Only two patients experienced immune effector cell-associated neurotoxicity syndrome (ICANS), including one patient who experienced grade 1 ICANS and one who experienced grade 2 ICANS. All patients with CRS or ICANS have recovered. Equecabtagene Autoleucel showed favorable and durable efficacy: Among the 79 patients, the overall response rate (ORR) was 94.9% (75/79), with "89.9% (71/79)" of those patients achieving very good partial response (VGPR) or deeper responses, and the complete response/stringent complete response (CR/sCR) rate was 68.4% (54/79). Equecabtagene Autoleucel also demonstrated favorable efficacy in 10 patients with EMM, achieving an ORR of 100% (10/10) and a CR/sCR rate of 90.0% (9/10). In all 79 patients, 92.4% (73/79) achieved minimal residual disease (MRD) negativity, all CR/sCR subjects achieved MRD negativity, and the median duration of MRD negativity was not reached. Equecabtagene Autoleucel demonstrated favorable efficacy in patients who had received prior CAR-T therapy: Among the 12 patients who previously received CAR-T therapy, the ORR was 75.0% (9/12), with 41.7% (5/12) of those patients achieving CR/sCR. Equecabtagene Autoleucel demonstrated robust expansion and prolonged persistence: The expansion of Equecabtagene Autoleucel in peripheral blood reached the peak at a median of 12 days, with a median Cmax of 92,000 copies/ug DNA. Equecabtagene Autoleucel was still detectable in 62.3% (38/61) and 53.3% (8/15) of the subjects who completed 6-months and 12-month follow-ups after infusion. Soluble BCMA in peripheral blood of patients rapidly declined after Equecabtagene Autoleucel infusion and persistently remained below the detectable limit. Equecabtagene Autoleucel has low immunogenicity: 16.5% (13/79) of the subjects tested anti-drug antibody (ADA)-positive after Equecabtagene Autoleucel infusion. Among them,1.3% (1/79) tested ADA-positive before Equecabtagene Autoleucel infusion, and 2.5% (2/79) tested ADA-positive within three months. Prof. Chunrui Li, MD, PhD, from Tongji Hospital, Tongji Medical College, Huazhong University of Science & Technology, stated "Chimeric antigen receptor (CAR)-T cell therapy is a revolutionary new pillar in cancer treatment. In our previous studies, Equecabtagene Autoleucel has shown excellent efficacy and manageable safety profiles. Its CAR structure contains fully human single-chain fragment variables (scFvs) to bypass potential anti-CAR immunogenicity of the host while retaining antitumor activity. At the 27th EHA conference, we updated the data on the efficacy and safety of Equecabtagene Autoleucel in R/R MM patients with longer median follow-up extended to 9.0 months, the CR/sCR deepened to 68.4%, compared with the CR/sCR of 58.2% with a median follow-up of 7.0 months, which were released at 63rd ASH conference in 2021. The updated data showed long-lasting safety and deepening efficacy of Equecabtagene Autoleucel. We are glad that Equecabtagene Autoleucel also shows favorable efficacy on patients who have relapsed after receiving prior CAR-T therapy. This has meaningful clinical value and is worthy of further exploration in the clinic to potentially bring forth new hope to patients with R/R MM." About Multiple Myeloma (MM) Multiple Myeloma is a deadly blood cancer that often infiltrates the bone marrow causing anemia, kidney failure, immune problems, and bone fractures. For multiple myeloma patients, common first-line drug treatments include proteasome inhibitors, immunomodulatory drugs, and alkylating agents. While treatment may result in remission, most patients will inevitably enter the relapsed or refractory stage as there's currently no cure. As a result, there is a significant unmet need for patients with relapsed/refractory multiple myeloma. In the United States, MM accounts for nearly 2% of all cancer cases, and more than 2% of cancer-related deaths. According to Frost & Sullivan, the number of new MM cases in the United States rose from 30,300 in 2016 to 32,300 in 2020 and is expected to increase to 37,800 by 2025. Additionally, the total number of patients diagnosed with MM increased from 132,200 in 2016 to 144,900 in 2020 and is expected to rise to 162,300 by 2025. In China, the number of new MM cases rose from 18,900 in 2016 to 21,100 in 2020 and is expected to increase to 24,500 by 2025. The total number of patients diagnosed with MM in China increased from 69,800 in 2016 to 113,800 in 2020 and is expected to rise to 182,200 by 2025. About Equecabtagene Autoleucel Equecabtagene Autoleucel is an innovative therapy co-developed by Innovent and IASO Bio, with a fully-human anti- BCMA CAR-T cell therapy which uses lentivirus as a gene vector to transfect autologous T cells. The CAR contains a fully-human scFv, CD8a hinge and transmembrane, and 4-1BB-mediated co-stimulation and CD3ζ activation domains. Based on rigorous screening and comprehensive in vivo and in vitro evaluation, Equecabtagene Autoleucel is proven to have potent and rapid anti-myeloma activity and outstanding safety, efficacy, and persistence results.

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BUSINESS INSIGHTS

Ligand Pharmaceuticals Announces Inducement Grants Under NASDAQ Listing Rule 5635(c)(4)

Ligand Pharmaceuticals | August 02, 2022

Ligand Pharmaceuticals Incorporated announced that effective August 1, 2022, Ligand’s Board of Directors approved the grant of non-qualified stock option awards to purchase an aggregate of 90,073 shares of its common stock, 5,000 restricted stock units and 4,000 performance stock units the target level to six non-executive employees. The options were granted on August 1, 2022, and the grant date for the RSUs and the PSUs will be the date on which Ligand files a Form S-8 Registration Statement to register the shares pursuant to Ligand’s 2022 Employment Inducement Plan. The awards were granted under the Inducement Plan as employment inducement awards pursuant to NASDAQ Listing Rule 5635(c)(4). The Inducement Plan is used exclusively for the grant of equity awards to individuals who were not previously employees of Ligand, or following a bona fide period of non-employment, as an inducement material to such individuals’ entering into employment with Ligand, pursuant to Nasdaq Listing Rule 5635(c)(4). The options have an exercise price of $89.70 per share, which is the closing price of Ligand’s common stock on The Nasdaq Global Select Market on August 1, 2022. The stock options have a term of ten years and will vest over four years, with 12.5% of the shares vesting six months after the employee’s commencement of employment and the balance of the shares vesting in 42 equal monthly installments thereafter, subject to the grantee’s continued service on such vesting dates. The RSUs will vest over three years on the first three anniversaries of the grantee’s commencement of employment, subject to continued service through each applicable vesting date. The PSUs will vest based on the achievement of certain total shareholder return objectives and the completion of the contemplated spin-off of OmniAb, Inc. from Ligand. The number of shares earned under the PSUs may be up to 6,500 in the aggregate if maximum performance levels are achieved. About Ligand Pharmaceuticals Ligand is a revenue-generating biopharmaceutical company focused on developing or acquiring technologies that help pharmaceutical companies discover and develop medicines. Our business model creates value for stockholders by providing a diversified portfolio of biotech and pharmaceutical product revenue streams that are supported by an efficient and low corporate cost structure. Our goal is to offer investors an opportunity to participate in the promise of the biotech industry in a profitable, diversified and lower-risk business than a typical biotech company. Our business model is based on doing what we do best: drug discovery, early-stage drug development, product reformulation and partnering. We partner with other pharmaceutical companies to leverage what they do best (late-stage development, regulatory management and commercialization) ultimately to generate our revenue. Ligand’s OmniAb® technology platform is a patent-protected transgenic animal platform used in the discovery of fully human monoclonal and bispecific therapeutic antibodies. The Captisol® platform technology is a patent-protected, chemically modified cyclodextrin with a structure designed to optimize the solubility and stability of drugs. Ligand’s Pelican Expression Technology® is a robust, validated, cost-effective and scalable platform for recombinant protein production that is especially well-suited for complex, large-scale protein production where traditional systems are not. Ligand has established multiple alliances, licenses and other business relationships with the world’s leading pharmaceutical companies including Amgen, Merck, Pfizer, Sanofi, Janssen, Takeda, Gilead Sciences and Baxter International.

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