J and J execs have plenty to brag about in pharma. Why downplay Xarelto, Zytiga woes.

fiercepharma | July 16, 2019

Johnson and Johnsons pharma unit is still churning out growth, partly because of out performing new launches like cancer med Darzalex. But execs had to explain away some disappointing results for two of its older blockbusters. Prostate cancer med Zytiga, which executives last year predicted wouldnt face 2018 generic competition, is losing ground to cheap copycats, while growth engine Xarelto faces a steamrolling rival in Pfizer and Bristol Myers Squibbs Eliquis. U.S. Zytiga sales slipped 59% in the second quarter to 198 million dollars thanks to an onslaught of generics, while anticoagulant Xarelto posted a 19% decrease in stateside sales to 549 million dollars. On Tuesday’s conference call, Vice Chairman Joaquin Duato said several factors hurt Xarelto’s performance in the second quarter. More of Xarelto's scripts came from Medicare Part D patients in Q2 of this year compared with last, according to J&J's earnings presentation. And J&J was on the hook for a bigger share of patient costs in Medicare Part D’s donut hole. Congress implemented the donut hole change last year, forcing drugmakers to pay more to move patients out of the coverage gap. Once J&J gets a few quarters ahead of those changes, Xarelto should start turning in more impressive growth percentages, Duato said. How? J&J plans to grow Xarelto’s market share and volume in existing uses, plus focus on launches in new indications, Duato said, though he didn't specify exactly how it'll pump up that volume.

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Can-Fite Granted Key NASH Patent in Israel

Can-Fite BioPharma Ltd. | May 17, 2022

Can-Fite BioPharma Ltd. a biotechnology company advancing a pipeline of proprietary small molecule drugs that address inflammatory, cancer and liver diseases, announced that its patent titled "An A3 Adenosine Receptor Ligand For Use In Treating Ectopic Fat Accumulation" has been granted by the Israel Patent Office. This patent has been issued in approximately 40 countries and territories including Japan, South Korea, Hong Kong, Mexico, and in the European Union. It addresses the use of the A3 Adenosine Receptor ligand, the target receptor for Can-Fite's drug platform technology, for the treatment of ectopic fat accumulation particularly in fatty liver as manifested in non-alcoholic fatty liver disease and non-alcoholic steatohepatitis. The treatment of NASH is a market estimated to reach $35 billion by 2025. Can-Fite is currently enrolling and treating patients in a Phase IIb NASH study of its liver drug candidate Namodenoson. The multi-center, randomized, double blind, and placebo controlled study of biopsy-confirmed NASH patients will measure efficacy periodically through biomarkers, with a primary efficacy endpoint determined by liver biopsy at the end of the treatment period. In a prior Phase IIa study, Namodenoson met endpoints including reduced liver fat content, anti-inflammatory effects, and decreased body weight with excellent safety. “The treatment of NASH is an enormous unmet need that Can-Fite seeks to meet through our advanced stage clinical trial and our expanding patent estate for the use of our target A3AR in the treatment of fatty liver disease,” Can-Fite CEO Dr. Pnina Fishman About Namodenoson Namodenoson is a small orally bioavailable drug that binds with high affinity and selectivity to the A3 adenosine receptor. Namodenoson is being evaluated in a pivotal Phase III trial as a second line treatment for hepatocellular carcinoma, and in a Phase IIb trial as a treatment for non-alcoholic steatohepatitis. A3AR is highly expressed in diseased cells whereas low expression is found in normal cells. This differential effect accounts for the excellent safety profile of the drug. About Can-Fite BioPharma Ltd. Can-Fite BioPharma Ltd. is an advanced clinical stage drug development Company with a platform technology that is designed to address multi-billion dollar markets in the treatment of cancer, liver, and inflammatory disease. The Company's lead drug candidate, Piclidenoson has completed enrollment in a Phase III trial for psoriasis. Can-Fite's liver drug, Namodenoson, is being evaluated in a Phase IIb trial for the treatment of non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH), and enrollment is expected to commence in a Phase III trial for hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), the most common form of liver cancer. Namodenoson has been granted Orphan Drug Designation in the U.S. and Europe and Fast Track Designation as a second line treatment for HCC by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Namodenoson has also shown proof of concept to potentially treat other cancers including colon, prostate, and melanoma. CF602, the Company's third drug candidate, has shown efficacy in the treatment of erectile dysfunction. These drugs have an excellent safety profile with experience in over 1,500 patients in clinical studies to date.

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Qualigen Therapeutics Acquires Majority Stake in Infectious Disease Diagnostics Technology Company NanoSynex

Qualigen Therapeutics, Inc. | June 03, 2022

Qualigen Therapeutics, Inc. a diversified life sciences company focused on developing treatments for adult and pediatric cancers with potential for Orphan Drug Designation, while also commercializing diagnostics, today announces it has completed the acquisition of a majority stake in NanoSynex Ltd., an Israeli-based developer of next generation diagnostics technology. NanoSynex’s award winning technology is an Antimicrobial Susceptibility Testing (AST) platform that aims to provide clinical laboratories worldwide with a rapid, accurate and personalized test for bacterial infections, especially difficult-to-treat drug resistant strains, with the goal of quickly matching the correct antibiotics at the correct concentration to treat a patient’s specific infection. Antibiotic misuse and overuse have given significant rise to more frequent and more deadly antibiotic resistant bacteria, such as Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). Multi-drug resistant pathogens such as these have been declared a substantial threat to U.S. public health and national security by the Institute of Medicine and a federal Interagency Task Force on Antimicrobial Resistance. According to some estimates, the global infectious disease diagnostics market is expected to reach ~$39.8 Billion by 2026 from ~$28.1 Billion in 2021. “Living through two and a half years of COVID-19 has taught us the critical role diagnostics plays in combating infectious disease, and the need to be prepared for the next wave. NanoSynex’s technology shows great promise in rapidly and accurately matching antibiotics to the target bacteria, and in doing so, quickly equipping healthcare providers with the data needed to treat their patients with the right antibiotic at the right dose at the right time. We strongly believe in the potential of this platform, and our ability to leverage our long-standing diagnostics development, regulatory and commercial expertise to help bring the NanoSynex diagnostics technology to market sooner.” Michael Poirier, Qualigen's Chairman and CEO “We are excited about beginning a new journey with Qualigen and joining forces in a common mission to develop innovative diagnostics. This partnership takes the NanoSynex AST platform to the next level," added NanoSynex Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Diane Abensur Bessin. NanoSynex is led by a dynamic team of healthcare subject matter experts, microbiologists, and engineers, including its co-founders – Diane Abensur Bessin and Michelle Heymann, who were selected for Forbes’ 2020 Tech 30 Under 30 list. Qualigen’s diagnostics team, led by Shishir Sinha, Senior VP and Chief Operating Officer, will work closely alongside the Israeli-based NanoSynex team on technology development, regulatory path, and commercial preparedness. Qualigen also envisions potential synergies with its proprietary FastPack® diagnostics platform to further strengthen the Company’s diagnostics business which has seen a post-COVID-19 resurgence. Qualigen’s purchase of the controlling interest in NanoSynex was primarily accomplished via a stock-for-stock acquisition with a controlling shareholder of NanoSynex. Qualigen also provided an investment in NanoSynex at closing and will provide future milestone-based funding leading to the commercialization of this technology. NanoSynex’s Board will initially be comprised of two current NanoSynex directors – NanoSynex co-founders - and two Qualigen appointees – Mr. Poirier and Mr. Sinha. About Qualigen Therapeutics, Inc. Qualigen Therapeutics, Inc. is a diversified life sciences company focused on developing treatments for adult and pediatric cancer, as well as maintaining and expanding its core FDA-cleared FastPack® System, which has been used successfully in diagnostics for over 20 years. Our investigational QN-302 compound is a small molecule selective transcription inhibitor with strong binding affinity to G4s prevalent in cancer cells; such binding could, by stabilizing the G4s against “unwinding,” help inhibit cancer cell proliferation. Our investigational QN-247 compound inhibits nucleolin, a key multi-functional regulatory protein that is overexpressed in cancer cells; QN-247 may thereby be able to inhibit the cells’ proliferation. QN-247 has shown promise in preclinical studies for the treatment of acute myeloid leukemia (AML). The investigational compounds within Qualigen’s RAS-F family of RAS oncogene protein-protein interaction inhibitor small molecules are believed to inhibit or block the binding of mutated RAS genes’ proteins to their effector proteins, thereby leaving the proteins from the mutated RAS unable to cause further harm. In theory, such mechanism of action may be effective in the treatment of about one quarter of all cancers, including certain forms of pancreatic, colorectal, and lung cancers. In addition to its oncology drug pipeline, Qualigen has an established diagnostics business which manufactures and distributes proprietary and highly accurate rapid blood testing systems to physician offices and small hospitals for the management of prostate cancer and other diseases and health conditions. About NanoSynex NanoSynex is a MedTech company that aims at providing new solutions to improve testing quality, patient outcomes, and reduce healthcare costs by speeding up diagnostic processes. NanoSynex is focused on the development and commercialization of a rapid innovative Antimicrobial Susceptibility Test (AST). The technology is based on a purely phenotypic approach and uses a microfluidic disposable test card platform and method that optimizes bacterial growth. This disruptive development was born from exciting research discoveries at the lab of Professor Shulamit Levenberg, former Dean of the Technion Institute of Technology – Biomedical Engineering Faculty.

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Athira Pharma Announces Topline Results from ACT-AD Phase 2 Proof of Concept Study of Fosgonimeton in Mild-to-Moderate Alzheimer’s Disease

Athira Pharma, Inc. | June 27, 2022

Athira Pharma, Inc. a late clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company focused on developing small molecules to restore neuronal health and slow neurodegeneration, today announced topline results from its exploratory ACT-AD Phase 2 study of fosgonimeton in patients with mild-to-moderate Alzheimer’s disease. Fosgonimeton is a small molecule designed to enhance the activity of Hepatocyte Growth Factor and its receptor, MET, which are expressed in the central nervous system to promote brain health and function. “Following compelling ERP P300 latency biomarker data from a small Phase 1b trial over eight days in Alzheimer’s patients on fosgonimeton monotherapy, this Phase 2 trial provides valuable insights into the nature of this novel intervention over 26 weeks. ACT-AD was designed as a learning study to further investigate the ERP P300 biomarker signal over 6 months, assess safety in a patient population more representative of the real world, by allowing the use of add-on standard-of-care acetylcholinesterase inhibitors (AChEIs, e.g., donepezil), and explore fosgonimeton’s effect on psychometric outcomes, including ADAS-Cog11, to inform the ongoing Phase 3 LIFT-AD study. To that end, this study achieved its goal,” said Hans Moebius, M.D., Ph.D., Chief Medical Officer of Athira. “The study was intended to show differences on the biomarker ERP P300 latency. This primary endpoint was not met by protocoled analysis, however a pre-specified subgroup analysis indicated a potential diminished effect of fosgonimeton when given in combination with AChEIs. A subsequent post hoc analysis of the data from patients on fosgonimeton monotherapy showed a meaningful improvement in both ERP P300 latency and cognitive performance compared to placebo at 26 weeks. “These data points are very encouraging as they indicate the expected pharmacological activity of fosgonimeton by parallel improvement on ERP P300 latency and ADAS-Cog11 and show a favorable safety profile over six months. This is the first time monotherapy fosgonimeton has shown an effect on ADAS-Cog11, suggesting a potential cognitive benefit. We will use these insights for a rational optimization of the ongoing LIFT-AD trial. We plan to seek advice from our scientific advisors, investigators, and ultimately regulators on how to expeditiously analyze and potentially adapt the LIFT-AD study,” Dr. Moebius “The data from the fosgonimeton monotherapy analysis are encouraging and show biologic activity that may support the potential role of the HGF/MET pathway in neurodegenerative diseases,” said Marwan Sabbagh, M.D., FAAN, professor of neurology at Barrow Neurological Institute, Phoenix, AZ. “ACT-AD adds to the body of literature suggesting ERP P300 latency as an important biomarker for cognitive status.”

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Foundation Medicine Announces Strategic Collaboration with Arvinas

Foundation Medicine | June 06, 2022

Foundation Medicine, Inc., a pioneer in molecular profiling for cancer, announced a collaboration with Arvinas, Inc., to develop FoundationOne®Liquid CDx as a companion diagnostic for use with Arvinas’ bavdegalutamide an investigational novel PROTAC® protein degrader targeting the androgen receptor (AR). Arvinas’ bavdegalutamide is being developed for the potential treatment of men with metastatic castration resistant prostate cancer who have progressed on existing therapies. Arvinas is a clinical-stage biotechnology company and a pioneer in the rapidly growing field of targeted protein degradation. Arvinas’ proprietary PROTAC® targeted protein degraders, or proteolysis-targeting chimeras, work by harnessing the body’s natural protein disposal system to selectively and efficiently degrade and remove disease-causing proteins. AR activity is a key driver of prostate cancer, which makes the ability to regulate AR signaling an important factor in controlling disease progression. “We look forward to collaborating with Foundation Medicine to develop a companion diagnostic aimed at improving patient access. Foundation Medicine’s deep understanding of cancer genomics, scalable solutions, and regulatory expertise makes them an ideal partner for us as we develop bavdegalutamide as a potential new therapy for men with prostate cancer.” Ron Peck, M.D., chief medical officer at Arvinas Foundation Medicine’s portfolio of FDA-approved comprehensive genomic profiling tests offer physicians both blood- and tissue-based testing options for detecting genomic alterations that help guide personalized treatment decisions. As companion diagnostics, FoundationOne®CDx and FoundationOne®Liquid CDx allow oncologists to identify patients who may be appropriate for FDA-approved targeted therapies. “We are proud to serve as an end-to-end partner for Arvinas as they pioneer this new approach to treat cancer,” said Sanket Agrawal, chief biopharma business officer, Foundation Medicine. “Bringing our capabilities to this emerging area of biotechnology sets us on an exciting path to deepen our collective understanding of cancer biology and deliver more novel treatment options to patients now and in the future.” Foundation Medicine is an essential partner for biopharma organizations navigating the complexity of cancer care and research. This latest collaboration adds to its more than 65 global biopharma and biotechnology partnerships aimed at getting targeted cancer treatments to patients faster. About FoundationOne®CDx FoundationOne CDx is a next-generation sequencing based in vitro diagnostic device for detection of substitutions, insertion and deletion alterations (indels), and copy number alterations (CNAs) in 324 genes and select gene rearrangements, as well as genomic signatures including microsatellite instability (MSI) and tumor mutational burden (TMB) using DNA isolated from formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded (FFPE) tumor tissue specimens. FoundationOne CDx is for prescription use only and is intended as a companion diagnostic to identify patients who may benefit from treatment with certain targeted therapies in accordance with their approved therapeutic product labeling. Additionally, FoundationOne CDx is intended to provide tumor mutation profiling to be used by qualified health care professionals in accordance with professional guidelines in oncology for patients with solid malignant neoplasms. Use of the test does not guarantee a patient will be matched to a treatment. A negative result does not rule out the presence of an alteration. Some patients may require a biopsy. About FoundationOne®Liquid CDx FoundationOne Liquid CDx is a qualitative next generation sequencing based in vitro diagnostic test for prescription use only that uses targeted high throughput hybridization-based capture technology to analyze 324 genes utilizing circulating cell-free DNA (cfDNA) isolated from plasma derived from anti-coagulated peripheral whole blood of advanced cancer patients. The test is FDA-approved to report short variants in over 300 genes and is a companion diagnostic to identify patients who may benefit from treatment with specific therapies (listed in Table 1 of the Intended Use) in accordance with the approved therapeutic product labeling. Additional genomic findings may be reported and are not prescriptive or conclusive for labeled use of any specific therapeutic product. Use of the test does not guarantee a patient will be matched to a treatment. A negative result does not rule out the presence of an alteration. Patients who are negative for companion diagnostic mutations should be reflexed to tumor tissue testing and genomic alteration status confirmed using an FDA-approved tumor tissue test, if feasible. About Foundation Medicine Foundation Medicine is a pioneer in molecular profiling for cancer, working to shape the future of clinical care and research. We collaborate with a broad range of partners across the cancer community and strive to set the standard for quality, scientific excellence, and regulatory leadership. Our deep understanding of cancer biology helps physicians make informed treatment decisions for their patients and empowers researchers to develop new medicines. Every day, we are driven to help our partners find answers and take action, enabling more people around the world to benefit from precision cancer care.

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