Moderna, AstraZeneca and J&J coronavirus shots rev up for NIH tests beginning in July: WSJ

Fiercepharma | June 10, 2020

As leading coronavirus vaccines make their way through early stages of human testing, the NIH is plotting much larger efficacy studies this summer. U.S. researchers plan to run phase 3 trials of vaccines from Moderna, AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson in the coming months, the Wall Street Journal reports.  The NIH intends to start a phase 3 trial of Moderna’s vaccine in July, followed by an August trial of AstraZeneca’s vaccine and a September study of Johnson & Johnson’s shot, a U.S. government researcher told the newspaper. All three of the shots are based on brand-new technologies, and they're all reportedly among finalists in the Operation Warp Speed program. Former FDA chief Scott Gottlieb has publicly questioned the picks, pointing out the team's reliance on new technologies. Johnson & Johnson has not previously disclosed any human testing for its vaccine and the company has previously said it’s aiming to enter human studies in September. But on Wednesday, the company said it's accelerating its timeline, with plans to start a phase 1/2a study in July.

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Three iA Employees Honored with Top Women in Health Awards

iA | November 18, 2022

iA, a provider of software-enabled pharmacy fulfillment and automation solutions, celebrated three of its employees being recognized at Drug Store News’ Fourth Annual Top Women in Health, Wellness & Beauty Awards held in Chicago, Illinois. Rachael Clark, Vice President of Commercial Sales, received a Rising Star award. As Vice President of Commercial Sales, Rachael works with large-scale retail chain grocery stores, mainstream pharmacies, and digital pharmacies, as well as independent mom-and-pop operations. Rachael is responsible for a team of account executives that work to promote iA’s technology across North America and globally by developing long-term strategies, while also organizing and maintaining sales operations. Bobbi Jamriska, Senior Vice President, Product Management, received an award for Business Excellence. Bobbi leads the Product Management team at iA that is responsible for the iA portfolio of solutions, where she manages the strategy, development, and go-to-market planning. She has been a pharmacy tech for 12 years, and has led global product management initiatives as well as new product development experiences. Stacey Weber, Senior Director of Customer Operations, received an award for Business Excellence. Stacey oversees the customer support division, where she manages a team of 35 remote technicians who assist customers in using iA’s Rx fulfillment solutions, which include automated prescription filling robots and innovative warehouse management systems. In addition to ensuring customers receive timely and helpful assistance, she also oversees standardization and process improvement for iA’s call center and for the customers that use iA solutions. “We are incredibly proud of our team members. Rachael, Bobbi, and Stacey all represent the best of iA, and we are very lucky to be able to work with them every day.” Tom Utech, President and Chief Operating Officer About iA iA is a leading-edge provider of software-enabled pharmacy fulfillment solutions. With over 30 years in pharmacy fulfillment, iA has invented and developed a suite of software-driven pharmacy automation solutions. From NEXiA software to automated modular hardware and sophisticated counting and collation devices, iA pharmacy automation solutions and technology empower pharmacists. iA can run the prescription fulfillment process from end to end, helping pharmacies manage fulfillment and inventory to help lower costs, improve efficiency and provide comprehensive Rx tracking and real-time support.

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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, PHARMACY MARKET

insitro Appoints Philip Tagari, Industry-Leading Scientist and Drug Hunter, as Chief Scientific Officer

insitro | December 02, 2022

insitro, a machine learning-powered drug discovery and development company announced that Philip Tagari has been appointed as chief scientific officer. Tagari joins insitro following a 24-year career at Amgen, where he has led the organization's research platforms for over a decade as vice president, research - therapeutic discovery. “I am deeply excited to partner with Philip on insitro’s journey to build a transformative biology platform for the efficient discovery and development of effective medicines for patients in need. Philip brings unparalleled experience in drug development, including building and utilizing cutting-edge platforms, profound scientific expertise across therapeutic areas and modalities, and most importantly, the humility and courage to transcend the drug discovery status quo and do things differently.” Daphne Koller, Ph.D., founder and CEO of insitro Tagari joins a cross-functional team of experts in biology and technology at insitro, part of a uniquely collaborative culture that spans the boundaries of both fields. “Philip’s inspiring track record of fusing science and technology to build innovative platforms and leading therapeutic programs from bench to approval will guide us in the next step of insitro’s journey, as we deploy our expertise to identify exciting new targets and design therapeutic molecules,” said Koller. “insitro is completely redefining our understanding of disease biology and developing novel therapeutic strategies for a variety of grievous illnesses. Using machine learning on genetics and multi-modal phenotypic data at scale from human cohorts and cellular systems, their cutting edge laboratories are rapidly generating differentiated approaches to currently intractable unmet needs,” Tagari said. “I’m thrilled to partner with Daphne and insitro’s world-class scientists and technologists in achieving a patient-driven vision brought to life in a different kind of drug company.” Tagari joins insitro in early 2023 from Amgen, where he has held a variety of roles since 1998, and served as vice president, research - therapeutic discovery, since 2012. During his time at Amgen, Tagari built and led a global organization of over 600 scientists that delivered numerous experimental and marketed therapies in neurology, inflammation, cardiovascular disease and oncology. Throughout his career, which includes a decade at Merck and research positions at McGill University and Oxford University, Tagari made significant contributions toward multiple first-in-class, disease-modifying, life-changing therapies including Lumakras, Repatha, Singulair, Aimovig, Evenity, Tarlatamab, Acapatamab, Efavaleukin alfa, and AMG 133. With more than 30 years of research experience, he brings expertise across neurobiology, metabolic disease, hematology/oncology, immunology and inflammation, cell and molecular biology, antibody discovery and biologics engineering, medicinal, peptide and oligonucleotide chemistry, analytical chemistry and biochemistry, structural biology, pharmacokinetics, safety pharmacology, laboratory automation and information technologies. Tagari has published or contributed to more than 70 peer-reviewed publications. “I had the privilege of working with Philip for more than 15 years, first at Merck, and thereafter at Amgen, and can say unequivocally that he ranks among the most accomplished, and most innovative, scientific leaders in the industry,” said Roger M. Perlmutter, M.D., Ph.D., currently president, chief executive officer, and chairman of Eikon Therapeutics, Inc., (formerly EVP R&D both at Amgen and at Merck), and is a member of insitro’s Board of Directors. “With Philip as chief scientific officer and partner to Daphne, insitro will be well positioned to ensure that insights from its machine learning-enabled discovery platform contribute to the development of important new medicines that will make a meaningful difference for patients.” About insitro insitro is a data-driven drug discovery and development company using machine learning and data at scale to transform the way that drugs are discovered and developed for patients. insitro is developing predictive machine learning models to discover underlying biologic states based on human cohort data and in-house generated cellular data at scale. These predictive models are being brought to bear on key bottlenecks in pharmaceutical R&D to advance novel targets and patient biomarkers, design therapeutics and inform clinical strategy. insitro is advancing a wholly owned and partnered pipeline of biologic insights and molecules in metabolism and neuroscience. Since formation in mid 2018, insitro has raised over $700 million from top tech, biotech, and crossover investors, and from collaborations with pharmaceutical partners.

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BUSINESS INSIGHTS, PHARMACY MARKET

Phio Pharmaceuticals Announces New Clinical Program to Study PH-762 for the Treatment of Cutaneous Squamous Cell Carcinoma

Phio Pharmaceuticals Corp. | December 22, 2022

Phio Pharmaceuticals Corp., today announced it expects to file an IND in the US in the first half of 2023 for a Phase 1b clinical trial of its INTASYL™ compound, PH-762. Phio is a clinical stage biotechnology company whose proprietary INTASYL self-delivering RNAi technology is designed to make immune cells more effective in killing tumor cells. PH-762 has been shown to reduce the expression of PD-1, a protein that inhibits T cells' ability to kill cancer cells. When administered intratumorally in preclinical models PH-762 primes an anti-tumor immune response, and inhibits tumor growth. Phio is currently conducting a Phase 1b clinical trial of PH-762 for the treatment of advanced melanoma at the Gustave Roussy Institute, one of the largest cancer centers in Europe. Phio expects to commence a US Phase 1b clinical trial early in the 2nd half of 2023. The initial US trial is expected to focus on the treatment of cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma and other selected cutaneous malignancies, following successful regulatory review of the IND. "Therapeutic interventions for cSCC are limited, and there is increasing unmet medical need. As cSCC tumors comprise approximately 51% of the total incidence of solid tumors in the US, excluding basal cell cancers, we recognize the growing need for alternative therapies for cSCC," said Robert Bitterman, Phio's Principal Executive Officer and Executive Chairman. Mr. Bitterman has over 25 years of executive leadership experience in the pharmaceutical and biologic life science industry with a proven track record in operations, finance and investor relations. "While monoclonal antibody therapies are available for the treatment of cSCC, mechanistically they only block the interaction between PD-1 and PD-L1 on the cell surface. PH-762 also has the potential to address PD-1 inside the T cell, essentially further enhancing the activity of the T cell to kill the tumor cells," said Dr. James Cardia, Phio's Vice President of Scientific Operations. Dr. Cardia led the team that discovered INTASYL. "PH-762 has the potential to meet a significant medical need in patients who have failed to respond to mAbs, as well as those with resectable and metastatic solid tumors. Phio is committed to advancing the study of PH-762 to provide a meaningful therapy for patients with a broad range of solid tumors." Dr. Mary Spellman, Phio's Medical and Clinical Development Advisor About INTASYL INTASYL compounds are chemically modified siRNAs that are designed to provide efficient, spontaneous cellular uptake and potent, long lasting intracellular activity targeting a broad range of cell types and tissues. INTASYL drugs precisely target specific proteins that reduce the body's ability to fight cancer, without the need for specialized formulations or drug delivery systems. INTASYL has demonstrated preclinical efficacy in both Direct-to-Tumor and Adoptive Cell Therapy applications. In comparison to biologics and cell and gene therapies, INTASYL has a favorable pre-clinical toxicity and safety profile, and a streamlined chemical synthesis that reduces costs and offers substantial convenience to the prescriber and patient. Phio believes that INTASYL is the only self-delivering RNA interference technology focused on immuno-oncology therapeutics. About Phio Pharmaceuticals Phio Pharmaceuticals Corp. is a clinical stage biotechnology company whose proprietary INTASYL™ RNAi technology is designed to make immune cells more effective in killing tumor cells. Phio believes that INTASYL is the only self-delivering RNAi technology focused on immuno-oncology therapeutics. INTASYL drugs precisely target specific proteins that reduce the body's ability to fight cancer, without the need for specialized formulations or drug delivery systems.

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