Novartis crizanlizumab wins speedy FDA review, putting it closer to blockbuster sickle cell launch

fiercepharma | July 16, 2019

Novartis  plan to launch over 10 potential blockbuster drugs or new indications by 2021 is quickly unfolding. The FDA has accepted a biologics application for the pharma giant's sickle cell disease candidate crizanlizumab (SEG101) and put the drug under priority review, which slashes four months off its evaluation time to just six months in total, the company said Tuesday. If approved, it could sit alongside multiple sclerosis drug Mayzent, spinal muscular atrophy gene therapy Zolgensma and age-related macular degeneration candidate brolucizumab—which also under priority review—among the Swiss drugmaker's most important launches these days. But several competitors are not far behind. Crizanlizumab, a drug Novartis got via its acquisition of Selexys Pharmaceuticals in 2016, is designed to prevent vaso-occlusive crises (VOCs), the painful events resulting from blood vessel blockage in sickle cell disease patients. The drug reduces clusters of cells that block blood flow by targeting the P-selectin protein. In a phase 2 study, crizanlizumab, given once monthly, cut the median rate of VOCs that required healthcare visits by 45.3% in a year versus placebo. What’s more, more than double the number of crizanlizumab patients didn’t experience any VOCs at all. The reductions were seen in patients with or without the use of the old standard treatment hydroxyurea, according to Novartis.

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VIEWS AND ANALYSIS, PHARMA TECH

Anaqua and PatSnap Team Up to Deliver an End-to-End Pharma IP Management Solution

Anaqua and PatSnap | December 08, 2022

Anaqua, the leading provider of innovation and intellectual property management technology announced it is partnering with innovation intelligence platform PatSnap. The collaboration will deliver an enhanced IP management solution to provide Anaqua’s pharmaceutical industry clients with a more detailed and informed view of the market and competitive landscape for key use cases. The combined Anaqua AQX® Pharma and PatSnap Synapse solutions will help AQX Pharma clients further enhance competitiveness, keep up with the fast-paced requirements of the current market, eliminate duplicated work across functions, as well as identify and realize new areas of investment. PatSnap is a platform for innovation intelligence, utilizing AI technology – including machine learning, computer vision and Optical Character Recognition that facilitates access to an unrivaled breadth of data that is connected in a meaningful way. PatSnap’s Synapse solution will give AQX Pharma users access to millions of data points, sourced utilizing best-in-class algorithms and expert manual curation, providing a comprehensive 360-degree market view and adding strategic value to drug development processes and strategy. The new integration is in response to client requests to access more pharmaceutical market data within the AQX platform to improve internal team efficiency and streamline processes. The integration will support sharing deeper intelligence between clients and partners and simplify the route of administration through features such as docket personalization that will allow teams to focus on their most strategic initiatives. Specifically, the combined system will address the use case of conducting stage gate reviews and automatically kick off relevant workflows. “AQX Pharma helps clients manage the business aspects of pharmaceutical IP management, while Synapse powers the external aspects of drug discovery through external and competitor drug discovery processes. Together, we’re using our unique capabilities to enable best practices in Life Science lifecycle stage gate reviews. We’re pleased to offer a complete pharma innovation solution, which can be further complemented by leveraging Anaqua’s strategic integrations, such as its innovation management solution, ideaPoint.” Vincent Brault, SVP of Product & Innovation at Anaqua Ray Chohan, Co-founder and VP of Corporate Development at PatSnap, said, “PatSnap is thrilled to team up with Anaqua, who are true innovators in life sciences IP management. Synapse will empower users of AQX Pharma to comb through millions of data points to discover and commercialize new therapies.” About Anaqua Anaqua, Inc. is a premier provider of integrated intellectual property management technology solutions and services for corporations and law firms. Its IP management software solutions, AQX® and PATTSY WAVE®, both offer best practice workflows with big data analytics and tech-enabled services to create an intelligent environment designed to inform IP strategy, enable IP decision-making, and streamline IP operations, tailored to each segment’s need. Today, nearly half of the top 100 U.S. patent filers and global brands, as well as a growing number of law firms worldwide, use Anaqua’s solutions. Over one million IP executives, attorneys, paralegals, administrators, and innovators use the platform for their IP management needs. The company’s global operations are headquartered in Boston, with offices across the U.S., Europe, Australia, and Asia. About PatSnap PatSnap’s AI-powered innovation intelligence platform transforms billions of innovation data points into actionable intelligence for over 10,000 global customers in more than 50 countries. With an unrivaled breadth of data, including patents, drug information, technology news, market reports, scientific literature, and more, PatSnap breaks barriers to connect innovators with insights.

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VIEWS AND ANALYSIS

Altamira Therapeutics Provides Business Update and First Half 2022 Financial Results

Altamira Therapeutics Ltd | December 01, 2022

Altamira Therapeutics Ltd. a company dedicated to developing therapeutics that address important unmet medical needs, today provided a business update and reported its first half 2022 financial results. “We continue to make good progress with the transformation of Altamira into an RNA delivery technology company. We are optimistic of reaching an agreement to divest or partner our Bentrio nasal spray for key markets in North America and Europe by year end. Last month, we agreed to divest part or all of our inner ear therapeutics programs to a European family office. Following some delay and under slightly amended terms, we expect that transaction to close in December. Thomas Meyer, Altamira Therapeutics’ founder, Chairman and CEO “Heading towards 2023, we look forward to focusing exclusively on the many emerging opportunities in the fast-growing RNA therapeutics market. We are increasingly well positioned to advance our RNA delivery technology throughout 2023.” As Altamira is going through the final stages of a major corporate transformation, management intends to hold its next investor call upon finalization of its partnering / divestiture projects. On that call, the Company will also provide its outlook for 2023. RNA delivery platform update Altamira continued to make solid progress with the development of its patented, peptide-based platform for RNA delivery to extrahepatic tissues. In recent months, the RNA team led by Chief Development Officer Covadonga Pañeda, Ph.D., and Chief Scientific Officer Samuel Wickline, MD, have advanced various projects, including selection and optimization of siRNA sequences, formulation, process development and manufacturing. Starting with project AM-401 for the treatment of KRAS-driven tumors, the Company added a second project, AM-411 for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis. AM-411 nanoparticles comprise siRNA targeting NF-kB a key checkpoint in RA inflammation. The Company is developing both AM-401 and AM-411 with the objective of out-licensing the drug products at a later stage. They serve as a “showcase” for the application of Altamira’s RNA delivery technology; the Company’s strategy will be to out-license the technology to pharma and biotech companies for use with their own RNA molecules. In this context, Altamira has been intensifying its efforts to raise awareness about OligoPhore/SemaPhore within science and industry. In recent months, members of Altamira’s leadership team gave oral presentations at multiple international conferences, highlighting the ability to deliver RNA molecules to extrahepatic tissues and achieve efficient and rapid endosomal release inside target cells. Concurrently, further data on RNA delivered with Altamira’s delivery technology has been published by independent research groups in peer-reviewed scientific journals. Altamira anticipates entering into its first partnering agreements in 2023. Bentrio Update Earlier today, Altamira reported that its licensee and distribution partner Nuance Pharma has launched Bentrio nasal spray in Hong Kong to help provide protection against airborne viruses as well as allergens. This will be the first step to distributing Bentrio in the other Nuance-licensed territories which is comprised of mainland China, Macau and South Korea. As part of its strategy to focus exclusively on RNA delivery, Altamira has been in discussions with several well-established OTC consumer health companies for the partnering of Bentrio. Those discussions intensified following the 510(k) clearance of the product by the FDA and have advanced well, including due diligence by interested parties. The Company anticipates entering into a partnering transaction before year end. In the context of those partnering discussions, Altamira suspended preparations for launching the product in the US on its own as well as pausing major marketing initiatives in Europe. This restraint provides the prospective strategic partner for Bentrio with maximum flexibility to fit the product into its business plan. Beginning in early October, the Bentrio nasal spray was relaunched in Europe for allergic rhinitis. Previously, the Company had ceased marketing the product for the indication of viral infection in the EU and Switzerland although Bentrio’s mode of action is the same regardless of whether it provides a barrier against airborne virus or allergen particles. This had been demonstrated in various relevant in vitro assays. However, certain countries and regions require specifically clinical performance data to clear Bentrio for this indication, in particular related to COVID-19. Such data are expected to become available through the COVAMID trial. In September, Altamira announced that it had reached its extended enrollment target of 160 confirmed subjects in its COVAMID clinical investigation to evaluate the safety, tolerability, and efficacy of its Bentrio nasal spray in patients with acute COVID-19. The read-out of top-line data remains on track for the current quarter. The Company plans to seek an expansion of its product label to also include viral infections in those countries requiring supportive clinical data. In September, the Company also announced that its “NASAR” clinical trial in seasonal allergic rhinitis (SAR) resumed enrollment as the new pollen season started in Australia. The NASAR trial is expected to enroll a total of 100 patients suffering from SAR and is designed to compare the safety and efficacy of Bentrio against a (control) saline nasal spray. The primary endpoint will be the comparison of the reflective Total Nasal Symptom Score under treatment with Bentrio against control. The NASAR trial was initiated in the fall of 2021. It was suspended in spring 2022 as the pollen season came to an end before the enrollment target could be met. Interim data from the trial were used in support of the 510(k) clearance of Bentrio by the US FDA. Unless an interim analysis performed upon reaching 50% of the enrollment target to check the validity of the statistical powering assumptions requires a change to the target size of 100 patients, the Company expects to complete enrollment into the NASAR trial by year-end or in early 2023 with a read-out of top-line data in late 1Q-23.

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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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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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