Primary endpoint met in drug study for worsening chronic heart failure

European Pharmaceutical Review | November 19, 2019

Merck has announced that the Phase III VICTORIA study evaluating the efficacy and safety of vericiguat, a soluble guanylate cyclase (sGC) stimulator being developed to treat patients with worsening chronic heart failure, has met the primary efficacy endpoint. Vericiguat reduced the risk of the composite endpoint of heart failure hospitalisation or cardiovascular death in patients with worsening chronic heart failure with reduced ejection fraction (HFrEF) compared to placebo when given in combination with available heart failure therapies. “VICTORIA is the first large contemporary outcomes study to focus exclusively on a population with worsening chronic heart failure who have a high risk for cardiovascular mortality and repeated heart failure hospitalisations,” said Dr Roy Baynes, Senior Vice President and Head of Global Clinical Development, Chief Medical Officer, Merck Research Laboratories. “We are pleased vericiguat met this primary endpoint and look forward to sharing the detailed findings of the study.” VICTORIA is a randomised Phase III study of vericiguat versus placebo when given in combination with available heart failure therapies in patients with worsening chronic HFrEF following a decompensation event, defined as heart failure hospitalisation or receiving an intravenous diuretic for heart failure without hospitalisation. The primary endpoint of the study is the composite of time to first occurrence of cardiovascular death or heart failure hospitalisation.

Spotlight

Judo is the art of using the attacking power of the opponent for its defense. This comparison comes to mind when researching the saliva of the tick, which is rather stripped than looking at it more closely. This is precisely what scientists from the Merck Serono Division did in Geneva - and discovered a new protein class with a potentially great future. More on the subject in the discoverer


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BUSINESS INSIGHTS

SmartSkin Partners With PDA to Bring New Technology to Aseptic Processing

SmartSkin Technologies and PDA | October 06, 2022

SmartSkin Technologies and Parenteral Drug Association, Inc. announced a partnership to integrate SmartSkin’s data collection technologies with PDA’s aseptic processing and visual inspection training. SmartSkin is recognized by leading pharmaceutical brands as an innovator. Its technology helps the industry adapt faster and improve production quality by providing timely data from the container’s perspective inside the production process — from the washer to warehousing. This previously unavailable information enables data-driven decisions, improving efficiency, lowering costs, and reducing waste. Built on a reputation of scientifically reliable and compliant industry best practices, PDA's hands-on aseptic processing and visual inspection training courses provide new and experienced pharmaceutical professionals with practical information and implementable solutions related to these critical manufacturing operations. “PDA’s training curriculum is widely acknowledged as the gold standard for the pharmaceutical industry. We have been working closely with them for the past several months and are thrilled to have our technology included as part of their training. We have been working hard to understand all aspects of sterile products, aseptic processing, and how to improve quality in pharmaceutical manufacturing. PDA training will ensure industry professionals understand what is now possible.” SmartSkin CEO, Evan Justason “We are always looking to integrate new technologies into our training courses to provide meaningful hands-on experience to our attendees. Smartskin’s technology to protect the integrity of containers across the fill-finish process will enhance the aseptic processing and visual inspection training courses, making them even more unique and valuable,” said PDA VP of Education, David Talmage. SmartSkin discussed manufacturing and quality assurance issues at the 2022 PDA/FDA Joint Regulatory Conference in Washington earlier this month and showcased its latest product innovations to PDA and FDA members. SmartSkin will also be attending the upcoming PDA Universe of Pre-Filled Syringes and Injection Devices show in Palm Springs, CA, October 18-19. About PDA The Parenteral Drug Association (PDA) is the leading global provider of science, technology, and regulatory information. The PDA creates awareness and understanding of important issues facing the pharmaceutical and biopharmaceutical community and delivers high-quality, relevant education to the industry. Since its founding in 1946 as a nonprofit organization, PDA has been committed to developing scientifically sound, practical technical information and expertise to advance pharmaceutical/biopharmaceutical manufacturing science and regulation, so members can better serve patients. About SmartSkin Technologies SmartSkin Technologies, Inc. is based in Fredericton, New Brunswick, Canada. The company’s patented Quantifeel™ solutions fuse innovative sensors, deep analytics and artificial intelligence to provide global manufacturers with actionable data on the forces their containers experience during the filling and packaging process. By identifying previously undetectable adverse or abnormal operating conditions, workers are able to better control the process, preventing product defects and costly downtime. SmartSkin’s technology is in use around the world and has earned a reputation as a world leader in IIoT productivity solutions across multiple industries. SmartSkin was honored with the “Best Manufacturing Innovation” at the 2020 PharmaPack Awards in Paris.

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PHARMACY MARKET

A novel azapeptide editing method provides potential for new drug development, Feinstein Institutes research shows

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.” Dr. Al-Abed 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.

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RESEARCH

Corium Announces Publication of ADLARITY® Clinical Trial Data: Drug Exposure Equivalent to Oral Donepezil With Favorable GI Side Effect Profile

Corium, Inc. | September 20, 2022

Corium, Inc., a fully-integrated biopharmaceutical company leading the development and commercialization of novel central nervous system therapies, announced publication of its phase 1 healthy volunteer study results for ADLARITY in the peer-reviewed Journal of Alzheimer's Disease. The article, "Comparison of Steady-State Pharmacokinetics of Donepezil Transdermal Delivery System with Oral Donepezil," reports that Corium's novel once-weekly Alzheimer's dementia treatment delivered drug exposure equivalent to oral donepezil while presenting lower gastrointestinal (GI) adverse events overall compared to oral donepezil. The article is currently available online and expected to be published in the hardcopy of the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease, Volume 90, Issue 1, on October 25, 2022. "Transdermal delivery offers meaningful potential benefits over oral administration, including ease of use, maintenance of steady concentrations of drugs, reduced gastrointestinal adverse effects, and better treatment compliance. The availability of a transdermal formulation of donepezil gives clinicians, patients, and their caregivers an important new option to consider when treating dementia of the Alzheimer's type," said study co-author Pierre N. Tariot, M.D., director of the Banner Alzheimer's Institute in Phoenix, AZ. "The study demonstrated the equivalent exposure of Adlarity to oral donepezil and supports the use of ADLARITY as a compliant and safe once-weekly dosing regimen for treatment of patients with dementia of the Alzheimer type. The trial also shows Corium's commitment to addressing the unmet needs of patients with CNS disorders." Charles Oh, M.D., Chief Medical Officer of Corium ADLARITY Transdermal System: Equivalent to Oral Donepezil Exposure, Fewer GI Adverse Events Overall In the trial, investigators compared the extent of donepezil exposure from the once-weekly ADLARITY to a once-daily oral donepezil formulation in 60 healthy adults (NCT04617782). The trial included three treatment periods of 5 weeks each. In the first period, all the participants received ADLARITY weekly, which provided 5 mg/day of donepezil. In the second period, participants were randomized to receive either 10 mg/day once-weekly ADLARITY or 10 mg/day daily oral donepezil, followed by switching to the alternative treatment, ADLARITY or oral donepezil, in the third period. All the participants knew which treatment they received in this open-label trial. Investigators examined the amount of donepezil in the participants' blood, including the maximum plasma concentration (Cmax) and the total amount of drug exposure (area under the curve or AUC). About Alzheimer's Disease Alzheimer's disease is a progressive and irreversible brain disorder. It involves changes in brain tissue including abnormal buildup of proteins as well as loss of neuron function. The resulting damage leads to the loss of remembering, reasoning, and thinking abilities. The related behavioral changes include the loss of independence in activities of daily living and self-care. Dementia ranges in severity from mild, when it is just beginning to affect a person's functioning, to moderate, to severe, when the person must depend on others for the basic activities of day-to-day life. Patients with advanced Alzheimer's disease may be unable to chew and swallow easily. About Corium Corium, Inc., is a fully-integrated biopharmaceutical company that is leading the development and commercialization of CNS therapies that provide physicians with innovative treatment options for patients, their families, and their caregivers. Corium is commercializing two U.S. FDA approved products, ADLARITY and AZSTARYS. About Gurnet Point Capital Gurnet Point Capital is a unique healthcare investment platform within the B-Flexion group and led by a team with deep expertise in an industry for which they share a passion, both as investors and senior executives. GPC invests long-term capital and supports entrepreneurs in building a new generation of companies that deliver outsized returns through active ownership. Based in Cambridge, MA, its remit encompasses life sciences and health care focused businesses, with a particular emphasis on businesses that have high growth potential in the product development and commercialization stages of their evolution. With its strategy of driving best in class operational transformation for these businesses, to create social impact while generating significant economic value, GPC is able to deliver differentiated results for its investors and partners.

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BUSINESS INSIGHTS

Saudi Ministry of Investment and Insilico Medicine sign agreement to expand region’s biotechnology capabilities

Insilico Medicine | September 15, 2022

Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Investment and clinical stage artificial intelligence (AI)-driven drug discovery company Insilico Medicine have signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to support the development of a robust AI-driven biotech industry in the Kingdom. The agreement was signed during the Global AI Summit, held from the 13th through the 15th of September in Riyadh, which featured over 200 speakers representing 90 countries discussing the future of AI, including Insilico Medicine founder and CEO Alex Zhavoronkov, PhD. Sara Althari, PhD, senior researcher and MISA advisor, spearheaded the agreement. MISA and Insilico Medicine will work on shared initiatives that build on the capabilities of Insilico’s end-to-end AI-powered drug discovery platform, PharmaAI. Drawing on trillions of data points, the platform has three distinct but interconnected elements – novel AI target discovery novel AI drug design and AI clinical trial prediction. Under the terms of the MoU, Insilico will share its expertise and software platform with local biotech companies to support and accelerate their research and drug development efforts. Through the partnership, the MoU also seeks to spur the development of new biotech companies. Insilico will also work with Saudi companies on robotics-aided drug design and clinical trial design and best practices. The Company is launching a fully autonomous AI-run robotics lab that will perform experiments, capture data, and further validate its AI-discovered and designed drugs later this fall. The Company’s clinical trial prediction tool, InClinico, is designed to help researchers and companies plan trials with greater statistical likelihood of Phase 2 success. There will be additional partnership opportunities in other areas where Insilico’s AI platform has shown promise, including the support and initiation of projects related to healthy longevity and support for green chemistry initiatives, including the development of sustainable chemicals and crop protection solutions. “As someone who decided to dedicate his life to extending healthy productive longevity for everyone on the planet, I applaud Saudi Arabia’s new initiatives in this most impactful area of research. As a company, we are encouraged by Saudi Arabia’s vision to increase its digital economy and play a meaningful role in the future of drug discovery using AI and robotics. We look forward to working together to expand the region’s biotech sector and partnering with established and emerging companies as well as academic and research institutions in order to explore the full potential of our end-to-end AI platform.” Alex Zhavoronkov, PhD, founder and CEO of Insilico Medicine Over the past year, MISA has signed MoUs with a number of pharmaceutical and technology companies to grow its biotech sector, including Novartis, Janssen, AstraZeneca, GSK and Roche, as well as Amazon Saudi Arabia. Insilico Medicine, a company which bridges pharma and tech, is the first AI-driven drug discovery company to sign such an agreement in the region. About Insilico Medicine Insilico Medicine, a clinical stage end-to-end artificial intelligence (AI)-driven drug discovery company, is connecting biology, chemistry, and clinical trials analysis using next-generation AI systems. The company has developed AI platforms that utilize deep generative models, reinforcement learning, transformers, and other modern machine learning techniques to discover novel targets and to design novel molecular structures with desired properties. Insilico Medicine is delivering breakthrough solutions to discover and develop innovative drugs for cancer, fibrosis, immunity, central nervous system diseases and aging-related diseases.

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Spotlight

Judo is the art of using the attacking power of the opponent for its defense. This comparison comes to mind when researching the saliva of the tick, which is rather stripped than looking at it more closely. This is precisely what scientists from the Merck Serono Division did in Geneva - and discovered a new protein class with a potentially great future. More on the subject in the discoverer

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