Under threat from Novartis, Biogen hails new data from SMA drug Spinraza

Novartis, Biogen | July 02, 2019

Under threat from a gene therapy from Novartis, Biogen is making the case for its drug Spinraza for the muscle wasting disease spinal muscular atrophy, with new data that it hopes persuades doctors to prescribe it. Despite its steep list price of around £450,000 for the first year of treatment NHS England and NICE have struck a deal with Biogen that will allow patients access under a managed access agreement. This involves a confidential price cut and funds treatment for a time-limited period until further data is available on Spinraza’s effectiveness. The latest data from the NURTURE study could well help NICE with its decisions about how to fund Spinraza in the longer term. Results in NURTURE involve data from the longest study SMA in pre-symptomatic infants, involving up to 45.1 months of analysis. Data demonstrate efficacy and safety in patients treated pre-symptomatically in comparison with the natural history of the disease. The 25 patients treated with Spinraza had continuous improvement with the overwhelming majority of patients achieving motor milestones in a normal timeframe.

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Artificial intelligence may be able to improve the drug discovery and approval processes, saving the pharmaceutical industry both time and money. Yet adoption has been slow. Bloomberg Intelligence's Elizabeth Krutoholow discusses whether pharma is ready for an AI revolution at Bloomberg's Sooner Than You Think in Paris.


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HKSTP and Boehringer Ingelheim Venture Fund Launch Co-Incubation Programme to Fast-track R&D in Infectious Diseases and Immunology

BIVF | June 18, 2022

Hong Kong Science and Technology Parks Corporation is partnering global research-driven biopharmaceutical leader, Boehringer Ingelheim Venture Fund Limited in a strategic co-incubation collaboration to promote and nurture startups on research and development for infectious diseases and immunology. HKSTP is dedicated to collaborating with sector leaders in building the strongest I&T eco-system to help startups via business development, mentorship and investment initiatives. In the last five years, the number of biotech companies at HKSTP have tripled from 50 to over 150, which has also synched with the Government’s strategic focus on biomedical technology with allocation of HK$10 billion to develop life and health technology as a key future growth sector for Hong Kong. This partnership between HKSTP and BIVF marks a key milestone to drive the Hong Kong’s biomedical technology development. Both local and global qualified startups in infectious diseases and immunology can apply to the incubation programme to access the full capabilities of the HKSTP ecosystem and BIVF’s extensive biotech funding network. Incubatees can access one-on-one coaching and assessment to track key research milestones, while receiving expert guidance from HKSTP on commercialisation, manufacturing, scaling-up and marketing strategy to ensure successful innovation, plus vital funding opportunities and investment insight from BI. “Hong Kong is now Asia’s largest and the world’s second largest fundraising hub for biotech. As HKSTP marks our 20th year of propelling success and innovation, our mission is to drive the growth of biotech to another level with world class leaders like BIVF. We will maximise the GBA growth opportunities for high-potential tech talents and early-stage startups to ensure the region emerges as a global I&T powerhouse.” Mr. Albert Wong, CEO of HKSTP Dr. Grace Lau, Head of Institute for Translational Research of HKSTP, said: “Our partnership with BIVF, provides early-stage startups and promising university spinoffs with vital support at the most critical stage of their long and challenging biotech innovation journey. Incubatees will have access to our Incu-Bio Programme, with total incubatees doubling up in the last five years. The startups can also access funding support of up to HK$6 million, with financial subsidies and upfront grants to cover regulatory activities such as clinical trials.” “The world has faced growing public health challenges in recent years. As Boehringer Ingelheim’s strategic investment arm, BIVF focuses on the development of new science in areas with huge unmet medical needs such infectious diseases and immunology,” said Dr. Frank Kalkbrenner, Global Head of the BIVF. “The co-incubation program jointly initiated by HKSTP and BIVF will enable us to identify more breakthrough technologies in the early stage of development. With the funding and infrastructure support offered by HKSTP and BI‘s expertise and experiences in the successful development of breakthrough mediactions for patients, we foster the startup companies and bridge the gap between science and industry for the local ecosystem. We look forward to developing together with HKSTP next-generation therapies in the fields of infectious diseases and immunology with long term partnerships.” “The innovation competency of biopharmaceuticals in Asia is rising quickly. To grab the opportunities in this market, Boehringer Ingelheim has set up the External Innovation Hub in China which brings our Research Beyond Borders, Business Development & Licensing and Venture Fund groups under one umbrella. Now we’re thrilled to see that the biopharmaceutical industry is picking up rapidly in the Guangdong–Hong Kong–Macau Greater Bay Area, it’s a great opportunity for us to partner with HKSTP to develop the local ecosystem, and further enhance China’s dual-circulation scheme. We hope to offer our continuous support to more home-grown innovations to be recognized on the global market and eventually benefit the patients worldwide.” said Mr. Felix Gutsche, President & CEO, Boehringer Ingelheim China. Programme incubatees will also benefit from HKSTP’s rapidly-growing biotech R&D capabilities including the HKSTP Institute for Translational Research (ITR), enabling biomedical startups to turn their innovative biomedical technologies to life-changing impact for patients and society. Also available to startups is HKSTP’s Incu-Bio program providing dedicated biotech mentorship, business matching, entrepreneur-in-residence, and access to R&D facilities and the Science Parks’ diverse talent pool. About Hong Kong Science and Technology Parks Corporation Hong Kong Science and Technology Parks Corporation (HKSTP) has for 20 continuous years committed to building up Hong Kong as an international innovation and technology hub to propel success for local and global pioneers today and tomorrow. HKSTP has established a thriving I&T ecosystem that is home to three unicorns and Hong Kong’s leading R&D hub with over 11,000 research professionals and over 1,000 technology companies focused on healthtech, AI and robotics, fintech and smart city technologies. Established in 2001, we attract and nurture talent, accelerate and commercialise innovation and technology for entrepreneurs on their journey of growth in Hong Kong, to the Greater Bay Area, Asia and beyond. Our growing innovation ecosystem is built around our key locations of the Hong Kong Science Park in Shatin, InnoCentre in Kowloon Tong and three modern INNOPARKs in Tai Po, Tseung Kwan O and Yuen Long. The three INNOPARKs are realizing a vision of re-industrialisation for Hong Kong. The goal is sectors like advanced manufacturing, electronics and biotechnology are being reimagined for a new generation of industry. Through our infrastructure, services, expertise and network of partnerships, HKSTP will help establish innovation and technology as a pillar of growth for Hong Kong, while reinforcing Hong Kong’s international I&T hub status as a launchpad for global growth at the heart of the GBA innovation powerhouse. About BIVF Created in 2010, the Boehringer Ingelheim Venture Fund GmbH invests in groundbreaking therapeutics-focused biotechnology companies to drive innovation in biomedical research. searching for significant enhancements in patient care through pioneering science and its clinical translation by building long-term relationships with scientists and entrepreneurs. BIVF’s focus is to target unprecedented therapeutic concepts addressing high medical needs in immuno-oncology, regenerative medicine, infectious diseases and digital health. These may include novel platform technologies to address so far undruggable targets, new generation vaccines and/or new biological entities, such as oncolytic virotherapy. About Boehringer Ingelheim External Innovation Hub China Established in 2020, Boehringer Ingelheim External Innovation Hub China unites three external innovation functions including Research Beyond Borders (RBB), Business Development & Licensing and the Boehringer Ingelheim Venture Fund. Through this innovative business model, Boehringer Ingelheim External Innovation Hub China is committed to providing one-stop solutions for biomedical innovators in China and. It is also dedicated to enriching the company's global R&D pipeline through external innovation collaborations so as to benefit more patients worldwide.

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KemPharm Announces Strategic Acquisition of Arimoclomol from Orphazyme, Expanding its Rare CNS Diseases Pipeline

KemPharm | May 16, 2022

Arimoclomol is an NDA-stage, revenue-generating investigational drug candidate being developed for the treatment of Niemann-Pick disease type C a rare progressive neurodegenerative disease KemPharm plans to refile the New Drug Application (NDA) for arimoclomol in NPC with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration as early as the First Quarter of 2023 CELEBRATION, Fla., May 15, 2022 KemPharm, Inc. a specialty pharmaceutical company focused on the discovery and development of novel treatments for rare central nervous system (CNS) diseases, announced a definitive agreement with Orphazyme A/S to acquire arimoclomol, an orally-delivered, first-in-class heat shock protein (HSP) amplifier being developed as a treatment for Niemann-Pick disease type C (NPC). NPC is a rare progressive neurodegenerative disease that impacts children, adolescents, and adults, and is characterized by an inability of the body to transport cholesterol and lipids inside of cells, which leads to the abnormal accumulation of these substances within various tissues of the body, including the brain. Arimoclomol is currently being made available to NPC patients in the U.S., France and Germany under Orphazyme’s Early Access Programs (EAP). Under the terms of the agreement, KemPharm will purchase substantially all of the assets and operations of Orphazyme, including arimoclomol, for a cash payment of USD $12.8 million. The Company expects to finance the cash payment with a revolving line of credit secured by KemPharm’s balance sheet. KemPharm intends to retain the majority of Orphazyme’s current employees. In addition, KemPharm has agreed to assume an estimated reserve liability equal to approximately USD $5.2 million, which is an estimated future rebate due to the French regulatory authorities based on the revenue generated from the EAP in France. For the year ending December 31, 2022, the EAP is expected to generate at least USD $12 million in revenue based upon enrollment in France as of March 2022. The EAP is expected to remain in place until arimoclomol becomes commercially available in each of the current EAP markets. The transaction is expected to close on or before June 1, 2022, subject to customary closing conditions and approval by Orphazyme’s creditors and the Danish bankruptcy court. Canaccord Genuity LLC acted as a strategic advisor to KemPharm for the transaction. “This strategic acquisition of arimoclomol is a transformative event that significantly expands our rare CNS disease development pipeline, bringing to KemPharm an NDA-stage, revenue-generating product upon which we intend to build commercial capabilities that allow KemPharm to create and retain value for the benefit of shareholders. Moreover, the financial structure of the acquisition combined with the revenue currently being generated by arimoclomol from the early access program in France affords us the opportunity to acquire the asset in a capital efficient manner that has the potential to create positive cash flow, while incurring no shareholder dilution.” Richard Pascoe, Executive Chairman of KemPharm Arimoclomol is administered orally and has been studied in ten Phase 1, four Phase 2, and three pivotal Phase 2/3 trials. Arimoclomol has received Orphan Drug Designation (ODD) for NPC in the United States and the European Union. Arimoclomol has received Fast-Track Designation (FTD), Breakthrough Therapy Designation (BTD), and Rare Pediatric Disease Designation (RPDD) from the FDA for NPC. If approved in the U.S., arimoclomol would also be eligible to receive a Pediatric Priority Review Voucher. On June 17, 2021, Orphazyme received a Complete Response Letter (CRL) from the FDA regarding its NDA for arimoclomol for the treatment of NPC. Orphazyme also withdrew its European Marketing Authorisation Application (MAA) for arimoclomol for the treatment of NPC ahead of a final vote and opinion by the Committee for Medicinal Products for Human Use. “The acquisition of arimoclomol aligns perfectly with our strategy to build KemPharm’s value via the advancement and commercialization of novel treatments that address rare CNS conditions, including our lead clinical candidate, KP1077 in idiopathic hypersomnia,” stated Travis Mickle, Ph.D., President and Chief Executive Officer of KemPharm. “We have carefully evaluated the CRL issued by the FDA and the minutes from the subsequent Type A meeting, as well as the data that has been generated from the development work performed to date. We believe the efficacy signal for arimoclomol in NPC is convincing and that there is a viable regulatory path that could enable a successful NDA resubmission. KemPharm has significant experience with challenging regulatory situations, having successfully led or participated in three FDA product approvals, two of which followed an initial CRL. We welcome the opportunity to work with the FDA on the resubmission of the NDA for arimoclomol in NPC, which we expect to file as early as the first quarter of 2023.” NPC is a rare progressive lysosomal storage disorder characterized by an inability of the body to transport cholesterol and lipids inside of cells. This leads to dysfunction in organs such as the brain, spleen and liver. NPC can range from a fatal disorder within the first few months after birth (neonatal period) to a late onset, chronic progressive disorder that remains undiagnosed well into adulthood. Disease progression is irreversible in all patients, and loss of neuro-cognitive function adversely impacts their daily life. The mean age of death is 13 years (Bianconi, 2019), and there are no approved treatments for NPC in the United States. “NPC is an ultra-rare, inherited neurodegenerative disease that affects people of all ages from infancy to adulthood, and leads to progressive impairment of mobility, cognition, speech, and swallowing, culminating in premature death,” said Marc Patterson, MD, Professor of Neurology, Pediatrics and Medical Genetics at Mayo Clinic. “Therapies to treat NPC are desperately needed, and there is hope that a treatment such as arimoclomol could provide a solution to patients around the world who are living daily with the disease. It is encouraging that there is an opportunity to continue the regulatory process for arimoclomol with the FDA.” About KemPharm KemPharm is a specialty pharmaceutical company focused on the discovery and development of novel treatments for rare central nervous system diseases through its proprietary LAT® platform technology. KemPharm utilizes its proprietary LAT® platform technology to generate improved prodrug versions of FDA-approved drugs as well as to generate prodrug versions of existing compounds that may have applications for new disease indications. KemPharm’s prodrug product candidate pipeline is focused on the high need areas of idiopathic hypersomnia (IH) and other CNS/rare diseases. In addition, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved AZSTARYS®, a new once-daily treatment for ADHD in patients age six years and older containing KemPharm’s prodrug, serdexmethylphenidate (SDX), which is being commercialized by Corium, Inc. in the U.S., and APADAZ®, an immediate-release combination product containing benzhydrocodone, KemPharm’s prodrug of hydrocodone, and acetaminophen, which is being commercialized by KVK-Tech, Inc. in the U.S.

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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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ColubrisMX, Inc. Announces Corporate Rebranding to ENDOQUEST Robotics™

ColubrisMX | July 01, 2022

ColubrisMX, Inc., developer of the world's first flexible endoluminal robotic system which enables scar-free and less invasive surgical procedures, announced that the Company has rebranded to ENDOQUEST Robotics™. The Company also announced the simultaneous launch of its new website, www.endoquestrobotics.com. "Since being founded, our company has made rapid progress in the development of technologies that represent historic advances in endoluminal surgery, with the potential to bring millions of patients access to procedures that are less invasive and scar-free. This rebranding as ENDOQUEST Robotics reinforces our commitment to being the leader in innovation in flexible robotic technology for a wide range of needs in endoscopic surgeries in the years ahead." Kurt Azarbarzin, Chief Executive Officer of ENDOQUEST Robotics ENDOQUEST's advanced robotic platform enables therapeutic endoscopists and surgeons to perform endoluminal surgeries through the body's existing lumens, eliminating the need for incisions that lead to visible scarring. ENDOQUEST's Endoluminal Surgical System combines the flexibility of conventional endoscopy with the advantages of traditional surgical techniques that can improve control and precision. The Company's proprietary endoscope is a flexible and steerable overtube that functions as a robotic delivery system able to deliver two surgical instruments and a flexible videoscope to a surgical target. With the enhanced capabilities of the ENDOQUEST ELS System, advanced endoscopists and surgeons can access locations in the digestive tract through a body's natural orifice using traditional surgical techniques not previously possible. "Following completion of our successful $76 million Series C financing, we remain very encouraged by the growing levels of investor, gastroenterologist and surgeon interest in our ELS System technology and are working aggressively to advance this development program to an Investigational Device Exemption filing with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration," Azarbarzin added. "We look forward to providing an update on our progress on July 1, 2022 at the Society of Robotic and Digital Surgery's Annual Meeting at the Disney World Yacht and Beach Club Resort in Lake Buena Vista, Florida." About ENDOQUEST Robotics ENDOQUEST Robotics has developed the ENDOQUEST Endoluminal Surgical System, the world's first endoluminal robotic surgical system that makes it possible for therapeutic endoscopists and surgeons to perform upper and lower gastrointestinal surgery less-invasively through a trans-oral or trans-anal approach. ENDOQUEST's robotic platform combines the flexibility of endoscopy that is able to navigate the curvature of patients' anatomy with instrumentation that allows the physician to use a conventional two-handed surgical technique. The ENDOQUEST ELS System has further potential applications in a range of minimally invasive surgeries including appendectomy and cholecystectomy that can be performed with no external incisions.

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Spotlight

Artificial intelligence may be able to improve the drug discovery and approval processes, saving the pharmaceutical industry both time and money. Yet adoption has been slow. Bloomberg Intelligence's Elizabeth Krutoholow discusses whether pharma is ready for an AI revolution at Bloomberg's Sooner Than You Think in Paris.

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