Vaccine for Lassa Fever Set To Be Trialed

Technology Networks | October 25, 2019

There is currently no vaccine for the Lassa arenavirus, which causes Lassa fever. This hemorrhagic fever, endemic in West Africa, infects up to 300,000 people each year. Given the urgency of the situation, scientists in the Biology of Viral Emerging Infections Unit and the Viral Genomics and Vaccination Unit at the Institut Pasteur evaluated the efficacy of several vaccine candidates. Following their analyses, they identified one of these vaccines, based on the measles platform, as being the most effective to enter clinical testing in humans as soon as possible. This raises hopes in the fight against a disease that claims between 5,000 and 6,000 lives every year. Lassa fever, a hemorrhagic fever caused by the Lassa virus (LASV), is responsible for several thousands of deaths in endemic countries in West Africa every year. The natural reservoir of the virus is a peridomestic rodent that lives near or inside homes, so contacts between humans and the infected reservoir in villages are frequent (see our disease fact sheet). Humans are generally infected by ingesting or inhaling material contaminated with the animal's excreta (urine or feces). Early diagnosis of Lassa fever is difficult to establish because the first symptoms are non-specific (fever, vomiting and nausea), and there is currently no treatment. Vaccinating the populations concerned is therefore the most promising strategy to deal with recurrent outbreaks of Lassa fever. The World Health Organization (WHO) has included Lassa fever in its R&D Blueprint list of epidemic threats needing urgent R&D action. Frédéric Tangy, Head of the Institut Pasteur's Viral Genomics and Vaccination Unit, said in an interview: "When it comes to vaccines, all the easy work has already been done, and the more difficult work has still not been completed. Fundamental research is vital for the development of new solutions."

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Over the last thirty years the number of new antibiotic approvals has dropped. According to the Pew Institute, only two antibiotic products were approved by the US Food and Drug Administration in 2015. Many of the products approved in recent years are second, third or fourth generation antibiotics, meaning they are follow-up compounds, without a novel mechanism of action.


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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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Iktos Announces Collaboration With Galapagos in AI For Drug Design

Iktos, | June 29, 2022

Iktos, a company specialized in Artificial Intelligence for new drug design, announced a collaboration with Galapagos, a leading global biopharmaceutical company focused on the discovery, development and commercialization of innovative medicines, to apply Iktos’s generative modelling artificial intelligence (AI) technology in one of Galapagos drug discovery programs. Under the agreement, Iktos will apply its de novo ligand and structure-based generative modelling technologies and software Makya™, its AI-based retrosynthesis analysis and planning tool Spaya™, and its know-how in computational drug design to expedite the identification of potential pre-clinical candidates and to identify additional novel chemical matter with suitable properties. Galapagos scientists will benefit from direct access to Makya™ and Spaya™ as part of the collaboration. Iktos’s AI technology, based on deep generative models, helps to bring new insights and directions into the drug discovery process based on a comprehensive data-driven chemical structure generation technology. This technology automatically designs virtual novel molecules with all of the characteristics of a successful drug molecule. This approach, validated through multiple collaborations, is a novel solution to one of the key challenges in drug design: rapid identification of molecules that simultaneously satisfy multiple parameters, such as potency, selectivity, safety, and project-specific properties. This approach uniquely enables the exploration of chemical space and produces innovative molecule designs with greater freedom to operate. Iktos has also diversified its R&D efforts into the development of an AI technology for retrosynthesis and has developed the AI-based retrosynthesis analysis and planning tool Spaya™ enabling systematic exploration and prioritisation of synthetic routes for a desired compound in minutes. “We are thrilled and proud to join forces with Galapagos with the aim to discover optimised lead compounds for one of Galapagos undisclosed small molecule drug discovery projects. Pleased to have earned Galapagos trust, we are confident that together with Galapagos established R&D team, we will be able to identify promising novel chemical matter and solve complex multiparametric optimisation problems. The insights and feedback from Galapagos research team will be highly valuable to guide us into improving our technology and products.” Yann Gaston-Mathé, President and CEO of Iktos About Iktos Incorporated in October 2016, Iktos is a French start-up company specialized in the development of artificial intelligence solutions applied to chemical research, more specifically medicinal chemistry and new drug design. Iktos is developing a proprietary and innovative solution based on deep learning generative models, which enables, using existing data, to design molecules that are optimized in silico to meet all the success criteria of a small molecule discovery project. The use of Iktos technology enables major productivity gains in upstream pharmaceutical R&D. Iktos offers its technology both as professional services and as a SaaS software platform, Makya™. Iktos is also developing Spaya™, a synthesis planning software based upon Iktos’s proprietary AI technology for retrosynthesis.

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Spotlight Therapeutics Appoints Visionary Global Pharma Drug Developer Antoine Yver, M.D., M.Sc. as First Independent Board Member

Spotlight Therapeutics | July 18, 2022

Spotlight Therapeutics, Inc. a biotechnology company applying new insights to develop cell-targeted in vivo CRISPR gene editing biologics, announced the appointment of Antoine Yver, M.D., M.Sc. to the Spotlight Board of Directors. Trained as an oncologist and immunologist, Dr. Yver’s extensive industry experience and perceptive acumen will be extremely valuable as Spotlight continues to strengthen its highly differentiated TAGE platform and advance lead therapeutic candidates towards the clinic. “We are thrilled to welcome Antoine to Spotlight’s Board of Directors. Few people in our industry enjoy such a remarkable track record of successful drug development, exercising extreme rigor in following the science to deliver practice-changing medicines that serve patients with significant unmet medical needs.” Mary Haak-Frendscho, Ph.D., President and Chief Executive Officer of Spotlight As Executive Vice President and Global Head of Oncology R&D at Daiichi Sankyo, Dr. Yver played a key role in the development of the new breakthrough cancer biologic, Enhertu®, that is redefining breast cancer treatment and promises to set a new standard of care, as well as other Daiichi Sankyo DXd ADCs. From 2009 to 2016, Dr. Yver held executive leadership positions at AstraZeneca, including SVP & Global Head of Oncology Development. Under his leadership, Tagrisso® and Lynparza® were successfully developed and commercialized for patients. Prior to joining AstraZeneca, Dr. Yver held roles at Merck, Johnson & Johnson, Aventis and Rhone-Poulenc Rorer. Dr. Yver is Executive Vice President and Chairman of Development at Centessa Pharmaceuticals plc and currently serves as an Independent Director of the Board of Directors at Sanofi. “I am delighted to join the Spotlight Board and support the mission to unlock the full potential of gene editing and enable effective single administration therapeutics for patients,” said Dr. Yver. “Spotlight’s biologics-based delivery approach has the potential to forge a new generation of cell-targeted in vivo CRISPR gene editing medicines across multiple therapeutic areas.” “Antoine’s deep insights and vast global pharma experience will help propel Spotlight to becoming a clinical stage company,” said Craig Gordon, M.D., Spotlight board member, Founder, CEO, and CIO of GordonMD™ Global Investments. “We look forward to working together to impact the strategic decisions of the company that will ultimately provide benefit to patients.” About Spotlight Therapeutics Established in mid-2018, Spotlight Therapeutics is a privately held biotechnology company advancing a pipeline of cell-targeted in vivo CRISPR gene editing therapies. Spotlight's proprietary technology platform TAGE is a new class of biologics, CRISPR effectors engineered for direct delivery in vivo, to achieve cell-selective therapeutic genome editing. Spotlight's pipeline is advancing its modular programmable CRISPR effectors towards clinical studies in immuno-oncology, ophthalmic diseases and hemoglobinopathies.

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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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Over the last thirty years the number of new antibiotic approvals has dropped. According to the Pew Institute, only two antibiotic products were approved by the US Food and Drug Administration in 2015. Many of the products approved in recent years are second, third or fourth generation antibiotics, meaning they are follow-up compounds, without a novel mechanism of action.

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