AstraZeneca Plc is to acquire a Dutch company with technology for developing T cell therapies for cancer which target antigens specific to a patient’s tumour. The company, Neogene Therapeutics Inc, was founded in Amsterdam, the Netherlands in 2018 and has a pipeline of candidate therapies that consist of engineered T cells equipped with receptors targeting tumour-specific antigens, also known as neoantigens.
A new German neuroscience company was formally launched in Heidelberg on 17 November with plans to develop small molecule drugs for the treatment of neurodegenerative diseases including amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and Huntington’s disease. FundaMental Pharma GmbH has received €10 million in seed financing from a consortium led by BioGeneration Ventures and Thuja Capital of the Netherlands and High-Tech Gründerfonds in Germany.
CatalYm GmbH has closed a Series C financing round, raising €50 million to support development of a therapy directed at the immune system for cancer. The Munich, Germany company has a candidate monoclonal antibody engineered to neutralise the tumour-produced growth differentiation factor-15 (GDF-15). GDF-15 acts as a regulator of immune cell activation and as an inhibitor of immune cell infiltration into the tumour tissue.
Merck & Co Inc is to acquire Imago BioSciences Inc, a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company, for $36 per share in cash in order to strengthen its presence in haematology. The deal, valued at $1.35 billion, is expected to close in the first quarter of 2023. It will be one of the first big transactions executed by the company’s new chief executive Robert Davis, who has succeeded Kenneth Frazier.
Syncona Ltd has set out an ambition to organically grow its net assets to £5 billion by 2032, while resolving to continue a strategy of evergreen investing in promising life science companies. On 30 September, the end of the company’s first half year, net assets were valued £1,366 million, up from £1,309 million on 31 March, giving a net asset value return of 4.3%.
Researchers from nine academic centres, together with PACT Pharma Inc of the US, have reported data from a Phase 1 study of a novel cell therapy which produced initial signs of clinical activity in patients with a variety of solid tumours. The treatment is an allogeneic T cell receptor (TCR) T cell therapy which has been edited to recognise the patient’s specific cancer. This was done by equipping the TCR with a neoantigen specific to the cancer.
Genmab A/S of Denmark has revised upward its guidance for revenue and operating profit for 2022 following a strong performance of Darzalex (daratumumab), a monoclonal antibody therapy for multiple myeloma that is licensed to Janssen Biotech Inc. Genmab receives royalties on Darzalex sales which represent a significant proportion of group revenue. The company also receives royalties from Horizon Therapeutics Plc for Tepezza, a medicine for thyroid eye disease, and for Kesimpta (ofatumumab) for multiple sclerosis from Novartis.
Denmark-based H. Lundbeck A/S has raised its financial guidance for 2022 to show projected revenue in a range of DKK 17.9 billion to DKK 18.2 billion. This compares with revenue of DKK 16.299 billion (€2.19 billion) in 2021. The upgrade follows the strong performance of its four core products, which showed double-digit increases in sales for the first nine months of the year. The products are Rexulti and Brintellix for major depressive disorder; Abilify Maintena for schizophrenia; and Vyepti, a new product for migraine prevention.
The first gene therapy for adults with haemophilia B has been approved by the US Food and Drug Administration after showing that a single dose of the treatment was able to significantly reduce abnormal bleeding.
Facing stiff competition for its lead cancer product, MorphoSys AG is turning its attention to two Phase 3 trials that, if successful, could give it significant added momentum on the US market. This comes as the German company adjusts its US sales forecast for the product, Monjuvi (tafasitamab), a second-line treatment for diffuse large B cell lymphoma (DLBCL). Sales for 2022 are now expected to be $90 million instead of the previously forecast $90 million to $110 million.