UK-based CellCentric Ltd has secured a new investment from an arm of the American Cancer Society to progress a small molecule drug for multiple cancer indications. The investment, from BrightEdge, the cancer society’s philanthropic venture capital fund, will support clinical development of inobrodib, a candidate treatment for prostate and other cancers. Simultaneously, Morningside Investments Ltd, an existing investor, is increasing its financial support for the company. Both financing deals are equity investments, the size of which was not disclosed.
Finance, Grants, Deals
Hal Barron, the chief scientific officer at GlaxoSmithKline Plc, is to become chief executive of a new regenerative medicine company that will seek to understand the process of cellular rejuvenation with the goal of slowing or even reversing the effects of disease. The company, Altos Labs Inc, will combine basic science with translational medicine across two institutes in the US and one in the UK. It is being launched with $3 billion of start-up capital, according to a statement issued on 19 January.
Belgium-based UCB SA is to acquire a US developer of drugs for rare diseases in a move that will both expand its existing epilepsy franchise and give it access to gene therapy technology. The proposed acquisition of Zogenix Inc of Emeryville, California is valued at approximately $1.9 billion (€1.7 billion) and has been approved by the boards of directors of both companies.
Evotec SE is to collaborate with Eli Lilly and Co to discover up to five potential therapeutics for diabetes and chronic kidney diseases, leveraging its experience in metabolic disease discovery to investigate new approaches. Evotec has already worked with Novo Nordisk A/S on possible treatments for kidney diseases and has access to a kidney disease patient database to identify and validate possible drug targets. In the field of diabetes, it has a proprietary beta cell replacement therapy in preclinical development.
AstraZeneca Plc has agreed to pay $75 million initially, and up to an additional $1.5 billion in option fees and milestone payments, for rights to up to three small molecule therapeutics for cancer. The partner is Scorpion Therapeutics Inc of Boston, US, which has an integrated platform for drug discovery drawing on chemical proteomics, structure-based drug design and machine learning.
Sanofi SA has signed a new licensing agreement with Exscientia Plc, a UK drug discovery firm, to tap its expertise in artificial intelligence for the development of up to 15 small molecule drug candidates in the fields of oncology and immunology.
The two companies have been working together since 2016 and in 2019, Sanofi in-licensed a bispecific small molecule directed against two targets in inflammation and immunology.
UK-based Crescendo Biologics Ltd has entered into a multi-target discovery collaboration with BioNTech SE of Germany to develop immunotherapies for cancer and other diseases, its sixth industrial partnership since the company’s founding in 2007. The two companies will look at developing potential messenger RNA (mRNA)-based antibody therapeutics as well as engineered cell therapies.
AstraZeneca Plc has negotiated rights to an early clinical stage therapeutic designed to remove amyloid fibril deposits in the heart. The agreement, with Neurimmune AG of Switzerland, relates to NI006, a monoclonal antibody in Phase 1b for the treatment of transthyretin amyloid cardiomyopathy (ATTR-CM), a systemic condition that can lead to progressive heart failure.
Novartis is to work with Alnylam Pharmaceuticals Inc on a potential treatment to restore liver function in patients with end-stage liver disease. The three-year research agreement will test potential small interfering RNA (siRNA) therapeutics against a target discovered by Novartis in order to promote the regrowth of functional liver cells. The goal is to provide an alternative to transplantation for patients with liver failure, the Swiss company announced on 9 January.
Novartis is to pay $800 million upfront to acquire the UK gene therapy company Gyroscope Therapeutics Ltd whose lead product GT005 is in clinical development for geographic atrophy, an advanced form of dry age-related macular degeneration (AMD). The acquisition will strengthen Novartis’ position in gene therapies for the eye nearly two years after its licensee Spark Therapeutics was taken over by Roche. Spark had an approved gene therapy for retinal disease at the time it joined the Roche group.