RQ Biotechnology Ltd was launched in the UK on 17 May to develop broad-spectrum monoclonal antibodies to protect vulnerable people at risk of severe disease from existing, emerging and new viral infections. The company’s scientific co-founders are the University of Oxford and the UK medical research charity LifeArc, formerly MRC Technology. RQ Biotechnology is initially being financed under a licensing agreement with AstraZeneca Plc for candidate antibody drugs to treat SARS-CoV-2 infections.
Syncona Ltd has increased its holding in SwanBio Therapeutics Inc, a gene therapy company, as part of a $56 million Series B financing to support the company’s lead product for adrenomyeloneuropathy (AMN), a rare, inherited neurodegenerative disease. Mass General Brigham Ventures of Cambridge, US also invested in the round.
OMass Therapeutics Ltd, a 2016 spin-out from the University of Oxford, has raised $100 million in a Series B financing round to advance its pipeline of drugs for immunology disorders and rare diseases. Proceeds from the financing will advance the company’s small molecule therapeutics towards clinical trials. The pipeline includes drugs targeting solute carriers, a group of membrane transport proteins, and G-protein coupled receptors (GPCRs), a diverse group of cell surface receptors.
Bristol Myers Squibb Co has extended its drug discovery partnership with Evotec SE in protein degradation – less than a year after the two companies decided to work together longer on a separate project in neurodegeneration. The latest agreement, announced on 10 May, will see BMS and Evotec collaborate for an additional eight years to develop a pipeline of molecular glue degraders. These are small, drug-like compounds that can promote the degradation of disease-causing proteins.
Pfizer Inc is to spend $11.6 billion to acquire the US biopharmaceutical company Biohaven Pharmaceuticals Inc in a move that will bolster its neurology assets and give it an approved product for migraine. Announced on 10 May, the deal is Pfizer’s second in recent weeks as the company takes advantage of its Covid-19 vaccine revenues to expand its business. In early April, Pfizer announced plans to spend $525 million to acquire ReViral Ltd, a UK concern with candidate products for respiratory syncytial virus infection.
The US Food and Drug Administration has approved a new diabetes medicine which targets two hormones involved in blood sugar control. In clinical studies, Mounjaro (tirzepatide) was shown to be more be more effective than three other approved diabetes drugs. It was developed by Eli Lilly and Co and given an expedited review by the FDA on the basis of its potential for significantly improving the treatment of Type 2 diabetes. It is also under regulatory review in Europe and Japan.
Galapagos NV ended the first quarter of 2022 with net sales of €14.4 million from its first marketed product and a new chief executive, Paul Stoffels, former chief scientific officer at Johnson & Johnson Inc. Dr Stoffels assumed his new position on 1 April, succeeding Onno van de Stolpe, the company’s co-founder and leader for 23 years. He moves into the CEO position as Galapagos continues to roll out Jyseleca (filgotinib), its lead product for rheumatoid arthritis and ulcerative colitis.
H. Lundbeck A/S recovered momentum in the first quarter as its four largest products for neurological disorders produced significant sales growth. Group revenue for the quarter was DKK 4.4 billion ($610,000), up by 2%, reversing a decline over the previous year.
Better treatments for ischaemic stroke have come a step closer thanks to research presented at the European Stroke Organisation Conference (ESOC 2022) in Lyon, France in May. It has been appreciated for some time that there is a link between the intestinal microbiome and neurological development and aging, and some studies have suggested that impaired intestinal microflora can be a risk factor for stroke. Equally, an ischaemic stroke is believed to alter the composition on the intestinal microflora.
Biogen Inc has started the search for a new chief executive to replace Michel Vounatsos who will step down from his job once a successor is found. The US company announced the transition to new leadership on 3 May with the publication of its 2022 first quarter results.