GlaxoSmithKline Plc has confirmed media reports that it was approached three times by Unilever Plc to sell its joint venture consumer healthcare unit, but rejected the overtures. The most recent offer, made on 20 December 2021 was for £50 billion which would have comprised £41.7 billion in cash and £8.3 billion in Unilever shares. “GSK rejected all three proposals made on the basis that they fundamentally undervalued the consumer healthcare business and its future prospects,” the company said in a statement on 15 January 2022.
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.
Sanofi SA stepped up its acquisition activities in late December 2021 with plans to buy a US company with an advanced biologics platform. Sanofi is to pay $1 billion upfront for San-Francisco-based Amunix Pharmaceuticals Inc whose lead product, AMX-818, is poised to enter clinical development in early 2022 for patients with HER2 breast cancer. Amunix is developing biologics that crosslink tumours and T cells in order to induce the destruction of cancer cells.
A monoclonal antibody developed by Novartis to treat chronic spontaneous urticaria, also known as chronic hives, did not show superiority to the marketed drug omalizumab in two Phase 3 trials. Announcing the trial results on 20 December, Novartis said that ligelizumab demonstrated superiority against placebo but not against omalizumab, known commercially as Xolair. Xolair, developed by Roche, has been approved for six indications in the US, including chronic idiopathic urticaria.
People at risk of infection from the HIV-1 virus have a new option for preventing the disease following US Food and Drug Administration approval of Apretude (cabotegravir extended release injectable suspension), developed by ViiV Healthcare. Apretude is a long-acting anti-viral medication which inhibits HIV replication by preventing the viral DNA from integrating into the genetic material of human immune cells.