News

AZ targets obesity

Country
United Kingdom

AstraZeneca Plc has acquired rights to an experimental drug for obesity in a significant expansion of its pipeline of cardiometabolic medicines. The agreement, with Eccogene Inc of China, was announced on 9 November concurrent with the release of the company’s third-quarter results. These showed a 5% increase in revenue to $11.5 billion. The revenue increase, which includes product sales, and collaboration and alliance revenue, was 6% at constant exchange rates. Excluding revenue from products developed for the Covid-19 pandemic, the revenue increase was a double-digit figure.

Vaccine for chikungunya

Country
United States

The first vaccine for the prevention of disease caused by the chikungunya virus was approved by the US Food and Drug Administration on 9 November – the result of years of research and development by the French company Valneva SE. The vaccine, Ixchiq, was given an accelerated approval on evidence of its ability to arrest the spread of chikungunya virus disease, an emerging global health threat.

Regulatory lift for DMD drug

Country
Switzerland

Switzerland-based MetrioPharm AG has received a rare paediatric disease designation from the US Food and Drug Administration for its candidate therapy for Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD). The drug, MP1032, is a small molecule immune modulator that targets dysregulated mitochondrial metabolism in macrophages. In a preclinical study it was able to increase muscle strength comparable to the corticosteroid prednisolone, but without the corticosteroid’s serious side effects.

Organoid project gets funding

Country
Austria

An Austrian start-up company, HeartBeat.bio AG, has raised €4.5 million in pre-Series A financing to develop an organoid screening platform for the discovery of new drugs for heart disease. Organoids are miniature, simplified versions of human organs that are used in medical research and development. The investor syndicate included i&i Biotech Fund, Invest AG, aws Gründungsfonds II, and Tensor Ventures. The financing will support the company’s needs until 2025 when a full Series A round is expected to be launched.

Sanofi to divest business

Country
France

Sanofi SA is to divest its consumer healthcare business unit in order to concentrate its development and commercialisation resources on innovative, proprietary medicines. This follows a similar decision by GSK Plc which also spun out its consumer products business into a separate, listed business in 2022. Sanofi announced the decision on 27 October, saying that the undertaking would most likely involve a capital markets transaction and could take place as early as the fourth quarter of 2024.

Roche sees sales decline

Country
Switzerland

The Roche Group expects sales to decline this year following a steep drop in demand for diagnostic tests for Covid-19. Excluding this factor, sales of both the pharmaceuticals and diagnostics base businesses are projected to increase. Roche said it plans to increase its dividend in Swiss francs.

Novartis after Sandoz

Country
Switzerland

Novartis gave its first financial forecast, post the spin-out of Sandoz, with the release of third quarter earnings on 24 October. The quarterly figures showed a 12% increase in net sales to $11.78 billion from a year earlier, and a large rise in spending on research and development. The Switzerland-based company is forecasting an increase in net sales for the year of a high single digit figure and an increase in non IFRS operating income of a mid to high teens figure.

GSK highlights prevention

Country
United Kingdom

GSK Plc highlighted disease prevention as a strategic objective for the company with the release of its third quarter results on 1 November. These showed a strong performance for the company’s vaccines for herpes zoster (shingles) and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) which together generated £1.53 billion in the quarter, or 19% of total group turnover of £8.15 billion. Arexvy, an RSV vaccine for older adults, was approved in the US in May and in the EU in June.

AZ partners with Cellectis

Country
United Kingdom

AstraZeneca Plc is to work with gene editing technologies developed by Cellectis SA of France to identify up to 10 candidate cell and gene therapies for cancer, and autoimmune and rare diseases. Founded in 1999, Cellectis has technology for creating allogeneic chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T cells by gene editing cells from a healthy donor. The editing technology disables genes that cause donor cells to attack the host.

Sarepta gives data for DMD gene therapy

Country
United States

Sarepta Therapeutics Inc disclosed top-line results on 30 October from a Phase 3 confirmatory study of its gene therapy for Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) which showed statistical significance for key secondary endpoints, but failed to meet the primary endpoint on a measure of motor function. The drug, Elevidys (delandistrogene moxeparvovec), was given an accelerated approval on 22 June 2023 based on a surrogate endpoint. The newest study was intended to confirm this clinical benefit.