GlaxoSmithKline Plc is to pay up to $3.3 billion to acquire Affinivax, Inc of Cambridge, US, which has a portfolio of vaccines to prevent pneumococcal disease and other infections. The deal is one of the company’s largest, and consists of an upfront payment of $2.1 billion plus two milestone payments of $0.6 billion each. The milestone payments will be dispensed upon the completion of certain paediatric clinical studies.
A Cambridge, UK company investigating the therapeutic potential of antisense long non-coding RNAs has raised an additional £4.6 million in seed financing to accelerate the development of its product portfolio focused on diseases of the central nervous system and ophthalmology indications. Transine Therapeutics Ltd announced the additional funding on 31 May, bringing total proceeds from the seed round up to £13.7 million.
Evotec SE has expanded its capabilities in the field of cell therapy with the acquisition of the Italian company Rigenerand Srl, a 2009 spin-off of the University of Modena and Reggio Emilia. The acquisition, valued at €23 million, comes within weeks of Evotec’s agreement with Sernova Corp of Canada to develop a beta cell replacement therapy for diabetes. The prospective therapy will use induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells produced by Evotec, combined with a pouch developed by Sernova.
A peptide vaccine intended to prevent disease progression in patients with prostate cancer failed to show efficacy in a Phase 2b study despite promising data earlier in its development. The vaccine, RV001 (onilcamotide) was developed by RhoVac AB of Sweden which announced the study results on 30 May.
The US Food and Drug Administration has approved a new indication for Dupixent (dupilumab), broadening its role as a leading anti-inflammatory medicine for allergic diseases. The new use is for eosinophilic oesophagitis (EoE), a chronic inflammatory disorder in which eosinophils, a type of white blood cell, are found in the tissue of the oesophagus. This can impair a person’s ability to swallow. Dupixent is a monoclonal antibody that blocks interleukin 4 and interleukin 13 – part of the inflammatory pathway.
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.