Af­ter get­ting crushed by bad da­ta, Zyner­ba says its cannabis-based drug worked on Frag­ile X symp­toms

Less than two months since a pair of mid-stage set­backs crushed its stock price, re­searchers at Zyner­ba $ZYNE say they had bet­ter re­sults from a small Phase II study that test­ed their cannabis-based ther­a­py on symp­toms of Frag­ile X syn­drome. And the news quick­ly sparked a big ral­ly for its bat­tered stock.

Ar­man­do Anido

Of­ten com­pared to GW Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals, which has had some strik­ing suc­cess­es in the field, Zyner­ba set out to see what im­pact their cannabid­i­ol ther­a­py would have tamp­ing down on a range of com­mon symp­toms for Frag­ile X, in­clud­ing anx­i­ety and de­pres­sion. And with 20 pa­tients in the sin­gle-arm study, the in­ves­ti­ga­tors say they hit their pri­ma­ry with a 46% drop in their ADAMS score, track­ing Anx­i­ety, De­pres­sion, and Mood Scale.

Frag­ile X is an autism spec­trum dis­or­der, one tough dis­ease to treat at the source. It’s sig­nif­i­cant that Zyner­ba didn’t go af­ter the dis­ease it­self, but rather symp­toms that can make life mis­er­able for the pa­tients and their fam­i­lies. That’s an eas­i­er tar­get, es­pe­cial­ly when you have a small, un­con­trolled study to use — which is far from ide­al.

Now, the biotech plans to steer this drug in­to a piv­otal Phase II/III, news that re­vived their share price — which im­me­di­ate­ly soared 90% this morn­ing in pre-mar­ket trad­ing.

Zyner­ba was forced to con­cede last month that its drug failed two back-to-back mid-stage stud­ies for epilep­sy as well as os­teoarthri­tis, with their cannabi­noid un­able to sig­nif­i­cant­ly re­duce knee pain.

“The clin­i­cal­ly mean­ing­ful im­prove­ments in Frag­ile X symp­toms and the ex­cel­lent tol­er­a­bil­i­ty seen in the FAB-C tri­al are com­pelling,” ex­claimed Zyner­ba CEO Ar­man­do Anido in a state­ment. “These da­ta will al­low us to dis­cuss the path­way to ap­proval in a meet­ing with the FDA, which we ex­pect to take place dur­ing the first half of 2018.”

Adap­tive De­sign Meth­ods Of­fer Rapid, Seam­less Tran­si­tion Be­tween Study Phas­es in Rare Can­cer Tri­als

Rare cancers account for 22 percent of cancer diagnoses worldwide, yet there is no universally accepted definition for a “rare” cancer. Moreover, with the evolution of genomics and associated changes in categorizing tumors, some common cancers are now characterized into groups of rare cancers, each with a unique implication for patient management and therapy.

Adaptive designs, which allow for prospectively planned modifications to study design based on accumulating data from subjects in the trial, can be used to optimize rare oncology trials (see Figure 1). Adaptive design studies may include multiple cohorts and multiple tumor types. In addition, numerous adaptation methods may be used in a single trial and may facilitate a more rapid, seamless transition between study phases.

Marianne De Backer (L) and Jeff Hatfield

Bay­er nabs star biotech Vi­vid­ion with a $2B buy­out and an ‘arms-length’ pact, pulling a part­ner out of the IPO con­ga line

Vividion is canceling that IPO it filed. Instead of following the industry-wide migration to Nasdaq, the biotech that has captured considerable attention for its still-preclinical work finding cryptic pockets to bind to on proteins is going to work for Bayer now.

The pharma giant is putting out word today that it has bought out Vividion for $1.5 billion in cash and another half-billion dollars in milestones.

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Josh Hoffman, outgoing Zymergen CEO (Zymergen)

UP­DAT­ED: Syn­bio uni­corn Zymer­gen jet­ti­sons found­ing CEO, cuts guid­ance as cus­tomers re­port lead prod­uct does­n't work

Zymergen, just months off a $500 million IPO that put the synthetic bio firm in rarified air, has now ejected its founding CEO and downgraded its revenue forecasts after customers reported its lead film product doesn’t work as advertised, the company said Tuesday afternoon.

CEO Josh Hoffman will leave his role and sacrifice his board seat immediately in favor of Jay Flatley, the former CEO of Illumina who will take the lead role on an interim basis as the company conducts a search for its next leader.

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Tadataka Yamada (Photographer: Kiyoshi Ota/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Sci­ence pi­o­neer, phar­ma re­search chief, glob­al health ad­vo­cate and biotech en­tre­pre­neur Tadata­ka ‘Tachi’ Ya­ma­da has died

Tadataka Yamada, a towering physician-scientist who made his name in academia before transforming drug development at GlaxoSmithKline and developing vaccines for malaria and meningitis at the Gates Foundation, died unexpectedly of natural causes at his home in Seattle Wednesday morning.

He was 76. Frazier Healthcare Partners’ David Socks confirmed his death.

Known widely by the mononym “Tachi,” Yamada had a globetrotting career and arrived in industry relatively late in life. A 2004 Independent article noted GSK had asked Yamada to stay on beyond his approaching 60th birthday, the company’s usual retirement age. Yamada would continue working for the next 17 years, steering the Gates Foundation’s global health division for 6 years, funding Jim Wilson’s gene therapy work when few would touch it, launching Takeda Vaccines and co-founding a series of high-profile biotechs.

UK re-in­ves­ti­gates Pfiz­er's eye-pop­ping price goug­ing on an epilep­sy drug

When a drugmaker raises the price of a drug in the US by more than 2,000% overnight, and without any particular reason for that increase, nothing typically happens to the company. No fines, no court orders, just business as usual.

Martin Shkreli’s decades-old anti-parasitic drug Daraprim was the perfect example — massive price spike on an old drug, lots of media attention, public outcry, congressional committees dragging his former company through multiple hearings, and at the end of it? Nothing happened to the price or the company (until generic competition came).

Thomas Lingelbach, Valneva CEO

A small vac­cine de­vel­op­er fa­vored by the UK gov­ern­ment in Covid-19 touts a PhI­II first in chikun­gun­ya

Before Valneva garnered the favor of the UK government as a potential supplier of Covid-19 vaccines, the French biotech prided itself on being the first company to bring a chikungunya vaccine into Phase III.

It now has positive pivotal results to back up the breakthrough therapy designation the FDA granted just weeks ago.

There are currently no approved jabs to prevent chikungunya virus infection despite decades of R&D efforts, a fact that underscores just how arduous traditional vaccine development can be, particularly for neglected tropical disease. In a absence of a major commercial market, the US government and NGOs such as CEPI have deployed various grants and incentives to spur on a small crew of academics and industry players, with Merck, via its acquisition of Themis, claiming a spot in that race.

Covid-19 roundup: Pfiz­er im­pos­es vac­cine man­date for US work­ers; WHO calls for mora­to­ri­um on boost­ers, while some coun­tries make plans any­way — re­port

As the US struggles to keep pace with the fast-spreading Delta variant, big companies like Walmart and Disney are imposing vaccine mandates for some workers. It may come as no surprise that Pfizer — the Big Pharma behind the US’ first authorized Covid-19 vaccine — is joining them.

Pfizer will start requiring all US employees and contractors to get vaccinated, or participate in weekly Covid-19 testing, spokesperson Pamela Eisele told Reuters. Workers outside the US are strongly urged to get a vaccine if they can, according to the report. And those with medical conditions or religious objections can seek accommodations.

Tien Lee, Aardvark Therapeutics CEO

Emerg­ing from stealth mode, Aard­vark rounds up enough cash to put its lead drug through Prad­er-Willi PhII

When Aardvark Therapeutics CEO Tien Lee started his work on the biotech’s lead candidate, appetite suppression was the goal for the small molecule.  Soon after, his team started to see added benefits with lower blood glucose levels and anti-inflammatory activity. On the tail end of that, the company has emerged from stealth mode and announced today that they’ve raised enough cash in the B round to cover mid-stage development work.

Zymergen co-founders Zach Serber, Josh Hoffman, and Jed Dean (Zymergen via website)

Zymer­gen's sud­den im­plo­sion shocked biotech. A lin­ger­ing loan could make things even worse

As former synbio unicorn Zymergen picks up the pieces from its spectacular implosion Tuesday, an outstanding loan from Perceptive Advisors — the only blue-chip biotech crossover investor to touch Zymergen’s fundraising efforts — could make the situation worse, according to public documents.

In December 2019, more than a year before Zymergen filed for what would eventually become a $500 million IPO, the “biofacturing” firm signed a $100 million credit facility with Perceptive to help supplement the nearly $700 million the company had raised across four VC rounds.