Vu Truong, Aridis Pharmaceuticals CEO (Aridis/Nasdaq)

Aridis' mon­o­clon­al an­ti­body fails PhI­II, but plans for sec­ond tri­al any­way

Aridis Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals’ mon­o­clon­al an­ti­body missed the bar in a Phase III test in ven­ti­la­tor-as­so­ci­at­ed pneu­mo­nia caused by the gram-pos­i­tive bac­te­ria S. au­reus, the com­pa­ny an­nounced Wednes­day. 

But Aridis is plan­ning for a sec­ond Phase III study any­way once it dis­cuss­es the find­ings with the FDA and the Eu­ro­pean Med­i­cines Agency. Ex­ecs blamed re­cruit­ment chal­lenges stem­ming from Covid-19 and Rus­sia’s in­va­sion of Ukraine for the miss, cut­ting their en­roll­ment tar­get in half.

“De­spite the lim­i­ta­tions of sam­ple size and lack of sta­tis­ti­cal sig­nif­i­cance in the pri­ma­ry end­point, we are pleased to see the clin­i­cal ben­e­fit trends across the study pop­u­la­tion,” Hasan Jafri, Aridis’ CMO, said in a state­ment.

Aridis’ an­ti­body, AR-301, com­bined with an­tibi­otics, failed to meet the pri­ma­ry end­point on in­creas­ing the clin­i­cal cure rate at day 21 com­pared to an­tibi­otics alone. The clin­i­cal cure rate at day 21 was 68.9% (42 of 61 pa­tients) for AR-301 plus an­tibi­otics ver­sus 57.6% (34 of 59) with just an­tibi­otics. The end­point was reach­ing a 10% or more im­prove­ment com­pared to the con­trol arm. While there was an 11.3% dif­fer­ence be­tween the arms, the re­sult was not sta­tis­ti­cal­ly sig­nif­i­cant (p=0.23).

Zoom­ing in­to sub­groups gives a brighter pic­ture — but still not in a sta­tis­ti­cal­ly sig­nif­i­cant way. In adults 65 years and old­er, Aridis notes an ab­solute ef­fi­ca­cy on day 21 of 34% (p=0.057) which in­creased to 38% on day 28 (p=0.025), large­ly be­cause an­tibi­otics are less ef­fec­tive for this group of pa­tients. A sim­i­lar find­ing was re­port­ed for me­thi­cillin-re­sis­tant S. au­reus (MR­SA) pa­tients — the ab­solute ef­fi­ca­cy was 28% high­er than an­tibi­otics alone due to the low­er ef­fi­ca­cy of an­tibi­otics in MR­SA pa­tients (p=0.774).

How­ev­er, Aridis claims bet­ter da­ta on sec­ondary end­points, in­clud­ing “trends in re­duc­tion” for du­ra­tion of hos­pi­tal­iza­tion, amount of time in the ICU and days on ven­ti­la­tion.

There were no se­ri­ous ad­verse events linked to the drug and none of the deaths in the study were deemed drug-re­lat­ed, the com­pa­ny says. The study en­rolled 120 pa­tients who had S. au­reus as the pre­dom­i­nant cause of pneu­mo­nia, down from the orig­i­nal goal of 240. Shares $ARDS tum­bled more than 30% to $0.84.

AR-301 tar­gets S. au­reus al­pha-tox­in, which is se­cret­ed by the bac­te­ria, with the hope of adding an ad­di­tion­al lay­er of de­fense.

This is not the on­ly one of Aridis’ an­ti­bod­ies for pneu­mo­nia to strug­gle. In 2019, the an­ti­body AR-105 failed to beat out a place­bo in treat­ing ven­ti­la­tor-as­so­ci­at­ed pneu­mo­nia caused by gram-neg­a­tive Pseudomonas aerug­i­nosa. And there was an im­bal­ance in deaths and se­ri­ous ad­verse events that left the ther­a­py with a worse safe­ty pro­file.

Has the mo­ment fi­nal­ly ar­rived for val­ue-based health­care?

RBC Capital Markets’ Healthcare Technology Analyst, Sean Dodge, spotlights a new breed of tech-enabled providers who are rapidly transforming the way clinicians deliver healthcare, and explores the key question: can this accelerating revolution overturn the US healthcare system?

Key points

Tech-enabled healthcare providers are poised to help the US transition to value, not volume, as the basis for reward.
The move to value-based care has policy momentum, but is risky and complex for clinicians.
Outsourced tech specialists are emerging to provide the required expertise, while healthcare and tech are also converging through M&A.
Value-based care remains in its early stages, but the transition is accelerating and represents a huge addressable market.

Clay Siegall, Morphimmune CEO

Up­dat­ed: Ex-Seagen chief Clay Sie­gall emerges as CEO of pri­vate biotech

Clay Siegall will be back in the CEO seat, taking the helm of a private startup working on targeted cancer therapies.

It’s been almost a year since Siegall resigned from Seagen, the biotech he co-founded and led for more than 20 years, in the wake of domestic violence allegations by his then-wife. His eventual successor, David Epstein, sold the company to Pfizer in a $43 billion deal unveiled last week.

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No­vo Nordisk oral semaglu­tide tri­al shows re­duc­tion in blood sug­ar, plus weight loss

Novo Nordisk is testing higher levels of its oral version of its GLP-1, semaglutide, and its type 2 diabetes trial results released today show reductions in blood sugar as well as weight loss.

In the Phase IIIb trial, Novo compared its oral semaglutide in 25 mg and 50 mg doses with the 14 mg version that’s currently the maximum approved dose. The trial looked at how the doses compared when added to a stable dose of one to three oral antidiabetic medicines in people with type 2 diabetes who were in need of an intensified treatment.

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Ly­me vac­cine test com­ple­tion is pushed back by a year as Pfiz­er, Val­ne­va say they'll ad­just tri­al

Valneva and Pfizer have adjusted the end date for the Phase III study of their investigational Lyme disease vaccine, pushing it back by a year after issues at a contract researcher led to thousands of US patients being dropped from the test.

In a March 20 update to, Valneva and Pfizer moved the primary completion date on the trial, called VALOR, from the end of 2024 to the end of 2025.

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FDA spells out how can­cer drug de­vel­op­ers can use one tri­al for both ac­cel­er­at­ed and full ap­provals

The FDA’s Oncology Center of Excellence has been a bright spot within the agency in terms of speeding new treatments to patients. That flexibility was on full display this morning as FDA released new draft guidance spelling out exactly how oncology drug developers can fulfill both the accelerated and full approval’s requirements with just a single randomized controlled trial.

While Congress recently passed legislation that will allow FDA to require confirmatory trials to be recruiting and ongoing prior to granting an accelerated approval, the agency is now making clear that the initial trial used to win the AA, if designed appropriately, can also serve as the trial for converting the accelerated approval into a full approval.

Zhi Hong, Brii Biosciences CEO

Brii Bio­sciences stops man­u­fac­tur­ing Covid-19 an­ti­body com­bo, plans to with­draw EUA re­quest

Brii Biosciences said it will stop manufacturing its Covid-19 antibody combination, sold in China, and is working to withdraw its emergency use authorization request in the US, which it started in October 2021.

The Beijing and North Carolina biotech commercially launched the treatment in China last July but is now axing the work and reverting resources to other “high-priority programs,” per a Friday update. The focus now is namely hepatitis B viral infection, postpartum depression and major depressive disorders.

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Sijmen de Vries, Pharming CEO

FDA ap­proves Pharm­ing drug for ul­tra-rare im­mun­od­e­fi­cien­cy dis­ease

US regulators cleared an ultra-rare drug from Pharming Group, by way of Novartis, on Friday afternoon.

The Dutch biotech said the FDA greenlit leniolisib for an immunodeficiency disease known as activated phosphoinositide 3-kinase delta (PI3Kδ) syndrome, or APDS. People 12 years and older can receive the oral drug, to be marketed as Joenja, beginning early next month, Pharming said, five days ahead of the decision deadline set by the FDA as part of a priority review.

Stuart Peltz, former PTC Therapeutics CEO

Stu­art Peltz re­signs as PTC Ther­a­peu­tics CEO af­ter 25 years

Stuart Peltz, the longtime CEO of PTC Therapeutics who’s led the rare disease drug developer since its founding 25 years ago, is stepping down.

Succeeding him in the top job is Matthew Klein, who joined PTC in 2019 and was promoted to chief operating officer in 2022. In a call with analysts, he said the CEO transition has been planned for “quite some time” — in fact, as part of it, he gave the company’s presentation at the JP Morgan healthcare conference earlier this year.

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Bet­ter Ther­a­peu­tics cuts 35% of staff while await­ing dig­i­tal ther­a­peu­tic ap­proval

Digital therapeutics company Better Therapeutics announced on Thursday that it’s cutting 35% of its staff as it awaits FDA clearance for its first product.

The company, which launched eight years ago, is one of a growing group of companies seeking a digital alternative to traditional medicine. The space saw a record $7.5 billion in investments in 2021, according to Chris Dokomajilar at DealForma, with uses spanning ADHD, PTSD and other indications. However, private insurers have been slow to hop on board.