Astellas finds another collaborator in small UK startup; Two Japanese biotechs align on gene therapies
After an immuno-oncology antibody deal, a cancer immunotherapy tie-up and a protein pact, Astellas Pharma is on to its next partnership, this time with a small UK biotech to treat eye diseases.
The Japanese pharma will team up with Mogrify to find in vivo regenerative medicine approaches to treating sensorineural hearing loss. The goal is to find new combinations of transcription factors to help develop new cochlear hair cells.
Astellas will foot the research costs and lend its AAV expertise through its gene therapy division, and Mogrify will provide its screening and validation process to help find potential therapies, the companies said Tuesday, without disclosing financial details. Mogrify picked up $17 million in additional financing last May. — Kyle LaHucik
Mitsubishi Tanabe partners with small biotech on CNS gene therapies
Mitsubishi Tanabe Pharma, which recently received an FDA green light for its oral ALS drug, will partner with a little-known Japanese biotech on potential gene therapies for an undisclosed central nervous system target.
EditForce could receive more than 20 billion yen ($147 million) as part of the agreement, in exchange for giving the exclusive rights to Mitsubishi Tanabe for drug candidate molecules worldwide. Mitsubishi Tanabe will handle preclinical, clinical, manufacturing and commercialization work.
The duo kept many details under wraps, including naming the specific CNS disease and timelines for clinical entry. The gene therapies will be developed using EditForce’s PPR protein platform, the companies said. — Kyle LaHucik
Brii Biosciences elects to snag Vir’s HBV antibody in China
After originally coming together in May 2018, Brii Biosciences likes what it sees in partner Vir Biotechnology and has decided to act upon its option to acquire Greater China rights to develop and market an HBV monoclonal antibody.
The antibody, dubbed both VIR-3434 and BRII-877, is currently in Phase II development and is the second option exercise under the multi-year deal. Two more options remain under the infectious disease agreement.
“Recently announced data by Vir showed that BRII-835 (VIR-2218) and BRII-877 (VIR-3434) are additive to each other resulting in a robust reduction of hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg), with no clinically significant safety signals for the combination,” Brii CMO Li Yan said in a statement. — Kyle LaHucik
Dr. Reddy’s subsidiary nets pact with EQRx
India-based biotech Aurigene has a new partner to work with.
Aurigene is teaming up with EQRx to develop oncology and immune-inflammatory disease drugs, the biotechs announced in a statement Tuesday. Aurigene will lead discovery and preclinical efforts while EQRx, which is all about getting fast-follow drugs to the market at an affordable price, will take on clinical development, manufacturing and regulatory/commercialization efforts. Financial details of the agreement were not disclosed.
“This agreement with EQRx further validates Aurigene’s proven expertise in discovery and preclinical development of novel therapeutics and moves Aurigene forward into building a global oncology franchise participating in the end-to-end value chain,” Aurigene CEO Murali Ramachandra said in a statement.
A subsidiary of drug manufacturing giant Dr. Reddy’s Laboratory, Aurigene is based in Bengaluru and Kuala Lumpur. The company says it has contributed to 16 different drugs currently in clinical trials and previously partnered with Exelixis back in 2019. — Max Gelman