British Heart Foundation unveils shortlist for £30M research award; Onconova scraps China partnership
→ While cancer is catching up, heart disease remains the leading cause of death globally. In August 2018, the British Heart Foundation announced a global competition offering a single research award of up to £30 million to “to turbo-charge progress” in the field. On Thursday, the foundation whittled down the 75 applications it received to a shortlist of four, including a soft robotic heart, a cure for genetic heart disease, a heart attack vaccine and wearable technology. The teams have been given some seed funding and will work on putting together their full applications over the next six months — a winner will be announced by the end of 2020.
→ Microcap biotech Onconova is breaking up with Chinese partner HanX Biopharmaceuticals after HanX failed to make required payments. China rights to their lead drug — rigosertib, a treatment for myelodysplastic syndromes once partnered with Baxalta but later abandoned — will now go back to Onconova as they prepare for topline pivotal data to come out later this year. HanX, which has filed an IND for the drug in China, is still on the line for milestones and royalties.
→ Antibiotic developer Summit Therapeutics, which last month scored a cool $50 million in funding from biotech billionaire and former chief of Pharmacyclics Robert Duggan, on Thursday secured an extra $8.8 million from BARDA, lifting the total size of the award to up to $72.5 million. The funds will be used to shepherd Summit’s experimental precision antibiotic — currently in late-stage development for C. Diff — across the finish line.
→ Asia-Pacific CRO Novotech is trying out a new equity play with the biotechs it serves, making an investment in Canada’s Algernon while conducting a Phase II idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis and chronic cough study for its drug candidate NP-120 (ifenprodil).
“Novotech is a passive funder (we are not seeking Board or management representation) and the amounts we will commit are a relatively small amount of the overall funding requirement,” CEO John Moller told Endpoints News. “This is important, as we want to eliminate potential conflicts of interest, but it is also attractive to biotechs as we are wanting to help to bring them to clinic rather than needing to take a view of the market potential of a drug.”