Catal­ent in­tro­duces new AAV gene ther­a­py tech in aim to speed up man­u­fac­tur­ing process

As Catal­ent ven­tures fur­ther in­to the world of cell and gene ther­a­py man­u­fac­tur­ing, the New Jer­sey-based CD­MO has re­vealed its new ade­no-as­so­ci­at­ed vi­ral vec­tor plat­form.

The Up­Tem­po Vir­tu­oso plat­form can stream­line the AAV man­u­fac­tur­ing process to cut back on the time it takes to go from clin­ic to in-hu­man clin­i­cal tri­als. It in­cludes pro­to­cols for cell cul­ture, trans­fec­tion, and down­stream pu­rifi­ca­tion, and can sim­pli­fy the crit­i­cal sup­ply chain. It’s de­signed to pro­duce prod­ucts for the clin­ic in just nine months, Catal­ent says, and cus­tomers will have ac­cess to Catal­ent’s plas­mid DNA of­fer­ings, too.

In a state­ment, C&GT Pres­i­dent Man­ja Boer­man said:

“As one of the first CD­MOs to suc­cess­ful­ly de­vel­op a sus­pen­sion-based tran­sient trans­fec­tion process, and our deep and spe­cial­ized vi­ral ex­per­tise and broad ex­pe­ri­ence across more than 70 vi­ral vec­tor pro­grams, we have built this new process with the goal of pro­vid­ing our cus­tomers with a re­li­able, re­pro­ducible, and scal­able path to clin­ic. As the gene ther­a­py pipeline ex­pands to a broad­er dis­ease port­fo­lio, and in an­tic­i­pa­tion of ris­ing reg­u­la­to­ry re­quire­ments, our op­ti­mized and stan­dard­ized CGMP man­u­fac­tur­ing process is de­signed to meet ro­bust CMC sub­mis­sions for AAV gene ther­a­py prod­ucts, while pro­vid­ing cus­tomers with the ad­van­tage of short­ened time­lines.”

The plat­form will be fea­tured at its Mary­land-based net­work in Bal­ti­more and Gaithers­burg, as well as com­mer­cial scale man­u­fac­tur­ing at BWI Air­port. pDNA pro­duc­tion is car­ried out in Rockville, MD and Gos­selies, Bel­gium.

At the end of May, Catal­ent ex­pand­ed its nasal drug de­vel­op­ment and man­u­fac­tur­ing op­er­a­tions in Mor­risville, NC. Its dou­bling down on an ex­pand­ing in­to new drug de­liv­ery forms, adding on­to its ac­qui­si­tion of the gum­mies mak­er Bet­tera in Au­gust 2021.

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.

Lat­est on ul­tra-rare dis­ease ap­proval; Pos­i­tive, if mixed, signs for Bio­gen's ALS drug; Clay Sie­gall finds a new job; and more

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Over the last four years, we’ve honored 80 women whose extraordinary accomplishments have changed the game in biopharma R&D. You can now nominate someone to be highlighted in this year’s special report. Details are here.

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FDA ad­vi­sors unan­i­mous­ly rec­om­mend ac­cel­er­at­ed ap­proval for Bio­gen's ALS drug

A panel of outside advisors to the FDA unanimously recommended that the agency grant accelerated approval to Biogen’s ALS drug tofersen despite the drug failing the primary goal of its Phase III study, an endorsement that could pave a path forward for the treatment.

By a 9-0 vote, members of the Peripheral and Central Nervous System Drugs Advisory Committee said there was sufficient evidence that tofersen’s effect on a certain protein associated with ALS is reasonably likely to predict a benefit for patients. But panelists stopped short of advocating for a full approval, voting 3-5 against (with one abstention) and largely citing the failed pivotal study.

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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.

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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Eu­ro­pean doc­tors di­al up dig­i­tal com­mu­ni­ca­tion with phar­mas, but still lean to­ward in-per­son med meet­ings, study finds

As in-person sales rep access declines in the big five European countries, a corresponding uptick in virtual rep access is happening. It’s not surprising, but it does run counter to pharma companies’ assessment – along with long-held sales rep sway in Europe – that in-person access hadn’t changed.

CMI Media Group and Medscape’s recent study reports that 75% of physicians in the EU5 countries of Spain, Germany, Italy, France and the UK already limit engagements with pharma sales reps, and 25% of those surveyed plan to decrease time with reps.

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Judge al­lows ex­pert tes­ti­mo­ny in GSK tri­al al­leg­ing Zan­tac link to can­cer

A California judge will allow a plaintiff in a state court case to introduce expert testimony connecting a potential carcinogen in former blockbuster medicine Zantac to cancer.

The order was handed down on Thursday from state judge Evelio Grillo, who is now allowing both parties to introduce expert testimony in an upcoming trial after what’s known as a Sargon hearing, where a judge determines the admissibility of expert witnesses and expert opinions.

Mark Womack, BioCina CEO

Q&A: BioCi­na’s new CEO Mark Wom­ack on the CD­MO he says is 'worth trav­el­ing over'

A handful of CDMOs have made changes at the top over the past few weeks, including Genezen and Curia.

That also includes Australian CDMO BioCina, which announced last week that Mark Womack would be taking the helm. Womack previously served as chief business officer at AGC Biologics, CEO of Indian manufacturer Stelis Biopharma and most recently, CEO at CDMO KBI Biopharma and Selexis SA.

BioCina completed the takeover of a Pfizer manufacturing facility in Adelaide in 2021 and is now prepping for wider growth. Endpoints News sat down with Womack to discuss his new role, plans for the future, and how to compete in the wider CDMO market. This interview has been edited for brevity and clarity.

Drug short­age so­lu­tions brought be­fore Sen­ate Home­land Se­cu­ri­ty com­mit­tee

With more than 300 active drug shortages, the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs had its hands full on Wednesday with multiple experts testifying on drug shortages and possible solutions.

A picture of the shortage situation. presented by Erin Fox, an adjunct professor at the College of Pharmacy at the University of Utah, explained how some patients have died due to drug shortages, including with medication errors when substitutes were dosed incorrectly or when an emergency product was not available.

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