Four years af­ter near-death ex­pe­ri­ence, PhI­II da­ta bring good news for No­vavax

No­vavax is cel­e­brat­ing tri­al re­sults again four years af­ter a Phase III fail­ure in RSV sent their stock price off a cliff.

The com­pa­ny an­nounced that their re­com­bi­nant flu vac­cine NanoFlu met all pri­ma­ry and sec­ondary end­points in a Phase III study of 2,652 adults old­er than 65. The num­bers, No­vavax sug­gest­ed, should al­low them to clear reg­u­la­to­ry hur­dles and snag the biotech’s first ap­proval since its found­ing in 1987.

“With these da­ta, we now have a clear path for­ward to li­cen­sure with our dif­fer­en­ti­at­ed re­com­bi­nant in­fluen­za vac­cine,” CEO Stan­ley Er­ck said in a state­ment. “We ex­pect that both Fast Track des­ig­na­tion and the ac­cel­er­at­ed ap­proval path­way from the FDA will help No­vavax bring NanoFlu to mar­ket as quick­ly as pos­si­ble to ad­dress the se­ri­ous pub­lic health threat of in­fluen­za.”

Stan­ley Er­ck

The study was a non-in­fe­ri­or­i­ty tri­al test­ing NanoFlu head-to-head with Sanofi’s best-sell­ing Flu­zone. The com­pa­ny, though, did not re­lease the sta­tis­tics for the pri­ma­ry end­points. In­stead, they re­leased the sec­ondary end­points, which tests in part how the vac­cine per­forms against a wild-type virus that has drift­ed from the pre­vi­ous year, ar­gu­ing that those num­bers bet­ter re­flect the re­al world. They showed NanoFlu in­duced pa­tients to build more an­ti­bod­ies against the wild-type virus than Flu­zone.

The com­pa­ny said the safe­ty pro­files were sim­i­lar but ac­knowl­edged NanoFlu brought “a mod­est in­crease in lo­cal ad­verse events.”

The read­out comes near­ly four years af­ter an RSV read­out popped the in­dus­try’s ex­pec­ta­tions for No­vavax and its nanopar­ti­cle vac­cine plat­form.  The biotech had re­ceived an $89 mil­lion grant from the Bill and Melin­da Gates Foun­da­tion to de­vel­op the vac­cine for res­pi­ra­to­ry syn­cy­tial virus, which re­mains a lead­ing hos­pi­tal­iz­er for ba­bies in Eu­rope and oth­er parts of the globe and is a fre­quent tar­get for vac­cine mak­ers. Mod­er­na, Cure­Vac and Sanofi each have pro­grams.

That tri­al didn’t meet any pri­ma­ry or sec­ondary end­points and trig­gered an 84% one-day drop in the stock price, from $155 per share to $24. The stock fell again af­ter an­oth­er RSV fail­ure last Feb­ru­ary. Once at $2 bil­lion, its mar­ket cap hov­ers around $550 mil­lion.

The flu is the main pro­gram out­side of RSV, al­though the com­pa­ny has re­cent­ly re­ceived out­side back­ing for an emer­gency coro­n­avirus vac­cine ef­fort.

So­cial im­age: Stan­ley Er­ck (Cindy Bertaut, Glo­gau Pho­tog­ra­phy)

A new era of treat­ment: How bio­mark­ers are chang­ing the way we think about can­cer

AJ Patel was recovering from a complicated brain surgery when his oncologist burst into the hospital room yelling, “I’ve got some really great news for you!”

For two years, Patel had been going from doctor to doctor trying to diagnose his wheezing, only to be dealt the devastating news that he had stage IV lung cancer and only six months to live. And then they found the brain tumors.

“What are you talking about?” Patel asked. He had never seen an oncologist so happy.

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Michael Corbo, Pfizer CDO of inflammation & immunology

UP­DAT­ED: Plan­ning ahead for crowd­ed ul­cer­a­tive col­i­tis mar­ket, Pfiz­er spells out PhI­II da­ta on $6.7B Are­na drug

Pfizer has laid out the detailed results behind its boast that etrasimod — the S1P receptor modulator at the center of its $6.7 billion buyout of Arena Pharma — is the winner of the class, potentially leapfrogging an earlier entrant from Bristol Myers Squibb.

Pivotal data from the ELEVATE program in ulcerative colitis — which consists of two Phase III trials, one lasting 52 weeks and the other just 12 weeks — illustrate an “encouraging balance of efficacy and safety,” according to Michael Corbo, chief development officer of inflammation & immunology at Pfizer. The company is presenting the results as a late breaker at Digestive Disease Week.

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An NYU surgeon transplants an engineered pig kidney into the outside of a brain-dead patient (Joe Carrotta/NYU Langone Health)

'Xeno­trans­plan­ta­tion is com­ing': New NE­JM pa­per gives de­tailed look in­to 2 pig-to-hu­man kid­ney trans­plant cas­es

The thymokidney is a curious organ, if you could call it that. It’s a sort of Frankensteinian creation — a system of pig thymus embedded underneath the outer layer of a pig’s kidney, made for human transplantation.

In the first case of pig-to-human xenotransplantation of a kidney into a brain-dead patient, the thymokidney quietly featured front and center.

In that experiment, which took place in September of last year, NYU researchers led by Robert Montgomery sutured a pig thymokidney onto the leg of a brain-dead 66-year-old woman. That case was widely reported on by a horde of major media outlets, including the New York Times, the BBC, and an in-depth feature by USA Today.

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Vlad Coric, Biohaven CEO

UP­DAT­ED: Fresh off $11.6B sale to Pfiz­er, New Bio­haven hits Phase III set­back just weeks af­ter Vlad Coric chalked up promise

When Pfizer bought up Biohaven’s migraine portfolio in the largest M&A deal of the year earlier this month, Biohaven CEO Vlad Coric promised the rest of the pipeline, which will live on under the umbrella of New Biohaven, still has a lot to offer. But that vision took a dent Monday as the drugmaker revealed it’s once again flopped on troriluzole.

The glutamate regulator failed to meet the primary endpoint on a Phase III study in patients with spinocerebellar ataxia, an inherited disorder that impairs a person’s ability to walk, speak and swallow. SCA can also lead to premature death.

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Mihael Polymeropoulos, Vanda Pharmaceuticals CEO

Phar­ma com­pa­ny con­tin­ues its FDA law­suit spree, this time af­ter agency de­nies fast-track des­ig­na­tion

Vanda Pharmaceuticals is making a name for itself, at least in terms of suing the FDA.

The DC-headquartered firm on Monday filed its latest suit against the agency, with the company raising concerns over the FDA’s failure to grant a fast track designation for Vanda’s potential chronic digestive disorder drug tradipitant, which is a neurokinin 1 receptor antagonist.

Specifically, Vanda said FDA’s “essential point” in its one-page denial letter on the designation pointed to “the lack of necessary safety data,” which was “inconsistent with the criteria for … Fast Track designation.”

Mod­er­na seeks to dis­miss Al­ny­lam suit over Covid-19 vac­cine com­po­nent, claim­ing wrong venue

RNAi therapeutics juggernaut Alnylam Pharmaceuticals made a splash in March when it sued and sought money from both Pfizer and Moderna regarding their use of Alnylam’s biodegradable lipids, which Alnylam claims have been integral to the way both companies’ mRNA-based Covid-19 vaccines work.

But now, Moderna lawyers are firing back, telling the same Delaware district court that Alnylam’s claims can only proceed against the US government in the Court of Federal Claims because of the way the company’s contract is set up with the US government. The US has spent almost $10 billion on Moderna’s Covid-19 vaccine so far.

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(Credit: Shutterstock)

Cracks in the fa­cade: Is phar­ma's pan­dem­ic ‘feel good fac­tor’ wan­ing?

The discordant effects of the Covid-19 pandemic on pharma reputation continues. While the overall industry still retains a respectable halo from its Covid-19 quick response and leadership, a new patient group study reveals a different story emerging in the details.

On one hand, US patient advocacy groups rated the industry higher-than-ever overall. More than two-thirds (67%) of groups gave the industry a thumbs up for 2021, a whopping 10 percentage point increase over the year before, according to the PatientView annual study, now in its 9th year.

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Saqib Islam, SpringWorks CEO

Pfiz­er spin­out Spring­Works will ship its first drug to the FDA be­fore year’s end with PhI­II win

SpringWorks Therapeutics thinks it has cemented the backbone for its first “pipeline-in-a-product” oncology treatment and will send it to the FDA before the clock strikes 2023 with a Phase III win on Tuesday.

The oral gamma secretase inhibitor, dubbed nirogacestat, beat placebo on the primary goal of progression-free survival in adults with progressing desmoid tumors.

The soft-tissue tumors can lead to long-lasting pain, disfigurement and amputation, and there are currently no approved meds for the rare oncology indication. The tumors typically impact patients aged 20 to 44 years old and disproportionately affect women at rates 2 to 3 times higher, with up to a total of 1,650 new cases diagnosed in the US annually, according to SpringWorks.

Robert Califf (Michael Brochstein/Sipa USA via AP Images)

House Re­pub­li­cans at­tack Chi­na-on­ly da­ta in FDA sub­mis­sions, seek new in­ves­ti­ga­tion in­to re­search in­spec­tions

Three Republican representatives are calling on the FDA to take a closer look at the applications including only clinical data from China.

The letter to FDA commissioner Rob Califf late last week comes as the agency recently rejected Eli Lilly’s anti-PD-1 antibody, which attempted to bring China-only data but ran into a bruising adcomm that may crush the hopes of any other companies looking to bring cheaper follow-ons based only on Chinese data.

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