Green­Light's mR­NA vac­cine nabs tri­al OK; Ra­tio reels in ra­dio­ther­a­py funds

Green­Light Bio­sciences will test its Covid-19 mR­NA vac­cine in Rwan­da, the biotech said.

The RNA R&D and man­u­fac­tur­ing com­pa­ny said the Rwan­da FDA gave the go-ahead for a Phase I/II study test­ing the vac­cine as a boost­er for peo­ple who have al­ready been vac­ci­nat­ed against the pan­dem­ic virus.

“It is es­pe­cial­ly im­por­tant to de­vel­op vac­cines that are glob­al­ly af­ford­able and scal­able. Green­Light’s ef­forts to ini­ti­ate this clin­i­cal study in Rwan­da show the com­pa­ny’s com­mit­ment to sup­port Africa’s goal of af­ford­able vac­cine self-suf­fi­cien­cy,” said Mark Dy­bul, who chairs Green­Light’s sci­en­tif­ic ad­vi­so­ry board for hu­man health, in a press re­lease.

The move comes a few months af­ter Green­Light laid off 25% of its work­force and reeled in about $109 mil­lion in fi­nanc­ing. The com­pa­ny is work­ing with CD­MO part­ner Sam­sung Bi­o­log­ics.

Oth­er plans in­clude a shin­gles vac­cine can­di­date, with the help of Serum In­sti­tute of In­dia; per­son­al­ized can­cer vac­cines with Epi­Vax Ther­a­peu­tics; crop pro­tec­tion via a pes­ti­cide tar­get­ed at the Col­orado pota­to bee­tle; and help­ing hon­ey­bees by go­ing af­ter a de­struc­tor mite with a “top­i­cal RNA so­lu­tion.”

Ra­tio Ther­a­peu­tics nabs $20 mil­lion for ra­dio­ther­a­pies

Af­ter a $20 mil­lion seed round last year, Ra­tio Ther­a­peu­tics is back with a Se­ries A of the same size.

The Boston start­up will use the pro­ceeds to bankroll ra­dio­ther­a­pies for can­cer, with part­ner­ships al­ready inked with Bay­er and Lan­theus Hold­ings. Ra­tio will al­so cre­ate di­ag­nos­tics.

With the new cap­i­tal, Ra­tio has run­way in­to 2024, CEO and chair­man Jack Hop­pin said in a state­ment.

In con­junc­tion with the fi­nanc­ing, Ra­tio said it added Su­san Who­riskey to the board, not­ing her ex­pe­ri­ences on the found­ing ex­ec­u­tive teams at Ve­ra Ther­a­peu­tics, Cu­bist Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals, Mo­men­ta Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals and Mod­er­na.

Cidara and WuXi ex­pand their pact

The part­ner­ship be­tween Cidara Ther­a­peu­tics and CD­MO WuXi will in­clude not on­ly in­fluen­za but al­so on­col­o­gy.

The duo said Wednes­day it will en­list WuXi’s IND-en­abling de­vel­op­ment chops to bring Cidara’s lead on­col­o­gy drug can­di­date in­to the clin­ic. The as­set, dubbed CD421, goes af­ter CD73, which con­tributes to an in­flux of an im­mune cell sup­pres­sor known as adeno­sine around the tu­mor.

Cidara hopes to move be­yond lim­i­ta­tions with small mol­e­cules and mon­o­clon­al an­ti­bod­ies that tar­get CD73. The San Diego biotech’s can­di­date mar­ries small mol­e­cules or pep­tides to a vari­ant of a hu­man an­ti­body frag­ment, or Fc.

Deal terms were kept un­der the hood.

Forge Bi­o­log­ics’ cGMP Com­pli­ant and Com­mer­cial­ly Vi­able Be­spoke Affin­i­ty Chro­matog­ra­phy Plat­form

Forge Biologics has developed a bespoke affinity chromatography platform approach that factors in unique vector combinations to streamline development timelines and assist our clients in efficiently entering the clinic. By leveraging our experience with natural and novel serotypes and transgene conformations, we are able to accelerate affinity chromatography development by nearly 3-fold. Many downstream purification models are serotype-dependent, demanding unique and time-consuming development strategies for each AAV gene therapy product1. With the increasing demand to propel AAV gene therapies to market, platform purification methods that support commercial-scale manufacturing of high-quality vectors with excellent safety and efficacy profiles are essential.

Feng Zhang (Susan Walsh/AP Images)

In search of new way to de­liv­er gene ed­i­tors, CRISPR pi­o­neer turns to mol­e­c­u­lar sy­ringes

Bug bacteria are ruthless.

Some soil bacteria have evolved tiny, but deadly injection systems that attach to insect cells, perforate them and release toxins inside — killing a bug in just a few days’ time. Scientists, on the other hand, want to leverage that system to deliver medicines.

In a paper published Wednesday in Nature, MIT CRISPR researcher Feng Zhang and his lab describe how they engineered these syringes made by bacteria to deliver potential therapies like toxins that kill cancer cells and gene editors. With the help of an AI program, they developed syringes that can load proteins of their choice and selectively target human cells.

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Mathai Mammen, FogPharma's next CEO

Math­ai Mam­men hands in J&J's R&D keys to lead Greg Ver­dine’s Fog­Phar­ma 

In the early 1990s, Mathai Mammen was a teaching assistant in Greg Verdine’s Science B46 course at Harvard. In June, the former R&D head at Johnson & Johnson will succeed Verdine as CEO, president and chair of FogPharma, the same month the seven-year-old biotech kickstarts its first clinical trial.

After leading R&D at one of the largest drugmakers in the world, taking the company through more than half a dozen drug approvals in the past few years, not to mention a Covid-19 vaccine race, Mammen departed J&J last month and will take the helm of a Cambridge, MA biotech attempting to go after what Verdine calls the “true emperor of all oncogenes” — beta-catenin.

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See­los Ther­a­peu­tics 'tem­porar­i­ly' stops study in rare neu­ro dis­or­der for busi­ness rea­sons

Microcap biotech Seelos Therapeutics is halting enrollment of its study in spinocerebellar ataxia type 3 (also known as Machado-Joseph disease) because of “financial considerations,” and in order to focus on other studies, the company said today, adding that the pause would be temporary.

The study will continue with the patients who have already enrolled, and the data from them will be used to decide whether to continue enrolling others in the future.

Alec­tor cuts 11% of work­force as it dou­bles down on late-stage neu­ro pro­grams part­nered with GSK, Ab­b­Vie

A month after revealing plans to concentrate on its late-stage immuno-neurology pipeline, Alector is trimming its headcount by 11%.

The layoffs will impact around 30 employees across the organization, the company disclosed in an SEC filing, adding that the plan will “better align the company’s resources” with the new strategy. With $712.9 million in cash, cash equivalents and investments as of the end of 2022, Alector believes the reserves will now get it through 2025.

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Hugo Peris, Spiral Therapeutics CEO

Hear­ing-fo­cused biotech grabs trio of pro­grams from Oton­o­my's fire sale

Otonomy may be shutting down, but the lessons learned there will live on at another biotech working on new treatments for hearing loss.

San Francisco-based Spiral Therapeutics has bought certain assets related to three of Otonomy’s programs, ranging from data, patent rights, and know-how to inventory. That includes data around Otonomy’s twice-failed lead program, OTO-104 (Otividex), a sustained-exposure formulation of dexamethasone.

Jeff Bluestone (R), Sonoma Biotherapeutics CEO

Jef­frey Blue­stone brings his start­up haul to $400M+, join­ing forces with Re­gen­eron on cell ther­a­pies

These days, when Jeffrey Bluestone gets together with his contemporaries in science, the conversation often turns to retirement plans.

But a little more than three years ago, Bluestone reached a momentous turning point in his career, exiting a prestigious post at UCSF, where he had spent decades in the scientific pursuit of new therapies. And it had nothing to do with retirement anytime in the near future.

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Covant acting CEO Matt Maisak (L) and CSO Iván Cornella

With Boehringer In­gel­heim’s help, Roivant churns out an­oth­er Vant to go up against En­deav­or, Im­pact founders

Roivant Sciences has added another branch to its family tree, unveiling Covant Therapeutics with a $10 million upfront commitment from Boehringer Ingelheim to turn up the heat in cancer.

The Boston-based drug discovery startup will jointly create a new small molecule immunotherapy with the private German pharma giant. The deal, made public Tuesday morning, includes up to $471 million in future payments and tiered royalties, should the product make it to market.

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CSL CEO Paul McKenzie (L) and CMO Bill Mezzanotte

Q&A: New­ly-mint­ed CSL chief ex­ec­u­tive Paul McKen­zie and chief med­ical of­fi­cer Bill Mez­zan­otte

Paul McKenzie took over as CEO of Australian pharma giant CSL this month, following in the footsteps of long-time CSL vet Paul Perreault.

With an eye on mRNA, and quickly commercializing its new, $3.5 million-per-shot gene therapy for hemophilia B, McKenzie and chief medical officer Bill Mezzanotte answered some questions from Endpoints News this afternoon about where McKenzie is going to take the company and what advances may be coming to market from CSL’s pipeline. Below is a lightly edited transcript.