GW touts positive survival benefit in small brain cancer study; Ablynx files for ultra-rare disease drug OK

• GW Pharma is touting claims that a combination of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) produced positive survival benefits in a small study of 21 patients with recurrent glioblastoma multiforme, a common form of brain cancer. The drug arm had an 83 percent one year survival rate compared with 53 percent for patients in the placebo group. Drawing a direct link between the drug and survival in such a small group, though, is difficult to do. The company is now exploring a pivotal study.

• Belgian biotech Ablynx has filed for European approval of caplacizumab, which it describes as a first-in-class anti-von Willebrand factor Nanobody for the treatment of acquired thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura (aTTP), an ultra-rare blood clotting disorder.

• J&J has handed over the rights to a heart drug to San Diego-based Renova Therapeutics. Renova says it is getting the investigational new drug file on stresscopin, which could play a role in treating acute decompensated heart failure, or ADHF. Renova says it now plans to advance the drug as RT-400 for a common disease with a 30% mortality rate. “Obtaining this stresscopin program IND helps propel forward the development of our peptide infusion product candidate, RT-400,” said Jack W. Reich, PhD, CEO and co-founder of Renova Therapeutics. “With this data, we hope to see promising results as we initiate pivotal trials.”

• Shanghai-based Abbisko Therapeutics raised a $28 million round, according to a report from BioCentury. CEO Yaochang Xu is a veteran of Novartis China and the biotech is working on preclinical immunomodulators for cancer. The money came from Lilly Asia Ventures, Sinopharm Capital, Jianxin Capital and TF Capital.

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