Merck wins a third FDA nod for antibiotic; Mereo tackles TIGIT with $70M raise in hand
→ Merck — one of the last big pharma bastions in the beleaguered field of antibiotic drug development — on Friday said the FDA had signed off on using its combination drug, Recarbrio, with hospital-acquired bacterial pneumonia and ventilator-associated bacterial pneumonia. The drug could come handy for use in hospitalized patients who are afflicted with Covid-19, who carry a higher risk of contracting secondary bacterial infections. Once SARS-CoV-2, the virus behind Covid-19, infects the airways, it engages the immune system, giving other pathogens free rein to pillage and plunder as they please — the issue is particularly pertinent in patients on ventilators, which in any case are breeding grounds for infectious bacteria.
Last year, Recarbrio was approved for use in complicated urinary tract and intra-abdominal infections — all these approvals mandate the use of the treatment only when the infection is proven or strongly suspected to be caused by gram-negative bacteria.
→ Mereo is looking to add a little luster to the pipeline with the launch of a Phase Ib trial for their anti-TIGIT drug etigilimab. TIGIT quickly emerged as one of the hottest targets in cancer R&D this year, with some validating data from Roche and a major alliance between Arcus and Gilead. The UK biotech also has the cash to pursue its R&D goals on rare disease, adding $70 million in an equity raise from OrbiMed, Vivo Capital, Surveyor Capital (a Citadel company), Pontifax Venture Capital, Samsara BioCapital, Commodore Capital, and funds managed by Janus Henderson Investors alongside existing investors Boxer Capital of Tavistock Group and Aspire Capital Fund.
→ Applied Molecular Transport picked a good time to be short on cash. The biotech, which emerged from stealth mode with little fanfare in September filed for an IPO last month as they disclosed “substantial doubt about our ability to continue as a going concern” for the following year. Amid a string of flashy pandemic IPOs to both prominent and little-known companies, they filed for $100 million. Turns out they got even more, pricing at the $14 high end and raising $154 million to advance their inflammatory disease pipeline.