Neurotrope battered in latest Alzheimer's flop; Platelet BioGenesis raises $26M-plus
→ Neurotrope became the latest casualty in the high-risk Alzheimer’s R&D field. The biotech reported that their Phase II study of Bryostatin-1 failed to show any improvement over placebo using the Severe Impairment Battery (SIB) total score at week 13. In fact, the drug arm did a little worse than a sugar pill, with an average increase of 1.3 points for the drug and 2.1 points for placebo. Their shares $NTRP cratered in the rout that followed, plunging 78%. It’s currently a penny stock.
The Alzheimer’s R&D field hasn’t recorded a success in changing the trajectory of the disease, with recent pivotal failures forcing all the players to reconsider their strategies.
→ Platelet BioGenesis (PBG) — a company focused on stem cell-derived, on-demand human platelets and platelet-based therapeutics — has raised more than $26 million in Series A-1 financing. In combination to this round, as well as Series A financing and grants, the company’s total funding is brought to about $45 million. The financing was co-led by Ziff Capital Partners and Qiming Venture Partners USA in addition to existing investures Nest.Bio Ventures and eCoast Angels.
The company said that it “will use the funds from the Series A-1 round to accelerate the development of its donor-independent platelet manufacturing capabilities and advance its proof of concept work around platelet-based therapeutics.” PBG plans to double its staff to approximately 50 employees in 2020.
→ Stuart Levy, co-founder of Paratek Pharmaceuticals, passed away last week.
“Stuart was a distinguished physician who was the forefront of antibiotic development and a dedicated champion for the prudent use of antibiotics,” said Evan Loh, Paratek CEO. “More importantly, he was a dear friend and mentor to so many and his passion lives on in each of us as we work to continue his mission of combating the daily threat of life-threatening infections. We will greatly miss him.”
Levy co-founded Paratek more than 20 years ago along with Walter Gilbert. He was instrumental in the development of the company’s lead antibiotics, Nuzyra and Seysara. Levy discovered the efflux mechanism for drug (tetracycline) resistance and was among the first scientists to document the transfer of resistant bacteria from animals to farmworkers. His 1992 book, The Antibiotic Paradox: How Miracle Drugs Are Destroying the Miracle, has been cited widely and translated into four languages.
The news comes a few weeks after the company published positive Phase III data for Nuzyra for patients with ABSSSI.
→ In the midst of a surprise inter partes review by the US Patent Trials Appeal Board (PTAB) for Alexion’s Soliris, the company and BridgeBio’s subsidiary Eidos Therapeutics have inked an agreement granting Alexion an exclusive license to develop and commercialize their orally-administered small molecule AG10 — designed to treat transthyretin amyloidosis (ATTR) by binding and stabilizing transthyretin (TTR) in the blood— in Japan.
“Eidos is currently evaluating AG10 in a Phase III study in the US and Europe for ATTR cardiomyopathy (ATTR-CM) – a progressive, fatal disease caused by the accumulation of misfolded TTR amyloid in the heart – and plans to begin a Phase III study in ATTR polyneuropathy (ATTR-PN) – a progressive, fatal disease caused by the accumulation of misfolded TTR amyloid in the peripheral nervous system.”
→ A few months after Acceleron and its partner at Celgene secured priority review for their red blood cell boosting drug, luspatercept — to manage anemia resulting from myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS) as well as beta thalassemia — the company has announced another win. This time they’ve gained an orphan drug designation by the FDA for its investigational therapy sotatercept for the treatment of patients with pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH).