Omega-backed startup sells itself quietly; AbbVie breaks out more Rinvoq data; Revance gets FDA date for Botox rival
→ When it came into the limelight with a $35 million Series A financing in 2018, Attenua promised to repurpose three oral neuronal nicotinic receptor assets discarded by Catalyst Biosciences (which in turn got the drugs through a merger with Targacept). But now that it’s wrapped a proof-of-concept trial of the lead drug in chronic cough, Attenua is flipping the portfolio to another buyer for yet another use.
CODA Biotherapeutics has bought Attenua and its clinical stage small molecule candidates, which they say will serve to control their chemogenetic receptors designed to treat neuropathic pain, focal epilepsy and other neurologic disorders.
The South San Francisco biotech liked that Attenua’s drugs come with “high-quality drug development work already completed, one with a currently active IND,” CEO Michael Narachi said.
According to clinicaltrials.gov Attenua completed its chronic cough study in May last year, where it compared bradanicline to placebo, but has not posted the results publicly. “We understand that the Phase II study endpoints were not met,” Narachi told Endpoints News via email.
Omega Funds, Abingworth, OrbiMed and Redmile Group invested in Attenua. The financial terms of the buyout deal were not disclosed.
→ AbbVie’s oral JAK inhibitor Rinvoq, which is partly expected to fill the giant Humira hole after the megablockbuster falls off its patent cliff, has more positive data backing its use. The company on Wednesday issued data from a pivotal study in psoriatic arthritis patients, months after publishing similarly positive results from another Phase III trial in the same patient population. Rinvoq was approved by the FDA in August for use in patients with rheumatoid arthritis, although the label came with the dreaded black box warning that have plagued the class of drugs.
→ Co-founder Dan Browne may have stepped down in October following a “misjudgment in handling an employee matter,” but California-based Revance is going full steam ahead with its Botox rival DaxibotulinumtoxinA for Injection (DAXI). The product has been accepted for review by the FDA for use in frown lines, and the agency is expected to make its decision by November 25. DAXI is positioned as a direct competitor to Allergan’s Botox franchise — a product that is approved for 13 indications and generated close to $3.6 billion in 2018, despite the emergence of rivals: Ipsen’s Dysport (manufactured by Galderma for cosmetic use), Merz Pharma’s Xeomin. Another competitor, Evolus, scored FDA approval for its product, Jeuveau, in February 2019.
→ Italy’s Chiesi, which has allied with Israeli biotech Protalix to develop an enzyme replacement therapy for Fabry disease, is now carving out a whole new division to focus on rare and ultra-rare diseases. It will be headquartered in Boston and conduct R&D in lysosomal storage disorders, as well as rare hematology and ophthalmology diseases.
→ Tiny Tonix, whose experimental PTSD drug Tonmya lost its breakthrough therapy status, ceased enrollment of a pivotal study on Wednesday after an independent monitoring panel recommended stopping the trial due to futility on the basis that the drug likely does not work. Beset with multiple setbacks, Tonix has done everything in its power to get Tonmya across the finish line, including changing trial goalposts and using subset analyses to take the program forward. The drug will continue to be tested in patients with fibromyalgia.
→ The Chinese tech giant Tencent managed to rivet attention its way when the company temporarily posted an update on the coronavirus epidemic that listed close to 25,000 deaths and more than 154,000 cases in China. The official number of deaths is a bit more than 500. The conglomerate quickly reverted to the official numbers once the report had been flagged by alarmed observers.
Taiwan News reported that the company may have inadvertently revealed the actual figures being tracked, as opposed to the numbers China prefers. Either way, the report underscores some lingering doubts that the Chinese government is not being completely upfront about the way it’s handled the brewing pandemic so far. The government has about 60 million citizens under lockdown to try and help contain the spread of the Wuhan virus, which has severely disrupted the country’s economy.
→ Following up on some promising mid-stage data out of ESMO, Curis has convinced its partners at Aurigene to fund and conduct a Phase IIb/III study of CA-170 among patients with non-squamous non-small cell lung cancer (nsNSCLC). In exchange Aurigene, a subsidiary of India’s Dr. Reddy’s Labs, gets the rights to develop and commercialize the drug in all of Asia — adding to an existing agreement for India and Russia. Designed to be used in combination with chemoradiation, CA-170 is an oral drug that inhibits both PD-L1 and VISTA.