OncoSec signs on Dana-Farber as CAR-T partner; Dova racks up another Doptelet approval
→ Dana-Farber is lending a hand to little OncoSec’s nascent effort to develop CAR-T therapies for solid tumor cancers. The San Diego biotech has worked out an exclusive licensing deal with Wayne Marasco — an expert in antibody engineering — to apply his method of linking two single-chain variable fragment (scFv) in a bispecific CAR-T such that the T cells are only activated when both targets are engaged, thereby limiting off-tumor toxicity. OncoSec’s financial contribution in the research, which involves testing the experimental treatment solo and in combination with Tavo in triple-negative breast cancer, will be “modest” and spread over several years, CEO Daniel O’Connor said.
→ After winning the FDA nod for low blood platelet count (thrombocytopenia) in adults with chronic liver disease (CLD) who are scheduled to undergo a medical or dental procedure, the label of Dova Pharmaceutical’s Doptelet on Thursday was expanded to include patients with chronic immune thrombocytopenia (ITP) who have had an insufficient response to a previous treatment. The company’s shares $DOVA leapt about 27.5% to $13.50 in morning trading. The FDA’s endorsement comes about a week after European regulators also backed the drug for use in severe thrombocytopenia in adult patients with CLD who are scheduled to undergo an invasive procedure. Meanwhile, late-stage data from a study evaluating the drug’s use in chemotherapy-induced thrombocytopenia are expected in the first half of 2020.
→ The recently-public Verrica Pharmaceuticals‘ $VRCA experimental drug, VP-102, has cleared a mid-stage study in patients with common warts. The drug’s “efficacy and tolerability has been further confirmed with the positive Phase II COVE-1 trial in common warts, and is now de-risked in an additional indication. We believe this provides additional (and not modeled) upside for VRCA as our valuation targets are based purely on VP-102 in molluscum contagiosum which remains on track for a potential H2:2020 launch,” Cowen analysts wrote in a note. The company said it is on track to submit an application to market the drug for patients with molluscum contagiosum — a viral skin infection sometimes called water warts — later this year.