Ox­ford Vacmedix moves can­cer vac­cines for­ward with $12.5M from South Ko­rea, Chi­na

South Ko­rea and Chi­nese in­vestors have sunk a col­lec­tive $12.5 mil­lion in­to an Ox­ford Uni­ver­si­ty spin­out that promis­es a more ef­fi­cient and cheap­er way to make can­cer vac­cines.

Shisong Jiang

The fi­nanc­ing round po­ten­tial­ly opens up the Ko­re­an mar­ket for Ox­ford Vacmedix (OVM), which al­ready out-li­censed its re­com­bi­nant over­lap­ping pep­tide tech­nol­o­gy to a joint ven­ture reg­is­tered in Hong Kong. Much of the sci­ence, how­ev­er, ac­tu­al­ly takes place in Changzhou (be­tween Nan­jing and Shang­hai), where an OVM cen­ter has been con­duct­ing ear­ly-stage val­i­da­tion of the tech­nol­o­gy de­vel­oped by sci­en­tif­ic founder and CSO Shisong Jiang.

He found a way to pro­duce over­lap­ping pep­tides in a bac­te­r­i­al sys­tem, rather than syn­the­siz­ing them chem­i­cal­ly, re­sult­ing in an end­less stream of re­com­bi­nant pro­tein and the over­lap­ping pep­tides.

Jiang, who earned his med­ical de­gree in Chi­na, came to Ox­ford by way of the Lon­don School of Hy­giene and Trop­i­cal Med­i­cine and Har­vard’s Dana Far­ber Can­cer In­sti­tute, where he com­plet­ed his PhD and did post-doc work, re­spec­tive­ly. He start­ed down the road of en­tre­pre­neur­ship in 2012 and im­me­di­ate­ly looked to Chi­na for growth op­por­tu­ni­ties.

Both pri­vate in­vestors — with back­grounds in con­struc­tion/en­gi­neer­ing and ad­ver­tis­ing, re­spec­tive­ly — and the gov­ern­ment chipped in for the Changzhou fa­cil­i­ty, and have come back for this round of fi­nanc­ing.

An­tho­ny Coombs

They are joined by Can­cer ROP, a South Ko­re­an health­care in­sti­tu­tion that re­cent­ly start­ed fo­cus­ing on can­cer drugs. It is al­so close­ly as­so­ci­at­ed with one of the biggest hos­pi­tal groups in the coun­try, Ox­ford Vacmedix di­rec­tor An­tho­ny Coombs told End­points News, which can help the biotech iden­ti­fy where its can­cer vac­cines can best be used.

“We look for­ward to a pro­duc­tive and mu­tu­al­ly ben­e­fi­cial part­ner­ship with OVM es­pe­cial­ly in glob­al clin­i­cal tri­al as­pects and con­fi­dent that we can sup­port the con­tin­ued growth and de­vel­op­ment of the com­pa­ny,” said Can­cer ROP CEO Wang-Jun Lee in a state­ment.

The new funds will car­ry OVM through pre­clin­i­cal de­vel­op­ment to the be­gin­ning of Phase I tri­als in two lead pro­grams: OVM-100 is an HPV vac­cine tar­get­ing cer­vi­cal can­cer, while OVM-200 at­tacks sol­id tu­mors with an apop­to­sis in­hibitor called sur­vivin. (The PhI tri­als are ex­pect­ed to com­mence this year.) The biotech is al­so hop­ing to de­vel­op its man­u­fac­tur­ing ca­pac­i­ties from lab to pro­duc­tion scale, at which point it plans to out­source the work to a UK con­tract man­u­fac­tur­ing or­ga­ni­za­tion.

Asian mon­ey has been flow­ing around the UK.

When British Prime Min­is­ter There­sa May vis­it­ed Chi­na last month, Chi­nese in­vestors pledged $1.3 bil­lion to UK life sci­ence in­vest­ments, and Bei­jing’s Ts­ingHua Uni­ver­si­ty un­veiled a joint ear­ly-stage re­search cen­ter with Cam­bridge’s Trin­i­ty Col­lege. South Ko­rea’s largest ven­ture cap­i­tal firm, Ko­rea In­vest­ment Part­ners, backed UK syn­thet­ic bi­ol­o­gy play­er Prokar­i­um in a $10 mil­lion round an­nounced just days ago.

”(T)here’s a lot of ap­petite in Asia (…) peo­ple are very in­ter­est­ed to ac­tu­al­ly en­gage with the re­al­ly good aca­d­e­m­ic work that’s be­ing done in Ox­ford,” Coombs said.

Scoop: Boehringer qui­et­ly shut­ters a PhII for one of its top drugs — now un­der re­view

Boehringer Ingelheim has quietly shut down a small Phase II study for one of its lead drugs.

The private pharma player confirmed to Endpoints News that it had shuttered a study testing spesolimab as a therapy for Crohn’s patients suffering from bowel obstructions.

A spokesperson for the company tells Endpoints:

Taking into consideration the current therapeutic landscape and ongoing clinical development programs, Boehringer Ingelheim decided to discontinue our program in Crohn’s disease. It is important to note that this decision is not based on any safety findings in the clinical trials.

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Vas Narasimhan (Photographer: Jason Alden/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

No­var­tis de­tails plans to axe 8,000 staffers as Narasimhan be­gins sec­ond phase of a glob­al re­org

We now know the number of jobs coming under the axe at Novartis, and it isn’t small.

The pharma giant is confirming a report from Swiss newspaper Tages-Anzeiger that it is chopping 8,000 jobs out of its 108,000 global staffers. A large segment will hit right at company headquarters in Basel, as CEO Vas Narasimhan axes some 1,400 of a little more than 11,000  jobs in Switzerland.

The first phase of the work is almost done, the company says in a statement to Endpoints News. Now it’s on to phase two. In the statement, Novartis says:

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Lina Gugucheva, NewAmsterdam Pharma CBO

Phar­ma group bets up to $1B-plus on the PhI­II res­ur­rec­tion of a once dead-and-buried LDL drug

Close to 5 years after then-Amgen R&D chief Sean Harper tamped the last spade of dirt on the last broadly focused CETP cholesterol drug — burying their $300 million upfront and the few remaining hopes for the class with it — the therapy has been fully resurrected. And today, the NewAmsterdam Pharma crew that did the Lazarus treatment on obicetrapib is taking another big step on the comeback trail with a €1 billion-plus regional licensing deal, complete with close to $150 million in upfront cash.

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How pre­pared is bio­phar­ma for the cy­ber dooms­day?

One of the largest cyberattacks in history happened on a Friday, Eric Perakslis distinctly remembers.

Perakslis, who was head of Takeda’s R&D Data Sciences Institute and visiting faculty at Harvard Medical School at the time, had spent that morning completing a review on cybersecurity for the British Medical Journal. Moments after he turned it in, he heard back from the editor: “Have you heard what’s going on right now?”

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(AP Photo/Gemunu Amarasinghe)

Some phar­ma com­pa­nies promise to cov­er abor­tion-re­lat­ed trav­el costs — while oth­ers won't go that far yet

As the US Department of Health and Human Services promises to support the millions of women who would now need to cross state lines to receive a legal abortion, a handful of pharma companies have said they will pick up employees’ travel expenses.

GSK, Sanofi, Johnson & Johnson, BeiGene, Alnylam and Gilead have all committed to covering abortion-related travel expenses just four days after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade and revoked women’s constitutional right to an abortion.

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Aurobindo Pharma co-founders P. V. Ram Prasad Reddy (L) and K. Nityananda Reddy

Au­robindo Phar­ma re­ceives warn­ing let­ter from In­di­a's SEC fol­low­ing more FDA ques­tion marks

Indian-based generics manufacturer Aurobindo Pharma has been in the crosshairs of the FDA for several years now, but the company is also attracting attention from regulators within the subcontinent.

According to the Indian business news site Business Standard, a warning letter was sent to the company from the Securities Exchange Board of India, or SEBI.

The letter is related to disclosures made by the company on an ongoing FDA audit of the company’s Unit-1 API facility in Hyderabad, India as well as observations made by the US regulator between 2019 and 2022.

New Charles River Laboratories High Quality (HQ) Plasmid DNA Centre of Excellence at Bruntwood SciTech’s Alderley Park in Cheshire, United Kingdom. (Charles River)

Charles Riv­er Lab­o­ra­to­ries to start cell and gene ther­a­py man­u­fac­tur­ing at UK site in Sep­tem­ber

While Massachusetts-based Charles River Laboratories has been on an acquisition spree, they are not against planting their flag. The latest move by the company sees them crossing the pond to establish a manufacturing site in the UK.

The company on Tuesday opened its cell and gene therapy manufacturing center at Bruntwood SciTech’s Alderley Park in Cheshire, United Kingdom. The expansion follows Charles River’s acquisition of Cognate BioServices and Cobra Biologics in 2021 for $875 million. Cognate is a plasmid DNA, viral vector and cell therapy CDMO.

Bristol Myers Squibb (Alamy)

CVS re­sumes cov­er­age of block­buster blood thin­ner af­ter price drop fol­lows Jan­u­ary ex­clu­sion

Following some backlash from the American College of Cardiology and patients, Bristol Myers Squibb and Pfizer lowered the price of their blockbuster blood thinner Eliquis, thus ensuring that CVS Caremark would cover the drug after 6 months of it being off the major PBM’s formulary.

“Because we secured lower net costs for patients from negotiations with the drug manufacturer, Eliquis will be added back to our template formularies for the commercial segment effective July 1, 2022, and patient choices will be expanded,” CVS Health said in an emailed statement. “Anti-coagulant therapies are among the non-specialty products where we are seeing the fastest cost increases from drug manufacturers and we will continue to push back on unwarranted price increases.”

#Can­nes­Lions2022: Con­sumer health ex­ecs call on agen­cies to in­volve pa­tients in cre­ative process

CANNES — When Tamara Rogers joined GSK back in 2018, “science was king and R&D were the gods.” Now the global chief marketing officer of consumer healthcare wants to make room for another supreme being: the consumer.

As health and wellness becomes more relevant to consumers amid the pandemic, four health-focused executives called on marketers to involve patients in their creative process in a panel discussion at the Cannes Lions advertising creativity festival.

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