Pfizer Foundation offers $2M in grants to NGOs tackling antimicrobial resistance; Biogen, Invitae join forces to develop faster SMA diagnostic
→ Most of Big Pharma has left the building when it comes to antimicrobial drug development, and small companies with newly approved antibiotics are struggling to stay afloat. Meanwhile, the foundation arm of Pfizer $PFE is offering its support, in the form of grants for NGO and social enterprises that are working on addressing this major health challenge: antimicrobial resistance. Recipients of the one-year Global Health Innovation Grants include partners in 12 low- and middle-income countries who will each receive $100,000.
→ While Biogen‘s $BIIB spinal muscular atrophy treatment, Spinraza, rivals Novartis‘ $NVS gene-therapy Zolegensma, the US drugmaker has tied up with genetics company Invitae $NVTA to usher in a new genetic test for SMA, which will be offered at no charge to individuals in the United States as part of the SMA Identified program. The test reduces the time needed for genetic testing to help confirm a definitive SMA diagnosis to 4 days from 21, enabling earlier treatment for the often life-threatening disease, the companies said on Tuesday.
→ In its latest H1 report, Hong Kong-listed WuXi Vaccines, a joint venture of WuXi Biologics and Shanghai Hile Bio-Pharmaceutical, indicated it had entered into a longterm manufacturing partnership with an unnamed global vaccine company. The company estimates the value of the 20-year contract to be over $3 billion. WuXi is aiming to finalize the contract this year and expects it will make a “substantial” revenue contribution in 2022.
→ Late last year, after their drug ubenimex proved to be another flop, Eiger Pharmaceuticals $EIGR CEO David Cory said that the company would be reshuffling and focusing on, among other things, its late-stage study in hepatitis delta virus (HDV), the most severe form of human viral hepatitis for which there is no approved therapy. On Tuesday, Eiger announced that the FDA had granted breakthrough therapy designation for the company’s experimental drug, peginterferon lambda, to treat HDV, supported by data from a mid-stage study in 33 HDV-infected patients.
→ iBio has inked a master services agreement (MSA) agreement with United Therapeutics subsidiary, Lung Biotechnology. Under the agreement, the company will produce recombinant human collagen (“rhCollagen”)-based bioink for 3D bioprinted organ transplants. IBio will collaborate with its partner to scale-up production of rhCollagen in tobacco plants using iBio’s FastPharming System — which combines plant protein expression, automated hydroponics, and glycan engineering technologies. The company is also looking to develop their own pipeline, with a lead asset, CFB-03, for the treatment of fibrotic diseases.