→ Abeona Therapeutics $ABEO has licensed Regenxbio’s $RGNX NAV AAV9 vector for four diseases: Sanfilippo syndrome type A (MPS IIIA), Sanfilippo syndrome type B (MPS IIIB), Infantile Batten Disease, also known as neuronal ceroid lipofuscinosis type 1 (CLN1 Disease), and Juvenile Batten Disease, also known as neuronal ceroid lipofuscinosis type 3 (CLN3 Disease). Regenxbio is guaranteed $40 million in cash for the deal, including $20 million in near-term payments, with another $140 million in potential fees and milestones.
→ With six approved PD-1/L1 drugs on the market and a plethora of others in development, makers of checkpoint inhibitors continue to test their offerings in combination with other drugs to eke out a bigger slice of the lucrative oncology market. On Monday, Bristol-Myers $BMY expanded its agreement with Infinity Pharmaceuticals’ $INFI to test Opdivo in combination with Infinity’s PI3K-gamma inhibitor, IPI-549, in patients with advanced urothelial cancer. The Phase II trial is expected to begin in the first half of 2019. A combination of Opdivo and IPI-549 continues to be evaluated in a Phase I study in patients with advanced solid tumors.
→ In other cancer-related news, Takeda has exercised its exclusive option to license Crescendo Biologics’ humabodies for one of its oncology targets, in a move that comes substantially earlier than planned, Crescendo said on Monday. The multi-target collaboration and license agreement was set up in 2016. Crescendo’s humabody-based products are an investigational class of protein therapeutics, which are designed to penetrate and accumulate in tissue/tumours whilst clearing quickly from circulation to minimise systemic toxicity.
→ In a separate oncology tie-up, little MEI Pharma $MEIP has granted Tokyo-listed Kyowa Hakko Kirin exclusive rights to develop and commercialize its experimental drug ME-401 in Japan for a $10 million upfront and potential milestone payments of up to $87.5 million. The drug, a PI3K delta inhibitor, is being developed by MEI to treat B-cell malignancies, and MEI is planning to initiate a Phase II study to evaluate the drug in patients with follicular lymphoma.
→ Germany’s Grünenthal is now the sole owner of the dermal pain patch Qutenza after it acquired the remaining rights to the product from Acorda Therapeutics $ACOR. Back in 2016, Grünenthal acquired exclusive commercial rights for the patch — which contains capsaicin, the active ingredient in chili peppers — in Europe, Middle East and Africa. Grünenthal has made a series of investments to expand its arsenal of pain products, including acquiring the European rights to Nexium and the global (ex US and Japan) rights to Vimovo.
→ Another German company is also in the news. The Mainz-based biotech BioNTech has tied up with the University of Pennsylvania to develop mRNA vaccines to prevent and treat a host of infectious diseases. The company, which already has partnerships with with Roche’s Genentech, Pfizer, Genmab, Eli Lilly, Sanofi and Bayer, is betting that mRNA-based vaccines represent an opportunity to surpass conventional vaccine approaches because of their capacity for rapid development and their potential for low-cost manufacturing and potentially safe administration.
→ Israel’s Mapi Pharma has picked up its second $10 million equity investment from China’s Zhejiang Jingxin Pharmaceutical. The Chinese CNS drugmaker made its initial investment in Mapi back in 2016.
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