Matt Barnes, Heptares Therapeutics president and head of UK R&D

So­sei Hep­tares part­ners with a UK-based can­cer re­search or­ga­ni­za­tion to bring its drug to tri­al

Can­cer re­search has been a fo­cus for So­sei Hep­tares for sev­er­al years, and their lat­est deal hopes to progress one of their new­er ther­a­pies.

On Fri­day, the Japan­ese com­pa­ny inked a deal with Can­cer Re­search UK to bring one of its can­cer drug can­di­dates in­to the clin­ic. Ac­cord­ing to So­sei, the agree­ment will have Can­cer Re­search UK run a Phase I/IIa tri­al of So­sei’s can­cer can­di­date HTL00397322, an EP4 an­tag­o­nist. The can­di­date will be eval­u­at­ed as both a com­bi­na­tion ther­a­py and a monother­a­py. While no ex­act fi­nan­cial de­tails were giv­en, So­sei will still hold the pro­gram’s li­cense af­ter the study reads out.

“We are ex­treme­ly pleased to col­lab­o­rate with Can­cer Re­search UK to ad­vance HTL0039732 in­to Phase I/IIa clin­i­cal tri­als and take a step to­wards bring­ing new treat­ments to can­cer pa­tients,” said Hep­tares Ther­a­peu­tics pres­i­dent Matt Barnes in a state­ment.

The can­di­date tar­gets a spe­cif­ic type of EP4 re­cep­tor, which is in­volved in can­cer cells evad­ing the im­mune sys­tem and af­fect­ing tu­mor cell growth. Block­ing this type of re­cep­tor may im­prove pa­tient sur­vival if used in com­bi­na­tion with oth­er im­munother­a­pies, So­sei says.

So­sei is shoot­ing for a range of can­cers, in­clud­ing col­orec­tal, gas­troe­sophageal, head and neck and cas­trate-re­sis­tant prostate can­cer.

Can­cer has long been on the minds of So­sei re­searchers. In 2017, the com­pa­ny of­fered Mi­NA Ther­a­peu­tics an ex­clu­sive op­tion to ac­quire the com­pa­ny for $45 mil­lion in cash. Mi­NA at that time was work­ing on RNA tech­nol­o­gy for a Phase I/IIa test in liv­er can­cer.

So­sei has al­so been seek­ing part­ner­ships for oth­er sec­tors of its busi­ness, as in Jan­u­ary the com­pa­ny start­ed to col­lab­o­rate with Al­pha­bet’s Ver­i­ly. The com­pa­nies are aim­ing to use Ver­i­ly’s im­mune pro­fil­ing and So­sei’s GPCR drug de­sign ca­pa­bil­i­ties to de­vel­op new drugs main­ly in the im­munol­o­gy, gas­troen­terol­o­gy and im­muno-on­col­o­gy spaces.

Big Phar­ma's Twit­ter ex­o­dus; Mer­ck wa­gers $1.35B on buy­out; $3.5M gene ther­a­py; and more

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Paul Perreault, CSL Behring CEO

CSL lands FDA ap­proval for he­mo­phil­ia B gene ther­a­py, sets $3.5M list price

The FDA has approved the world’s first gene therapy for hemophilia B, ushering into the market a treatment that’s historic in both what it promises to do and how much it will cost.

CSL will be marketing the drug, Hemgenix, at a list price of $3.5 million — which sets a new record for the most expensive single-use gene therapy in the US.

In a statement provided to Endpoints News, the Australian company noted that the current costs of treating people with moderate to severe hemophilia B can be significant over a lifetime. By some estimates, healthcare systems could spend more than $20 million per person.

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Rob Davis, Merck CEO

Up­dat­ed: No Seagen here: 'Do more' means a small $1.35B pur­chase of Ima­go for Mer­ck

Merck is making an acquisition, the Big Pharma announced before Monday’s opening bell. No, Seagen is not entering the fold, as had been speculated for quarters.

Folding under Merck’s wings will be Pfizer-backed Imago BioSciences. For nearly a year, Merck CEO Rob Davis has been saying the pharma giant needs to “do more” on the business development front after its 2021 $11.5 billion acquisition of Acceleron.

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Elon Musk (GDA via AP Images)

Biggest drug com­pa­nies halt­ed Twit­ter ad buys af­ter Lil­ly in­sulin spoof

Almost all of the drug industry’s biggest advertisers cut their spending on Twitter to zero or near-zero over the last two weeks amid worries about impersonation of their brands by pranksters and the future of the social media company.

Among 18 of the biggest pharmaceutical advertisers in the US market, 12 cut their Twitter ad spending to nothing for the week beginning Nov. 14, according to Pathmatics, which tracks data on prescription drug ad spending as well as general corporate advertising. The list of drugmakers cutting spending to zero includes Merck, AstraZeneca, Eli Lilly, Novartis, Pfizer and others.

Image: Shutterstock

MIT re­searchers re­veal DNA "Paste" tech be­hind lat­est gene edit­ing start­up

MIT scientists have developed a tool that they say can insert large gene sequences where they want in the genome.

In a paper published Thursday in Nature Biotechnology, MIT fellows Omar Abudayyeh, Jonathan Gootenberg and colleagues detail a technology they call PASTE, which they say can potentially be used to insert long strands of DNA and treat genetic diseases caused by many different mutations, such as cystic fibrosis and Leber congenital amaurosis, a rare eye disorder that causes blindness.

Dermavant Sciences' first consumer TV ad for its Vtama psoriasis med shows people ready for a new topical treatment.

Roivant’s Der­ma­vant de­buts first-ever TV com­mer­cial for pso­ri­a­sis cream Vta­ma

Dermavant Sciences has been marketing its first product, psoriasis med Vtama, to dermatologists for months, but on Tuesday it rolled out its first consumer campaign. The debut DTC effort including a streaming TV commercial encourages patients to a “Topical Uprising” in a nod to Vtama being a topical cream.

In the new commercial, a swell of people discards scarves and jacket coverings, gathering in the street to converge on a pharmacy to demand a steroid-free prescription. A moment of levity follows when a pharmacist says, “You know you can just talk to your doctor, right?” The gathered crowds collectively says, “Oh.”

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FDA preps for DMD drug gener­ics as Sarep­ta has yet to fin­ish its con­fir­ma­to­ry tri­al

The FDA typically releases guidance to help generic drug manufacturers develop new copycats of small molecule drugs, oftentimes in preparation for a brand name product’s patents or exclusivity to expire.

This week, FDA released such bioequivalence guidance for any generic drugmakers looking to take on Sarepta’s Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) drug Exondys 51 (eteplirsen), even though the drug’s sponsor has yet to convert the accelerated approval to a full approval, showing clinical benefit.

Stanley Erck, Novavax CEO (Andrew Harnik/AP Images)

No­vavax pulls out of Covid-19 vac­cine al­liance with Gavi

Novavax is pulling out of its Covid-19 vaccine deal with Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, a global partnership tasked with ensuring vaccine access in lower-income countries, following an alleged contract violation.

The Maryland-based company claimed on Friday that Gavi failed to purchase at least 350 million doses of its protein-based vaccine Nuvaxovid by the end of the year, per an advanced purchase agreement. Gavi, the World Health Organization and the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) are co-leaders of COVAX, an effort to ensure that all participating countries, regardless of income levels, have access to vaccines.

Fu­ji­film to build $188M man­u­fac­tur­ing plant in North Car­oli­na’s re­search tri­an­gle

As the Japanese conglomerate Fujifilm continues to invest heavily in its CDMO arm, one of its manufacturing divisions is teeing up a major investment.

Fujifilm Irvine Scientific announced on Tuesday that parent Fujifilm is making a $188 million investment to build a cell culture media manufacturing site in the Research Triangle Park in North Carolina. The new site will mark Fujifilm Irvine’s fifth manufacturing site globally and its second in the US.