Stem cell ther­a­pies for space mis­sions? Pluris­tem joins forces with NASA to com­bat space-re­lat­ed ail­ments

When in space, your in­ner ma­chin­ery can go awry — ask as­tro­naut Scott Kel­ly. The as­sault of pro­tract­ed ra­di­a­tion and mi­cro­grav­i­ty can cul­mi­nate in pro­gres­sive bone and mus­cle loss and vex the im­mune sys­tem. Pla­cen­ta-based stem cells may be the an­swer to lim­it­ing that dam­age, and Is­rael’s Pluris­tem is work­ing with NASA to de­vel­op such an an­ti­dote.

The com­pa­ny, which is al­so work­ing with the NIH and the US De­part­ment of De­fense, last year se­cured the FDA’s emer­gency use au­tho­riza­tion for its stem cell prod­uct for ra­di­a­tion poi­son­ing. It al­so has two late-stage pro­grams test­ing the po­ten­tial of its ex­per­i­men­tal stem cell ther­a­pies for use in crit­i­cal limb is­chemia and mus­cle in­jury fol­low­ing sur­gi­cal re­pair. The com­pa­ny’s off-the-shelf prod­uct is de­rived from pla­cen­ta fol­low­ing full term de­liv­ery, and the cells can be ad­min­is­tered to pa­tients with­out the need for tis­sue match­ing.

“Once the cells are in­ject­ed, they se­crete a va­ri­ety of pro­teins and cy­tokines that help the body re­gen­er­ate, em­pow­er­ing the body’s heal­ing abil­i­ty,” Pluris­tem’s co-chief Yaky Yanay told End­points News.

The NASA tie-up came about af­ter Ruth Globus, of NASA’s Ames Re­search Cen­ter in Sil­i­con Val­ley, was giv­en the 2019 NASA Ames Re­search In­no­va­tion Award on the ba­sis of her pro­posed col­lab­o­ra­tion with Pluris­tem.

“Un­less as­tro­nauts al­lo­cate about two hours of time for dai­ly ex­er­cise ses­sions…As­tro­nauts can ex­pe­ri­ence up to 20% mus­cle loss in mus­cle mass on space flights last­ing just five to eleven days and in longer mis­sions, they al­so lose bone den­si­ty at a rate of 1-2% per month which can lead to more frag­ile bones,” Globus said in a state­ment on Wednes­day.

Last week, it was re­port­ed that near­ly a year in space put as­tro­naut Scott Kel­ly’s im­mune sys­tem in hy­per­drive. Typ­i­cal­ly as­tro­nauts are in space about six months at a time, but Kel­ly set a US record af­ter spend­ing 340 days in the skies.

Through Pluris­tem’s work with the NIH and DoD, the com­pa­ny was in­tro­duced to NASA and showed the space agency its da­ta from its mus­cle re­gen­er­a­tion stud­ies. Now with the NASA part­ner­ship in place, the drug de­vel­op­er is gear­ing up for pre­clin­i­cal and in vit­ro stud­ies to test the po­ten­tial of its pla­cen­tal stem cells in pre­vent­ing and treat­ing med­ical con­di­tions caused dur­ing space mis­sions, in­clud­ing in­di­ca­tions re­lat­ing to blood, bone, mus­cle, brain and heart.

Da­ta are ex­pect­ed lat­er this year, and if pos­i­tive, Pluris­tem will work with the FDA to de­ter­mine how to con­duct in-hu­man stud­ies.

“If we are able to demon­strate it in space, which is an ac­cel­er­a­tor (of ag­ing), its some­thing we can use in earth as well, to sup­port well be­ing, ag­ing and qual­i­ty of life,” Yanay said. “Cell ther­a­py on one hand, and space mis­sion on the oth­er end — on­ly good things can come from that!”


Grow­ing ac­cep­tance of ac­cel­er­at­ed path­ways for nov­el treat­ments: but does reg­u­la­to­ry ap­proval lead to com­mer­cial suc­cess?

By Mwango Kashoki, MD, MPH, Vice President-Technical, and Richard Macaulay, Senior Director, of Parexel Regulatory & Access

In recent years, we’ve seen a significant uptake in the use of regulatory options by companies looking to accelerate the journey of life-saving drugs to market. In 2018, 73% of the novel drugs approved by the U.S. Federal Drug Administration (FDA) were designated under one or more expedited development program categories (Fast Track, Breakthrough Therapy, Priority Review, and Accelerated Approval).ᶦ

Bi­cy­cle Ther­a­peu­tics takes Roche's Genen­tech on an up to $2B im­muno-on­col­o­gy ride

Bicycle Therapeutics — which is developing a new class of chemically synthesized drugs designed to be pharmacologically as active as biologics, yet manufactured as small molecules —  has scored another big partner: Roche’s Genentech.

The transatlantic biotech, which was created in 2009 and made its public debut a decade later, gets $30 million upfront and a meaty $1.7 billion in potential milestone payments in an early discovery immuno-oncology collaboration with Genentech.

When drug val­ue as­sess­ment meets re­al-world ev­i­dence: ICER en­lists Ae­tion in pric­ing eval­u­a­tion

In a union of two of the hottest trends in the US biopharma world, ICER is teaming up with a high-profile company to integrate real-world evidence in their assessment of treatment value.

The drug pricing watchdog — formally the Institute for Clinical and Economic Review — said it will utilize Aetion’s evidence platform in “select upcoming assessments” and their new 24-month re-evaluations of drugs granted accelerated approval by the FDA.

First US Covid-19 tri­als set to get un­der­way in Ne­bras­ka and Wash­ing­ton, backed by NIH

The first US clinical trials on the novel coronavirus are scheduled to get underway next month at the University of Nebraska Medical Center, where American passengers were taken after being evacuated from the Diamond Princess cruise ship, and at the Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute. Both trials are sponsored by the NIH’s National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases, which has led the US’s medical response to the outbreak.

Anthony Fauci (AP Images)

UP­DAT­ED: NIH-part­nered Mod­er­na ships off its PhI-ready coro­n­avirus vac­cine can­di­date to a sea of un­cer­tain­ty

Off it goes.

Moderna has shipped the first batch of its mRNA vaccine against SARS-CoV-2 from its manufacturing facility in Norwood, Massachusetts, to the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases in Bethesda, Maryland, for a pioneering Phase I study.

It’s a hectic race against time. In the 42 days since Moderna selected the sequence they would use to develop their vaccine — a record time, no less — the number of confirmed cases around the world has surged astronomically from a few dozen to over 80,000, per WHO and Johns Hopkins estimates.

The candidate that they came up with, mRNA-1273, encodes for a prefusion stabilized form of the spike protein, which gives the virus its crown shape and plays a key role in transmission. The Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations, the Oslo-based group better known as CEPI, funded the manufacture of this batch.

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 72,900+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

Sanofi out­lines big API plans as coro­n­avirus out­break re­port­ed­ly threat­ens short­age of 150 drugs

As the world becomes increasingly dependant on Asia for the ingredients of its medicines, Sanofi sees business to be done in Europe.

The French drugmaker said it’s creating the world’s second largest active pharmaceutical ingredients (API) manufacturer by spinning out its six current sites into a standalone company: Brindisi (Italy), Frankfurt Chemistry (Germany), Haverhill (UK), St Aubin les Elbeuf (France), Újpest (Hungary) and Vertolaye (France). They have mapped out €1 billion in expected sales by 2022 and 3,100 employees for the new operations headquartered in France.

Mallinck­rodt, once the na­tion’s largest oxy­codone pro­duc­er, an­nounces ten­ta­tive $1.6B set­tle­ment

Three years after it first paid out fines for its role in the US opioid abuse epidemic, Mallinckrodt has announced an agreement-in-principle that will see the company pay out $1.6 billion and place its generics unit in bankruptcy.

The tentative deal would settle hundreds of lawsuits from state and local governments over Mallinckrodt’s role in the epidemic, while also helping address the company’s increasingly mountainous debt. Although Purdue Pharma has drawn the bulk of both public and legal acrimony for opioid sales, documents made public earlier this year showed that Mallinckrodt subsidiary SpecGx, along with the generic subsidiaries of Teva and Endo Pharmaceuticals, accounted for the vast majority of the 76 billion opioid pills distributed from 2006 to 2012. Mallinckrodt was at the top of that list.

FDA launch­es search­able Pur­ple Book

The FDA on Monday unveiled the first version of its searchable online database of biological product information, known as the Purple Book.

Building off the previous PDF lists of biological products, the database now allows for easier searches and includes information on product names (proprietary and proper), the type of biologics license application (BLA) that was submitted, strength of the biologic, dosage form, product presentation, license status, BLA number and approval date.

UP­DAT­ED: NGM Bio takes leap for­ward in crowd­ed NASH field

South San Francisco-based NGM Bio may have underwhelmed with its interim analysis of a key cohort from a mid-stage NASH study last fall — but stellar topline data unveiled on Monday showed the compound induced significant signs of antifibrotic activity, NASH resolution and liver fat reduction, sending the company’s stock soaring.

There are an estimated 50+ companies focused on developing drugs for non-alcoholic steatohepatitis, or NASH, a common liver disease that has long flummoxed researchers. The first wave of NASH drug developers struggled with efficacy as well as safety — and companies big and small have crashed and burned.

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 72,900+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.