Eli Lilly partner AbCellera acquires bispecific platform; Teva faces more lawsuits, this time over opioid marketing
An Eli Lilly partner helping develop a leading Covid-19 project has just scored a new acquisition.
AbCellera, a small but well-connected biotech out of Vancouver, announced it has purchased a platform from Dualogics called Orthomab, which engineers proteins to create IgG-like bispecific antibodies from any two antibody sequences. The transaction furthers the dealings between the two companies, as Dualogics CTO Tim Jacobs joined AbCellera in early August.
Thursday’s agreement gives AbCellera full rights to the OrthoMab platform while Dualogics retains the ability to develop existing programs and complete existing partnerships.
The biotech emerged from relative obscurity during the Covid-19 pandemic thanks to its “lab-on-a-chip” technology that isolates antibody-producing cells from blood samples and uses machine learning to procure the best ones. After obtaining a sample from a Covid-19 survivor in February, AbCellera partnered with Eli Lilly the next month and then pulled in a hefty $105 million Series B fundraise.
They’re not developing a vaccine, but AbCellera has made waves with their potential treatment, picking up steam in Businessweek and MIT Technology Review. Vir and Regeneron are also working on similar clinical studies.
New York sues Teva and Allergan over roles in opioid epidemic
On the heels of federal prosecutors accusing Teva of defrauding the Medicare system, the Israeli drugmaker is facing more legal proceedings.
New York State has launched its own inquiry into Teva’s dealings regarding the opioid crisis, governor Andrew Cuomo’s office announced Tuesday, alleging that the company “knowingly furthered false narratives” in order to boost sales of its drugs. Cuomo also included Allergan, which was left out of the federal complaint, in the state’s lawsuit. A hearing will take place on October 26.
Among the most serious allegations is that Teva misrepresented the risks of fentanyl and marketed such drugs for off-label use. The lawsuit cites the FDA approval of Actiq in cancer patients as proof this strategy succeeded, boosting sales of the drug from $16 million in 2000 to $590 million by 2006.
The complaint also dinged the companies for utilizing key opinion leaders to improperly disseminate misinformation about opioids in medical information courses and pamphlets, targeting patients and prescribers.
Tuesday’s federal suit dealt with price fixing, as the government said Teva paid hundreds of millions of dollars to two foundations to boost sales for the multiple sclerosis drug Copaxone.
Evotec expands deal with Centogene to include Gaucher research
German drug discovery company Evotec is expanding an existing partnership with a company focused on mining data from patients with rare diseases.
The scope of the collaboration with Centogene, based in Cambridge, MA, will broaden into producing treatments for Gaucher disease, a genetic disorder caused by mutations in the glucocerebrosidase gene. Researchers will look to target GBA by combining Evotec’s stem cell platform with Centogene’s rare disease platform.
The two companies originally entered into the partnership in 2018 with the goal to develop therapies for rare hereditary metabolic diseases.
Gaucher disease is an inherited disorder and can affect the central nervous system. Signs and symptoms can vary widely among affected individuals, ranging from the enlargement of the liver and spleen, anemia and lung disease in Type 1 to seizures and brain damage in Types 2 and 3.
The most common of the lysosomal diseases, Gaucher is often treated with imiglucerase, a recombinant form of the deficient enzyme, although several new treatments have been approved in recent years.
Processa licenses gastrointestinal candidate from South Korean pharma
A South Korean pharma is licensing out a leading gastrointestinal treatment to a US partner.
Yuhan Corp will sell exclusive global development and commercialization rights, with the exception of Korea, to Processa Pharmaceuticals for YH12852. The deal nets Yuhan up to $415 million and $2 million in Processa shares as a down payment.
Currently, the candidate is being evaluated for the treatment of dyspepsia and constipation, but a Phase II study in Korea was suspended last September with Yuhan needing to reconfigure its dosage.
YH12852 works by stimulating the 5-HT4 receptor, which plays an essential role in the regulation of intestinal movement. The company hopes it can compete with cisapride-based drugs in gastrointestinal indications, aiming to show fewer cardiovascular side effects than currently licensed drugs.
Processa is planning its own Phase II study for other gastrointestinal motility diseases, such as postoperative intestinal obstruction or opioid-induced constipation, beginning in 2021 pending guidance from the FDA.