Lars Christensen, Pharmacosmos CEO

Too much iron? Phar­ma­cos­mos is bet­ting $225M on a new po­ten­tial so­lu­tion for that

Dan­ish biotech Phar­ma­cos­mos has come a long way since it was launched back in 1965 as an ac­tive phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal in­gre­di­ent (API) man­u­fac­tur­er. While it’s still in the same fam­i­ly, the com­pa­ny now has three drugs ap­proved to treat iron de­fi­cien­cy in hu­mans (and a fourth for piglets).

Now, with its lat­est buy­out, the com­pa­ny is look­ing to add a ther­a­py for just the op­po­site: iron over­load.

Phar­ma­cos­mos is putting down $225 mil­lion to pur­chase AbFero, a spin­out from Ray­mond Berg­eron’s lab at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Flori­da. Its lead can­di­date, SP-420, re­cent­ly com­plet­ed Phase I safe­ty stud­ies as a treat­ment for trans­fu­sion­al iron over­load.

While fre­quent red blood cell trans­fu­sions are need­ed for con­di­tions like ß-tha­lassemia, sick­le-cell dis­ease, and myelofi­bro­sis, a com­mon side ef­fect is iron over­load. Red blood cells con­tain iron, so each time a pa­tient gets a trans­fu­sion, they’re adding more iron with­out any way to get rid of the ex­cess. This ex­tra iron can build up in the in­ter­nal or­gans, such as the liv­er, pan­creas or heart, and cause dam­age over time.

To ad­dress this prob­lem, doc­tors pre­scribe iron chela­tors — small mol­e­cules de­signed to rec­og­nize, bind and re­move iron from the body. No­var­tis has an in­jectable drug, Des­fer­al, ap­proved, as well as oral op­tions Ex­jade and Jade­nu. But they come with a long list of side ef­fects rang­ing from im­paired vi­sion to kid­ney prob­lems.

Thomas Neenan

SP-420, on the oth­er hand, be­longs to a nov­el class of iron chela­tors called des­fer­rithiocins — and ac­cord­ing to AbFero, it’s de­signed as a po­ten­tial­ly safer al­ter­na­tive with greater ef­fi­ca­cy than the cur­rent­ly avail­able drugs.

“The role of iron in dis­ease has been vast­ly un­der­ap­pre­ci­at­ed,” AbFero CEO and co-founder Thomas Neenan said in a state­ment. “As a leader in iron me­tab­o­lism dis­or­ders, Phar­ma­cos­mos is unique­ly po­si­tioned to re­al­ize the full po­ten­tial of our chela­tion plat­form.”

Lars Chris­tensen, the youngest son of Phar­ma­cos­mos founder Hen­ry Chris­tensen, called the ac­qui­si­tion a “per­fect strate­gic fit,” adding that the com­pa­ny plans on com­plet­ing the de­vel­op­ment of SP-420 in trans­fu­sion­al iron over­load in ad­di­tion to ex­plor­ing oth­er iron-me­di­at­ed con­di­tions.

At the In­flec­tion Point for the Next Gen­er­a­tion of Can­cer Im­munother­a­py

While oncology researchers have long pursued the potential of cellular immunotherapies for the treatment of cancer, it was unclear whether these therapies would ever reach patients due to the complexity of manufacturing and costs of development. Fortunately, the recent successful development and regulatory approval of chimeric antigen receptor-engineered T (CAR-T) cells have demonstrated the significant benefit of these therapies to patients.

Stéphane Bancel, Moderna CEO

'This is not go­ing to be good': Mod­er­na CEO Ban­cel warns of a 'ma­te­r­i­al drop' in vac­cine ef­fi­ca­cy as Omi­cron spreads

Even as public health officials remain guarded about their comments on the likelihood Omicron will escape the reach of the currently approved Covid-19 vaccines, there’s growing scientific consensus that we’re facing a variant that threatens to overwhelm the vaccine barricades that have been erected.

Stéphane Bancel, the CEO of Moderna, one of the leading mRNA players whose quick vault into the markets with a highly effective vaccine created an instant multibillion-dollar market, added his voice to the rising chorus early Tuesday. According to Bancel, there will be a significant drop in efficacy when the average immune system is confronted by Omicron. The only question now is: How much?

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 124,400+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

With on­ly burns to show in gene ther­a­py, Astel­las inks deal with AAV spe­cial­ist Dyno in push for a bet­ter cap­sid

On the hunt for a better AAV capsid for gene therapy, Eric Kelsic’s Dyno Therapeutics has set itself apart with its focus on machine learning to help speed discovery. Now, Japanese drugmaker Astellas — fresh off a slate of gene therapy burns — is taking a bet on Dyno as it looks to the future.

Astellas and Dyno will work together as part of an R&D pact to develop next-gen AAV vectors for gene therapy using Dyno’s CapsidMap platform directed at skeletal and cardiac muscle, the companies said Wednesday. Under the terms of the deal, Dyno will design AAV capsids for gene therapy, while Astellas will be responsible for conducting preclinical, clinical and commercialization activities for gene therapy product candidates using the capsids.

Philip Dormitzer, new GSK global head of vaccines R&D

Glax­o­SmithK­line poach­es Pfiz­er's vi­ral vac­cines lead in rush to cap­i­tal­ize on fu­ture of mR­NA

GlaxoSmithKline has appointed Philip Dormitzer, formerly chief scientific officer of Pfizer’s viral vaccines unit, as its newest global head of vaccines R&D, looking to leverage one of the leading minds behind Pfizer and BioNTech’s RNA collaboration that led to Covid-19 jab Comirnaty, the British drug giant said Tuesday.

Dormitzer had been with Pfizer for a little more than six years, joining up after a seven-year stint with Novartis, where he reached the role of US head of research and head of global virology for the company’s vaccines and diagnostics unit.

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 124,400+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

In­tro­duc­ing End­points Stu­dio, a new way to ad­ver­tise with End­points-craft­ed brand­ing cam­paigns

Since our start in 2016, Endpoints has grown fast while executing our mission to cover biopharma’s most critical developments for industry pros worldwide. As readership has grown, our advertising business has too. Endpoints advertising partners support the mission and engage their desired audiences through announcements on our email and web platforms, brand recognition in our event coverage and sponsorships of Endpoints daily and weekly reports.

Paul Hudson, Sanofi CEO (Cyril Marcilhacy/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Sanofi snaps up new vac­cine can­di­date and de­vis­es mR­NA game plan around it — but not for what you think

Paul Hudson has spotlighted vaccines, immunology and dermatology as some of the top R&D focuses at Sanofi. His latest deal brings all of them together.

The French pharma giant isn’t sharing any financial details about the buyout of Origimm, a low-profile, private Austrian biotech whose technology promises to identify antigens causing skin disease and build vaccines against them. Their lead candidate targets acne vulgaris.

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 124,400+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

As first Omi­cron case in US crops up, re­searchers won­der: which an­ti­bod­ies, vac­cines will hold up?

As Covid-19 drug and vaccine developers race to figure out which of their products might be hampered by the new variant, the CDC on Wednesday afternoon announced the first confirmed case of the Omicron variant (B.1.1.529) in the US, found in San Francisco.

The unidentified individual was a traveler who returned from South Africa on Nov. 22, 2021, was fully vaccinated, and had mild symptoms that the CDC described as improving. All close contacts have been contacted and have tested negative, the centers said.

Mod­er­na los­es lat­est bat­tle in key vac­cine de­liv­ery patent fight as fed­er­al ap­peal falls flat

The US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit on Wednesday rejected Moderna’s attempt to overturn key patents related to the delivery vehicle for its Covid-19 vaccine after the biotech sought to preempt a potentially risky infringement lawsuit.

For years, Moderna has been battling a tiny Pennsylvania biotech known as Arbutus over patents for a technology required to deliver its mRNA drugs and vaccines, known as lipid nanoparticles or LNP. Moderna is concerned there’s a substantial risk that Arbutus will assert the ’069 patent in an infringement suit targeting Moderna’s Covid-19 vaccine, particularly as Arbutus has boasted of its patent protection and refused to grant a covenant not to sue Moderna.

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 124,400+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

Lan Huang, BeyondSpring CEO

Months af­ter shock­ing in­vestors with lung can­cer win, Be­yond­Spring's lead drug hits road­block at the FDA

BeyondSpring shocked investors in early August after its once-marginal lead drug suddenly showed a lot of promise in a common form of lung cancer. With hopes high, the FDA has now slammed the door on that drug in another indication — does that spell bad news for BeyondSpring’s Cinderella story?

The FDA issued BeyondSpring a complete response letter for its plinabulin in combination with granulocyte colony-stimulating factor (G-CSF) for the prevention of chemotherapy-induced neutropenia, effectively shutting down the drug’s immediate chances at a marketing approval, the biotech said Wednesday.

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 124,400+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.