2023-07-17| Special

GeneOnline’s Weekly News Highlights: July 10-14

by GeneOnline
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GeneOnline’s editorial team has compiled a digest of top international biotechnology and healthcare news of the week to help readers keep abreast of global biomedical industry updates.

Eli Lilly to Acquire a Weight Loss Drugmaker to Enhance Obesity Portfolio

On July 14, Eli Lilly announced its fourth acquisition deal this summer. After acquiring DICE Therapeutics, Sigilon, and Emergence Therapeutics, the Indianapolis-based company is investing $1.925 billion in Versanis and its lead asset bimagrumab, a monoclonal antibody which already in a phase 2 trial both alone and in combination with semaglutide in overweight and obese adults.

BeiGene and DualityBio Partner to Develop ADCs, but Break Up With Novartis’ TIGIT Collaboration 

On the one hand, BeiGene announced July 10 that it has entered into a $1.3 billion agreement with DualityBio for an exclusive worldwide clinical and commercial license to the Shanghai-based company’s preclinical antibody-drug conjugate (ADC) therapeutic targeting patients with specific solid tumors. On the other hand, a day later, BeiGene’s collaboration on the Phase 3 TIGIT inhibitor ociperlimab with Novartis came to an end as the licensing agreement signed between two pharma giants in 2021 terminated immediately.

Roche and Roviant Negotiating a Potential $7 Billion Stomach Drug Deal

As reported by the Wall Street Journal on July 13, biotech company Roivant Sciences is in talks with Roche to sell a late-stage experimental drug for the treatment of inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD), including ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease, in a deal that could be worth over $7 billion. Some analysts have predicted that the IBD drug market is likely to grow to anywhere from $34 billion to $39.5 billion by 2031, and Roche’s intention to spend big on a new drug could mean that the Swiss pharma intends to become an active competitor in this huge market.

Illumina Slapped with Record $476 Million EU Antitrust Fine for Premature Grail Takeover

The European Union has fined U.S. genetic testing company Illumina a record $476 million for completing its acquisition of cancer test maker Grail before obtaining EU antitrust approval. The deal, which eventually got blocked, raised concerns that Illumina would restrict Grail’s rivals from accessing its technology for developing blood-based early cancer detection tests, hindering competition. The European Commission attributed the hefty fine, amounting to 10% of Illumina’s global revenue. Illumina plans to appeal the fine, claiming it is disproportionate.

Apogee Biotech Aims High with Expected $228 Million IPO

Apogee, with substantial funding of $169 million, is now setting its sights on the public markets. Recent Securities and Exchange Commission documents filed on July 10 reveal that the company expects to raise approximately $228 million through its upcoming IPO. Apogee’s lead candidate, the monoclonal antibody APG777, shows potential as a competitor to Dupixent in inhibiting IL-13 signaling, with plans to explore applications in atopic dermatitis and asthma. Despite the challenging IPO landscape for biotech companies in 2023, Apogee remains determined to forge ahead, utilizing the IPO proceeds to support vital clinical trials, manufacturing programs, and preclinical research.

Nvidia Commits $50 Million to Advance Recursion Pharmaceuticals’ AI Drug Discovery

In a recent announcement, chipmaker Nvidia revealed its decision to invest $50 million in Recursion Pharmaceuticals, a biotech firm, with the goal of expediting the development of their artificial intelligence models dedicated to drug discovery. The news sent Recursion’s stock soaring by 80%, while Nvidia’s own shares experienced a rise of over 2%, contributing to the company’s strong performance driven by the market’s confidence in its AI computing chips. The collaboration seeks to harness Nvidia’s AI expertise to bolster Recursion’s capabilities in the biotech sector, paving the way for potential breakthroughs in drug research and development.

FDA Approves Opill, First Nonprescription Daily Oral Contraceptive

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has given the green light to Opill (norgestrel), making it the first daily oral contraceptive available without a prescription in the United States. This progestin-only pill provides an accessible option for consumers to purchase contraceptive medicine from various outlets, aiming to reduce barriers to access and lower the number of unintended pregnancies. Users must take Opill daily at the same time for optimal effectiveness, and potential side effects should be noted. It’s essential to remember that Opill is not for emergency contraception or protection against sexually transmitted diseases.

Nanobiotix Partners with Janssen to Co-develop and Commercialize Groundbreaking Radioenhancer, NBTXR3

NANOBIOTIX strikes an agreement to co-develop and commercialize an innovative radio enhancer (NBTXR3), which would be the first of its kind. Nanobiotichs is a biotech company that focuses on physics-based solutions and treatments for cancer. Their new focus is on the development of Radio enhancers, which make tumor cells more responsive to radiotherapy. The agreement was with Janssen Pharmaceuticals of Johnson & Johnson

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