2023-07-03| Special

GeneOnline’s Weekly News Highlights: June 26-30

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.

The Gates Foundation and Wellcome Join Forces to Fund Phase 3 Tuberculosis Vaccine

On June 28, Wellcome and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation announced a combined $550 million funding initiative to accelerate the progress of tuberculosis (TB) vaccine candidate M72/AS01E (M72), through its Phase III clinical trial. The initiative aims to combat the devastating impact of TB, which claims the lives of approximately 4,300 individuals per day, primarily those living in poverty. The success of M72 could mark the first significant advancement in TB prevention in over a century.

A New Hong Kong-based Joint Venture Established for Breakthrough Multi-Cancer Early Detection and Screening

Hong Kong-based Prenetics Global Limited joined forces with Prof. Dennis Lo from the Chinese University of Hong Kong, renowned for his ground-breaking work in non-invasive prenatal testing (NIPT) and liquid biopsy, to establish a joint venture named Insighta. Utilizing a novel technology for multi-cancer early detection screening named “FRAGMA”, the upcoming company is eyeing a multi-billion dollar market in Asia. Further, this $200 million transaction makes it the largest private life sciences deal in Hong Kong history and one of the largest in the region to date.

Moonlake Announces $250 Million Public Offering 

On June 26, Swiss-based Moonlake Immunotherapeutics announced that it intends to raise capital by initiating a public offering of $250 million of its shares. The announcement follows the positive results of their phase 2 trial of Sonelokimab, a drug candidate for the treatment of Hidradenitis Suppurativa (HS). Moonlake will also be offering their underwriters the option of purchasing up to an additional $37.5 million in shares for a period of 30 days. The company intends to use the raised capital from the offering in conjunction with its existing cash to continue the advancement of Sonelokimab and for other general corporate purposes.

FDA Approves Pfizer’s Growth Hormone Drug

On June 28, Pfizer announced that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved their human growth hormone analog, NGENLA. They anticipate the drug becoming available for prescription in August 2023 in the U.S. Following its approval for the treatment of growth hormone deficiency in patients aged three or older, the pharmaceutical company expressed its enthusiasm for making the treatment available to patients in the U.S. What sets NGENLA (somatrogon-ghla) apart from existing treatments is a longer period of action. Which allows a longer period between administrations, going from daily injection treatments to a once-a-week treatment. 

Biomarin’s Pioneering Gene Therapy for Hemophilia A Gets FDA Approval  

Biomarin announced on June 29 that their gene therapy for severe Hemophilia A, Roctavian,  has been approved by the U.S. Food and Safety Administration (FDA). Roctavian, is a one time, single-dose gene therapy designed to control bleeds in patients with severe Hemophilia A. The FDA’s approval was based on the phase 3 study results that show its efficacy, durability and safety. Roctavian was previously approved in August 2022 by the European Medicines Agency. This is the first gene therapy approved for the treatment of hemophilia A, potentially revolutionizing patients’ treatment options. 

Novartis Sells Ophthalmology Assets to Bausch + Lomb for Up to $2.5 Billion

Novartis announced on June 30 indicated that it has entered into an agreement with Bausch + Lomb, a global eye health company, to divest its “front of eye” ophthalmology assets. Aside from Xiidra®, the first FDA-approved prescription drug for dry eye disease, the deal also includes investigational medicine SAF312 (libvatrep), a first-of-its-kind treatment for chronic ocular surface pain, along with rights for using the AcuStream delivery device to treat dry eye conditions as well as the development of OJL332, a second generation TRPV1 antagonist in preclinical testing. Bausch + Lomb is set to complete the purchase valued at up to USD 2.5 billion in the second half of 2023.

Vertex and Lonza Collaborate to Revolutionize Type 1 Diabetes Treatment

Vertex Pharmaceuticals Incorporated and Lonza have partnered to revolutionize the treatment of type 1 diabetes (T1D). Their collaboration focuses on stem cell-derived islet cell therapies, particularly the VX-880 and VX-264 programs in clinical trials. Vertex is making remarkable progress in the fight against T1D. 

Lilly’s Oral GLP-1 Agonist Shows Encouraging Results for Weight Management 

The pharmaceutical company, Eli Lilly and Company recently announced new data for their phase 2 diabetes and obesity medicine, Orforglipron. The data was presented at the American Diabetes Association’s 83rd Scientific Sessions and published in the New England Journal of Medicine. It showed that the drug met primary and secondary efficacy endpoints, as well as up to 14.7% mean weight reduction in obese or overweight adults at 36 weeks. 

BioAutoMATED: A Breakthrough AutoML Platform for Biological Sequence Analysis

Incorporating machine learning (ML) into biological research has long been a challenge for many biologists due to the complex design choices underlying ML models. However, a groundbreaking study introduces BioAutoMATED, an automated machine learning (AutoML) platform specifically tailored for analyzing biological sequences. The potential of BioAutoMATED was demonstrated through a series of experiments, showcasing its ability to predict gene regulation, peptide-drug interactions, and glycan annotation, as well as to optimize synthetic biology components.

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