CELL AND GENE THERAPY
Merck and Orna Therapeutics | August 17, 2022
Merck known as MSD outside the United States and Canada, and Orna Therapeutics, a biotechnology company pioneering a new investigational class of engineered circular RNA therapies, today announced a collaboration agreement to discover, develop, and commercialize multiple programs, including vaccines and therapeutics in the areas of infectious disease and oncology.
Under the terms of the agreement, Merck will make an upfront payment to Orna of $150 million, which will be expensed by Merck in the third quarter of 2022 and included in non-GAAP results. In addition, Orna will be eligible to receive up to $3.5 billion in development, regulatory, and sales milestones associated with the progress of the multiple vaccine and therapeutic programs, as well as royalties on any approved products derived from the collaboration. Orna will retain rights to its oRNA-LNP technology platform and will continue to advance other wholly owned programs in areas such as oncology and genetic disease. Merck will also invest $100 million of equity in Orna’s recently completed Series B financing round.
Orna’s proprietary oRNA technology creates circular RNAs from linear RNAs by self-circularization. oRNA molecules have been shown to have greater stability in vivo than linear mRNA and have the potential to produce larger quantities of therapeutic proteins inside the body. Newly synthesized oRNA molecules are more compactly packaged into custom lipid nanoparticles which Orna has engineered to target key tissues in the body. Preclinical data, including presentations at the 2022 American Society of Gene & Cell Therapy Annual Meeting, have demonstrated the potential of oRNA expression and delivery as an approach for further development in multiple areas, including vaccines and oncology therapeutics.
“This broad strategic collaboration brings together Merck’s significant expertise in nucleic acid biology, clinical development, and manufacturing with Orna’s compelling circular RNA technology to explore the opportunity to develop a new generation of potential vaccines and therapeutics. We look forward to working with the talented scientific and technical teams at Orna."
Fiona Marshall, senior vice president and head of discovery, preclinical and translational medicine at Merck Research Laboratories
“We are thrilled to collaborate with Merck, a company committed to breakthrough science, which has recognized the potential our platform can bring to patients. Our oRNA technology plus novel delivery solutions are designed to unlock the full potential of RNA in therapeutics and vaccines,” said Tom Barnes, Chief Executive Officer of Orna. “The combined expertise of Orna and Merck aims to accelerate the development of RNA therapeutics for patients in need of better treatment options.”
At Merck, known as MSD outside of the United States and Canada, we are unified around our purpose: We use the power of leading-edge science to save and improve lives around the world. For more than 130 years, we have brought hope to humanity through the development of important medicines and vaccines. We aspire to be the premier research-intensive biopharmaceutical company in the world – and today, we are at the forefront of research to deliver innovative health solutions that advance the prevention and treatment of diseases in people and animals. We foster a diverse and inclusive global workforce and operate responsibly every day to enable a safe, sustainable and healthy future for all people and communities.
About Orna Therapeutics
Orna Therapeutics was founded on groundbreaking research by Alex Wesselhoeft, Ph.D., and Daniel G. Anderson, Ph.D. from MIT and built by MPM Capital and BioImpact Capital, an investment management affiliate of MPM. Orna’s proprietary circular RNA (oRNA) is engineered as linear RNA that self-circularizes. By taking a line and turning it into a circle, oRNA exhibits numerous advantages over traditional linear mRNA therapies such as simplified production, increased protein expression, and a superior immunogenicity profile. With proprietary lipid nanoparticles including those from Orna’s joint venture with ReNAgade Therapeutics, an RNA delivery company, our technologies expand the possibilities of what RNA therapeutics can achieve.
QIAGEN | August 16, 2022
QIAGEN N.V. announced the launch of the QIAstat-Dx Viral Vesicular Panel RUO, the first syndromic test to differentiate between monkeypox and five other pathogens which cause similar symptoms.
The new panel – currently for research use only comes in cartridge form to run on QIAGEN’s QIAstat-Dx automated syndromic testing devices. It tests for the two known forms of monkeypox virus herpes simplex virus 1 HSV2, human herpesvirus 6 (HH6), varicella-zoster virus and enterovirus – pathogens that all produce similar-looking vesicular lesions.
With some 3,000 QIAstat-Dx PCR devices installed in specialized laboratories around the world, QIAGEN is leveraging the value of syndromic testing proven during the pandemic to help fight the spread of monkeypox, recently declared a public health emergency by the World Health Organization and the US government.
“Monkeypox cases are soaring across the globe with many demographic groups infected. Surveillance is an essential tool in the fight against infectious diseases. QIAstat-Dx Viral Vesicular Panel in combination with the QIAstat-Dx platform will allow medical researchers to detect monkeypox with gold-standard PCR testing-technology in about one hour. Currently the world’s only syndromic test for the pathogen, the panel will prove to be crucial for detecting and then combatting the spread of monkeypox around the globe.”
Jean-Pascal Viola, Senior Vice President, Head of the Molecular Diagnostics Business Area at QIAGEN
The panel’s RUO-status means it currently can only be used for the surveillance – not screening or diagnosing – of monkeypox cases. But QIAGEN is ready to make applications for clinical use should authorities in the United States and the European Union open new diagnostic pathways in light of this public-health emergency.
QIAGEN teams around the world are working with healthcare authorities to support testing for the monkeypox virus outbreak. The QIAstat syndromic testing solution adds to the broad portfolio that the company offers to address all testing needs. Alongside QIAGEN sample-technology kits, testing components and instruments that are used for instance by public health agencies for the development of their own tests, the NeuMoDx clinical PCR system allows laboratories to process self-developed tests (LDTs). A commercial single-plex assay running on this instrument is currently in development. The QIAcuity digital PCR also allows for monkeypox detection in wastewater – a surveillance method that proved its worth during the COVID-19 crisis.
The concept of syndromic testing has shown its value during the pandemic, when QIAGEN launched the QIAstat-Dx Respiratory SARS-CoV-2 panel to differentiate between up to 23 viral and bacterial targets for common pathogens causing respiratory tract infections. The company also introduced the high-throughput QIAstat-Dx Rise device that processes up 160 tests per day. QIAGEN has extended syndromic testing to other areas, including gastrointestinal conditions and meningitis.
QIAGEN N.V., a Netherlands-based holding company, is the leading global provider of Sample to Insight solutions that enable customers to gain valuable molecular insights from samples containing the building blocks of life. Our sample technologies isolate and process DNA, RNA and proteins from blood, tissue and other materials. Assay technologies make these biomolecules visible and ready for analysis. Bioinformatics software and knowledge bases interpret data to report relevant, actionable insights. Automation solutions tie these together in seamless and cost-effective workflows. QIAGEN provides solutions to more than 500,000 customers around the world in Molecular Diagnostics and Life Sciences . As of June 30, 2022, QIAGEN employed more than 6,100 people in over 35 locations worldwide.
BeiGene | August 16, 2022
BeiGene a global biotechnology company that is developing and commercializing innovative and affordable oncology medicines to improve treatment outcomes and access for far more patients worldwide, today announced a strategic agreement with Ontada®, a McKesson business with leading provider technology and actionable real-world research, education, and evidence in oncology, to improve U.S. community oncology care through the development of real-world evidence data, tools, and insights to help increase access to affordable, cutting-edge therapies.
The partnership will be led by Ontada and focus on accelerating the development and implementation of RWE to improve community education on the financial impact and value of oncolytics as well as improve patient access to oncology medicines.
“BeiGene is excited to work with Ontada to advance our shared vision of improving patient access, affordability, and value for community oncology stakeholders and key partners working at the intersection of clinical practice and real-world evidence. Working together, BeiGene and Ontada will generate novel oncology insights through real-world data, tools, and technologies that will facilitate the acceleration of precise decision-making in support of community oncology practices whose ultimate mission is to improve patient outcomes.”
Josh Neiman, Chief Commercial Officer, North America and Europe, at BeiGene
As part of the collaboration, the companies will optimize the use of RWE to communicate value across key stakeholders including patients, providers, and payers; develop timely education on emerging science and therapeutic differentiation; and collaborate to advance use of RWE in healthcare and regulatory decision making to increase timely and affordable patient access to life-saving oncology therapies.
“BeiGene aims to bring 10 molecules per year to the clinic starting in 2023 and, as this research advances, we’re delighted to form this strategic partnership with McKesson, which shares the same vision as BeiGene for improving the care of cancer patients,” said Christiane Langer, M.D., Senior Vice President of Global Medical Affairs, Ex-China, at BeiGene. “This collaboration will leverage Ontada’s technology platform and deep understanding of the experiences of patients treated in community oncology clinics to help accelerate both the development of the BeiGene portfolio and expand access to treatment options.”
“As a leader in real-world research, Ontada is uniquely positioned to support complex research that uncovers deeper patient insights and perspectives that advance cancer care,” said Susan Shiff, Ph.D., president of Ontada. “We are excited to announce this unique partnership with BeiGene and look forward to developing a stronger understanding of how to better treat oncology patients through the use of real-world data and evidence.”
Ontada is an oncology technology and insights business dedicated to transforming the fight against cancer. Part of McKesson Corporation, Ontada was founded on the core belief that precise insights – delivered exactly at the point of need – can save more patients’ lives. We connect the full patient journey by combining technologies used by The US Oncology Network and other community oncology providers with real-world data and research relied on by all top 15 global life sciences companies. Our work helps accelerate innovation and power the future of cancer care.
About McKesson Corporation
McKesson Corporation is a diversified healthcare services leader dedicated to advancing health outcomes for patients everywhere. Our teams partner with biopharma companies, care providers, pharmacies, manufacturers, governments, and others to deliver insights, products and services to help make quality care more accessible and affordable. Learn more about how McKesson is impacting virtually every aspect of healthcare at McKesson.com and read Our Stories.
BeiGene is committed to advancing best- and first-in-class clinical candidates internally or with like-minded partners to develop impactful and affordable medicines for patients across the globe. We have a growing R&D and medical affairs team of approximately 2,900 colleagues dedicated to advancing more than 100 clinical trials that have involved more than 16,000 subjects. Our expansive portfolio is directed predominantly by our internal colleagues supporting clinical trials in more than 45 countries and regions. Hematology-oncology and solid tumor targeted therapies and immuno-oncology are key focus areas for the Company, with both mono- and combination therapies prioritized in our research and development. BeiGene currently has three approved medicines discovered and developed in our own labs: BTK inhibitor BRUKINSA® in the U.S., China, the European Union, Great Britain, Canada, Australia, and additional international markets; and the non-Fc-gamma receptor binding anti-PD-1 antibody, tislelizumab, as well as the PARP inhibitor, pamiparib, in China.
BeiGene also partners with innovative companies who share our goal of developing therapies to address global health needs. We commercialize a range of oncology medicines in China licensed from Amgen, Bristol Myers Squibb, EUSA Pharma and Bio-Thera. We also plan to address greater areas of unmet need globally through our other collaborations including with Mirati Therapeutics, Seagen, and Zymeworks.
In January 2021, BeiGene and Novartis announced a collaboration granting Novartis rights to co-develop, manufacture, and commercialize BeiGene’s anti-PD1 antibody, tislelizumab, in North America, Europe, and Japan. Building upon this productive collaboration, BeiGene and Novartis announced an option, collaboration, and license agreement in December 2021 for BeiGene’s TIGIT inhibitor, ociperlimab, that is in Phase 3 development. Novartis and BeiGene also entered into a strategic commercial agreement through which BeiGene will promote five approved Novartis Oncology products across designated regions of China.
BeiGene is a global biotechnology company that is developing and commercializing innovative and affordable oncology medicines to improve treatment outcomes and access for far more patients worldwide. With a broad portfolio, we are expediting development of our diverse pipeline of novel therapeutics through our internal capabilities and collaborations. We are committed to radically improving access to medicines for far more patients who need them. Our growing global team of more than 8,500 colleagues spans five continents, with administrative offices in Beijing, China; Cambridge, U.S.; and Basel, Switzerland.