A Change in Cell Logistics Helps Cancer Become Resistant

Technology Networks | November 15, 2019

Researchers have uncovered a potential cause of sustained resistance to hormone therapy in the most common form of breast cancer. The majority of breast cancers are hormone receptor positive – these are cancers which have an oestrogen receptor on the surface of the cells. Hormone therapy is an effective treatment, but roughly 40 per cent of women relapse with a form of the disease which proves resistant to available treatments. Scientists found that breast cancers which had become resistant to hormone therapy have a molecular advantage that helps their cells successfully evade hormone therapies, which are the best treatment option currently available for patients with hormone receptor positive (or ER+) cancers. The study, led by researchers at Department of Experimental and Clinical Biomedical Sciences at the University of Florence, Italy, in collaboration with colleagues at The Institute of Cancer Research, London, has shown that breast cancer cells which are resistant to hormone therapy have more of a microRNA molecule called miR-23b-3p.

Spotlight

Collaborations among academic and government researchers, pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies, regulatory agencies, and patients and their families are crucial to research and development of therapeutics for rare diseases. Industry, academic and government researchers, regulatory agencies, patients and their caregivers all confront challenges in today’s environment for therapeutic development. As a result, the stakeholders are realizing increasing value in collaborations, which can help tackle these challenges.

Spotlight

Collaborations among academic and government researchers, pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies, regulatory agencies, and patients and their families are crucial to research and development of therapeutics for rare diseases. Industry, academic and government researchers, regulatory agencies, patients and their caregivers all confront challenges in today’s environment for therapeutic development. As a result, the stakeholders are realizing increasing value in collaborations, which can help tackle these challenges.

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INDUSTRIAL IMPACT

Rocket Pharmaceuticals Completes Acquisition of Renovacor

Rocket Pharmaceuticals, Inc. | December 02, 2022

Rocket Pharmaceuticals, Inc. a leading late-stage biotechnology company advancing an integrated and sustainable pipeline of genetic therapies for rare childhood disorders with high unmet need, today announces that it has completed the previously announced acquisition of Renovacor, Inc. a biotechnology company focused on delivering innovative precision therapies to improve the lives of patients and families battling genetically-driven cardiovascular and mechanistically-related diseases. Under the terms of the merger agreement entered into on September 19, 2022, Renovacor shareholders received, for each share of Renovacor common stock, 0.1763 shares of Rocket common stock. The acquisition provides Rocket with Renovacor’s most advanced program, REN-001, an AAV-based gene therapy targeting BAG3-associated dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM), a severe form of heart failure. BAG3-DCM represents a significant unmet medical need in a patient population with rapidly progressive cardiac dysfunction in whom no treatments targeting the underlying mechanism of disease exist. Additionally, Rocket gains access to world-class scientific collaborators, a robust intellectual property portfolio and personnel with expertise in BAG3-DCM. These assets and capabilities altogether further extend Rocket’s leadership position in AAV-based cardiac gene therapy and help advance the Company’s goal of pursuing gene therapy cures for patients living with rare and devastating diseases. About Rocket Pharmaceuticals, Inc. Rocket Pharmaceuticals, Inc. is advancing an integrated and sustainable pipeline of investigational genetic therapies designed to correct the root cause of complex and rare childhood disorders. The Company’s platform-agnostic approach enables it to design the best therapy for each indication, creating potentially transformative options for patients afflicted with rare genetic diseases. Rocket's clinical programs using lentiviral vector (LVV)-based gene therapy are for the treatment of Fanconi Anemia (FA), a difficult to treat genetic disease that leads to bone marrow failure and potentially cancer, Leukocyte Adhesion Deficiency-I (LAD-I), a severe pediatric genetic disorder that causes recurrent and life-threatening infections which are frequently fatal, and Pyruvate Kinase Deficiency (PKD), a rare, monogenic red blood cell disorder resulting in increased red cell destruction and mild to life-threatening anemia. Rocket’s first clinical program using adeno-associated virus (AAV)-based gene therapy is for Danon Disease, a devastating, pediatric heart failure condition. Rocket also has a preclinical AAV-based gene therapy program in BAG3-associated dilated cardiomyopathy.

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CELL AND GENE THERAPY

Emergent BioSolutions Completes Acquisition of Exclusive Worldwide Rights to TEMBEXA® First FDA-Approved Smallpox Oral Antiviral for All Ages

TEMBEXA and Smallpox | September 27, 2022

Emergent BioSolutions Inc. announced that it has completed its acquisition of exclusive worldwide rights to TEMBEXA® the first oral antiviral approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for all age groups for the treatment of smallpox, from Chimerix. TEMBEXA was approved in June 2021 and is indicated for the treatment of human smallpox disease in adult and pediatric patients, including neonates. The completion of the acquisition follows the satisfaction or waiver by the parties, as applicable, of all closing conditions, including expiration of the waiting period under the Hart-Scott-Rodino Antitrust Improvements Act of 1976 (HSR Act), as amended, and receipt of consent from the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA), part of the Administration for Strategic Preparedness and Response within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, for a sub-contract agreement between Chimerix and Emergent. “The addition of TEMBEXA to our smallpox medical countermeasure franchise, which consists of our smallpox vaccine and therapeutic for smallpox vaccine complications, creates a more comprehensive offering to combat this deadly public health threat. We look forward to supporting the U.S. government’s smallpox preparedness strategy on a broader scale by executing on this BARDA contract.” Paul Williams, SVP government/MCM business at Emergent The 10-year contract valued at up to $680 million, to supply up to 1.7 million treatment courses of tablet and suspension formulations of TEMBEXA® to the U.S. government, was awarded to Chimerix on August 29, 2022. The contract includes an initial product procurement valued at approximately $115 million, with optional future procurement, valued at up to approximately $551 million, exercisable at the sole discretion of BARDA. In addition to product procurement, the contract includes reimbursed post marketing activities of approximately $12 million. Financial Terms Based on the terms of the final BARDA agreement, Emergent is expected to pay Chimerix An upfront payment of $238 million; Potential milestone payments of up to $124 million contingent on the potential exercise by the U.S. government of procurement options following the base period; 15% royalty on gross profit from sales of TEMBEXA outside the U.S.; 20% royalty on gross profit from sales of TEMBEXA in the U.S. that are in excess of the 1.7 million treatment courses as contemplated in the existing BARDA contract; and Up to an additional $12.5 million upon achievement of certain development-based milestones. ABOUT TEMBEXA TEMBEXA is an oral antiviral approved by the FDA in June 2021 for the treatment of human smallpox disease caused by variola virus in adult and pediatric patients, including neonates. TEMBEXA is formulated as 100 mg tablets and 10 mg/mL oral suspension dosed once weekly for two weeks. The oral suspension formulation is particularly important for patients who have difficulty swallowing due to age or medical status. TEMBEXA is not indicated for the treatment of diseases other than human smallpox disease. The effectiveness of TEMBEXA for the treatment of smallpox disease has not been determined in humans because adequate and well-controlled field trials have not been feasible and inducing smallpox disease in humans to study the drug’s efficacy is not ethical. TEMBEXA efficacy may be reduced in immunocompromised patients based on studies in immune deficient animals. TEMBEXA has a BOXED WARNING for increased risk for mortality when used for longer duration. About Smallpox Smallpox is a highly contagious disease caused by the variola virus. Historically, smallpox was one of the deadliest diseases in history with a case fatality rate of approximately 30%. Despite successful eradication of smallpox in the 1970s, there is considerable concern that variola virus could reappear, either through accidental release or as a weapon of bioterrorism. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention variola virus is ranked in the highest risk category for bioterrorism agents due to its ease of transmission, high mortality rate, and potential to cause public panic and social disruption. Based on a recent report – The Department of Health and Human Services Fiscal Year 2023 Public Health and Social Services Emergency Fund Justification of Estimates for Appropriations Committee – smallpox remains a threat of high concern to both the domestic and international community. About Emergent BioSolutions At Emergent, our mission is to protect and enhance life. For over 20 years, we’ve been at work defending people from things we hope will never happen—so we are prepared just in case they ever do. We provide solutions for complex and urgent public health threats through a portfolio of vaccines and therapeutics that we develop and manufacture for governments and consumers. We also offer a range of integrated contract development and manufacturing services for pharmaceutical and biotechnology customers.

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CELL AND GENE THERAPY

Eiger BioPharmaceuticals Provides Update on Plans for Emergency Use Authorization Application Following FDA Feedback

Eiger BioPharmaceuticals, Inc. | October 06, 2022

Eiger BioPharmaceuticals, Inc. a commercial-stage biopharmaceutical company focused on the development of innovative therapies for hepatitis delta virus and other serious diseases, today announced that, following feedback from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration the company will not submit an emergency use authorization application of peginterferon lambda for the treatment of patients with mild-to-moderate COVID-19. Following Eiger's press release on September 6, 2022, the company submitted a pre-EUA meeting request to FDA, as well as additional morbidity and mortality outcomes data and analyses from the investigator-sponsored TOGETHER study. This included further statistical modeling and efficacy analyses of the study's primary and secondary endpoints and long-term follow-up data that the company believes continue to support the initial positive topline outcomes reported in March. In response, FDA denied the request for a pre-EUA meeting. Citing its concerns about the conduct of the TOGETHER study, FDA concluded that any authorization request based on these data is unlikely to meet the statutory criteria for issuance of an EUA in the current context of the pandemic. FDA suggested that, given peginterferon lambda's mechanism of action and the ongoing need for improved COVID-19 therapeutics, Eiger consider requesting an end-of-Phase 2 meeting to discuss a company-sponsored pivotal trial that could support an eventual Biologics License Application. Eiger is evaluating next steps for this program, in the U.S., as well as ex-U.S. emergency use authorization pathways and strategic options for continued development of peginterferon lambda for COVID-19 and other respiratory viral infections. "While we are disappointed that FDA will not consider an EUA application based on results generated from the TOGETHER study, we continue to have strong conviction in the potential of peginterferon lambda to confer a meaningful benefit for patients with COVID-19 and other respiratory viral infections. COVID-19 related deaths remain alarmingly high around the globe, including in the U.S. where, according to recent data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 400 people die every day from this disease." David Cory, President and CEO, Eiger Eiger is advancing a late-stage pipeline of multiple FDA Breakthrough Therapy designated programs in Phase 3, including lonafarnib and peginterferon lambda for hepatitis delta virus (HDV) infection, and avexitide for congenital hyperinsulinism. The company expects to report topline data from D-LIVR, Eiger's landmark Phase 3 study of lonafarnib-based regimens for HDV, by year end. About TOGETHER Study TOGETHER is an independent multi-center, investigator-sponsored, randomized, placebo-controlled adaptive platform Phase 3 study evaluating therapeutics in newly diagnosed, high-risk, non-hospitalized patients with mild-to-moderate COVID-19. TOGETHER is the largest placebo-controlled study in COVID-19 and has evaluated 11 different therapeutic agents for non-hospitalized COVID-19 patients. The study was ongoing at the time the peginterferon lambda arm was added. The evaluation of peginterferon lambda versus placebo was the second largest study to date of a COVID-19 therapeutic of > 1,900 patients. Eligibility criteria required that all patients had laboratory-confirmed mild or moderate COVID-19 and were randomized within seven days of symptom onset. The study enrolled patients regardless of vaccination status or variant strain of SARS-CoV-2. The primary endpoint was a reduction in risk of clinical outcome comparing hospitalizations or emergency room visits greater than six hours after a single subcutaneous injection of peginterferon lambda versus placebo through Day 28. A key secondary endpoint was reduction in risk of hospitalizations or death in patients when dosed within three days of symptom onset. The TOGETHER study recruited from 12 sites in Brazil and 5 sites in Canada. About Peginterferon Lambda Peginterferon lambda is an investigational late-stage, first-in-class, type III interferon that stimulates immune responses that are critical for the development of host protection during viral infections and has been well-tolerated in clinical studies. Eiger is developing peginterferon lambda for the treatment of HDV infection. Peginterferon lambda has been administered to over 4,000 subjects in 28 clinical trials of HBV, HCV, HDV and COVID-19. Peginterferon lambda is an investigational agent and not yet approved for any indication. Eiger has received Orphan Designation by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and European Medicines Agency, and Fast Track and Breakthrough Therapy Designation by FDA for peginterferon lambda in HDV. About Eiger Eiger is a commercial-stage biopharmaceutical company focused on the development of innovative therapies for hepatitis delta virus (HDV) and other serious diseases. The Eiger HDV platform includes two first-in-class therapies in Phase 3 that target critical host processes involved in viral replication.

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