AbbVie's Skyrizi wins its first FDA approval, springing blockbuster ambitions

biopharmadive | April 24, 2019

The psoriasis approval for Skyrizi (risankizumab) in the U.S. was expected, following a similar go-ahead from regulators in Japan and a positive recommendation from the European Medicines Agency's Committee for Medicinal Products for Human Use. In Phase 3 studies of the drug, roughly 80% of patients with moderate to severe plaque psoriasis achieved 90% clear skin and slightly more than half reached complete skin clearance using Skyrizi. However, the anti-IL23 antibody is far from alone in the next generation of immunology drugs. Other interleukin inhibitors already on the market include J&J's anti-IL 12/23 Stelara (ustekinumab) as well as the IL-17 inhibitors Cosentyx (secukinumab) and Taltz (ixekizumab), respectively marketed by Novartis and Eli Lilly.

Spotlight

Bioprocess performance (efficiency, robustness, and cost) is dictated by the overall strategy chosen to implement the processing platform. The permissible strategy space itself is enabled by the performance, availability and robustness of existing bioprocess technologies. Single use systems and membrane chromatography have considerably enlarged the range of strategies available in bioprocessing today.

Spotlight

Bioprocess performance (efficiency, robustness, and cost) is dictated by the overall strategy chosen to implement the processing platform. The permissible strategy space itself is enabled by the performance, availability and robustness of existing bioprocess technologies. Single use systems and membrane chromatography have considerably enlarged the range of strategies available in bioprocessing today.

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INDUSTRIAL IMPACT

BioConsortia Showcases Breakthrough Microbial Products and Pipeline of Innovation

BioConsortia, Inc. | September 05, 2022

BioConsortia’s innovative microbial products and technical capabilities were on full display August 30th at its Davis, CA headquarters in an investor-focused Technology Showcase event. BioConsortia demonstrated rapid advancements in microbial product and pipeline developments for reducing nitrogen fertilizers, controlling soil pests and plant diseases for larger and better-quality crop yields, as well as protecting crops post-harvest to avoid food waste, while minimizing environmental impact and protecting our planet. The Showcase event reintroduced CRIMSON™ fungicide and biostimulant ZAFFRE™, two products currently awaiting final registrations, and highlighted BioConsortia’s new fungicides, nematicides and nitrogen fixing products that are progressing through registration and commercialization and moving into evaluation with potential partners, as follows: NO-NEM™ bionematicide advances: BioConsortia highlighted progress in bringing novel, safe and effective nematocidal microbes to market. Experts estimate global crop losses of $125 billion or 14% of crop value each year. Currently available chemical controls like methyl bromide, organophosphates and carbamates have an unacceptable level of toxicity to non-target organisms and are being withdrawn from use. NO-NEM is BioConsortia’s first nematicide product heading into full development phase. It has shown excellent performance against economically important pests in row crops, as well as fruits and vegetables, such as soybean cyst nematodes and root knot nematodes. “Today we highlight the breadth of innovations developed to replace chemical crop inputs with superior microbe-based solutions for nitrogen fixing, disease control, nematode control, crop yields and post-harvest food safety. The recent progress of our pipeline – including some exciting technology breakthroughs - means we are ready to advance multiple major products into the commercialization phase with marketing partners.” Marcus Meadows-Smith, CEO of BioConsortia R&D Pipeline Expanded through Technical Innovation Additions to BioConsortia’s R&D pipeline aim to leapfrog currently available microbial products, providing improved efficacy, increased shelf-stability, and reduced field use rates, as follows Leveraging GenePro™ microbe editing platform for nitrogen-fixing breakthroughs: BioConsortia’s proprietary genomics and gene-editing platform, GenePro™, facilitates the discovery and engineering of a wide diversity of microbes faster and more efficiently. BioConsortia’s scientists affirmed GenePro has resulted in the discovery of novel genetic components driving nitrogen-fixation. BioConsortia’s proprietary bacterial strains fix nitrogen under conditions other N-fixing strains will not. This discovery validates the company’s position as a leader in microbe-derived alternatives for agriculture, has resulted in proprietary intellectual property, and will continue to drive our research focus. Expanding library through AMS: BioConsortia’s patent-protected “AMS” - Advanced Microbial Selection™ platform uses evolutionary biology practices to find beneficial microbes that the plant has selected for specific gains. AMS underpins the breadth, depth, and success of BioConsortia’s product pipeline. The company announced the addition of more than 2000 rice diazotrophic microbial strains to its library, following a research program using AMS. This large addition to the library has greatly accelerated BioConsortia’s nitrogen-fixation project for rice, a crop with a paddy production model that represents a unique opportunity to impact the sustainability practices of both large and small growers of one of the world’s most fertilized crops. Novel Bactericide Project: BioConsortia also introduced a new project focused on optimizing microbes for the production of metabolites active against bacterial disease. Project leaders highlighted early technological success within this project – again reliant on the GenePro platform, which focuses on utilizing novel tools to address evolving bacterial disease resistance and increasing bacterial pest pressure resulting from climatic challenges and global trade flows. Novel Multi-spectrum Insecticide: Additionally, the company updated progress on a novel, developmental microbial active ingredient designed to deliver broad-spectrum control of both nematodes and critically important coleopteran and lepidopteran pests. The project aims to deliver a novel mode of action to support and extend crop trait lifecycles in the face of emerging insect resistance. Nematicide leads were originally characterized as strong root colonizers employing the company’s RhizoViz™ system, which uses proteins to visualize colonization robustness in different soils and environmental conditions. BioConsortia’s nematicide pipeline is now among the most expansive in agricultural research. “BioConsortia’s pipeline progress highlights the strengths of the company’s R&D platform – unique in the industry in terms of discovery of plant-affiliated microbes and their optimization as solutions for agriculture,” said Dr. Hong Zhu, Senior VP of Research and Development at BioConsortia. About BioConsortia BioConsortia, Inc. develops superior microbial products that protect plants, enhance fertility, and increase yields while improving the sustainability of agriculture for our environment. Pioneering the use of directed selection within microbial communities, our patented Advanced Microbial Selection process and cutting-edge GenePro genomics and gene-engineering platform enable us to predict, design, and unleash the natural power of microbes.

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INDUSTRIAL IMPACT

FogPharma Announces $178 Million Series D Financing to Advance Pipeline of First-in-Class Helicon Polypeptide Therapeutics Targeting

FogPharma | November 22, 2022

FogPharma®, a biopharmaceutical company pioneering a new class of precision medicines that could ultimately prove applicable to the vast majority of therapeutic targets, including those previously considered “undruggable,” today announced a $178 Million Series D financing. The financing round includes new investors ARCH Venture Partners, Milky Way Investments and Fidelity Management & Research Company and existing investors VenBio Partners, Deerfield Management, GV, Cormorant Asset Management, funds and accounts advised by T. Rowe Price Associates, Inc., Invus, Farallon Capital Management, HBM Healthcare Investments, Casdin Capital, and PagsGroup, also participated. Proceeds from the Series D financing will be used to advance and accelerate FogPharma’s growing pipeline of hyperstabilized α-helical polypeptide therapeutics, a proprietary new class of drugs designed to overcome the limitations of today’s precision medicines with broad applicability to the vast majority of disease targets and therapeutic areas. FogPharma’s lead Helicon polypeptide development candidate, FOG-001, a first-and-only-in-class direct TCF-blocking β-catenin inhibitor with potential applicability to significant cancer patient populations, is expected to enter clinical development in mid-2023. In addition, FogPharma is advancing other first-in-class programs against important, biologically validated cancer targets that have remained elusive to other approaches including TEAD, NRAS, Pan-KRAS, ERG and Cyclin E1. “FogPharma continues to make rapid progress on our moonshot mission to achieve universal druggability – a world where no targets are off-limits to medicine. We believe that Helicon polypeptides, a compelling new therapeutic modality, represent the future of precision medicine. We are thrilled by the support of our investors and will continue to build our platform capabilities, product pipeline which aims to address a significant percentage of cancer patient populations, and our phenomenal team across all levels as we aim to create one of the most impactful new classes of drugs in history.” Gregory Verdine, Ph.D., founder, chairman and chief executive officer of FogPharma In connection with the Series D Financing, Rick Klausner, M.D., has been appointed to FogPharma’s board of directors. In addition, Dr. Verdine has been appointed as chairman of the board. “The team at FogPharma is building an unprecedented new therapeutic modality and robust pipeline with the potential to make a meaningful difference in the lives of cancer patients,” said Dr. Klausner. “I am excited to join the board of directors and be part of something special – particularly at this important time as FogPharma continues to impressively scale its science, team, operations and infrastructure, with the goal of advancing its first Helicon polypeptide therapeutic into the clinic.” Dr. Klausner is currently the founder and chief scientist of Altos Labs and founder and chairman of Lyell Immunopharma. Dr. Klausner was founder and director of Juno Therapeutics and founder and director of GRAIL. He is also the chairman of Sonoma Biotherapeutics and co-founder and chairman of Lifemine Therapeutics. Previously, Dr. Klausner served as senior vice president, chief medical officer and chief opportunity officer of Illumina Corporation and as executive director for global health for the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Dr. Klausner was appointed by Presidents Clinton and Bush as the eleventh director of the U.S. National Cancer Institute (NCI) between 1995 and 2001. Dr. Klausner served as chief of the Cell Biology and Metabolism Branch of the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development as well as a past president of the American Society of Clinical Investigation. He has served in senior advisory roles to the U.S., Norwegian, Qatari and Indian governments. About FogPharma’s Universal Druggability Platform and Helicon™ Polypeptide Therapeutics Existing drug classes are limited in both reach and applicability, with more than 80% of known human protein disease targets considered “undruggable” because they are beyond the reach of both antibodies and small molecules. FogPharma’s Helicon peptide drug discovery engine integrates directed evolution, proprietary α-helix conformational hyperstabilization chemistry, highly multiplexed drug optimization technology, artificial intelligence including deep learning and machine learning, structure-based drug discovery, cancer genomics and biology, and multiscale manufacturing to rapidly discover Helicon polypeptide therapeutics. This novel therapeutic modality combines the targeting strength and specificity of antibodies with the broad tissue distribution, intracellular target engagement and oral dosing optionality of small molecules to address the limitations of today’s precision medicines and reach the most difficult targets – achieving universal druggability. About FOG-001 FogPharma’s lead Helicon polypeptide development candidate, FOG-001, a first-and-only-in-class direct TCF-blocking β-catenin inhibitor. Dysregulation of the Wnt/β-catenin signaling pathway has been shown to occur in at least 20% of all human cancers. In the U.S. alone, FOG-001 has the potential to become a new treatment option for >1 million patients suffering from a broad range of intractable cancers. In biochemical and cellular studies, FOG-001 has been shown to potently, precisely and selectively disrupt the interaction of β-catenin with its obligate downstream transcription factor, TCF. Preclinical studies have demonstrated the ability of FOG-001 to cause tumor growth inhibition and regression by disrupting β-catenin-dependent signaling. FOG-001 is the inaugural member of FogPharma’s TCF-Catenix family of direct-acting β-catenin antagonists and combines key features that distinguish it from previously reported Wnt/β-catenin pathway modulators: FOG-001 acts inside the cell, where it directly binds the key oncogenic driver β-catenin; and FOG-001 blocks TCF-β-catenin engagement at the most downstream node in the canonical Wnt pathway, thus abrogating the signal transmission mechanism by which most, if not all, known Wnt pathway mutations are believed to drive oncogenesis. About FogPharma FogPharma is a biopharmaceutical company pioneering the discovery and development of Helicon™ polypeptides. Through this novel therapeutic modality, FogPharma aims to address the limitations of existing drug classes and achieve universal druggability – a world where no targets are off-limits to new medicines. Spun out of Harvard University by pioneering academic scientist and successful biotech company builder Dr. Gregory Verdine, FogPharma is advancing a broad pipeline of Helicon polypeptide therapeutics against important and biologically validated cancer targets that have remained elusive to other approaches, with the goal of providing new targeted treatment options for significant cancer patient populations. FogPharma is headquartered in Cambridge, Mass., and has raised more than $360 million to date from leading life sciences investors.

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MEDTECH

ElevateBio BaseCamp Unveils its LentiPeakTM Lentiviral Vector Platform

ElevateBio, LLC | November 07, 2022

ElevateBio, LLC (ElevateBio), a technology-driven company focused on powering transformative cell and gene therapies, announced the unveiling of ElevateBio BaseCamp’s proprietary LentiPeakTM lentiviral vector platform. LentiPeak is a serum-free, suspension-based, scalable production platform that has demonstrated high volumetric productivity of therapeutically relevant vector yields that meet regulatory guidelines. LentiPeak will enable efficient transition for cell and gene therapies from preclinical stage through clinical development and commercialization with accelerated timelines and reduced manufacturing costs.The LentiPeak platform leverages ElevateBio BaseCamp’s end-to-end process and analytical development expertise and scientific leadership and builds upon the company’s current Good Manufacturing Practice (cGMP) manufacturing capabilities for research, clinical and commercial cell and gene therapies, and regenerative medicines. “As a 30-year veteran of the cell and gene therapy industry, I’ve witnessed the immense advancement of lentiviral vector technology from its infancy to the current landscape with six FDA-approved lentiviral vector-derived cell and gene therapies, The LentiPeak platform is made possible by ElevateBio’s strong scientific foundation, industry-leading expertise, and the investments we’ve made into viral vector production. Our pioneering work continues to be the basis for our continued innovation to drive many more therapies through development to commercialization for our partners.” -Mitchell Finer, Ph.D., Co-founder and President of R&D, ElevateBio ElevateBio BaseCamp’s LentiPeak platform offers a robust and scalable platform process for development and cGMP manufacturing of lentiviral vectors. The LentiPeak platform utilizes a serum-free suspension process capable of producing clinically relevant lentiviral vectors with high titers ranging from 1x10^8 TU/ml to 1x10^9 TU/ml, suitable to meet various therapeutic program needs from preclinical scale to commercial scale supply. The LentiPeak platform can also be seamlessly integrated into cell therapy programs with ElevateBio’s ability to conduct both vector and cell production activities. By leveraging the aligned process unit operations, materials, analytics, and manufacturing expertise at ElevateBio BaseCamp, the LentiPeak platform will simplify the product development and commercialization lifecycle, reducing complexity and ensuring comparability between early-stage and pivotal trials. “Our team of industry-leading experts have developed next-generation platform-based processes that are designed to address lentivirus manufacturing challenges head-on. With our partners’ needs in mind, our proprietary LentiPeak platform has demonstrated leading vector titers with high potency, and process scalability to help our partners de-risk vector production, right from the start, At ElevateBio BaseCamp, we are ever committed to simplifying the complex cell and gene therapy landscape to enable our partners to rapidly progress their therapeutic programs and make these therapies more accessible to patients in need.” -Andrew Sandford, President, ElevateBio BaseCamp About ElevateBio: ElevateBio is a technology-driven company built to power the development of transformative cell and gene therapies today and for many decades to come. The company has assembled industry-leading talent, built state-of-the-art facilities, and integrated diverse technology platforms, including gene editing, induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs), and protein, vector, and cellular engineering, necessary to drive innovation and commercialization of cellular and genetic medicines. In addition, ElevateBio BaseCamp in Waltham, MA, is a purpose-built facility offering process innovation, process sciences, and current Good Manufacturing Practice (cGMP) manufacturing capabilities. It was designed to support diverse cell and gene therapy products, including autologous, allogeneic, and regenerative medicine cell products and viral vector manufacturing capabilities. Through BaseCamp and its enabling technologies, ElevateBio is focused on growing its collaborations with industry partners while also developing its own portfolio of cellular and genetic medicines. ElevateBio's team of scientists, drug developers, and company builders are redefining what it means to be a technology company in the world of drug development, blurring the line between technology and healthcare.

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