Adaptimmune CEO Noble to retire, CFO Rawcliffe steps up to the plate

After a global search, Adaptimmune has found its next CEO at home, Chief Financial Officer Adrian Rawcliffe will take over in September when CEO and co-founder James Noble retires. The T-cell therapy specialist is now on the hunt for a new CFO.  “We were very fortunate to have Adrian as a candidate, not only given his role as CFO, covering a wide range of responsibilities from manufacturing to information management, but also his previous experiences at [GlaxoSmithKline]. … Adrian will now lead the company towards commercialization,” said David Mott, chairman of Adaptimmune’s board, in a statement.  Rawcliffe joined Adaptimmune in March 2015, about a year after the company inked an R&D pact with GlaxoSmithKline potentially worth more than $350 million. He had worn various hats at GSK since 1988, including senior vice president overseeing worldwide business development and R&D finance, managing partner and president of SR One, Glaxo’s venture capital arm, and most recently, SVP of finance for the company’s North American pharma unit.  Since then, Adaptimmune has grown, pulling off a $191 million IPO in May 2015 and building a new R&D outpost near its headquarters in Oxford, U.K.

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CCM Biosciences Announces Launch of 5Prime Sciences Business Unit

CCM Biosciences | January 01, 2024

Diversified biotechnology company CCM Biosciences (CCM Bio) announced the launch of its business unit CCM 5Prime Sciences (5Prime) focused on the development and application of proprietary technology in the domain of DNA biotechnology. 5Prime’s technology platform includes multiple patent-protected, globally commercialized compositions and methods for molecular cloning, next-generation DNA sequencing and molecular diagnostics. 5Prime has two focus areas: 1) in vitro diagnostic (IVD) tests: a wide array of companion diagnostics (CDx) tests for targeted cancer, rare disease, and prenatal/preimplantation diagnostics, developed using the droplet digital Polymerase Chain Reaction (ddPCR) and Next-Generation Sequencing (NGS) methodologies, which accompany the personalized medicine therapeutic (Rx) pipeline of CCM Bio; 2) synthetic biology: engineered DNA- and RNA-manipulating enzymes that improve upon the enzymes used in IVD tests, in PCR reagents, and also in enzymatic DNA/RNA synthesis. Proven technology behind market-leading DNA sequencing products and diagnostic tests; including one of the 5 highest revenue-generating technologies invented in the history of Princeton University Focus areas 1 and 2 are based on the company’s patented technology originating in the PhD thesis work of Co-Founder and CEO Dr. Raj Chakrabarti at Princeton University. According to the Princeton University Office of Technology Licensing, patents in this portfolio, which are now controlled by 5Prime, are among the top 5 revenue-generating patents in the history of the university, having been commercialized in collaboration with companies such as Celera Diagnostics, Quest Diagnostics, Abbott, New England Biolabs, and Toyobo Life Sciences. Diagnostic tests and products based on the company’s intellectual property include the XSense test from Quest Diagnostics, which is the leading DNA-based carrier screening test for autism (Fragile X syndrome); and the Q5 polymerase kit marketed by New England Biolabs, which is the leading high-fidelity polymerase kit for DNA sequencing. In the context of molecular diagnostics, NGS is typically applied to diagnose in high-throughput the patterns of DNA mutations in genes. A related method called RNA-Seq, which applies NGS to RNA rather than DNA to measure real-time gene expression levels, has emerged as a foundation for modern personalized medicine. However, a notorious difficulty in both traditional NGS and RNA-Seq is sequence bias, which results in inaccurate estimates of the relative copy numbers of different genes and associated disease-causing mutations, and which has limited the transformative potential of these methods. ddPCR is a sensitive method for diagnosing mutations in specific disease-associated genes that is also limited by problems of sequence bias. 5Prime’s technology enables the efficient polymerization and amplification of nearly any DNA or RNA sequence to overcome sequence bias in nucleic acid amplification and associated diagnostic methods like NGS and ddPCR, the global markets for which were valued at $10B and $6B, respectively, in 2022 and expected to surpass $44B and $14B, respectively, by 2032. Its state-of-the-art synthetic biology platform for polymerase enzyme engineering generates proprietary polymerases with optimal properties for NGS or PCR-based diagnostic tests, by applying machine learning algorithms to the big data generated from ultrahigh-throughput, microfluidic experimental screening of enzyme activity. In addition, the company’s technology platform applies proprietary nonaqueous media and computational systems biology methods in conjunction with such enzymes to dramatically improve nucleic acid polymerization and amplification efficiency. About CCM Biosciences CCM Biosciences, Inc. is a biotechnology company dedicated to discovering and developing novel drugs - including small molecules, gene therapies, biologics, and nanomedicines - as well as associated companion diagnostics. CCM Bio’s patented molecular discovery platforms were developed at Chakrabarti Advanced Technology, a privately funded R&D institute founded in 2010 with scientists in the US, France and India and with publications in leading scientific journals including PNAS, Nucleic Acids Research, American Chemical Society journals and Nature Publishing Group journals. CCM Bio is partnered with the global chemical and pharmaceutical services company PMC Group, Inc. for fully integrated discovery, development and manufacturing of drugs and diagnostics.

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Stevanato Group Launches EZ-fill® Kit and Laboratory Fill and Finish Service to Support Small Batch Drug Development and Commercialization

Stevanato Group | January 25, 2024

Stevanato Group S.p.A. a leading global provider of drug containment and delivery solutions to the pharmaceutical, biotechnology, and life sciences industries, unveiled today two new offerings for efficient small batch pharmaceutical manufacturing: the EZ-fill® Kit and the non-GMP laboratory fill and finish service at its Technology Excellence Centers (TEC). In a context where reducing time-to-market is key, Stevanato Group’s new EZ-fill® Kit offers fast access to a customizable and versatile solution to pharma and biotech companies needing to efficiently fill small batches with high-quality injectable formulations during clinical trials or commercial phases. The surge the industry has seen in biopharmaceuticals treating various diseases in several therapeutical areas may signal a significant growth potential for pharmaceutical companies. Injectables, comprising more than 60% of the over 21,000 drugs currently in development, of which 44% are biopharmaceuticals, require high-performance primary packaging and delivery technologies for proper storage and administration. Stevanato Group’s EZ-fill® Kit builds on its existing ready-to-use platform of pre-sterilized containment solutions – vials, cartridges, and syringes – allowing customers to effectively screen different primary packaging in combination with drug products. The kit will be available as a modular box made up of glass ready-to-use drug containers and add-on components on request, shipped by courier. As a result, the platform can bring enhanced levels of quality and safety to patients across the entire drug life cycle and improve the rate at which new drugs enter the market. EZ-fill® Kit will be presented at Pharmapack and is expected to be available commercially beginning in the second quarter of 2024. Additionally, to better support customers, Stevanato Group has introduced a non-GMP laboratory filling and finishing service at its Technology Excellence Centers (TEC) in Boston, USA, and Piombino Dese, Italy. This new service allows customers to assess and identify the possible effects of the fill-and-finish process on their product performance as early as the container selection stage, thus de-risking processes and enhancing development and commercialization strategy. “In the race to bring new advanced biopharmaceutical products to market and to patients, Stevanato Group is tackling the challenge of supporting customers with flexible drug containment and filling solutions in a timely manner," says Fabio Bertacchini, Senior Director EZ-fill® Vials & Cartridges at Stevanato Group. "Stevanato Group remains focused on developing new offerings that can help raise pharmaceutical manufacturing standards. By leveraging the expertise provided by our global TEC Centers, we aim to support customers' innovation, helping them face tests and de-risking processes and making right-the-first-time choices throughout their drug development journey.” About Stevanato Group Founded in 1949, Stevanato Group is a leading global provider of drug containment, drug delivery and diagnostic solutions to the pharmaceutical, biotechnology and life sciences industries. The Group delivers an integrated, end-to-end portfolio of products, processes and services that address customer needs across the entire drug life cycle at each of the development, clinical and commercial stages. Stevanato Group’s core capabilities in scientific research and development, its commitment to technical innovation and its engineering excellence are central to its ability to offer value added solutions to clients.

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Jnana Therapeutics Announces Positive Clinical Proof of Concept Achieved with JNT-517, a Potential First-in-Class Oral Treatment for PKU

Jnana Therapeutics, Inc. | February 02, 2024

Jnana Therapeutics, a clinical-stage biotechnology company leveraging its next-generation chemoproteomics platform to discover medicines for challenging-to-drug targets, today announced positive, statistically significant interim results from its ongoing clinical study of JNT-517 in individuals with phenylketonuria (PKU). JNT-517, a small molecule inhibitor of the phenylalanine (Phe) transporter SLC6A19, is being evaluated as a potential first-in-class oral treatment for PKU across all ages and genotypes. On the basis of these positive interim results, Jnana has adapted the Phase 1b trial design to support the potential for accelerated progression of JNT-517. “There is an urgent need for an oral, safe, and efficacious therapy for the more than 60% of individuals with PKU not currently on therapy. Across the spectrum of mild to severe disease, our results demonstrate a robust, sustained reduction in blood Phe levels, the registrational endpoint for PKU, giving us high confidence in the path forward for JNT-517,” said George Vratsanos, M.D., Chief Medical Officer and Head of R&D at Jnana Therapeutics. “We are also encouraged by this validation of the power of our RAPID platform to discover small molecules with compelling clinical benefit against challenging-to-drug targets.” JNT-517 is being studied in a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial in individuals with mild to severe PKU. Following a 28-day screening period focused predominantly on ensuring an average blood Phe level of >600µM, study participants were randomized with no run-in period to 75mg of JNT-517 twice daily (BID) or placebo. The planned interim analysis was based on 13 participants, eight dosed with JNT-517 and five dosed with placebo over 28 days, and demonstrated the following results JNT-517 led to a statistically significant (p=0.0019 vs. placebo) mean blood Phe reduction from baseline of 51%, measured per-protocol at day 28. A high response rate was seen where seven of eight (88%) treated participants achieved >30% reduction in blood Phe from baseline; five of eight (63%) achieved >45% reduction; and two of eight (25%) achieved >65% reduction. A robust response was seen across participants treated with JNT-517 irrespective of baseline blood Phe levels, which ranged from 593µM to 1,526µM with a mean of 1,124µM. A rapid onset of effect was observed with significant blood Phe reduction achieved within seven days after commencing dosing, which was sustained through the full 28 days of dosing. JNT-517 was safe and well tolerated with no serious adverse events and no clinically significant changes in laboratory parameters, consistent with the safety profile demonstrated in the Phase 1a healthy volunteer study. "JNT-517 represents a completely new therapeutic approach that could transform the current treatment paradigm in PKU, in particular for individuals with severe, or classical, PKU where there is the highest unmet medical need,” said Cary O. Harding, M.D., study investigator and Professor of Molecular and Medical Genetics at Oregon Health and Science University School of Medicine. “I am encouraged by the clinical results to date and look forward to working with Jnana and the PKU community to continue to advance this program.” Based on these interim results, Jnana has adapted the protocol of the ongoing trial to include dose exploration. Jnana expects topline data from the second dose cohort in mid-2024 and plans to submit full data from the two dose cohorts for presentation at a scientific meeting in the second half of 2024. Jnana anticipates the company will engage regulators in the second half of 2024 and seek to advance JNT-517 directly into a pivotal Phase 3 study in the first half of 2025. JNT-517 Phase 1b Clinical Trial The ongoing clinical program includes a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial evaluating the safety, tolerability, pharmacokinetics, and effect on blood and urinary Phe of JNT-517 dosed over a four-week period in individuals diagnosed with PKU. The study dosed its first participant with PKU in August 2023 and is enrolling individuals aged 18 to 65 at clinical sites in the United States and Australia. For more information about the study, please see clinicaltrials.gov (NCT05781399). About JNT-517 JNT-517 is a selective small molecule inhibitor of the Phe transporter SLC6A19 that has the potential to be a first-in-class oral therapy used to treat any person with PKU, regardless of age or genotype. JNT-517 acts at a novel, cryptic allosteric site to block kidney reabsorption of Phe and offers a promising new approach to reduce blood Phe levels. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration granted JNT-517 Rare Pediatric Disease Designation in late 2022. About PKU PKU is a rare inherited metabolic disorder caused by a deficiency of the enzyme phenylalanine hydroxylase (PAH). This enzyme is required for the breakdown of phenylalanine (Phe), an amino acid found in all protein-containing foods. When PAH is deficient or defective, Phe accumulates to abnormally high levels in the blood. If left untreated, toxic levels of Phe in the blood can result in progressive and severe neurological impairment and neuropsychological complications. The SLC transporter SLC6A19 is responsible for kidney reabsorption of Phe back into the bloodstream, and the inhibition of SLC6A19 offers a novel, oral approach for the treatment of PKU by facilitating urinary excretion of excess Phe. About Jnana Therapeutics Jnana Therapeutics is a clinical-stage biotechnology company leveraging its next-generation RAPID chemoproteomics platform to discover medicines for highly validated, challenging-to-drug targets to treat diseases with high unmet needs. Jnana is focused on developing first- and best-in-class therapies to treat a wide range of diseases, including rare diseases and immune-mediated diseases. Jnana’s wholly owned lead program, JNT-517, which targets an allosteric site on the phenylalanine transporter SLC6A19, is a potential first-in-class oral approach for the treatment of PKU, a rare genetic metabolic disease. Located in Boston, Jnana brings together scientific leaders in small molecule drug discovery and development, a highly experienced management team, and the backing of leading life science investors Bain Capital Life Sciences, RA Capital Management, Polaris Partners, Versant Ventures, Avalon Ventures, Pfizer Ventures, and AbbVie Ventures.

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