Inovio axes staffers, cancer program to sharpen focus, save cash

fiercebiotech | July 17, 2019

A few months after AstraZenecas MedImmune unit walked away from some of its R and D work with the biotech, Inovio Pharmaceuticals is cutting 28% of its workforce and swinging the ax to a cancer program. Back in May, and coming from a brief Securities and Exchange Commission update, the biotech said: “Inovio Pharmaceuticals has received notification from MedImmune, a subsidiary of AstraZeneca, that AstraZeneca intends to discontinue activities with respect to the research collaboration programs, other than MEDI0457, that are the subject of the parties’ license and collaboration agreement dated August 7, 2015. Under that agreement, in addition to MEDI0457, AstraZeneca had rights to co-develop up to two new DNA-based cancer vaccine product candidates.” This was clearly a setback for the company, but it vowed to go on. Now, however, after the dust has settled on this step back from AZ’s biologics unit, Inovio said that it will be cutting 28% of its staffers and will also “cut selected early-stage R&D programs and discontinued further development of its Phase 1/2 study in advanced bladder cancer, while reducing its annual burn rate by 25%.” The small-cap biotech was down 13% premarket on the news. The cutting of INO-5401, which was being tested in advanced bladder cancer, comes “because of the recognition that several new therapeutic alternatives have been approved, or are likely to be approved, for study patients since the trial's design and inception, and because of the high expense of the trial.” This presumably includes the new set of checkpoint inhibitors: Bladder cancer is a crowded area where five of six available members of the PD-1/PD-L1 cohort bear approvals. MEDI0457 remains unaffected by the cutbacks.Inovio will continue work with the therapy in certain forms of aggressive brain tumors, for which there are far fewer treatment options.

Spotlight

The applications of biotechnology include therapeutics, diagnostics and genetically modified crops for agriculture, processed food, bioremediation, waste treatment, and energy production.  Providing  the best catalyst in the form of improved organism usually a microbe or pure enzyme.  Creating optimal conditions through engineering for a catalyst to act, and downstream processing technologies to purify the protein / organic compound.

Spotlight

The applications of biotechnology include therapeutics, diagnostics and genetically modified crops for agriculture, processed food, bioremediation, waste treatment, and energy production.  Providing  the best catalyst in the form of improved organism usually a microbe or pure enzyme.  Creating optimal conditions through engineering for a catalyst to act, and downstream processing technologies to purify the protein / organic compound.

Related News

CELL AND GENE THERAPY

Bio-Techne Signs License Agreement with Luminary Therapeutics for the Use of TcBuster™ for the Manufacturing of Gene-modified Cell Therapies

Bio-Techne | February 25, 2021

Bio-Techne Corporation today declared the signing of a license agreement with Luminary Therapeutics for the utilization of TcBuster™ for the manufacturing of gene-modified cell therapies. TcBuster is Bio-Techne's proprietary non-viral transposon-based gene delivery system used to advance cell therapy manufacturing. Under the provisions of this agreement, Bio-Techne grants Luminary Therapeutics a non-exclusive license for TcBuster. Luminary Therapeutics will utilize TcBuster in their LMY-920 program, a BAFF-CAR-T product. Luminary Therapeutics intends to file an IND with the FDA later this calendar year. "This agreement with Luminary Therapeutics brings Bio-Techne's cutting-edge TcBuster system one step closer to delivering gene-modified cell therapies," said Dave Eansor, President of Bio-Techne's Protein Sciences Segment. "With this license agreement, Bio-Techne will increase its presence as a key player in the cell and gene therapy market." About Luminary Therapeutics Luminary Therapeutics is a pre-clinical cell therapy company developing next generation non-viral autologous cell treatments for cancers and autoimmune diseases. Luminary's primary focus is to develop CAR T and other next generation cell therapies that address the antigen escape issue present with existing therapies. Luminary utilizes Bio-Techne's TcBuster™ transposon technology to reduce safety concerns, costs, and time delays associated with viral based cell therapies. Located in Minneapolis, Luminary's team is comprised of cellular therapy veterans, industry leaders, and world-renowned cancer geneticist leaders from top biotech and consulting organizations. Luminary seeks novel next generation licensing opportunities with strong intellectual property (IP) for the treatment of solid tumors and in underserved disorders.

Read More

Emerging Biotechnology Company Biocytogen Raised 142 Million Dollars (USD) in Support of Project Integrum

Biocytogen | September 25, 2020

In August, Beijing Biocytogen Biotechnology Co., Ltd. ("Biocytogen") announced acquisition of Eucure Biopharma, which established Biocytogen as a clinical stage company. Now, Biocytogen is pleased to announce completion of series D1 Funding, successfully raising 142 million dollars (USD) meant to further secure the implementation of Project Integrum.Project Integrum is a humanitarian effort to discover, develop, and bring to market novel therapeutic antibody candidates against all notoriously difficult druggable targets. Taking full advantage of Biocytogen's integrated technology platforms for antibody discovery, Project Integrum will launch pre-clinical efforts into over 1,000 human diseases currently affecting countless lives.Meticulous screening of antibody candidates both in vivo and in vitro improves clinical translatability dramatically. At the core of Biocytogen lie the humanized antibody RenMab Mouse and a hoard of proprietary advanced gene targeting strategies, which have been fully optimized and integrated with the most advanced, complementary technologies in the express goal of discovering therapeutic, clinically-relevant antibodies.

Read More

CELL AND GENE THERAPY

NeuExcell Therapeutics and Spark Therapeutics Announce Research Collaboration Agreement to Develop a Novel Gene Therapy for Huntington's Disease

NeuExcell Therapeutics | September 13, 2021

NeuExcell Therapeutics and Spark Therapeutics, a member of the Roche Group announced a gene therapy collaboration aimed at developing a safe and effective treatment for patients suffering from Huntington's Disease (HD). Under the terms of the agreement, Spark Therapeutics will receive access to NeuExcell's proprietary neuro-regenerative gene therapy platform and capabilities. NeuExcell's research team will collaborate closely with Spark Therapeutics to advance the program. Under the Option License NeuExcell is eligible to receive upfront, license fees, R&D and Sales milestone payments up to approximately $190 million plus product royalties. Under this Agreement, Spark Therapeutics has the option to license the exclusive worldwide rights of the NeuExcell's HD program. The prevailing assumption has been that mammalian adult neurons cannot be replaced, and so therapeutic approaches for brain diseases tend to focus on slowing disease progress. NeuExcell Therapeutics may have unlocked the method for regenerating neural tissue. The company's neuroregenerative gene therapy platform is built around transcription factor-based trans-differentiation technology. The platform seeks to reprogram endogenous glial cells like astrocytes, which surround neurons and are often reactive after neurons are injured or die, into functional new neurons. While neurons cannot divide to regenerate themselves, glial cells are a renewable source for generating new neurons at the site of injury, and at the scale needed to have a meaningful therapeutic impact. NeuExcell is developing adeno-associated viruses (AAVs)-based neuroregenerative gene therapy to regenerate functional new neurons at the site of the neurodegeneration. "At Spark, we understand that in order to break down barriers for people and families affected by genetic diseases, we need to work with like-minded partners that can integrate innovative technologies with our advanced proprietary AAV vector platform," said Joseph La Barge, Chief Business Officer of Spark Therapeutics. "Using our existing expertise in gene therapy development and NeuExcell's neuro-regenerative gene therapy research and capabilities, together we can progress the potential of gene therapy for patients living with Huntington's Disease." Spark Therapeutic's advanced proprietary AAV vector platform targeted to the central nervous system offers the HD research and development (R&D) program a major advantage. At the forefront of gene therapy research for more than two decades, Spark Therapeutics has extensive knowledge and capabilities in this field that it will use to bring the HD program forward. About Huntington's Disease HD is an incurable, hereditary brain disorder caused by a single defective gene on chromosome 4. As the disease affects different parts of the brain, it impacts movement, behavior, and cognition. It becomes harder to walk, think, reason, swallow, and talk. Eventually, the person will need full-time care. The complications associated with HD are usually fatal. About NeuExcell Therapeutics. NeuExcell is a privately held early-stage gene therapy company headquartered in Pennsylvania, USA. Its mission is to improve the lives of patients suffering from neuro-degenerative diseases and CNS injuries. Based upon the scientific work of Prof. Gong Chen (Co-Founder and Chief Scientific Advisor), the Company has developed a potentially disruptive neural repair technology through in vivo astrocyte-to-neuron conversion by introducing neural transcription factors through adeno-associated virus (AAV)-based gene therapy. NeuExcell's pipeline covers major neurodegenerative diseases such as Stroke, Huntington's Disease, Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), Alzheimer's Disease, Parkinson's Disease, Traumatic Brain Injury, Spinal Cord Injury, and Glioma. About Spark Therapeutics At Spark Therapeutics, a fully integrated, commercial company committed to discovering, developing and delivering gene therapies, we challenge the inevitability of genetic diseases, including blindness, hemophilia, lysosomal storage disorders and neurodegenerative diseases. We currently have four programs in clinical trials. At Spark, a member of the Roche Group, we see the path to a world where no life is limited by genetic disease.

Read More