Metastasis Blocking Antibody Shows Preclinical Promise

Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology News | April 24, 2020

Investigators at the German Cancer Research Center in Heidelberg (DKFZ) and the Mannheim Medical Faculty of the University of Heidelberg have released data on an antibody they created that blocks a receptor that stimulates the formation of new blood vessels in tumors and metastasis. Findings from the new stud—published recently in EMBO Molecular Medicine through an article entitled “Preclinical validation of a novel metastasis‐inhibiting Tie1 function‐blocking antibody”—showed that the antibody prevented the growth of metastases in mice with breast or lung cancer—thus providing a potential new principle for slowing down the metastatic dissemination of cancer cells. “The angiopoietin (Ang)–Tie pathway has been intensely pursued as candidate second‐generation anti‐angiogenic target,” the authors explained. “While much of the translational work has focused on the ligand Ang2, the clinical efficacy of Ang2‐targeting drugs is limited and failed to improve patient survival. In turn, the orphan receptor Tie1 remains therapeutically unexplored, although its endothelial‐specific genetic deletion has previously been shown to result in a strong reduction in metastatic growth.” Just like healthy tissue, tumors depend on nutrients that they receive via the bloodstream. However, since cancer cells proliferate rapidly and the tumors grow correspondingly fast, a bottleneck can develop here—if new blood vessels do not sprout at the same time. In addition, these new blood vessels are transport routes through which cancer cells reach distant organs where they grow into metastases. One goal in cancer therapy is, therefore, to prevent angiogenesis, i.e., the formation of new blood vessels, in order to deprive the tumor of nutrients and slow down metastasis. Drugs suppressing angiogenesis have already been in clinical use for more than a decade—albeit with limited efficacy.

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Researchers reporting in ACS Omega have developed a new approach to upcycle plastic bags into battery parts. ACS Headline Science shows how the inexpensive new method could help convert plastic waste into useful carbon-containing materials.

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Researchers reporting in ACS Omega have developed a new approach to upcycle plastic bags into battery parts. ACS Headline Science shows how the inexpensive new method could help convert plastic waste into useful carbon-containing materials.

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RESEARCH

Celyad Oncology Announces Closing of $32.5 Million Private Placement with Fortress Investment Group Affiliate

Celyad Oncology SA | December 09, 2021

Celyad Oncology SA, a clinical-stage biotechnology company focused on the discovery and development of chimeric antigen receptor T cell therapies for cancer, announced the closing of its previously announced private placement with an affiliate of Fortress Investment Group. The Company issued 6,500,000 ordinary shares at a price of USD 5.00 for gross proceeds of USD 32.5 million. The Company intends to use net proceeds from the private placement to fund research and development expenses, including the clinical development of its allogeneic CAR T candidates CYAD-101 and CYAD-211, to advance the current pipeline of preclinical CAR T candidates, to discover and develop additional preclinical product candidates using its proprietary non-gene edited short hairpin RNA (shRNA) technology platform, as well as for working capital, other general corporate purposes, and the enhancement of the Company’s intellectual property. SVB Leerink acted as the exclusive placement agent for the private placement, Goodwin Procter LLP and Harvest acted as legal counsel to the Company. Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP and Eubelius acted as legal counsel to Fortress. The securities issued in the private placement have not been registered under the Securities Act of 1933 or applicable state securities laws and may not be resold in the United States absent registration under the Securities Act or an applicable exemption from such registration requirements. The Company has agreed to customary registration rights covering the resale of the ordinary shares sold in the private placement. This press release shall not constitute an offer to sell or the solicitation of an offer to buy the securities, nor shall there be any sale of the securities in any state in which such offer, solicitation or sale would be unlawful prior to the registration or qualification under the securities laws of such state. Any offering of the securities under the resale registration statement will only be by means of a prospectus. About Celyad Oncology SA Celyad Oncology SA is a clinical-stage biotechnology company focused on the discovery and development of chimeric antigen receptor T cell therapies for cancer. The Company is developing a pipeline of allogeneic and autologous CAR T cell therapy candidates for the treatment of both hematological malignancies and solid tumors. Celyad Oncology was founded in 2007 and is based in Mont-Saint-Guibert, Belgium and New York, NY. The Company has received funding from the Walloon Region to support the advancement of its CAR T cell therapy programs.

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BetterLife Scales up Manufacturing of AP-003 (Interferon Alpha 2b) to Prepare for Clinical Trials

BetterLife Pharma Inc. | September 17, 2020

BetterLife Pharma Inc. (“BetterLife” or the “Company”) (CSE: BETR / OTCQB: BETRF / FRA: NPAT) an emerging biotech company, today announced it has entered into an agreement with List Biological Laboratories, Inc. (“List Labs”) for the manufacture of its proprietary interferon alpha 2b for the treatment of COVID-19. "Following our recent merger, we are proud to be continuing the development of Altum Pharmaceutical’s proprietary interferon alpha 2b inhalation for treatment of COVID-19. We look forward to working with List Labs to bring this treatment to patients as quickly as possible as we prepare for our imminent trials in Australia" said BetterLife's Chief Executive Officer, Dr. Ahmad Doroudian. Under the terms of the agreement, List Labs will provide manufacturing services from its state-of-the-art biological development and cGMP manufacturing facility in Campbell, California.

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CELL AND GENE THERAPY

Imara Announces Primary Endpoint Change in the Ardent Phase 2b Clinical Trial of Tovinontrine (IMR-687) in Sickle Cell Disease

Imara | November 22, 2021

Imara Inc. a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company dedicated to developing and commercializing novel therapeutics to treat patients suffering from rare inherited genetic disorders of hemoglobin and other serious diseases, today announced a change to the primary endpoint for the Ardent clinical trial, a Phase 2b study of tovinontrine (IMR-687) in patients with sickle cell disease (SCD), based on the recommendation of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Imara requested feedback from the FDA on the draft statistical analysis plan (SAP) for the Ardent trial in which fetal hemoglobin (HbF) response was the primary endpoint and annualized rate of vaso-occlusive crises (VOCs) was the key secondary endpoint. In reviewing the Ardent draft SAP and prior to any database lock for analysis, the FDA recommended that Imara change the primary endpoint to be annualized rate of VOCs. HbF response will continue to be evaluated as a key secondary endpoint. The endpoint revisions do not affect the conduct of the trial or operational aspects of the study. As part of its recommendation, the FDA suggested further interactions regarding the revised SAP and engagement on the potential of the current program for regulatory decision-making. “We welcome the FDA’s recommendations and are in the process of changing the primary endpoint of the Ardent trial to be annualized rate of VOCs and moving HbF response to be a key secondary endpoint. A reduction in VOC rate is an established approval endpoint, and we are engaging the FDA further on this and related topics, including possible streamlined paths to registration.” Rahul Ballal, Ph.D., President and Chief Executive Officer of Imara Dr. Ballal continued, “In light of this endpoint revision, the previously planned fourth quarter interim analysis will no longer occur. That interim analysis had been designed to have a focus on safety and pharmacodynamic biomarkers, including HbF, but did not include a review of VOCs. The first review of data from the Ardent trial, including annualized VOC rate, will be conducted when all subjects have completed assessment at Week 24 or terminated early, and is planned for the first quarter of 2022, subject to our upcoming discussions with the FDA. Final data analysis from the Ardent trial remains on track for the second half of 2022. In June 2021, we reported promising data from our Phase 2a and open label extension clinical trials in SCD that demonstrated reduced annualized rates of VOCs in patients treated with tovinontrine versus placebo. We expect to present updated 12-month VOC data from our ongoing Phase 2a open label extension clinical trial at the American Society of Hematology Annual Meeting in December 2021.” About the Ardent Phase 2b Clinical Trial The Ardent Phase 2b clinical trial is a fully-enrolled, global, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, multicenter study with approximately 115 adult patients with sickle cell disease (SCD) enrolled. The planned primary efficacy objective will be to evaluate the annualized rate of vaso-occlusive crises (VOCs) in patients dosed with tovinontrine (IMR-687) as compared to placebo. A key secondary endpoint will be to evaluate the proportion of all patients with fetal hemoglobin (HbF) response, defined as an absolute increase from baseline of at least 3% in HbF, as compared to placebo. Additional endpoints include the evaluation of the effect of tovinontrine versus placebo on other VOC-related outcome measures, HbF-associated biomarkers, markers of red blood cell hemolysis, white blood cell adhesion markers and quality of life measures over the course of a one-year treatment period. The FDA has granted Orphan Drug, Fast Track and Rare Pediatric Disease designations and the European Commission has granted Orphan Drug designation for tovinontrine for the treatment of SCD. About Tovinontrine (IMR-687) Tovinontrine is a highly selective and potent small molecule inhibitor of phosphodiesterase-9 (PDE9). PDE9 selectively degrades cyclic guanosine monophosphate (cGMP), an active signaling molecule that plays a role in vascular biology and hemoglobin production in red blood cells. Lower levels of cGMP are found in people with sickle cell disease (SCD) and beta-thalassemia and are associated with reduced blood flow, increased inflammation, greater cell adhesion and reduced nitric oxide mediated vasodilation. Blocking PDE9 acts to increase cGMP levels, which is associated with several benefits including the potential reactivation of fetal hemoglobin (HbF), a natural hemoglobin produced during fetal development. Increased levels of HbF in RBCs have been demonstrated to improve symptomology and substantially lower disease burden in both patients with SCD and patients with beta-thalassemia. About Sickle Cell Disease Sickle cell disease (SCD), a hemoglobinopathy, is a rare inherited red blood cell disorder. The disease causes structural abnormalities in hemoglobin that cause red blood cells to become inflexible and elongated, ultimately blocking blood flow to organs, which can lead to vaso-occlusive crises (VOCs). SCD is characterized by debilitating pain, progressive multi-organ damage and early death. The global prevalence of SCD is estimated to be approximately 4.4 million patients, including an estimated 100,000 patients in the United States and 134,000 patients in the European Union. About Imara Imara Inc. is a clinical-stage biotechnology company dedicated to developing and commercializing novel therapeutics to treat patients suffering from rare inherited genetic disorders of hemoglobin and other serious diseases. Imara is advancing tovinontrine (IMR-687), a highly selective, potent small molecule inhibitor of PDE9 that is an oral, potentially disease-modifying treatment currently in clinical development for sickle cell disease and beta-thalassemia and preclinical development for heart failure with preserved ejection fraction, or HFpEF. Imara is also advancing IMR-261, an oral activator of nuclear factor erythroid 2–related factor 2, or Nrf2. Cautionary Note Regarding Forward-Looking Statements Statements in this press release about future expectations, plans and prospects, as well as any other statements regarding matters that are not historical facts, may constitute “forward-looking statements” within the meaning of The Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. These statements include, but are not limited to, statements relating to (i) the Company’s plans to change the primary and secondary endpoints for the Ardent Phase 2b clinical trial of tovinontrine (IMR-687), (ii) the timing for reporting of additional data from the Ardent Phase 2b and open label extension clinical trials of tovinontrine in patients with sickle cell disease and (iii) the Company’s planned discussions with the FDA regarding the regulatory pathway for tovinontrine. The words “anticipate,” “believe,” “continue,” “could,” “estimate,” “expect,” “intend,” “may,” “plan,” “potential,” “predict,” “project,” “should,” “target,” “will,” “would” and similar expressions are intended to identify forward-looking statements, although not all forward-looking statements contain these identifying words. Actual results may differ materially from those indicated by such forward-looking statements as a result of various important factors, including: the impact of extraordinary external events, such as the risks and uncertainties resulting from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the Company’s business, operations, strategy, goals and anticipated milestones, including its ongoing and planned research activities and ability to readout data from the Ardent Phase 2b and open label extension clinical trials of tovinontrine in sickle cell disease; the Company’s ability to advance the development of tovinontrine under the timelines it projects in current and future clinical trials, demonstrate in any current and future clinical trials the requisite safety and efficacy of tovinontrine; and other factors discussed in the “Risk Factors” section of the Company’s most recent Quarterly Report on Form 10-Q, which is on file with the Securities and Exchange Commission and in other filings that the Company makes with the Securities and Exchange Commission in the future. Any forward-looking statements contained in this press release speak only as of the date hereof, and the Company expressly disclaims any obligation to update any forward-looking statement, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise.

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