INDUSTRIAL IMPACT, DIAGNOSTICS
Vaxxinity, Inc. | March 21, 2023
Vaxxinity, Inc. a U.S. company pioneering the development of a new class of immunotherapeutic vaccines, announced that the first subjects have been dosed in a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled Phase 1 clinical trial of VXX-401, an investigational vaccine designed to lower low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, a known factor contributing to heart disease, by targeting proprotein convertase subtilisin/kexin type 9 serine protease (PCSK9). Heart disease remains the leading cause of death globally, claiming over 18 million lives per year, despite the existence of approved treatments that lower LDL.
“This is an exciting milestone for VXX-401 and Vaxxinity in our pursuit to vaccinate the world against heart disease with a preventative option that is convenient and accessible, addressing an unmet need to combat the leading global cause of death,” said Mei Mei Hu, Chief Executive Officer of Vaxxinity. “PCSK9 antibody therapies are well-tolerated and effective, but huge unmet patient need remains. In order to solve the problem of heart disease, the world needs a scalable, accessible technology that can reach the hundreds of millions, if not billions of people at risk. With an LDL-lowering vaccine we can potentially offer an option that’s cost-effective, safe, convenient, long-acting, and deployable.”
The multicenter Phase 1 dose-escalation trial aims to enroll 48 subjects aged 18 to 75 years, with LDL cholesterol between 2.59 and 4.89 mmol/L. The objectives of the trial are to evaluate safety, tolerability and immunogenicity (as measured by serum anti-PCSK9 antibody titers). Pharmacodynamics of the immune response will be measured by LDL cholesterol levels, an established model of PCSK9 inhibition in hypercholesterolemia.
“We’re excited to get this first-in-human trial of VXX-401 started. The concept of a vaccine for cholesterol could be a game-changer in cardiovascular health due to its potentially very broad reach and impact on human health,” said Professor Stephen Nicholls of Monash University and Victorian Heart Hospital in Australia. “Targeting PCSK9 with a monoclonal antibody is a proven and effective approach for lowering cholesterol and reducing the risk of heart attack and stroke. Despite the availability of statins and the approval of PCSK9-targeting medicines, there is still a need for new therapies. VXX-401 has the potential to extend the use of PCSK9 inhibition to the full population who could benefit.”
Earlier this month, Vaxxinity presented pre-clinical data at the American College of Cardiology/World Congress of Cardiology Annual Scientific Session demonstrating that VXX-401 induced robust anti-PCSK9 antibodies and durable LDL cholesterol lowering without affecting high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol levels, indicating that VXX-401 has the potential to be a safe and effective LDL lowering therapy. Data in non-human primate studies show that VXX-401 was well tolerated and provided durable and significant LDL reduction of 30% to 50% change from baseline. The data also demonstrate VXX-401’s immunogenicity: purified antibodies from immunized animals bound to human PCSK9 with high affinity, and exhibited a dose-dependent functional inhibition of PCSK9 in vitro. Additionally, Peripheral Blood Mononuclear Cells (PBMCs) collected prior to immunization did not release cytokines upon stimulation with various components of the vaccine, suggesting that VXX-401 may safely overcome immune tolerance.
VXX-401 was designed using Vaxxinity’s proprietary synthetic peptide vaccine platform and is being developed for the treatment of hypercholesterolemia. The platform is designed to harness the immune system to convert the body into its own natural “drug factory,” stimulating the production of antibodies. VXX-401 is designed to induce robust, long-acting antibodies against PCSK9 in order to lower LDL cholesterol.
Vaxxinity, Inc. is a purpose-driven biotechnology company committed to democratizing healthcare across the globe. The company is pioneering a new class of synthetic, peptide-based immunotherapeutic vaccines aimed at disrupting the existing treatment paradigm for chronic disease, increasingly dominated by monoclonal antibodies, which suffer from prohibitive costs and cumbersome administration. The company’s proprietary technology platform has enabled the innovation of novel pipeline candidates designed to bring the efficiency of vaccines to the treatment of chronic diseases, including Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, migraine, and hypercholesterolemia. The technology is also implemented as part of a COVID-19 vaccine program. Vaxxinity has optimized its pipeline to achieve a potentially historic, global impact on human health.
MEDTECH, INDUSTRIAL IMPACT
QIAGEN | January 06, 2023
QIAGEN recently announced an exclusive strategic partnership with Helix, a California population genomics leader, to advance companion diagnostics for hereditary diseases.
The requirement for companion diagnostic devices and tests capable of detecting clinically relevant genetic abnormalities grows along with the accelerated development of precision medicines. These tests helps in making decisions by showing patients that are most likely to benefit from a specific therapeutic product or be at risk. Although companion diagnostics that use whole exome sequencing have primarily been used in oncology so far, they are widely believed to have a great deal of potential in hereditary disease areas like cardiovascular, metabolic, neurodegenerative, and auto-immune diseases.
According to the agreement, QIAGEN will be Helix’s exclusive marketing and contracting partner in the United States. This partnership will use the Helix® Laboratory Platform, the first whole exome sequencing platform, to get a de novo class II authorization from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
As a leader in precision medicine, QIAGEN has more than 30 master partnership agreements with multinational pharma and biotech firms to develop and commercialize companion diagnostic tests for their drug candidates. Its companion diagnostic offerings include next-generation sequencing (NGS), polymerase chain reaction (PCR), and digital polymerase chain reaction (dPCR), sample types ranging from liquid biopsy to tissue, and disease areas such as cancer and Parkinson's, including 11 FDA-approved PCR-based companion diagnostics.
Helix has developed an end-to-end platform that enables health systems, life sciences firms, and payers to enhance genomic research and expedite the integration of genomic data into clinical care. It has teamed with major health systems to enable population genomics programs across the United States. These programs significantly improve the identification and recruitment of patients for clinical trials in hereditary diseases such as Parkinson's and cardiovascular or inflammatory diseases such as non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH).
QIAGEN is a leading provider of sample-to-insight solutions, enabling clients to get significant molecular insights from samples containing life's building elements. Its sample technologies are used to isolate and process DNA, RNA, and proteins from blood, tissue, and other materials. The company serves over 500,000 customers worldwide in molecular diagnostics (human healthcare) and life sciences (academia, pharma R&D, and industrial applications, primarily forensics).
CELL AND GENE THERAPY, INDUSTRIAL IMPACT
Lineage Cell Therapeutics, Inc. | February 23, 2023
On February 22, 2023, Lineage Cell Therapeutics, Inc., a clinical-stage biotechnology firm focused on the development of allogeneic cell therapies to restore and replace specific cell types of the human body, announced that it has entered into an exclusive option and license agreement with Eterna Therapeutics Inc. (Eterna) for the development of innovative beta 2 microglobulin (B2M)-deficient induced pluripotent stem cell (iPSC) lines that Lineage will assess for the creation of unique, differentiated cell transplant therapies.
These new cell lines to be developed by Eterna are expected to help Lineage generate more product candidates for the treatment of central nervous system (CNS) conditions and other neurology indications. Eterna holds the exclusive license for the crucial intellectual property associated with this partnership, which it obtained from its discovery partner Factor Bioscience.
Following the agreement, Eterna intends to perform specific gene-editing activities and furnish materials to Lineage for assessment. In addition, the agreement grants Lineage the option to obtain an exclusive license to use and sublicense the new gene-edited cell lines for clinical, preclinical, and commercial purposes in the field of CNS diseases. A distinctive feature of the starting cell line is the targeted elimination of the B2M gene, which is aimed at minimizing the immunogenicity of product candidates generated from the cell lines by inhibiting rejection by CD8+ T cells.
Lineage anticipates that this attribute will enhance the overall usefulness of the edited cell lines, including non-immune privileged or non-human leukocyte antigen (HLA) matched indications. Other proposed gene modifications may additionally differentiate the cell line from those currently utilized by competitors. No details of the financial agreement were disclosed.
About Lineage Cell Therapeutics, Inc.
Founded in 1990, Lineage Cell Therapeutics is a clinical-stage biotechnology company focused on developing novel cell therapies to address unmet medical needs. The company's programs are based on its proprietary cell-based therapy platform and related development and manufacturing capabilities. By using this platform, it specializes in the development and manufacture of specialized, terminally-differentiated human cells from its progenitor and pluripotent cell starting materials. These differentiated cells are intended to either support or replace cells that are dysfunctional or absent due to degenerative disease or traumatic injury and can also be administered to help the body mount an effective immune response to cancer.