💊 BMS' new next-gen ADC; Moderna's mRNA network; BioNTech's Chinese purchase
#466 | A new blood cancer drug; Stem cells against diabetes; Down with resistant bacteria
Hello there. Welcome back to The Kable. Today may be light on the number of updates, but there’s nothing light about the updates themselves. For starters, the death toll from Israeli strikes in Gaza has crossed 10,000 - over 4,000 of whom are children. As even UN facilities, including shelters, are being attacked, the UN Sec-Gen claims that “No one is safe”. 89 UN aid workers in Palestine have been killed, five of whom were killed in the past 24 hours alone. “Gaza is becoming a graveyard for children.”
In Malawi, the Ministry of Health has declared a measles outbreak in the capital city of Lilongwe. So far, there are 32 suspected cases, with 9 confirmed. Most of those affected are children under the age of 15 years. Many of them have not taken the recommended measles vaccination for reasons including cultural and religious beliefs.
China-based Fapon Group has inked a memorandum of cooperation (MoC) with the China Innovation Center at Dubai Chambers, which is an important platform for Chinese tech innovators to connect with clients in the GCC region. Fapon’s goal with this MoC is to enhance strategic partnerships in in-vitro diagnostics, pharmaceuticals, therapeutics, biomarker screening, and other healthcare-linked investments in Dubai.
The latest from the dengue outbreak in Bangladesh? 1,794 new hospitalisations and 9 more deaths in 24 hours. The total number of dengue fatalities this year is now 1,417.
Singapore’s Duke-NUS Medical School and Japan’s IPGaia have agreed to jointly advance drug discovery and development from academic to industry. Their goal is to help patients benefit from translational research. Duke-NUS will propose drug targets to IPG, which will subsequently work to develop clinic-ready therapeutic candidates which can be licensed to pharma companies. This is IPG’s 6th master agreement with an academic partner.
With over 2,000 partner pharmacies across LatAm, the Argentine startup Extendeal enhances price intelligence for pharmacists and brings transparency to the sector. The startup has now secured $7.5 million in additional investment to expand its operations in Mexico and Columbia.
Meanwhile, Bristol Myers Squibb has expanded its oncology pipeline by purchasing the rights to ORM-6151, a novel ADC from Orum Therapeutics. BMS will shell out $100 million for the candidate which has been cleared by the FDA for phase 1 testing in acute myeloid leukaemia and certain other cancers. Orum potentially stands to earn another $80 million from future milestone payments. While most other Big Pharma companies in the ADC space have traditional ADCs in their pipeline, Orum says that by leveraging the benefits of protein degradation, the candidate it sold to BMS is a next-gen version.
Moderna has launched an mRNA Platform Incubator Network in collaboration with Australian organisations involved in translational and pharmaceutical science, early-phase clinical trials, and regulatory science. The Network will work to advance the therapeutic potential of the mRNA platform, leveraging expertise from Monash University, the Peter Doherty Institute of Infection and Immunity, and other institutions. From its hub at Moderna’s Regional Research Centre in Melbourne, the Network will also support the development of the next generation of researchers. If only the mRNA tech transfer hub in South Africa had received as much support from the company.
South Korea’s Chong Kun Dang Pharmaceuticals has struck a deal potentially worth $1.3 billion – including $80 million upfront – with Novartis. The deal, Chong Kun Dang’s largest ever, concerns the Korean company’s CKD-510 candidate for neurological and cardiovascular diseases. The Swiss pharma giant will gain exclusive worldwide rights, excluding South Korea, to develop and commercialise the drug.
BioNTech is paying China’s Biotheus $55 million upfront (and potentially over a billion more in milestone payments) for a global ex-China license to PM8002, a bispecific antibody simultaneously targeting PD-L1 and VEGF. PM8002 is currently being tested in phase 2 studies in China as both a monotherapy and a combination treatment for patients with solid tumours.
NiedlFree Technologies from Hyderabad, India, is the latest to develop a needle-free oral insulin spray. Called Ozulin, the spray is a painless option for diabetes management. The company, which is also working on oral and nasal sprays for cancer, osteoporosis, and Alzheimer’s, is awaiting permission from the Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation to conduct safety and toxicology studies before it can conduct human clinical trials.
Over in the US, the CDC is expanding testing of samples collected from international air travellers. Starting this month, these tests will go beyond Covid to include flu and RSV as well.
And finally, a deadlock has been broken. Ahead of the COP28 climate summit later this month, the fifth meeting of a 24-member UN committee concluded in Abu Dhabi over the weekend. The committee tasked with designing a new climate disaster fund supported a deal that would make the World Bank the interim home of the fund. Developed countries will be urged, but not obliged to contribute to the fund that will support particularly vulnerable countries. Having a proposal in place before COP28 is encouraging. But the compromises it makes - by not making the countries that have contributed the most to climate change pay - leave much to be desired.