Therapeutic Class

‘Unprecedented’ HPV vaccine demand to fuel more Merck capacity investments

Having recently invested over $1.6 billion in its network, Merck says it is committed to further expand the supply of its HPV vaccines as worldwide demand continues to spiral. Speaking at the at Morgan Stanley 17th Annual Global Healthcare Conference last month, Roger Perlmutter, EVP and president of Merck Research Laboratories, said human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccines Gardasil and Gardasil 9 were the products that have the dominant near-term commercial potential for his firm. But a lack of manufacturing capacity at…

Moderna to expand mRNA plant with tech development center

Moderna will build an 85,000 square-foot technical development center at its recently opened manufacturing site in Massachusetts to support its messenger RNA (mRNA) pipeline. mRNA products themselves are neither small molecules nor traditional biologics, but rather a ‘set of instructions’ directing cells to, essentially, ‘use the human body as the bioreactor’ and make the proteins needed to prevent or fight diseases. Moderna Therapeutics has over 20 mRNA-based products in its pipeline, including prophylactic vaccines, cancer vaccines, intratumoral immuno-oncology candidates, and…

Vector market moving in right direction: Shortage driving CDMO M&A

Demand for viral vectors has emerged as a major M&A driver in the gene therapy CDMO space says an industry expert. Viral vectors are hollow viruses developers can fill with genetic material. When one of these vectors ‘infects’ a cell the genes inside are inserted and expressed as proteins. Vectors are vital for the production of gene therapies, including new products like Spark Therapeutics’ Luxturna (voretigene neparvovec-rzy) and AveXis’ Zolgensma (onasemnogene abeparvovec-xioi). The problem is that, for the past few…

In the pipeline: Surge of cell and gene therapies likely in 2020

Over 20 cell and gene-based therapies are expected to be filed or to receive approval decisions over the next 18 months, according to the Alliance for Regenerative Medicine (ARM). Earlier this year, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) laid out its action plan to deal with the large upswing in the number of investigational new drug (IND) applications for cell and gene therapies it is receiving. “The FDA commissioner has anticipated that he thinks there will be between 10-20…

Yescarta 2.0? How Kite plans to scale out CAR-T therapies

CAR-T pioneer Kite Pharma says scaling out capabilities, embracing digital technologies, and industry collaboration are among the efforts needed to bring cell therapies to maturity. In 2017, Gilead company Kite Pharma became the second company to achieve US regulatory success for a chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T-cell therapy. Two years on, and while sales of the product Yescarta (axicabtagene ciloleucel) are rising – Q2 2019 saw a 25% quarterly growth to $120 million –the sector itself has somewhat stalled with…

Treefrog wins EU funding for mass-produced cell therapy tech

Treefrog Therapeutics has received €10 million ($11 million) over the past five months to support its mass-produced pluripotent stem cell platform C-Stem. In September, Bordeaux, France-based Treefrog Therapeutics received €450,000 from the French government and €2.4 million from the EU’s Horizon 2020 program to help acelerate the cGMP certification and scale-up of its C-Stem technology platform. It comes five months after the firm raised €7 million in a Series A funding. “C-Stem is a technology that enables the mass-production of…

Zolgensma data: ‘Heavy-handiness’ of FDA a warning to industry, not just Novartis

The US FDA may have made an example of Novartis in the way it handled the revelation of Zolgensma data manipulation, says the Alliance for Regenerative Medicine. A month after the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the one-time gene therapy Zolgensma (onasemnogene abeparvovec), marketing authorization holder Novartis alerted the agency to a data manipulation issue that impacted the accuracy of certain data from product testing performed in animals submitted in the biologics license application (BLA). In its response,…

GSK pays Immutep on advancement of Ab for Ulcerative Colitis

The first patients have been dosed in a Phase II trial for GSK2831781, GSK’s ulcerative colitis candidate based on Immutep’s depleting anti-LAG antibody technology. In 2010, GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) licensed ImmuTune-IMP731, a therapeutic antibody for the treatment of autoimmune diseases, from Immutep in a deal that included milestone payments of £64 million ($80 million). This week, GSK is paying out £4 million of this due to the first patient being dosed in GSK’s Phase II clinical trial evaluating the candidate –…

Biocon buys Pfizer R&D plant to bolster 28-strong biosimilar pipeline

Biocon has acquired an R&D plant in Chennai from Pfizer healthcare India and plans to set up the 60,000 square-foot space to support its 28 molecule-strong biosimilar pipeline. Financial details of the acquisition have not been divulged, but a spokesperson from Indian drugmaker Biocon told this publication it has “acquired R&D capital assets from Pfizer healthcare India Ltd.” Specifically, this is a 60,000 square-foot facility at the TICEL Bio Park in Chennai, India, which will be established as a “bench…

Sarepta looks to PD optimization to progress DMD gene therapy

With Brammer and Paragon contracts, Sarepta Therapeutics has ample gene therapy manufacturing capacity but says it is now working on analytical and process development yield optimization. In 2018, Sarepta announced it was adopting a “hybrid manufacturing” approach to its gene therapy pipeline meaning it would build internal expertise in adeno-associated virus (AAV)-based manufacturing while partnering with contract manufacturers. As such, the firm entered into a long-term partnership with Brammer Bio – now part of Thermo Fisher – and Paragon Bioservices…