Try as we might, we can’t cover every bit of biotech news out there. So relax, and read everything else that happened this week. 

Clinical trials

  • A first-in-class antibody drug developed by the German biotech InflaRx reduced scarring by over 50% in patients with the inflammatory skin condition hidradenitis suppurativa by the end of a six-month extension of a phase IIb trial. Although this extension included no placebo control, InflaRx sees the results as a positive sign after the drug failed to beat the placebo in the phase IIb trial in June.

Finance

ADVERTISEMENT

  • The French company Poxel will receive a loan of €30M from the Swiss firm IPF Partners to fund ongoing clinical trials of two drugs for the treatment of the liver condition non-alcoholic steatohepatitis, also known as NASH.
  • The German biotech Mannin has received a grant of €6.8M from the German government to fund preclinical development of two treatments — a small molecule and a protein drug — for the treatment of the blindness condition glaucoma.
  • The bioelectronics developer Pixium Vision will receive up to €10M from the European Select Growth Opportunities Fund in the form of a bond issue to fund the development of a retinal implant designed to restore sight lost to age-related macular degeneration.
  • The French company Acticor Biotech has raised an extra €7M on top of the €15.3M it raised last year in a Series B round. The money will let Acticor expand into the US an ongoing European phase II trial of its lead antibody drug for the treatment of stroke.
  • The Finnish biotech Desentum has raised €4M to fund the launch of the company’s first clinical trial, expected later this year, of a vaccine designed to treat hay fever caused by birch pollen.

Collaborations

  • The German biotech Evotec has launched a collaboration with the Swiss firm Vifor Pharma to develop treatments for undisclosed kidney conditions. Vifor Pharma will provide Evotec with €25M to cover the preclinical development of new treatments, and the partners will then share subsequent clinical development costs.
  • The French microbiome biotech Enterome has begun working with the US research institution Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center to develop immunotherapies for cancers such as melanoma, lung, and pancreatic cancer. Enterome is developing immunotherapies using antigens from bacteria in the microbiome that resemble those of tumors, which could arm the immune system to fight cancer. 
  • The UK company Artios Pharma has licensed a small molecule drug from the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center and the VC firm Shangpharma Innovation, both based in the US, to treat cancer by preventing tumor cells from repairing their DNA.
  • A collaboration of ten research institutes in the UK, led by the Wellcome Sanger Institute, has embarked on a quest to sequence the genome of 60,000 species of wildlife in the UK, which could lead to the discovery of compounds that could be developed as therapeutics. A first grant of €11M will fund the collection of genomes from 2,000 species.

Research

  • A private-public EU collaboration has developed a microfluidic device that can test dairy farm milk for contamination with pesticides and antibiotics. Current equipment used to test for milk contamination is limited to labs, whereas this device could be used at the farm itself, saving costs for dairy farmers.
  • An academic study led by the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital, UK, concluded that the rate of preterm infants developing sepsis and a life-threatening bowel condition called necrotizing enterocolitis fell by more than half after the center began providing them with live bacterial treatments to improve the health of their gut microbiome.

Policy

  • The FDA has advised that wealthy nations make their gene therapy regulations more consistent with each other so that developing countries can have access to these advanced treatments more quickly. A single injection of a gene therapy has the potential to treat genetic diseases for long periods of time, and this could benefit developing countries that are unable to provide patients with the current standard of care, such as regular blood transfusions and iron chelation therapy in the case of the blood disorder beta thalassemia.

Image via E. Resko

Source