Home health remedies Fierce Pharma Asia—Enhertu’s HER2-low breast cancer win; Takeda’s $2B gene therapy pact;...

Fierce Pharma Asia—Enhertu’s HER2-low breast cancer win; Takeda’s $2B gene therapy pact; Xtandi march-in campaign

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Looking beyond HER2-positive tumors, AstraZeneca and Daiichi Sankyo’s Enhertu posted a win in HER2-low breast cancer. Takeda tapped Code Biotherapeutics’ non-viral gene therapy capabilities in a deal potentially worth $2 billion. U.S. lawmakers lent support to a march-in petition asking the government to sidestep patents protecting Astellas and Pfizer’s Xtandi. And more.

1. AstraZeneca, Daiichi target broad breast cancer use with Enhertu’s landmark win in HER2-low disease

In a first for an HER2-targeted drug, AstraZeneca and Daiichi Sankyo’s Enhertu significantly prolonged the lives of patients with previously treated HER2-low breast cancer. The win came over chemotherapy in a phase 3 trial dubbed DESTINY-Breast04. A third-line HER2-low indication could mean 151 billion Japanese yen ($1.3 billion) in peak sales, Jefferies analyst Naoya Miura said.

2. Takeda’s gene therapy ambitions rise another $2B in 4-program Code Bio pact

Takeda signed up for Code Biotherapeutics’ non-viral gene therapy capabilities to develop treatments against a liver-directed rare disease and central nervous system conditions. For exclusive rights to four programs, Takeda is shelling out double-digit millions upfront with up to $2 billion in biobucks down the line.

3. March-in campaign on Pfizer’s prostate cancer med Xtandi gets congressional backing. Will it matter?

U.S. lawmakers are pressuring the Department of Health and Human Services to consider a march-in petition for Astellas and Pfizer’s prostate cancer drug Xtandi. The Bayh-Dole Act of 1980 gives the U.S. government an option to grab the patent of a technology developed with taxpayer money to fill health and safety needs. Xtandi costs more in the U.S. than in other high-income countries, the lawmakers pointed out.

4. GlaxoSmithKline, Medicago’s plant-based COVID vaccine, Covifenz, wins first approval

Medicago, a Canadian subsidiary of Mitsubishi Tanabe Pharma, won local approval for its recombinant COVID-19 vaccine, now dubbed Covifenz. The shot uses a plant-based viruslike particles technology to mimic the coronavirus’s spike protein and is combined with GlaxoSmithKline’s pandemic adjuvant. The vaccine showed 71% efficacy against COVID-19 in various variants except for omicron.

5. Takeda, Arch back hC Bioscience with $24M for transfer RNAs, following Flagship into the field

Takeda’s venture arm joined Arch Venture Partners and 8VC in a $24 million financing for hC Bioscience to bankroll the young biotech’s two transfer RNA, or tRNA, platforms. The technologies aim to correct mistakes during translation of genetic codes into proteins. The startup is a spinout from the University of Iowa.

6. Using corn to make nanoparticles that target tumors in mice

Scientists at the Tokyo University of Science developed nanoparticles from corn. The nanoparticles are meant as drug delivery vehicles, but they also showed anti-cancer activities themselves in mice. Besides inhibiting the growth of cancer cells, the nanoparticles sparked the release of TNF-alpha, which can help mount an anti-cancer immune response.

7. Anti-cancer drug isolated from Asian tree promotes weight loss in obese mice

A research team from China’s Northwest A&F University showed anti-cancer agent camptothecin holds promise as an obesity treatment. At a low dose, the drug increased the blood levels of a hunger-suppressing protein called GDF15, lowering food intake and reducing body weight in obese mice, the scientists found.

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