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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.