Week of November 30

This weekly post looks to identify important advancements in the areas of oncology, CNS disorders and neurodegeneration, technologies, and industry and corporate developments. More in-depth reading and analysis can be found in the attached links.

Oncology


  • The European Commission approved Bristol Myers Squibb’s Opdivo to treat unresectable advanced, recurrent, or metastatic esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC) in the 2L setting. This is the fifth country that has approved Opdivo as a 2L treatment in this indication. Link


  • Published in The Lancet, a systematic review of 35 anti-CD19 CAR-T cell therapy trials found that 80% of relapsed or refractory B-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia achieved complete remission. However, the study also indicates that further studies are needed to assess and compare the safety of different CAR T-cell therapies in this indication. Link


Technology


  • Catamaran Bio has two allogenic chimeric antigen receptor (CAR)-NK cell therapy programs. In comparison to CAR-T cell therapy, CAR-NK cell therapies face fewer manufacturing difficulties, for they can be derived from healthy donors. Additionally, early clinical trials did not find evidence of GvHD, cytokine release syndrome, or neurotoxicity adverse events. Recently, Catamaran Bio received $42M in Series A funding for their candidates to treat solid tumors. Link


Industry and Corporate Developments


  • Biogen and Sage Therapeutics announced a $1.53B collaboration to develop and commercialize depression and neurological disorder treatments. A key driver of this collaboration is Sage’s zuranolone, which has received breakthrough therapy designation from the FDA for treating major depressive disorder (MDD) and is currently undergoing two Phase 3 clinical trials. Link


  • Eisai and Wren Therapeutics announced an exclusive research collaboration agreement to discover novel therapies targeting α-synuclein in synucleinopathies. This collaboration will utilize Wren’s network kinetics drug discovery platform, which assesses the effects of small molecules on the protein misfolding and aggregation pathways that cause neurodegenerative diseases. Link


  • PostEra and NeuroLucent announced a collaboration to develop novel treatments for Alzheimer's disease and other dementias. NeuroLucent is focusing on small molecules that stabilize a calcium channel that is dysregulated in Alzheimer's neurons, an approach that has had promising results in multiple preclinical Alzheimer’s models. Link


  • Tenebio and Poseida expanded their licensing partnership, announcing that Poseida will have four commercial license options on Teneobio’s heavy chain only domain antibodies, UniDabs, to develop novel CAR T-cell therapies. Tenebio stands to receive $250M in potential payments in addition to receiving royalties. Link


  • After recent Phase 3 clinical results, Amgen terminated its collaboration with Cytokinetics and its intention to develop and commercialize Cytokinetics’ omecamtiv mecarbil and AMG 594. While omecamtiv mecarbil met its Phase 3 primary endpoint of significantly reducing cardiovascular death or heart failure events, omecamtiv mecarbil did not meet its secondary endpoint of time to cardiovascular death. Link


  • Breast cancer diagnostic developer Agendia announced plans to integrate its genomic tests with Paige’s artificial-intelligence-powered pathology services with the goal of building a new digital precision oncology platform to improve both diagnosis and early intervention planning. Link