It’s News Roundup Time! CRISPR, Cancer Diagnostics, and More …

Try as we might, we can’t cover every bit of news out there. Here are other biotech news stories that didn’t quite make the cut. 

Clinical trials

  • A gene therapy developed by the French company GenSight has shown promise for treating Leber Hereditary Optic Neuropathy (LHON), an inherited form of blindness, in a phase III trial. Patients injected with the gene therapy in one eye recovered around two-thirds of the lost vision in both eyes after 96 weeks.

Finance

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  • The Swiss immuno-oncology company T3 Pharmaceuticals has raised €11M (CHF 12M) in a private round to fund the preclinical development of a bacterial treatment that delivers protein drugs into tumor cells. The money will also finance the preparations for the treatment’s first clinical trial, which is expected in 2020.
  • The Dutch biotech Epify has been launched with a €500,000 seed round to develop tests for colorectal cancer based on detecting epigenetic biomarkers that control gene expression. The tests are designed to be non-invasive and help physicians to catch cancer early. 

Collaborations

  • The German company Evotec has teamed up with the big pharma Takeda to launch five drug discovery programs for diseases in neuroscience, oncology, gastroenterology, and rare diseases. As part of the deal, Takeda will pay Evotec an undisclosed upfront fee in addition to milestone payments potentially totaling over €778M ($850M).
  • The German big pharma Boehringer Ingelheim is joining forces with the US company Inflammasome Therapeutics to develop drugs treating retinal diseases. As part of the deal, Inflammasome will receive up to €147M ($160M) in milestone payments.
  • The Swedish companies Follicum and Bioglan have launched a collaboration to manufacture skin creams containing Follicum’s hair loss treatment in preparation for a phase II trial in 2020. 

Research

  • The German company iOmx has identified two new ‘checkpoint’ molecules that tumors use to evade the immune system, and will develop first-in-class drugs to target these molecules. This could help to overcome the resistance of some tumors to current checkpoint inhibitors, which target different molecules. 
  • A vaccine developed by a group of scientists at the University of Bristol, UK, has shown preclinical promise in protecting against the mosquito-borne disease chikungunya. The vaccine can be transported without needing costly refrigeration, which could help the vaccine reach impoverished areas. 
  • Researchers at the Bellvitge Biomedical Research Institute, Spain, have found a potentially non-invasive way to detect prostate cancer by screening semen
  • Scientists based at the University of Cordoba, Spain, have reported that they can supercharge the production of hydrogen from microbes for clean biofuels. The researchers mixed together two hydrogen-producing microbes, one a microalga and the other Escherichia coli bacteria, and were able to increase hydrogen output by 60%. 

Other

  • The UK-based Cell and Gene Therapy Catapult — the home of several UK cell and gene therapy companies such as Autolus — has completed an expansion of its manufacturing facilities. The center now has room for six more companies to develop and manufacture their therapies.

Image via E. Resko/Labiotech

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