Aelis Farma pockets $30M; Alcyone unveils $23M for AAV gene therapies; Progentec and GSK collaborate; Kozin bags $60M

Posted on Jun 10, 2021 by Delveinsight

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Aelis Farma pockets USD 30 Million upfront in cannabis use disorder deal with Indivior

Indivior speculates that Aelis Farma has what it takes to bring cannabis use disorder therapy into the clinic with a USD 30 million upfront rights agreement.

Aelis, clinical-stage French biotech zeroed in on brain disorders, will receive an upfront payment of USD 30 million from addiction-focused pharmaceutical company Indivior in a combined effort on cannabis use disorders such as cannabis-induced psychosis.

Indivior is betting on the cannabis growth industry as it looks to cash in on the seven-year development of Aelis’ lead candidate, AEF0117. The drug is a synthetic signalling-specific inhibitor, which prohibits the cannabinoid type 1 receptor. Early and mid-stage testing of AEF0117 has hinted it is safe and tolerable and could be effective against the disorder as per the companies.

If Aelis successfully finishes a scheduled phase 2b study, coordinated at Columbia University, the biotech could get a nice paycheck from Indivior for USD 100 million-plus potential milestone payments and royalties. 

In return, Indivior grabs an exclusive global option for AEF0117, including international rights on a patent covering the drug, as well as related compounds. Aelis’ second compound, AEF0217, is the treatment of a cognitive disorder at the clinical stage. Additional compounds are being explored using Aelis’ CB1-targeted drug screening platform.

Alcyone unveils with USD 23 Million for AAV gene therapies for Central Nervous System disorders

The Massachusetts biotech unveiled itself USD 23 million in funding from RTW Investments with a pipeline of 12 adeno-associated viruses (AAV) gene therapy programs for severe Central Nervous System (CNS) disorders. Alcyone lead programs comprise ACTX-101, a Rett syndrome gene therapy in pre-IND enabling studies, and ACTX-401, IND-stage gene therapy for spinal muscular atrophy with respiratory distress type 1.

Alcyone is coming out of the gates with four gene therapy platform technologies in deal with the Abigail Wexner Research Institute at Nationwide Children’s Hospital. The technologies comprise X-reactivation, conventional transgene replacement, vectorized exon skipping, and promotor modulation.

The company also inked a broad strategic collaboration with Roche in December 2018, as per Alcyone. According to the company, the partnership is meant to optimize intrathecal therapies and create novel antisense oligonucleotide delivery treatment options for patients with neurological disorders.  

Their mission at Alcyone Therapeutics is to offer life-changing therapies for children and their families affected by severe neurological conditions, said PJ Anand, CEO, president, and founder, in a statement.  

Alcyone is going up against the latest biotechs to come with an aim on CNS disorders. Taysha Gene Therapies is one of them. The Dallas-based pivotal-stage company offered preclinical data showing statistically major survival extension in mouse models of Rett syndrome. 

Progentec and GSK collaborate to study lupus management tool

Progentec and GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) have entered an 18-month collaborative research deal to explore new measurement and management tools for systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE or lupus).

Lupus is a complex autoimmune disease, which is difficult to detect and treat. Patient-generated data, such as data from wearable devices, is considered vital in chronic disease care as it facilitates continuous monitoring of relevant health signals in the clinic and outside of it.

A developer of diagnostic and digital technologies, Progentec observed that these signals rise in predictive value on integration with artificial intelligence (AI) algorithms and lupus-specific laboratory tests.

The latest research agreement will support two studies in the US to evaluate the use of available new clinical tools, comprising proteomics and digital health, in proffering a more practical approach to managing lupus.

The first study will evaluate the impact of aisle MGMT on the process of clinical decision-making.

A lupus management platform developed by Progentec, aisle MGMT includes the aisle DX Flare Risk Index test, the [AutoimmuneCorner] patient app, a smartwatch, and access to health coaching specific to the disease.

The second study is based on the OASIS Study that started last year. Backed by Progentec’s LupusCorner Research platform, the OASIS Study is a finished decentralized clinical study.

Kozin bags USD 60 Million to exploit the weaknesses of drug-resistant cancer

Kojin Therapeutics raised USD 60 million to take advantage of iron-dependent cell death in drug-resistant cancer treatment. Series A rounds build biotechnology based on research done by its scientific founders at Harvard University and the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.

Massachusetts-based Kojin’s big idea is to treat a disease by looking at the state of the cell. Traditionally, pharmaceutical researchers have defined cells by their location and appearance. For Kojin, the approach is shared by cells in several parts of the body and overlooks internal programs reflected in properties such as drug responsiveness. Kojin is ill by administering drugs to the state of the cells. They believe that they can selectively target their cells to address complex therapeutic challenges.

The first focus is on cancer treatment by targeting cells sensitive to iron-dependent cell death, also known as ferroptosis. Kozin aims to use small molecules to trigger a lipid peroxidation chain reaction that destroys the membranes of cells that are vulnerable to ferroptosis. Cellular status may also be applicable in the treatment of fibrosis and immune disorders.

Polaris Partners, Newpath Partners, and Cathay Health have joined forces to raise Kojin to a USD 60 million Series A round, believing that the idea has potential. In Series A, Leaps by Bayer, AbbVie, Eventide Asset Management, Alexandria, Dana-Farber’s Binney Street Capital, and several family offices have joined the major investors.

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