Gilead’s remdesivir trials; F2G raises $60.8M; Cancer immunotherapy research updates; Celleron gains rights to Roche’s cancer drug

Posted on Aug 13, 2020 by Delveinsight

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Researchers call out Gilead over the diversity of remdesivir trials

Researchers have challenged the sponsors of COVID-19 clinical trials to run more diverse studies. The call follows an evaluation of Gilead’s remdesivir clinical trials, which found the studies that flunked to offer an equal representation of Black, Latinx, and Native Americans.

The researchers cite data in the New England Journal of Medicine, showing Black Americans account for a disproportionate number of COVID-19 cases in the U.S. In Alabama, Black or African American people report 27% of the population but account for 43% of cases. Hispanic or Latino people are also over-represented in COVID-19 case data in Alabama and other states.

The data hint approved COVID-19 drugs will be used extensively in Black, Latinx, and Native Americans. However, the researchers found data supporting the efficacy and safety of remdesivir, which is an early COVID-19 drug, in minority groups are limited.

Roche offloads clinical-phase cancer drug to Celleron

Roche has transferred its anti-CSF1R monoclonal antibody emactuzumab to Celleron Therapeutics. The licensing agreement comes almost two years after Roche dropped the tumor microenvironment modulator after putting it through a clutch of early-phase studies in solid tumor patients.

Emactuzumab, which is also known as RG7155 and RO5509554, entered the clinic back in 2011. Roche went on to study the molecule in combination with other assets covering checkpoint inhibitor Tecentriq in solid tumor patients. Roche was preparing to commence another combination trial in lymphoma patients when it withdrew the study before enrolling in the first subject in 2018.

Roche called the action as a business decision and accentuating that there were no safety or efficacy concerns. Even so, the decision marked the end of the interest of Roche in developing the asset.

F2G raises USD 60.8 Million for late-phase antifungal R&D

F2G has raised USD 60.8 million to fund late-phase clinical development of its antifungal agent olorofim and gear up commercialization. The Cowen Healthcare Investments-led round comes four years later F2G raised a similar sum to get the dihydroorotate dehydrogenase inhibitor into phase 2b.

The treatment of fungal infections took a significant step forward two decades ago when the FDA approved Cancidas of Merck, the first drug in a new class of antifungals known as echinocandins. Since then, physicians have had to try for the treatment of fungal infections by using the same core therapeutic toolkit that features three major classes of drugs, including echinocandins.

F2G intends to add to the toolkit. Olorofim, also known as F901318, is part of a new class of antifungal drugs, the orotomides. The drug prevents the dihydroorotate dehydrogenase enzyme from disrupting the synthesis of pyrimidines, compounds that are vital to fungi.

Protein implication in Alzheimer’s could enhance cancer immunotherapy

Variants of TREM2, a receptor that is expressed by immune cells, have been linked to the development of Alzheimer’s disease. Now, scientists have elucidated a potential use for the protein in cancer treatment.

TREM2, which is also found in tumor-infiltrating myeloid cells that sometimes create an immunosuppressive environment, which aids tumors to get away from immune surveillance. A team at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis showed, in a study published in Cell, aiming the protein could be a potential new way to boost the power of immuno-oncology drugs.

According to the team, in tumor-bearing mice, treatment with an anti-TREM2 monoclonal antibody, combined with a PD-1 inhibitor, worked better at monitoring tumor growth than either drug alone.

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