Sanofi licenses NK cells of Kiadis to boost the efficacy 

Sanofi has licensed the natural killer (NK) cells from Kiadis Pharma for use in combination with its multiple myeloma drug Sarclisa. The deal worth of USD 986 million gives the global rights to Sanofi for therapies that could lessen an efficacy-limiting shortcoming of anti-CD38 antibodies.

Sarclisa and Darzalex, the antibody of Johnson & Johnson, target CD38 that is a glycoprotein found at high levels on multiple myeloma cells and relatively low levels on healthy lymphoid and myeloid cells. The difference in expression levels is significant enough for the anti-CD38 antibodies to enhance results in multiple myeloma patients without causing excessive loss to healthy cells.  

Though, the presence of CD38 on healthy cells is a potential issue. The researchers have linked J&J’s Darzalex for reductions in NK cells that express higher levels of CD38 than other lymphocytes. As NK cells contribute to the antitumor immune response, their reduction could limit efficacy.

Fine-tuning regulatory T cells for cancer treatment and autoimmune diseases

Regulatory T cells, or Tregs, play a crucial role in regulating other cells in the immune system, so they do not attack their tissues. The failure of Tregs can result in autoimmune diseases. The certain cancers take benefit of Tregs’ immunosuppressive nature to avoid antitumor immune responses.

The scientists at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies recognised the genes that they were able to use to fine-tune Treg activity in mouse models of cancer and inflammatory bowel disease, as published in the journal Immunity.

Their goal is to be able to use these genes, which modulate regulatory T cells to interfere with autoimmune diseases and cancers as said by Salk associate professor, Ye Zheng, the study’s senior author. The scientists already knew that the Foxp3 gene that expresses its protein regulates Treg cell differentiation, maintenance and function.

Gilead axes USD 445 Million Precision Biosciences gene therapy hep B deal

Gilead Sciences is scrapping a new avenue of treating hepatitis B as it cuts ties with Precision Biosciences less than two years into their research deal.

Gilead laid up to USD 445 million for the pair to collaborate on gene therapies targeted at eliminating viral infections in vivo by using genome editing platform of Precision.

Under the agreement, Gilead was to fully fund the effort and run clinical trials while Precision was for early development, formulation and preclinical work.

Current HBV treatments may subdue viral replication. However, they do not completely clear out the virus; the infection is covalently closed circular DNA, or cccDNA, permits HBV replication to restart if treatment is halted.

Merck collaborates with cancer startup Foghorn in USD 425 Million pact

The next-gen cancer biotech Foghorn Therapeutics has collaborated with Big Pharma Merck.

The Cambridge, Massachusetts-based biotech that aims to create drugs for cancer and other serious diseases, which are based on insights into the chromatin regulatory system.

Merck will tap to discover and develop new meds against a transcription factor target that is believed to be relevant to a wide range of cancer patients.

The chromatin regulation directs gene expression in cells. A breakdown in chromatin regulation is an unexplored cause of many diseases, covering more than 20% of cancers. 

In this new agreement, Merck captures the exclusive global rights to develop and sell drugs that target the dysregulation of a single transcription factor. Foghorn receives an undisclosed upfront payment and research milestones, with USD 425 million and royalties on sales.