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Orca Bio raises $192m to support cell therapies development

US-based biotechnology firm Orca Bio has raised $192m in a Series D financing round to support the development of cell therapies intended to provide an alternative for standard bone marrow transplants.

The financing round, which brings the company’s total capital to approximately $300m, was led by Lightspeed Venture Partners and an undisclosed investor.

8VC, DCVC Bio, ND Capital, Mubadala Investment Company, Kaiser Foundation Hospitals, Kaiser Permanente Group Trust and IMRF are among other investors who participated in the funding round.

Orca Bio will use the latest funds to advance its cell therapy pipeline and manufacturing platform designed to create therapeutic mixtures of immune and stem cells. These therapeutic mixtures are expected to help treat haematological malignancies, genetic diseases and autoimmune disorders.

The company’s lead candidate, TRGFT-201 is a controlled formulation of T-cells, including subsets of regulatory T-cells. The product is being assessed in Phase I / II clinical trial involving patients with certain blood cancers.

Orca Bio will use the Series D financing to support clinical development of TRGFT-201. The company is also developing OGFT-001, a controlled cell product candidate with a next-generation formulation of T-cells. It is in a Phase I study for treating patients with blood cancers.

These two trials are said to be one of the largest Phase I cell therapy studies.
Orca Bio co-founder and CEO Ivan Dimov said: “Replacing bone marrow transplants is a logical first step in next-generation allogeneic cell therapy. While a conventional bone marrow transplant administers an uncontrolled cell product, Orca Bio has been the first to deliver a high precision cell therapy.

“We are initially focused on advancing two clinical programmes in patients with blood cancers and have successfully treated the largest-ever number of patients with high precision cell therapy.”

In addition to the indications being studied, the product candidates are expected to provide curative outcomes in an expanded patient population, while decreasing toxicities associated with standard bone marrow transplants.

Alpine Immune and AbbVie sign $865m immunology deal

Tonix and Southern Research to study immune responses to Covid-19

Tonix Pharmaceuticals has expanded its ongoing partnership with non-profit Southern Research to study T-cell immune responses to SARS-CoV-2, the novel coronavirus that causes Covid-19.

As part of the expanded collaboration, the partners aim to generate a blueprint of the human immune system’s response to Covid-19 by analysing samples from who have recovered or remain asymptomatic.

PDS Biotech and Farmacore partner to develop Covid-19 vaccine

US-based immunotherapy company PDS Biotechnology has partnered with Brazilian biotechnology firm Farmacore Biotechnology to jointly develop a Covid-19 vaccine.

The vaccine candidate, Versamune-CoV-2FC (PDS0204), is based on PDS Biotechnology’s immune-activating Versamune platform, integrating a recombinant fusion protein of SARS-CoV-2 developed by Farmacore to be recognised by the human immune system.

Takeda licences psychiatry programmes to Neurocrine Biosciences

Takeda Pharmaceutical has collaborated with US-based Neurocrine Biosciences for the development and commercialisation of therapeutic compounds in its early-to-mid-stage psychiatry pipeline.

As part of the strategic deal, Takeda granted Neurocrine Biosciences with an exclusive licence for seven programmes in the pipeline, including three clinical-stage assets.

Takeda to sell assets in Asia Pacific to Celltrion for $266m

Takeda Pharmaceutical has signed an agreement to sell certain non-core over-the-counter (OTC) and prescription pharmaceutical assets available only in the Asia Pacific to South Korean biopharmaceutical firm Celltrion for $266m in an upfront payment.

The terms of the agreement also include up to $12m in potential milestones, subject to customary legal and regulatory closing conditions.

Novo Nordisk to acquire Corvidia Therapeutics for $725m

Danish healthcare company Novo Nordisk has signed a definitive agreement to acquire US-based Corvidia Therapeutics, which develops and commercialises therapies for cardio-renal diseases, for an upfront payment of $725m.

The terms of the acquisition involve total payments of approximately $2.1bn upon reaching some regulatory and sales milestones by Novo Nordisk.

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