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AbbVie licenses new cystic fibrosis asset

US-based biopharmaceutical company AbbVie has entered an agreement to license a cystic fibrosis (CF) asset from the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.

Financial details of the agreement were not disclosed.

The deal involves a cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator (CFTR) potentiator compound. AbbVie will advance the asset into clinical development for the potential treatment of CF.

Cystic fibrosis is a progressive, genetic disorder characterised by persistent lung infections.

The disease is caused by the CFTR gene mutations that negatively impact the function of the CFTR protein. Potentiator molecules are known to help the CFTR protein function better at the cell surface.

AbbVie Infectious Diseases and General Medicine vice-president Janet Hammond said: “We believe the fastest way to deliver transformational medicines for patients is by investing in the best science, both inside and outside our walls.

“AbbVie is committed to developing a broader range of treatment options for people with CF and their families. This agreement allows us to use our clinical development expertise to potentially advance the standard of care in CF.”

Currently, the company is exploring combinations of potentiator and corrector CFTR-targeting molecules to enhance outcomes for cystic fibrosis patients. This is expected to yield new therapies for the disease.

Cystic Fibrosis Foundation Research Affairs senior vice-president William Skach noted: “Modulator therapies represent the most transformative treatment advance in the history of CF.

“With this collaboration, we are excited about the potential to identify new therapeutic options for people with CF and to continue our relentless pursuit of treatments for the underlying cause of CF for every person with the disease.”

The agreement comes after the US Food and Drug Administration approved Vertex Pharmaceuticals’ three-drug combination drug Trikafta for treating CF.

Novartis partners with Pliant Therapeutics for fibrosis assets

Novartis has signed a collaboration and licence agreement with Pliant Therapeutics to develop and commercialise a preclinical asset, PLN-1474, designed to inhibit the αVβ1 integrin. The agreement also covers global exclusive licence for up to three additional integrin targets. PLN-1474 treats nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH)-related liver fibrosis, which could cause complications, including cirrhosis and liver failure.

Takeda licenses coeliac disease therapy from COUR

Takeda Pharmaceutical has obtained exclusive, worldwide rights for the development and commercialisation of COUR Pharmaceutical Development’s drug candidate for coeliac disease. CNP-101 / TAK-101 is an investigational immune modifying nanoparticle made of gliadin proteins. It is designed using COUR’s immune tolerance platform to target the immune response associated with coeliac disease.

Bavarian Nordic to acquire travel vaccines from GSK

Danish biotechnology firm Bavarian Nordic has signed an agreement to buy two commercial travel vaccines, Rabipur / RabAvert and Encepur, from GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) for an upfront payment of around €301m. The agreement covers manufacturing and worldwide rights to the vaccines but does not include the transfer of employees or manufacturing facilities. The two vaccines recorded annual sales of about €175m.

Healx raises funds to develop rare disease treatments

UK-based company Healx has raised $56m in a Series B funding round for the development of rare disease treatments identified using artificial intelligence (AI) technology called Healnet. Venture capital firm Atomico led the financing round, with participation from Intel Capital, Global Brain, btov Partners, Balderton Capital, Amadeus Capital Partners and Jonathan Milner. Healx will use the funds to build its pipeline, including therapies for fragile X syndrome.

Alexion to pay $930m to acquire Achillion Pharmaceuticals

Alexion Pharmaceuticals has agreed to acquire Achillion Pharmaceuticals for an upfront payment of around $930m, or $6.30 per share. Achillion  develops Factor D inhibitor therapies for complement alternative pathway-mediated rare diseases, including paroxysmal nocturnal hemoglobinuria (PNH) and C3 glomerulopathy (C3G). Currently, the company is working on two clinical-stage small molecule products, danicopan (ACH-4471) and ACH-5228.

Ipsen gains licence to Blueprint Medicines’ FOP drug candidate

French firm Ipsen has partnered with US-based Blueprint Medicines to develop and commercialise a fibrodysplasia ossificans progressiva (FOP) drug candidate, BLU-782. Ipsen’s subsidiary Clementia Pharmaceuticals signed the exclusive, worldwide licence agreement. BLU-782 is an investigational, oral, highly selective inhibitor of mutant ALK2 gene, the underlying cause of FOP.

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