signed a 3-year contract to conduct joint research on novel epigenetic cancer drugs. EpiTherapeutics is a Danish firm that also has collaborative agreements with Merck Serono
and OSI Pharmaceuticals
, which recently laid off 1500 employees, announced a 3-year agreement with Avila Therapeutics Inc.
, a privately held company in Waltham, Massachusetts, to pursue development of 6 oncology drugs. Sanofi will give Avila $40 million up front and up to $154 million in milestone payments in exchange for exclusive commercialization rights should any of the drugs make it to market. Sanofi has also signed an agreement with Merck KGaA
to perform phase I testing using a combined regimen of experimental targeted drugs from both companies.
The biotechnology company NewLink Genetics Corp.
announced it would offer $86.3 million in shares in an initial public offering to fund its immunotherapies pipeline. NewLink has 1 drug in late-stage trials for advanced pancreatic cancer and is investigating novel immunotherapies for lung cancer and melanoma.
Following a successful phase II study, the California-based Sunesis Pharmaceuticals
has launched the phase III randomized VALOR trial to investigate vosaroxin plus cytarabine as a second-line therapy for acute myeloid leukemia. The placebocontrolled study will enroll 450 patients in North America, Europe, Australia, and New Zealand, and has a primary endpoint of overall survival.Metamark Genetics
, a startup company in Cambridge, Massachusetts, specializing in molecular diagnostics, received worldwide licensing rights from HistoRx
to incorporate its proprietary AQUA technology in the Metamark Dx Prognostic Assay. The assay is designed to evaluate tumor biomarkers for therapy selection.Eli Lilly
has halted clinical trials for the novel agent tasisulam, which was being compared with paclitaxel as a treatment for advanced melanoma, after possible treatment-related deaths. The company reported 12 deaths out of 300 patients enrolled, largely due to myelosuppression. Ongoing trials using lower doses of tasisulam in other solid tumors will continue.Nektar Therapeutics
has abandoned plans to find a partner to help it develop NKTR-102, a topoisomerase I inhibitor that is being investigated in mid-stage trials for breast, ovarian, and colorectal cancer. Shares dropped based on concerns that the company--which had $303.3 million in cash and investments as of September 30--might not have enough capital to support research and development efforts.Adventrx Pharmaceuticals
in San Diego, California, says it has raised $22.5 million via a direct offering to RA Capital Management
and other healthcare and institutional investors. The offering included common stock, Series A warrants, and Series B warrants. The company said the money is to be used to expand its pipeline through acquisitions and new drug development and to bring promising pipeline compounds further along.Radient Pharmaceuticals
recently announced that the Indian government plans to purchase more than 25,000 FDA-approved Onko-Sure assays, which are designed to screen for up to 19 types of cancer. The company said the order--placed by Gaur Diagno in India--is valued at more than $10 million. Radient's CEO said the company is prepared to handle the high volume and predicts worldwide annual sales of Onko- Sure will eventually reach $1.5 billion.Oncolytics Biotech
is accepting US patients with KRAS-mutated colorectal cancer for a phase I study of Reolysin combined with a FOLFIRI chemotherapy regimen. Eligible patients must be oxaliplatin refractory or intolerant. The study is being conducted at the Montefiore Medical Center in New York and will enroll 12 to 20 patients.Bayer
announced that it has initiated a phase III trial of the novel agent regorafenib in patients with metastatic or nonresectable gastrointestinal stromal tumors. Investigators plan to enroll 170 patients with progressive disease following front-line treatment with imatinib and sunitinib. Regorafenib is a multikinase inhibitor being investigated in several solid tumors.Published in Oncology & Biotech News. January 2011.