weekly biotechnology news wrap up

January 13, 2017

January 13, 2017

This week’s headlines include: Merck leapfrogs rivals in lung cancer drug combination race, Biotech Deals Will Bounce Back in 2017, A Genetically Modified Malaria Vaccine Has Passed an Important Hurdle, Neon Therapeutics Hauls in $70M for Personalized Cancer Vaccines, Novartis joins forces with Ionis on cardiovascular treatments, and Bavarian Nordic sees ‘huge potential’ in cancer vaccine combos, CEO says.

As interest in cancer vaccine combos surges, Bavarian Nordic is inclined to remain an independent vaccine company, according to CEO Paul Chaplin. That’s because, he says, it’s the “best and most fruitful way” to get the most out of the company’s platform in a variety of disease targets.


Headlines:

“Merck leapfrogs rivals in lung cancer drug combination race,” Reuters

Merck & Co has pulled ahead of rivals in the race to combine immunotherapy with other drugs as a treatment for lung cancer, potentially giving it a major lift in the battle for the largest cancer market.

“Biotech Deals Will Bounce Back in 2017,” Bloomberg

Biotech could really use the clean slate of a New Year. The Nasdaq Biotech Index collapsed 28 percent in the opening weeks of 2016 and never fully recovered, ending the year down about 22 percent.

“A Genetically Modified Malaria Vaccine Has Passed an Important Hurdle,” MIT Technology Review

It seems a primitive way to fight one of the world’s worst diseases, but 10 volunteers have been bitten by malaria-carrying mosquitoes in an effort to test out a new kind of genetically modified vaccine. So far, so good: no one got sick, and all 10 subjects developed antibodies, suggesting the new vaccine was doing its job.

“Neon Therapeutics Hauls in $70M for Personalized Cancer Vaccines,” Xconomy

One of the challenges of enlisting the body’s immune system to fight cancer is the constant mutation of the disease. If the body’s immune cells don’t recognize the cancer, they can’t target tumors effectively. Neon Therapeutics believes it has developed a way to make cancer vaccines that recognize and respond to these tumor changes. Now the biotech company has $70 million in new funding to advance its work.

“Novartis joins forces with Ionis on cardiovascular treatments,” Reuters

Novartis has agreed with Ionis Pharmaceuticals Inc and its affiliate Akcea Therapeutics Inc to license two experimental cardiovascular treatments in a deal which Ionis said could eventually be worth more than $1 billion.

“Bavarian Nordic sees ‘huge potential’ in cancer vaccine combos, CEO says,” Fierce Pharma

As interest in cancer vaccine combos surges, Bavarian Nordic is inclined to remain an independent vaccine company, according to CEO Paul Chaplin. That’s because, he says, it’s the “best and most fruitful way” to get the most out of the company’s platform in a variety of disease targets.