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 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.
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.
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 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.
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.