Novartis pushes further into gene therapy for the eye with deal for Swiss startup

SWITZERLAND – Novartis has bought a second biotech startup developing gene therapies for the eye, Arctos Medical, a small Swiss company spun out of the University of Bern. Arctos, which previously received financial backing from Novartis’ venture fund, specializes in optogenetics, a field of research which uses light to probe the behavior of neurons. Drawing on this science, Arctos is attempting to transform other types of retinal cells into photoreceptor-like cells by delivering a gene that encodes for a light-sensitive protein. Arctos, and now Novartis, envision this technology could be…

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India’s vaccine giant invests US $68 million to gain 3.9% stake in UK’s Oxford Biomedica

INDIA – The Serum Institute of India (SII) is set to invest more than US $68.2 million in Oxford Biomedica plc, a biotech group based in the United Kingdom, to fund construction of a facility that will manufacture COVID-19 vaccines. The British biotech firm has announced an investment from world’s largest Coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine manufacturer by volume. The biotech company anticipates receiving an investment from SII of just over US $68 million, which will be used to fund the development of Oxbox, its 84,000 square foot manufacturing facility in Oxford.…

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Lincoln Pharma acquires plant for making pneumonia, bronchitis antibiotics

INDIA – Indian drug maker Lincoln Pharmaceuticals Limited has acquired a facility in Mehsana state in India that makes antibiotics used in the treatment of pneumonia and bronchitis, among other ailments. The acquisition along with capacity expansion and modernization entails an investment of US$4.07 million (Rs 30 crore) which Lincoln Pharma will fund through internal accruals. The plant will manufacture Cephalosporin products which is a bactericidal, broad-spectrum, and β-lactam antibiotic originally derived from fungus Acremonium. To be manufactured in tablet, capsule, dry syrup and injectable forms, Cephalosporin is used to…

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Kenya to manufacture Covid-19 vaccines starting next year

KENYA – Kenya will next year start manufacturing Covid-19 vaccines locally in collaboration with unnamed pharmaceutical firms in a move aimed at easing supply hitches that have derailed mass inoculation. Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe revealed in an internal vaccination blue print that the country has started the process of building a filling plant for the Covid-19 vaccines. A full-fledged vaccine manufacturing plant will be built by 2024, said Mr Kagwe. A fill and finish facility helps third parties put the vaccine from the main manufacturers into vials or syringes,…

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Emergent secures manufacturing deal for Providence Therapeutics COVID-19 Vaccine Candidate

USA – Emergent BioSolutions and Canadain biotechnology company Providence Therapeutics have entered into a five-year contract development and manufacturing (CDMO) services agreement for a Covid-19 vaccine spanning Emergent’s integrated capabilities. Emergent will produce drug substances for Providence’s vaccine candidate, PTX-COVID19-B, as well as provide services for finished products such as filling the vaccine in vials at its Winnipeg facility in Canada. The baseline agreement signed between Emergent and Providence Therapeutics is valued at approximately US$90 million, covering manufacturing services, studies to support global supply chain activities, as well as facility…

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South Africa based vaccine know-how transfer hub to replicate Moderna’s Covid-19 vaccine

AFRICA – The WHO has initiated talks with USA based Moderna Inc to develop Covid-19 vaccines in Africa designed to help more developing countries access COVID-19 shots after rich nations bought up most of this year’s supply. The operations, which are to be carried out in the WHO- backed African vaccine hub may delay a while due to lack of progress in talks with the U.S. company, a senior WHO official has said. October last year, Moderna said it would not enforce patents related to its shot during the pandemic,…

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Roche strikes US$3 billion deal with Adaptimmune to develop cell therapies for cancer

SWITZERLAND – Roche has acquired rights to a group of off-the-shelf cancer cell therapy programs from Adaptimmune, agreeing to work with the biotech on five “shared cancer targets” as well as some additional personalized T cell therapies. The Swiss drugmaker will pay Adaptimmune US$150 million now and could add another US$150 million over five years if the deal remains active that long. The deal could be worth more than US$3 billion if various milestones are met, though that money isn’t guaranteed. Adaptimmune could also opt for royalties on sales or…

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Lilly inks deal with ProQR as it establishes itself in genetic medicine

USA – Eli Lilly is expanding its presence in genetic medicine by partnering with ProQR Therapeutics in a research partnership that’s centered on the Dutch biotech company’s technology for editing RNA. The two companies will use ProQR’s “Axiomer” platform, which is designed to enable the editing of single nucleotides within RNA, a potentially useful tool for correcting the effects of disease-causing genetic mutations. They will collaborate on as many as five potential treatments for liver and nervous system conditions. Per deal terms, Lilly will pay ProQR US$20 million in cash…

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Moderna developing single-shot vaccine booster for Covid-19 and flu

USA – American pharmaceutical and biotechnology company, Moderna, is developing a two-in-one vaccine booster shot that protects against both Covid-19 and the seasonal flu. The new vaccine, which the company is calling mRNA-1073, combines Moderna’s current Covid vaccine with a flu shot that’s also under development, according to a press release. The drug maker already had several influenza vaccine candidates in development. The new vaccine combines the experimental flu shot that is furthest along with its Covid vaccine. “Today we are announcing the first step in our novel respiratory vaccine…

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Amethis invests in Zimbabwean pharmaceutical company Avacare

ZIMBABWE – Pan-African private equity firm Amethis has struck a new investment by acquiring a minority stake in Avacare Global, a regional distributor and manufacturer of pharmaceuticals and healthcare consumable products. Amethis’ investment aims to support Avacare in its strategic shift towards manufacturing while continuing to consolidate its positioning in existing and in new markets, and to strengthen governance. “We strongly believe in Avacare’s strategy to further expand its manufacturing activities in a context where the African continent must build-up and reinforce its production capabilities to address the increasing local…

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