Company Releases COVID-19 Antigens
The Native Antigen Company has commercially introduced antigens that have been specifically derived from the Wuhan strain of novel coronavirus, now named Covid-19, it was announced in a Feb. 12, 2019 press release.
The recombinant proteins were derived using the company’s proprietary mammalian VirtuE expression system, which enables the introduction of proper protein folding and post-translational modifications to recombinant proteins. The newly derived antigens are now commercially available for use in infectious disease research, as well as assay and vaccine development.
“Our mission is to reduce the global burden of infectious disease by developing the highest-quality reagents in rapid response to emerging public health threats,” said Dr. Andy Lane, commercial director, The Native Antigen Company, in the press release. “As one of the first recognized suppliers to release 2019-nCoV [Covid-19] proteins, we are proud to be able to offer these antigens to in-vitro diagnostics and pharmaceutical researchers to help drive the development of serological assays and vaccines that will be vital in stemming the spread of this disease.”
Adding infections, subtracting deaths: What to make of China’s fluctuating coronavirus count
For anyone keeping close track of China’s coronavirus counts this week, the numbers may have been equal parts concerning and confusing.
On Thursday, the Chinese city of Wuhan, the epicenter of the outbreak, reported a record of 15,000 new cases of coronavirus, known as COVID-19, from the previous day. Wuhan authorities said the uptick reflected an effort to incorporate probable cases of the virus that weren’t necessarily confirmed in a laboratory so as to help medical professionals treat more patients.
On Friday, an additional 5,000 new infected patients were discovered, bringing the total number of cases reported worldwide to over 64,000. Also on Friday, Wuhan reported 121 new deaths due to the disease while subtracting 108 from the previous total, saying that some deaths had previously been double-counted. The total number of deaths related to coronavirus is now approaching 1,400.
EPO(European Patent Office) Confirms Novelty of CRISPR/Cas9 Gene Editing System Patent
In a Feb. 10, 2020 press release, ERS Genomics revealed that the European Patent Office (EPO) has rejected arguments filed in opposition to patent EP2800811, which is directed to the single-guide CRISPR/Cas9 gene-editing system and covers uses in cellular and non-cellular settings.
EPO’s decision to reject the arguments and affirm the novelty and inventiveness of the patent, held by Dr. Emmanuelle Charpentier (founder of ERS Genomics), the Regents of the University of California, and the University of Vienna, followed three days of hearings. The final decision is for the patent to stand with minor modifications to two of the 23 original claims and removal of two dependent claims.
First Drug Created Via AI to Enter Clinical Trials, Signaling New Era for Pharma
DSP-1181, a developmental drug developed by Excsientia and Sumitomo Dainippon Pharma to treat obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), is expected to enter clinical trials, according to GlobalData, a market research consultancy based in the United Kingdom. Using machine learning, an aspect of artificial intelligence (AI) utilized in Excsientia’s Centaur Chemist platform allowed developers to move from discovery through pre-clinical stages in 12 months, rather than the five years typically required, the analysts noted in a press release.
“DSP-1181 making it to clinical trials at such a rapid pace offers hope for drug developers as this speed of development could potentially translate into cost savings and a more sustainable drug pipeline,” said Bonnie Bain, Ph.D., global head of pharma at GlobalData in a company press release. GlobalData’s 2020 survey found that AI and big data were among the most popular technologies adopted by pharma executives (Chart). In last year’s survey, cybersecurity was the top technology target for investment.
Inovio Pharma Awarded $9M Development Grant for Coronavirus Vaccine
Among ongoing worldwide concerns, biotechnology firm Inovio Pharmaceuticals Inc. (INO:NASDAQ), which is focused on treating and preventing cancer and infectious diseases, recently announced that the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) has “awarded it a grant of up to $9 million to develop a vaccine against the recently emerged strain of coronavirus (2019-nCoV) that has killed numerous people and infected hundreds more in China to date.”
The firm further indicated that “the initial CEPI funding will support Inovio’s preclinical and clinical development through Phase 1 human testing of INO-4800, its new coronavirus vaccine matched to the outbreak strain…and that CEPI previously awarded Inovio a grant of up to $56 million for the development of vaccines against Lassa fever and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), also caused by a coronavirus.”
Coronavirus outbreak clouds AstraZeneca’s Q4 results and 2020 outlook
With nearly a fifth of total sales coming from China, AstraZeneca counts the coronavirus-hit nation as one of its biggest growth drivers. The impact of the deadly epidemic has unsurprisingly weighed on the British drugmaker’s fourth-quarter results.
On Friday, AstraZeneca posted fourth-quarter sales of $6.25 billion, just shy of Wall Street estimates. Nearly $1.2 billion of that product revenue came from China.
In a post-earnings conference call, the company suggested that the outbreak originating from Wuhan — now christened COVID-19 — is expected to have some impact on its clinical trial recruitment in China, but so far caused “minimal disruption” on its operations in the region.
Benitec Biopharma Stock Jump 72%
Benitec Biopharma Ltd. (BNTC) are currently up 72% and nearly touching its six-month high. The pharma company on Friday revealed that a Federal court has ordered to convene a shareholder meeting to decide on the re-domiciliation of Benitec from Australia to the U.S.
Benitec announced that the Supreme Court of Queensland ordered that a meeting of shareholders is convened to consider and if thought fit, approve re-domiciliation.
Under the company’s arrangement, Benitec Biopharma Inc., a newly formed US corporation, will become the parent company of the Benitec group of companies to effect a re-domiciliation from Australia to the U.S. If implemented, Benitec shareholders would receive 1 common share in the new company for every 300 shares held.