The week in industry: AstraZeneca sell commercial rights to schizophrenia drugs in Europe and Russia

This week: Collaboration announced to increase the oral bioavailability of kinase inhibitor, EU orphan designation granted for soft tissue sarcoma treatment and NIH awards grant to evaluate cancer-associated pain drug candidate.

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Oct 31, 2019
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This week's industry news:  

AstraZeneca sell commercial rights to schizophrenia drugs in Europe and Russia
Collaboration to increase oral bioavailability of kinase inhibitor
EU orphan designation granted for soft tissue sarcoma treatment
NIH awards grant to evaluate cancer-associated pain drug candidate


AstraZeneca sell commercial rights to schizophrenia drugs in Europe and Russia

AstraZeneca (Cambridge, UK) will be selling the rights to commercially license SEROQUEL® and SEROQUEL XR® in Europe and Russia to Cheplapharm Arzneimittel (Mesekenhagen, Germany). This decision comes after the patent protections for both of these schizophrenia and bipolar disorder drugs expired. Cheplapharm will make an initial payment of US$178 million whilst AstraZeneca will continue to manufacture and supply these compounds during the transition period.

“Seroquel is an important established medicine and this agreement with Cheplapharm will help ensure continued patient access. It forms part of our strategy of reducing the portfolio of mature medicines to enable reinvestment in our main therapy areas,” commented Ruud Dobber, Executive VP of Biopharmaceuticals at AstraZeneca.

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Collaboration to increase oral bioavailability of kinase inhibitor

SeraNovo (Leiden, The Netherlands) and Carna Bioscience (Kobe, Japan) have signed a license agreement to expand their existing collaboration. With this, the two will be working to develop an oral formulation of one of Carna’s proprietary drugs (a kinase inhibitor) with increased bioavailability – making use of SeraNovo’s Deep Eutectic Solvent formulation platform.

“We are very excited that we have set up this important partnership with Carna Biosciences. We are confident this is just the first step in a long and fruitful partnership with an industry leader. As a start-up company, this partnership represents excellent validation for our breakthrough formulation technology,” commented Niall Hodgins, CEO of SeroNovo.

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EU orphan designation granted for soft tissue sarcoma treatment

The European Commission has granted orphan designation to paclitaxel and encequidar, from Athenex (NY, USA), for the treatment of soft tissue sarcoma. This designation comes after positive review from the European Medicines Agency. The compound has already been granted the same designation status by the US FDA.

“We are very pleased to receive Orphan Designations from the European Commission, as this further recognizes the potential benefits of Oral Paclitaxel. Earlier this year, we shared encouraging early results from a clinical study in angiosarcoma, a form of soft tissue sarcoma, that showed rapid responses in a difficult to treat patient population. We will soon be extending this study to include sites in Europe,” commented Rudolf Kwan, CMO of Athenex.

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NIH awards grant to evaluate cancer-associated pain drug candidate

EicOsis (CA, USA) has announced that it has been awarded a Phase I Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grant – totaling US$268,000 – to support preclinical testing of their drug candidate EC5026. The candidate is an inhibitor of the soluble epoxide hydrolase enzyme and is indicated for the treatment of chronic neuropathic pain associated with certain chemotherapy drugs. The grant comes from the National Cancer Institute (NCI) – a part of the NIH.

“The NIH SBIR program awards grant funding to proposals that are both highly innovative and have the potential for significant impact. EicOsis drug candidate represents a promising new oral therapy for neuropathic and inflammatory pain, which is an urgent unmet global clinical need since there are no effective treatments for cancer pain. Chemotherapy-induced pain can be extremely debilitating and severely impact the quality of life of cancer patients. This grant funding underscores the importance of advancing the research on EC5026 and will allow to determine whether it is also effective for treating pain in cancer patients,” Dipak Panigrahy (Harvard University).

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