Weekly Quick Hits (Greater Philly) – Week of May 22, 2023

Funding, Awards and Collaborations
Avantor and Labguru Partner on a Range of Lab Products

Radnor, Pa.-based Avantor, a provider of products and services for biopharma, healthcare, education and government, advanced technologies and applied materials industries, inked a deal with Labguru, a research-to-production platform. They will integrate Avantor’s Inventory Manager and e-commerce channel into Labguru’s Lab Information Management Software (LIMS) and Electronic Lab Notebook (ELN).

Quanta Raises $50 Million+ in Series D

Quanta Therapeutics, with offices in South San Francisco and Radnor, Pa., raised $50.7 million in Series D financing. The round was led by Avidity Partners and supported by the company’s existing investors, including Soffinova Investments, Fida Ventures, Surveyor Capital, Longitude Capital, BVF Partners and AbbVie Ventures. Other new partners included GC&H Investments and WS Investment Company. The funds will be used to advance the company’s pipeline, which includes two KRAS inhibitors and a novel RAF1 discovery program.

Agile Announces IPO Price for $7.5 Million Raise

Agile Therapeutics, headquartered in Princeton, NJ, announced a public offering price of $3.9551 per share of 1,896,286 shares of common stock. The company plans to use the net proceeds for working capital, business development, and general corporate purposes.

Cabaletta Bio Closes on $100 Million IPO

Philadelphia-based Cabaletta Bio closed on an underwritten public offering of 8,337,500 shares of its common stock at a public offering price of $12 per share. The gross proceeds were about $100 million. The company focuses on engineered T-cell therapies for autoimmune diseases.

CHOP Researchers Picked for Bespoke Gene Therapy Consortium

Two researchers from Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) were selected for the Foundation for the National Institutes of Health (FNIH) Accelerating Medicines Partnership Bespoke Gene Therapy Consortium (AMP BGTC). This public-private partnership focuses on accelerating the development and delivery of customized gene therapies for rare diseases. Laura Adang, MD, PhD and Rebecca Ahrens-Nicklas, MD, PhD, will utilize gene therapy to target multiple sulfatase deficiency (MSD), a lysosomal storage disorder that affects the brain, skin, and skeleton.

Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Northeastern Pennsylvania Award $925,000

Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Northeastern Pennsylvania invested $925,000 in area companies. In the life sciences, Catapallo VR (Reading, Pa.) received $100,000. The company produces interactive virtual reality modules for neurodivergent people. Steel Jupiter (Bethlehem, Pa.) received $100,000. The company develops tech that improves air filters and masks for trapping and immobilizing viruses. Ophidion (Bethlehem, Pa.) received $150,000. The company is working to treat Huntington’s disease and other neurodegenerative disorders. Saladax Biomedical (Bethlehem, Pa.) received $200,000 to help develop test kits for chemotherapy and anti-psychotic drugs.

In the Clinic
Hepion’s Phase II NASH Trial Hits Primary and Secondary Endpoints

Edison, NJ-based Hepion Pharmaceuticals announced positive topline results from its Phase II ALTITUDE-NASH trial. The study of recofilstat met the primary endpoint by demonstrating improved physiologic liver function and was well tolerated after four months of treatment in patients with stage 3 or greater fibrosis based on the AGILE 3+ criteria. All secondary endpoints were met, including decreases in liver injury biomarkers and multiple fibrosis-associated biomarkers.

FDA Clear’s Laekna’s IND for Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer

Laekna, with offices in Shanghai, China and Warren, NJ, reported the FDA cleared its Investigational New Drug (IND) application for LAE102 antibody for clinical development. The Phase I/II trial will focus on non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC).

New Products
Integral Molecular Introduces Off-the-Shelf Reagents to Evaluate Flu Vaccine Efficacy

Philadelphia-based Integral Molecular expanded its portfolio with Reporter Virus Particles (RVPs) for influenza strains recommended by WHO for 2023/2024 seasonal influenza vaccines. The RVPs allow researchers to use ready-to-use reagents to test vaccine serum for flu neutralization.

Research Roundup
Temple Research: Gene-Editing Strategy Blocks Spread of HIV

Researchers at the Lewis Katz School of Medicine at Temple University have published research in Molecular Therapy – Nucleic Acids that uses a combination of two gene-editing constructs. Genetic changes that create a rare, fatal disorder called MOGS-CDG also protect cells against infection by viruses. The gene constructs include one that targets HIV-1 DNA and the other that targets the MOGS gene, which causes MOGS-CDG.

Immunome Demonstrates Antibody Blocks IL-38

Immunome, headquartered in Exton, Pa., published preclinical research demonstrating that its antibody targeting IL-38 reactivated the immunostimulatory anti-tumor mechanisms within the tumor microenvironment. IL-38 is expressed in all stages of disease in a range of tumors of high unmet medical need.

UD Research: Creating Bacteria that Synthesize an Unnatural Amino Acid

Researchers at the University of Delaware used metabolic engineering techniques with genetic code expansion to create a biological system that produces nitrated proteins autonomously. They focused on para-nitro-L-phenylalanine (pN-Phe), a non-standard amino acid that is not one of the 20 standard amino acids nor been observed in nature. The amino acid has been used by other researchers to help the immune system respond to proteins the immune system typically doesn’t respond to.

Wistar Research: Engineering a Goldilocks Construct

Researchers at Philadelphia’s Winstar Institute engineered a linked molecule that enables a three-modality therapy to treat melanoma. They connected a cytokine and an antibody and then engineered a form that was pro-inflammatory enough to attack the cancer cells, but not so inflammatory to create complications or decrease survival incomes. The research was published in Frontiers in Immunology.

Regulatory and Advocacy
Rocket’s PKD Gene Therapy Receives FDA Regenerative Medicine Advanced Therapy Designation

The FDA granted Rocket Pharmaceuticals’ RP-L301, an investigational lentiviral-based gene therapy for Pyruvate Kinase Deficiency (PKD), Regenerative Medicine Advanced Therapy (RMAT) designation. PKD is a rare blood disorder marked by severe anemia and excessive breakdown of red blood cells.

FDA Approves Braeburn’s Brixadi for Moderate to Severe Opioid Use Disorder

Plymouth Meeting, Pa.-based Braeburn reported the FDA approved Brixadi (buprenorphine) extended-release injection for subcutaneous use, a new weekly and monthly drug for moderate to severe opioid use disorder in patients who have started treatment with a single dose of a transmucosal buprenorphine product or who were already being treated with one. It will be available in the U.S. in September 2023.

People on the Move
Avalo Appoints Michael Croft and Jeff Edelson to Scientific Advisory Board

Avalo Therapeutics, with locations in Wayne, Pa. and Rockville, Md., appointed Michael Croft, PhD and Jeff Edelson, MD, to join Carl Ware, PhD, to the company’s Scientific Advisory Board (SAB). Croft is the Director, Academic Affairs and Professor, Center for Autoimmunity and Inflammation at La Jolla Institute for Immunology. Edelson is currently Entrepreneur in Residence/Scientific Liaison at BioAdvance and Principal of AEQuanimitas Consulting.

Source BioBuzz Media™