Plus news about Oryzon Genomics, Cumulus Oncology, CureVac, Orion, Glykos Finland, Radiance Biopharma, Biocytogen, Marker Therapeutics and HilleVax:

Senti Bio will lay off 37% of its staff: The cell and gene therapy developer will also scale back some R&D work to focus on its clinical programs. CEO Timothy Lu says these are “difficult but necessary steps” as it gathers proof-of-concept data for its gene circuit technology. The biotech expects to dose the first acute myeloid leukemia patient with its logic-gated cell therapy SENTI-202 in the second quarter of 2024. It will also continue to support a different candidate, targeted at glypican 3-expressing hepatocellular carcinoma, through a partnership in China.

Bristol Myers Squibb has paid Evotec another $25 million: This is a part of their seven-year-old collaboration to develop new treatments for neurodegenerative diseases. The milestone payment follows Bristol Myers’ decision to move BMS-986419, an eIF2B activator licensed from Evotec, into a Phase II study later this year. The partnership is also growing in the drug discovery phase, Evotec added.

Novartis buys Chinese biotech SanReno Therapeutics: SanReno has exclusive rights in China and nearby territories to two renal candidates, including Phase III oral endothelin A receptor antagonist atrasentan. The biotech was founded in 2021 by an investor syndicate and Chinook Therapeutics, with Chinook now also part of Novartis. Financial terms of the acquisition were not disclosed.

Oryzon Genomics drug fails PhIIb borderline personality disorder trial: Vafidemstat did not reach significance in the trial’s co-primary endpoints, but it met two secondary endpoints including improvement in borderline personality disorder disease severity at weeks eight to 12, measured by the Borderline Evaluation of Severity. Oryzon plans to request an end-of-Phase II meeting with the FDA to discuss a path forward.

HilleVax licenses Chengdu Kanghua Biological Products’ norovirus vaccine: HilleVax will pay $15 million upfront for an exclusive license to Kanghua’s hexavalent virus-like particle vaccine candidate outside of China and nearby territories. Kanghua will supply the vaccine for use in HilleVax’s clinical studies, including a Phase I expected to start this year. The biotech is also eligible for $255.5 million in milestones.

Biotech creator Cumulus Oncology secures $11M in seed funding: The £9 million seed round was led by Eos Advisory with support from a new investor, the Scottish National Investment Bank. Cumulus is focused on creating oncology biotechs and has so far established Nodus Oncology and another stealth-mode company. Nodus has two programs in the DNA damage response space.

CureVac says its Covid vaccine candidates stack up well in a Phase II head-to-head against an unnamed “licensed bivalent mRNA-based” comparator. The German biotech says its GSK-partnered candidates produced both “meaningful immune responses” and “favorable reactogenicity profiles.” It will now talk to regulators about potentially starting a pivotal Phase III study. While CureVac fell behind on the original race to develop a Covid vaccine, it is hoping to make the case that its second-gen mRNA backbone can still be competitive.

Orion and Glykos Finland team up on ADCs: Orion will get access to Glykos’ hydrophilic payload and linker technology for one ADC program, with the option to expand into two more programs with a focus on solid tumors. The upfront financial terms of the deal were undisclosed.

Radiance Biopharma inks deal with Biocytogen Biopharmaceuticals: Radiance will get an option to license Biocytogen’s bispecific ADC targeting HER2 and TROP2 for all indications worldwide. The upfront financial terms of the deal were also undisclosed.

Marker Therapeutics reshuffles R&D priorities: The biotech will prioritize MT-601 for lymphoma patients who have relapsed after chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) treatment. The decision was on the back of promising data of Marker’s multiTAA technology in lymphoma and the lack of approved treatment for patients in the CD19 CAR-T relapsed setting, the company said.


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