Boehringer, Evotec, and bioMérieux recognize AMR threat; and more deals
Published: Jul 06, 2022
By Alex Keown
Three European biopharma firms are coming together to create one company with a mission to combat antimicrobial resistance (AMR). The new company, Aurobac Therapeutics SAS, was founded by Germany’s Boehringer Ingelheim and Evotec SE, along with France’s bioMérieux.
The three companies will provide Aurobac with technology and financing in order to develop the next generation of antimicrobials, as well as advanced diagnostics. With €40 million (about $40.7 million USD) in financing from the three companies, Aurobac aims to use effective and targeted modalities in combination with cutting-edge diagnostics to identify pathogens and resistance patterns and develop a precision approach to treating these concerns.
The World Health Organization regards antimicrobial resistance as a serious health threat worldwide. The three companies noted that routine surgeries could become life-threatening due to AMR. It is expected that the death toll from AMR will eclipse cancer-related deaths by 2050.
Responding to a Looming Crisis
Michel Pairet, head of Boehringer Ingelheim’s innovation unit, agreed that the rise of antibiotic-resistant infections is a “looming global crisis.” Pairet said that by 2050, the annual death toll from AMR is expected to be approximately 10 million.
“The grim prospect of a post-antibiotic era has many causes but only one solution: The development of new, targeted, and effective antimicrobial therapies,” Werner Lanthaler, CEO of Evotec, said in a statement. “We are excited to launch Aurobac together with our partners at Boehringer Ingelheim and bioMérieux, to combine our complementary strengths. By leveraging Evotec’s multimodality approach to infectious diseases, we are confident that Aurobac will be able to generate much-needed progress to tackle the global challenge of AMR”.
Turnstone and Moffitt Expand TIL Collaboration
The three European companies are not the only organizations to announce new alliances. New York-based Turnstone Biologics and the Moffitt Cancer Center expanded an existing multi-year research collaboration to advance next-generation tumor-infiltrating lymphocyte (TIL) therapies for solid tumors.
Turnstone will have access to Moffitt’s scientific research, manufacturing, and clinical capabilities for the development of novel TIL therapies. With the expanded collaboration, Turnstone and Moffitt announced the U.S. Food and Drug Administration greenlit an Investigational New Drug Application for a Phase I study of TIDAL-01, Turnstone’s lead TIL therapy candidate, in cutaneous and non-cutaneous melanoma. The trial is expected to begin later this year.
“Our landmark strategic alliance with Turnstone underscores Moffitt’s commitment to bold research initiatives and groundbreaking clinical studies for the benefit of cancer patients who have limited or no effective treatment options,” Patrick Hwu, president and CEO of Moffitt Cancer Center, said in a statement. “Cell therapy is a key area of focus at Moffitt, and we are impressed by Turnstone’s novel approach to TIL therapy. Our combined team has made strong progress as part of our ongoing partnership, particularly with the IND clearance of TIDAL-01. We look forward to initiating the clinical study in melanoma and continuing to grow this valuable relationship with Turnstone.”
Skyhawk Links with Sanofi in Potential $2B RNA Splicing Alliance
Skyhawk Therapeutics and Sanofi also teamed up to discover and develop novel small molecules that modulate RNA splicing for challenging oncology and immunology targets. Sanofi provided Skyhawk with $54 million in upfront funds for exclusive licenses for drug candidates discovered with Skyhawk’s SkySTAR platform under the collaboration. If all milestones are hit and products from the collaboration become commercialized, Skyhawk stands to gain more than $2 billion under the terms of the deal.
BeiGene Bets on mRNA-based Therapies
BeiGene also forged a new collaboration aimed at the development of mRNA-based therapies. The company is harnessing the technology platform of Switzerland-based InnoRNA to develop these new therapeutics.
“As a global biotechnology company, BeiGene is committed to delivering next-generation therapies through our own internal discovery engine and leveraging cutting-edge technology from experienced and innovative partners,” Lai Wang, global head of R&D at BeiGene said in a statement. “This collaboration with InnoRNA advances and supports our research efforts in the important field of mRNA therapies while securing critical, proprietary delivery tools.”
Under the terms of the deal, BeiGene will provide an undisclosed upfront cash payment to InnoRNA and will hold exclusive global development and commercialization rights for the mRNA-LNP therapies jointly discovered by InnoRNA and BeiGene.
“As evidenced by the success of multiple Covid-19 vaccines, mRNA and LNPs will likely play a major role in the future of drug development, potentially in broad fields beyond vaccines. Joining this collaboration with BeiGene represents a big step forward toward this vision for our company,” Linxian Li, founder and CEO of InnoRNA said in a statement.