The Readout Damian Garde & Meghana Keshavan

The next phase of Covid-19 is going to require lung treatments

While society desperately needs antivirals and vaccines for the novel coronavirus, there’s a looming problem on the horizon: Many Covid-19 survivors will be left with debilitating lung injuries, and there’s not much available to help them.

PureTech Health, the Boston biotech company, believes it may have a solution. The company took an existing drug proven to prevent lung scarring and modified it to be longer-lasting. The resulting molecule, LYT-100, could help prevent long-term lung problems in patients who recover from Covid-19, and PureTech is planning a placebo-controlled clinical trial to find out.

Experts said the idea makes plenty of intuitive sense, but with so little known about just which Covid-19 patients develop lung problems, there are no guarantees of success.

Read more.

There’s more to the Gilead story than remdesivir

Back before the novel coronavirus, when remdesivir was just a middling Ebola virus treatment, the big question facing Gilead Sciences was how it planned to grow the business long term. Yesterday, Gilead gave a partial answer.

The company signed a deal with Arcus Biosciences that gives it rights to slate of cancer immunotherapies, including a PD-1 inhibitor to rival the likes of Keytruda and a drug that targets TIGIT, which is emerging as a promising pathway for shrinking tumors. 

The dollar amount wasn’t head-turning — even if Gilead exercises every single option, it would spend just above $1 billion — but the scope of the deal was instructive about the future of Gilead. The deal mirrors last year’s options-laden agreement with Galapagos, suggesting CEO Daniel O’Day, about a year into his tenure, prefers partnering with external companies rather than buying them outright. That’s a contrast to the previous administration, whose $12 billion acquisition of Kite Pharma is not remembered fondly among investors.

Denali might have cracked one of biotech’s oldest barriers

Getting large molecules past the brain’s natural defense system has bedeviled scientists for decades. Denali Therapeutics, after demonstrating the power of its technology in animals, believes it has a chance at cracking the problem.

In a paper published yesterday in Science Translational Medicine, Denali’s scientists described how they crafted a biological transport vehicle to ferry antibodies across the blood-brain barriers of mice and monkeys. And, as Chemical & Engineering News reports, it worked well enough to impress outside experts.

Now, five years after setting a record for Series A funding rounds, Denali is on the verge of a pivotal clinical trial. DNL310, a treatment for the rare Hunter syndrome, uses the company’s technology to get key enzymes across the blood-brain barrier, and it’s headed into human studies.

Who would sign up to get Covid-19 for a vaccine trial?

About 26,000 people from around the world, according to Josh Morrison, co-founder of an organization advocating for so-called challenge trials for Covid-19 vaccines.

Writing in STAT, Morrison argues that human challenge studies — in which volunteers get infected in a controlled environment — can significantly speed up the development of vaccines. His organization, 1Day Sooner, has signed up thousands of volunteers, all of whom understand the risks and want the opportunity to participate in science.

The hurdle, Morrison writes, is convincing global authorities to get on board. A proper challenge study requires establishing models and manufacturing unadulterated virus samples. Until that work is done, those volunteers can’t be put into action.

Read more.

More reads

  • Vertex angers U.K. cystic fibrosis patients with a delay in submitting data for its newest therapy. (STAT Plus)
  • Venture capital found its footing in biotech. Then came the virus. (BioPharma Dive)
  • Regeneron, Sanofi get FDA nod for Dupixent treatment in children. (Yahoo Finance)

Thanks for reading! Until tomorrow,

Thursday, May 28, 2020


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