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Archive for the ‘Drug Development Process’ Category


Danny Bar-Zohar, MD –  New R&D Leader for new pipelines at Merck KGaA as Luciano Rossetti steps out

Reporter: Aviva Lev-Ari, PhD, RN

 

Danny Bar-Zohar, MD – A Pharmaceutical Executive Profile in R&D: Ex-Novastis, Ex-Teva

Experience

Education

SOURCE

https://www.linkedin.com/in/danny-bar-zohar-513904a/

 

Novartis vet Danny Bar-Zohar leaps back into R&D, taking over the development team at Merck KGaA as Luciano Rossetti steps out

John Carroll
Editor & Founder

After a brief stint as a biotech investor at Syncona, Novartis vet Danny Bar-Zohar is back in R&D, and he’s taking the lead position at Merck KGaA’s drug division.

Bar-Zohar had led late-stage clinical development across a variety of areas — neuroscience, immunology, oncology and ophthalmology, among others — before joining the migration of talent out of the Basel-based multinational. He had been at Novartis for 7 years, which followed an earlier chapter in research at Teva.

Luciano Rossetti
The scientist is taking the lead on development at Merck KGaA, in place of Luciano Rossetti, who had a mixed record in R&D that nevertheless marked a big improvement over the dismal run the company had endured earlier. Joern-Peter Halle will continue on as global head of research. Rossetti is retiring after 6 years of running the research group, which has extensive operations in Germany as well as Massachusetts.

Their PD-L1 Bavencio — allied with Pfizer — has had a few successes, and a whole slate of failures. Sprifermin was touted as a big potential advance in osteoarthritis, but Merck KGaA is now auctioning off that part of the portfolio. One of the few late-stage bright spots has been their MET inhibitor tepotinib, which won breakthrough status and now is under priority review. That drug faces a rival at Novartis — capmatinib — that won an accelerated OK at the FDA in May.

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There’s also a BTK inhibitor, evobrutinib, that’s being developed for MS. But that’s a very crowded field, and Sanofi has been bullish about its prospects in the same research niche after buying out Principia.

Moving back into mid-stage development, there’s a major program underway for bintrafusp alfa, a bifunctional fusion protein targeting TGF-β and PD-L1, which Merck KGaA has high hopes for.

That all marks some bright, though limited, prospects for Merck KGaA, highlighting the need to find something new to beef up the pipeline. Bar-Zohar will get a say in that.

AUTHOR
John Carroll

SOURCE

https://endpts.com/novartis-vet-danny-bar-zohar-leaps-back-into-rd-taking-over-the-team-at-merck-kgaa-as-luciano-rossetti-steps-out/

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National Public Radio interview with Dr. Anthony Fauci on his optimism on a COVID-19 vaccine by early 2021

Reporter: Stephen J. Williams, PhD

Below I am giving a link to an important interview by NPR’s Judy Woodruff with Dr. Anthony Fauci on his thoughts regarding the recent spikes in cases, the potential for a COVID-19 vaccine by next year, and promising therapeutics in the pipeline.  The interview link is given below however I will summarize a few of the highlights of the interview.

 

Some notes on the interview

Judy Woodruff began her report with some up to date news regarding the recent spike and that Miami Florida has just ordered the additional use of facemasks.  She asked Dr. Anthony Fauci, head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAD), about if the measures currently in use are enough to bring this spike down.  Dr. Fauci said that we need to reboot our efforts, mainly because people are not doing three things which could have prevented this spike mainly

  1. universal wearing of masks
  2. distancing properly from each other
  3. close the bars and pubs (see Wisconsin bars packed after ruling)

It hasn’t been a uniform personal effort

Dr. Fauci on testing

We have to use the tests we have out there efficiently and effectively And we have to get them out to the right people who can do the proper identification, isolation, and do proper contract tracing and need to test more widely in a surveillance way to get a feel of the extent and penetrance of this community spread.  there needs to be support and money for these testing labs

We have a problem and we need to admit and own it but we need to do the things we know are effective to turn this thing around.

On Vaccines

“May be later this year”

His response to Merck’s CEO Ken Frazer who said officials are giving false hop if they say ‘end of year’ but Dr. Fauci disagrees.  He says a year end goal is not outlandish.

What we have been doing is putting certain things in line with each other in an unprecedented way.

Dr. Fauci went on to say that, in the past yes, it took a long time, even years to develop a vaccine but now they have been able to go from sequence of virus to a vaccine development program in days, which is unheard of.  Sixty two days later we have gone into phase 1 trials. the speed at which this is occurring is so much faster.  He says that generally it would take a couple of years to get a neutralizing antibody but we are already there.  Another candidate will be undergoing phase 3 trials by end of this month (July 2020).

He is “cautiously optimistic” that we will have one or more vaccines to give to patients by end of year because given the amount of cases it will be able to get a handle on safety and efficacy by late fall.

Now he says the game changer is that the government is working with companies to ramp up the production of doses of the candidate vaccines so when we find which one works we will have ample doses on hand.  He is worried about the anti vaccine movement derailing vaccine testing and vaccinations but says if we keep on informing the public we can combat this.

Going back to school

Dr. Fauci is concerned for the safety of the vulnerable in schools, including students and staff.  He wants the US to get down to a reasonable baseline of cases but in the US that baseline after the first wave was still significantly higher than in most countries, where the baseline was more like tens of cases not hundreds of cases.

For more information on COVID-19 Please go to our Coronavirus Portal at

https://pharmaceuticalintelligence.com/coronavirus-portal/

 

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From Cell Press:  New Insights on the D614G Strain of COVID: Will a New Mutated Strain Delay Vaccine Development?

Reporter: Stephen J. Williams, PhD

Two recent articles in Cell Press, both peer reviewed, discuss the emergence and potential dominance of a new mutated strain of COVID-19, in which the spike protein harbors a D614G mutation.

In the first article “Making Sense of Mutation: What D614G means for the COVID-19 pandemic Remains Unclear”[1] , authors Drs. Nathan Grubaugh, William Hanage, and Angela Rasmussen discuss the recent findings by Korber et al. 2020 [2] which describe the potential increases in infectivity and mortality of this new mutant compared to the parent strain of SARS-CoV2.  For completeness sake I will post this article as to not defer from their interpretations of this important paper by Korber and to offer some counter opinion to some articles which have surfaced this morning in the news.

Making sense of mutation: what D614G means for the COVID-19 pandemic remains unclear

 

Nathan D. Grubaugh1 *, William P. Hanage2 *, Angela L. Rasmussen3 * 1Department of Epidemiology of Microbial Diseases, Yale School of Public Health, New Haven, CT 06510, USA 2Center for Communicable Disease Dynamics, Department of Epidemiology, Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health, Boston, MA 02115, USA 3Center for Infection and Immunity, Columbia Mailman School of Public Health, New York, NY 10032, USA Correspondence: grubaughlab@gmail.com

 

Abstract: Korber et al. (2020) found that a SARS-CoV-2 variant in the spike protein, D614G, rapidly became dominant around the world. While clinical and in vitro data suggest that D614G changes the virus phenotype, the impact of the mutation on transmission, disease, and vaccine and therapeutic development are largely unknown.

Introduction: Following the emergence of SARS-CoV-2 in China in late 2019, and the rapid expansion of the COVID19 pandemic in 2020, questions about viral evolution have come tumbling after. Did SARS-CoV-2 evolve to become better adapted to humans? More infectious or transmissible? More deadly? Virus mutations can rise in frequency due to natural selection, random genetic drift, or features of recent epidemiology. As these forces can work in tandem, it’s often hard to differentiate when a virus mutation becomes common through fitness or by chance. It is even harder to determine if a single mutation will change the outcome of an infection, or a pandemic. The new study by Korber et al. (2020) sits at the heart of this debate. They present compelling data that an amino acid change in the virus’ spike protein, D614G, emerged early during the pandemic, and viruses containing G614 are now dominant in many places around the world. The crucial questions are whether this is the result of natural selection, and what it means for the COVID-19 pandemic. For viruses like SARS-CoV-2 transmission really is everything – if they don’t get into another host their lineage ends. Korber et al. (2020) hypothesized that the rapid spread of G614 was because it is more infectious than D614. In support of their hypothesis, the authors provided evidence that clinical samples from G614 infections have a higher levels of viral RNA, and produced higher titers in pseudoviruses from in vitro experiments; results that now seem to be corroborated by others [e.g. (Hu et al., 2020; Wagner et al., 2020)]. Still, these data do not prove that G614 is more infectious or transmissible than viruses containing D614. And because of that, many questions remain on the potential impacts, if any, that D614G has on the COVID-19 pandemic.

The authors note that this new G614 variant has become the predominant form over the whole world however in China the predominant form is still the D614 form.  As they state

“over the period that G614 became the global majority variant, the number of introductions from China where D614 was still dominant were declining, while those from Europe climbed. This alone might explain the apparent success of G614.”

Grubaugh et al. feel there is not enough evidence that infection with this new variant will lead to higher mortality.  Both Korber et al. and the Seattle study (Wagner et al) did not find that the higher viral load of this variant led to a difference in hospitalizations so apparently each variant might be equally as morbid.

In addition, Grubaugh et al. believe this variant would not have much affect on vaccine development as, even though the mutation lies within the spike protein, D614G is not in the receptor binding domain of the spike protein.  Korber suggest that there may be changes in glycosylation however these experiments will need to be performed.  In addition, antibodies from either D614 or G614 variant infected patients could cross neutralize.

 

Conclusions: While there has already been much breathless commentary on what this mutation means for the COVID19 pandemic, the global expansion of G614 whether through natural selection or chance means that this variant now is the pandemic. As a result its properties matter. It is clear from the in vitro and clinical data that G614 has a distinct phenotype, but whether this is the result of bonafide adaptation to human ACE2, whether it increases transmissibility, or will have a notable effect, is not clear. The work by Korber et al. (2020) provides an early base for more extensive epidemiological, in vivo experimental, and diverse clinical investigations to fill in the many critical gaps in how D614G impacts the pandemic.

The link to the Korber Cell paper is here: https://www.cell.com/cell/fulltext/S0092-8674(20)30820-5

Tracking changes in SARS-CoV-2 Spike: evidence that D614G increases infectivity of the COVID-19 virus

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cell.2020.06.043

Keypoints

  • The consistent increase of G614 at regional levels may indicate a fitness advantage

 

  • G614 is associated with lower RT PCR Ct’s, suggestive of higher viral loads in patients

 

  • The G614 variant grows to higher titers as pseudotyped virions

Summary

A SARS-CoV-2 variant carrying the Spike protein amino acid change D614G has become the most prevalent form in the global pandemic. Dynamic tracking of variant frequencies revealed a recurrent pattern of G614 increase at multiple geographic levels: national, regional and municipal. The shift occurred even in local epidemics where the original D614 form was well established prior to the introduction of the G614 variant. The consistency of this pattern was highly statistically significant, suggesting that the G614 variant may have a fitness advantage. We found that the G614 variant grows to higher titer as pseudotyped virions. In infected individuals G614 is associated with lower RT-PCR cycle thresholds, suggestive of higher upper respiratory tract viral loads, although not with increased disease severity. These findings illuminate changes important for a mechanistic understanding of the virus, and support continuing surveillance of Spike mutations to aid in the development of immunological interventions.

 

References

  1. Grubaugh, N.D., Hanage, W.P., Rasmussen, A.L., Making sense of mutation: what D614G means for the COVID-19 pandemic remains unclear, Cell (2020), doi: https:// doi.org/10.1016/j.cell.2020.06.040.
  2. Korber, B., Fischer, W.M., Gnanakaran, S., Yoon, H., Theiler, J., Abfalterer, W., Hengartner, N., Giorgi, E.E., Bhattacharya, T., Foley, B., et al. (2020). Tracking changes in SARS-CoV-2 Spike: evidence that D614G increases infectivity of the COVID-19 virus. Cell 182.
  3. Endo, A., Centre for the Mathematical Modelling of Infectious Diseases COVID-19 Working Group, Abbott, S., Kucharski, A.J., and Funk, S. (2020). Estimating the overdispersion in COVID-19 transmission using outbreak sizes outside China. Wellcome Open Res 5, 67.
  4. Hu, J., He, C.-L., Gao, Q.-Z., Zhang, G.-J., Cao, X.-X., Long, Q.-X., Deng, H.-J., Huang, L.-Y., Chen, J., Wang, K., et al. (2020). The D614G mutation of SARS-CoV-2 spike protein enhances viral infectivity and decreases neutralization sensitivity to individual convalescent sera. bioRxiv 2020.06.20.161323.
  5. Wagner, C., Roychoudhury, P., Hadfield, J., Hodcroft, E.B., Lee, J., Moncla, L.H., Müller, N.F., Behrens, C., Huang, M.-L., Mathias, P., et al. (2020). Comparing viral load and clinical outcomes in Washington State across D614G mutation in spike protein of SARS-CoV-2. Https://github.com/blab/ncov-D614G.

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“Repurposing” Off-patent Drugs offers big hopes of New Treatments

Reporter: Irina Robu, PhD

Given the substantial costs and the slow pace of drug discovery and development, repurposing old drugs has become a practice, partly because it involves the use of already developed compounds. Yet, there is lack of clinical interest in repurposing off patent drugs.

However, the scale of the opportunity for drug repurposing is huge. Initially approved for one disease, these drugs went off-patent and now show potential in other diseases. Even so, many non-profit groups see promise in supporting trials into drug repurposing. There is a huge untapped medicine chest of generic drugs with unexploited uses. These generic drugs are often cheap, already approved, off-patent and relatively quick to develop, whereas new drugs can cost millions of dollars to develop, test and 45% of the drugs fail in clinical trials.

However, numerous non-profit groups see potential in supporting trials into drug repurposing. Epidemiological data can offer enticing leads. Yet, clinical trials for these drugs are costly, but the benefits can be huge. The Drugs for Neglected Diseases Initiative, a Swiss non-profit research group, supported research into fexinidazole, which was abandoned by a pharma at an early stage. The drug showed to have antiparasitic qualities. However, after years of work in January 2020, it was approved for sleeping sickness in the Democratic Republic of Congo. It is the first oral medicine for the disease, and works for all stages of it.

Up till now, when it comes to cancer the most promising generic pills are known. Cancer Research, a UK based charity is testing aspirin to see if can stop cancer from recurring; metformin in a large prostate-cancer trial; and an anti-fungal medication to treat bowel cancer. At the same time, the Anticancer Fund in Brussels hopes that propranolol in treating cancers of the inner lining of blood vessels and pancreatic cancer. Propranolol is a generic 1960s beta-blocker used for a wide range of ailments such as hypertension, anxiety and migraine. If approved for cancer, its cost would be negligible in comparison the tens of thousands of dollars a month usually charged for cancer medicines.

Money seems the crucial constraint with these drugs, in addition to the clinical trials needed to have these drugs updated and relabeled. Only the makers or original developers of a drug are permitted to adjust its label. Sanofi, based in Paris, was the firm that requested regulatory review of fexinidazole for sleeping sickness, while the research was a charitable effort. But drug firms are not forced to support non-commercial efforts to repurpose drugs. And outside the industry it is tough to find the legal expertise to be able to do the  necessary paperwork.

As non-profits make progress in repurposing, corporate interest may be rising. In terms of achieving new treatment options, this is good news. But it will not bring cheaper medicines in areas traditionally neglected by the drug industry. Firms will focus on finding ways to patent the new uses and charge high prices for the finished product.

If governments need cheaper drugs, non-profits will need financial incentives and a cooperative regulatory framework. They include making regulators give free advice and waive approval fees, and a public fund to support repurposing. Yet, when drugs are approved, investors are paid back by the public health service, which makes savings by using the newly approved generic drugs.

SOURCE

https://www.economist.com/international/2019/02/28/repurposing-off-patent-drugs-offers-big-hopes-of-new-treatments?fsrc=scn/tw/te/bl/ed/crosspurposesrepurposingoffpatentdrugsoffersbighopesofnewtreatmentsinternational

 

Other related articles published in this Online Scientific Open Access Journal include:

 

The Castleman Disease Research Network publishes Phase 1 Results of Drug Repurposing Database for COVID-19

Reporter: Stephen J. Williams, PhD

https://pharmaceuticalintelligence.com/2020/06/27/the-castleman-disease-research-network-publishes-phase-1-results-of-drug-repurposing-database-for-covid-19/

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The Accelerating COVID-19 Therapeutic Interventions and Vaccines (ACTIV) Partnership on May 18, 2020: Leadership of AbbVie, Amgen, AstraZeneca, Bristol Myers Squibb, Eisai, Eli Lilly, Evotec, Gilead, GlaxoSmithKline, Johnson & Johnson, KSQ Therapeutics, Merck, Novartis, Pfizer, Roche, Sanofi, Takeda, and Vir. We also thank multiple NIH institutes (especially NIAID), the FDA, BARDA, CDC, the European Medicines Agency, the Department of Defense, the VA, and the Foundation for NIH

Reporter: Aviva Lev-Ari, PhD, RN

May 18, 2020

Accelerating COVID-19 Therapeutic Interventions and Vaccines (ACTIV) An Unprecedented Partnership for Unprecedented Times

JAMA. Published online May 18, 2020. doi:10.1001/jama.2020.8920

First reported in Wuhan, China, in December 2019, COVID-19 is caused by a highly transmissible novel coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2 (severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2). By March 2020, as COVID-19 moved rapidly throughout Europe and the US, most researchers and regulators from around the world agreed that it would be necessary to go beyond “business as usual” to contain this formidable infectious agent. The biomedical research enterprise was more than willing to respond to the challenge of COVID-19, but it soon became apparent that much-needed coordination among important constituencies was lacking.

Clinical trials of investigational vaccines began as early as January, but with the earliest possible distribution predicted to be 12 to 18 months away. Clinical trials of experimental therapies had also been initiated, but most, except for a trial testing the antiviral drug remdesivir,2 were small and not randomized. In the US, there was no true overarching national process in either the public or private sector to prioritize candidate therapeutic agents or vaccines, and no efforts were underway to develop a clear inventory of clinical trial capacity that could be brought to bear on this public health emergency. Many key factors had to change if COVID-19 was to be addressed effectively in a relatively short time frame.

On April 3, leaders of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), with coordination by the Foundation for the National Institutes of Health (FNIH), met with multiple leaders of research and development from biopharmaceutical firms, along with leaders of the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA), the European Medicines Agency (EMA), and academic experts. Participants sought urgently to identify research gaps and to discuss opportunities to collaborate in an accelerated fashion to address the complex challenges of COVID-19.

These critical discussions culminated in a decision to form a public-private partnership to focus on speeding the development and deployment of therapeutics and vaccines for COVID-19. The group assembled 4 working groups to focus on preclinical therapeutics, clinical therapeutics, clinical trial capacity, and vaccines (Figure). In addition to the founding members, the working groups’ membership consisted of senior scientists from each company or agency, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), and the Department of Defense.

Figure.

Accelerating COVID-19 Therapeutic Interventions and Vaccines

ACTIV’s 4 working groups, each with one cochair from NIH and one from industry, have made rapid progress in establishing goals, setting timetables, and forming subgroups focused on specific issues (Figure). The goals of the working group, along with a few examples of their accomplishments to date, include the following.

 

The Preclinical Working Group was charged to standardize and share preclinical evaluation resources and methods and accelerate testing of candidate therapies and vaccines to support entry into clinical trials. The aim is to increase access to validated animal models and to enhance comparison of approaches to identify informative assays. For example, through the ACTIV partnership, this group aims to extend preclinical researchers’ access to high-throughput screening systems, especially those located in the Biosafety Level 3 (BSL3) facilities currently required for many SARS-CoV-2 studies. This group also is defining a prioritization approach for animal use, assay selection and staging of testing, as well as completing an inventory of animal models, assays, and BSL 3/4 facilities.

 

The Therapeutics Clinical Working Group has been charged to prioritize and accelerate clinical evaluation of a long list of therapeutic candidates for COVID-19 with near-term potential. The goals have been to prioritize and test potential therapeutic agents for COVID-19 that have already been in human clinical trials. These may include agents with either direct-acting or host-directed antiviral activity, including immunomodulators, severe symptom modulators, neutralizing antibodies, or vaccines. To help achieve these goals, the group has established a steering committee with relevant expertise and objectivity to set criteria for evaluating and ranking potential candidate therapies submitted by industry partners. Following a rigorous scientific review, the prioritization subgroup has developed a complete inventory of approximately 170 already identified therapeutic candidates that have acceptable safety profiles and different mechanisms of action. On May 6, the group presented its first list of repurposed agents recommended for inclusion in ACTIV’s master protocol for adaptive clinical trials. Of the 39 agents that underwent final prioritization review, the group identified 6 agents—including immunomodulators and supportive therapies—that it proposes to move forward into the master protocol clinical trial(s) expected to begin later in May.

 

The Clinical Trial Capacity Working Group is charged with assembling and coordinating existing networks of clinical trials to increase efficiency and build capacity. This will include developing an inventory of clinical trial networks supported by NIH and other funders in the public and private sectors, including contract research organizations. For each network, the working group seeks to identify their specialization in different populations and disease stages to leverage infrastructure and expertise from across multiple networks, and establish a coordination mechanism across networks to expedite trials, track incidence across sites, and project future capacity. The clinical trials inventory subgroup has already identified 44 networks, with access to adult populations and within domestic reach, for potential inclusion in COVID-19 trials. Meanwhile, the survey subgroup has developed 2 survey instruments to assess the capabilities and capacities of those networks, and its innovation subgroup has developed a matrix to guide deployment of innovative solutions throughout the trial life cycle.

 

The Vaccines Working Group has been charged to accelerate evaluation of vaccine candidates to enable rapid authorization or approval.4 This includes development of a harmonized master protocol for adaptive trials of multiple vaccines, as well as development of a trial network that could enroll as many as 100 000 volunteers in areas where COVID-19 is actively circulating. The group also aims to identify biomarkers to speed authorization or approval and to provide evidence to address cross-cutting safety concerns, such as immune enhancement. Multiple vaccine candidates will be evaluated, and the most promising will move to a phase 2/3 adaptive trial platform utilizing large geographic networks in the US and globally.5 Because time is of the essence, ACTIV will aim to have the next vaccine candidates ready to enter clinical trials by July 1, 2020.

References

1.

Desai  A .  Twentieth-century lessons for a modern coronavirus pandemic.   JAMA. Published online April 27, 2020. doi:10.1001/jama.2020.4165
ArticlePubMedGoogle Scholar

2.

NIH clinical trial shows remdesivir accelerates recovery from advanced COVID-19. National Institutes of Health. Published April 29, 2020. Accessed May 7, 2020. https://www.nih.gov/news-events/news-releases/nih-clinical-trial-shows-remdesivir-accelerates-recovery-advanced-covid-19

3.

NIH to launch public-private partnership to speed COVID-19 vaccine and treatment options. National Institutes of Health. Published April 17, 2020. Accessed May 7, 2020. https://www.nih.gov/news-events/news-releases/nih-launch-public-private-partnership-speed-covid-19-vaccine-treatment-options

4.

Corey  L , Mascola  JR , Fauci  AS , Collins  FS .  A strategic approach to COVID-19 vaccine R&D.   Science. Published online May 11, 2020. doi:10.1126/science.abc5312PubMedGoogle Scholar

5.

Angus  DC .  Optimizing the trade-off between learning and doing in a pandemic.   JAMA. Published online March 30, 2020. doi:10.1001/jama.2020.4984
ArticlePubMedGoogle Scholar

6.

Accelerating COVID-19 Therapeutic Interventions and Vaccines (ACTIV) portal. National Institutes of Health. Accessed May 15, 2020. https://www.nih.gov/ACTIV

7.

Accelerating Medicines Partnership (AMP). National Institutes of Health. Published February 4, 2014. Accessed May 7, 2020. https://www.nih.gov/research-training/accelerating-medicines-partnership-amp
SOURCE

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Live Notes, Real Time Conference Coverage 2020 AACR Virtual Meeting April 28, 2020 Symposium: New Drugs on the Horizon Part 3 12:30-1:25 PM

Reporter: Stephen J. Williams, PhD

New Drugs on the Horizon: Part 3
Introduction

Andrew J. Phillips, C4 Therapeutics

  • symposium brought by AACR CICR and had about 30 proposals for talks and chose three talks
  • unfortunately the networking event is not possible but hope to see you soon in good health

ABBV-184: A novel survivin specific T cell receptor/CD3 bispecific therapeutic that targets both solid tumor and hematological malignancies

Edward B Reilly
AbbVie Inc. @abbvie

  • T-cell receptors (TCR) can recognize the intracellular targets whereas antibodies only recognize the 25% of potential extracellular targets
  • survivin is expressed in multiple cancers and correlates with poor survival and prognosis
  • CD3 bispecific TCR to survivn (Ab to CD3 on T- cells and TCR to survivin on cancer cells presented in MHC Class A3)
  • ABBV184  effective in vivo in lung cancer models as single agent;
  • in humanized mouse tumor models CD3/survivin bispecific can recruit T cells into solid tumors; multiple immune cells CD4 and CD8 positive T cells were found to infiltrate into tumor
  • therapeutic window as measured by cytokine release assays in tumor vs. normal cells very wide (>25 fold)
  • ABBV184 does not bind platelets and has good in vivo safety profile
  • First- in human dose determination trial: used in vitro cancer cell assays to determine 1st human dose
  • looking at AML and lung cancer indications
  • phase 1 trial is underway for safety and efficacy and determine phase 2 dose
  • survivin has very few mutations so they are not worried about a changing epitope of their target TCR peptide of choice

The discovery of TNO155: A first in class SHP2 inhibitor

Matthew J. LaMarche
Novartis @Novartis

  • SHP2 is an intracellular phosphatase that is upstream of MEK ERK pathway; has an SH2 domain and PTP domain
  • knockdown of SHP2 inhibits tumor growth and colony formation in soft agar
  • 55 TKIs there are very little phosphatase inhibitors; difficult to target the active catalytic site; inhibitors can be oxidized at the active site; so they tried to target the two domains and developed an allosteric inhibitor at binding site where three domains come together and stabilize it
  • they produced a number of chemical scaffolds that would bind and stabilize this allosteric site
  • block the redox reaction by blocking the cysteine in the binding site
  • lead compound had phototoxicity; used SAR analysis to improve affinity and reduce phototox effects
  • was very difficult to balance efficacy, binding properties, and tox by adjusting stuctures
  • TNO155 is their lead into trials
  • SHP2 expressed in T cells and they find good combo with I/O with uptick of CD8 cells
  • TNO155 is very selective no SHP1 inhibition; SHP2 can autoinhibit itself when three domains come together and stabilize; no cross reactivity with other phosphatases
  • they screened 1.5 million compounds and got low hit rate so that is why they needed to chemically engineer and improve on the classes they found as near hits

Closing Remarks

 

Xiaojing Wang
Genentech, Inc. @genentech

Follow on Twitter at:

@pharma_BI

@AACR

@CureCancerNow

@pharmanews

@BiotechWorld

@HopkinsMedicine

#AACR20

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Live Notes, Real Time Conference Coverage 2020 AACR Virtual Meeting April 27, 2020 Opening Remarks and Clinical Session 11:45am-1:15pm Advances in Cancer Drug Discovery

SESSION VMS.CH01.01 – Advances in Cancer Drug Design and Discovery

April 27, 2020, 11:45 AM – 1:15 PM
Virtual Meeting: All Session Times Are U.S. EDT
DESCRIPTIONAll session times are U.S. Eastern Daylight Time (EDT).

Session Type
Virtual Minisymposium
Track(s)
Cancer Chemistry
14 Presentations
11:45 AM – 11:45 AM
– ChairpersonZoran Rankovic. St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, Memphis, TN

11:45 AM – 11:45 AM
– ChairpersonChristopher G. Nasveschuk. C4 Therapeutics, Watertown, MA

11:45 AM – 11:50 AM
– IntroductionZoran Rankovic. St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, Memphis, TN

11:50 AM – 12:00 PM
1036 – Discovery of a highly potent, efficacious and orally active small-molecule inhibitor of embryonic ectoderm development (EED)Changwei Wang, Rohan Kalyan Rej, Jianfeng Lu, Mi Wang, Kaitlin P. Harvey, Chao-Yie Yang, Ester Fernandez-Salas, Jeanne Stuckey, Elyse Petrunak, Caroline Foster, Yunlong Zhou, Rubin Zhou, Guozhi Tang, Jianyong Chen, Shaomeng Wang. Rogel Cancer Center and Departments of Internal Medicine, Pharmacology, and Medicinal Chemistry, Life Sciences Institute, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI, Ascentage Pharma Group, Taizhou, Jiangsu, China

12:00 PM – 12:05 PM
– Discussion

12:05 PM – 12:15 PM
1037 – Orally available small molecule CD73 inhibitor reverses immunosuppression through blocking of adenosine productionXiaohui Du, Brian Blank, Brenda Chan, Xi Chen, Yuping Chen, Frank Duong, Lori Friedman, Tom Huang, Melissa R. Junttila, Wayne Kong, Todd Metzger, Jared Moore, Daqing Sun, Jessica Sun, Dena Sutimantanapi, Natalie Yuen, Tatiana Zavorotinskaya. ORIC Pharmaceuticals, South San Francisco, CA, ORIC Pharmaceuticals, South San Francisco, CA, ORIC Pharmaceuticals, South San Francisco, CA, ORIC Pharmaceuticals, South San Francisco, CA

12:15 PM – 12:20 PM
– Discussion

12:20 PM – 12:30 PM
1038 – A potent and selective PARP14 inhibitor decreases pro-tumor macrophage function and elicits inflammatory responses in tumor explantsLaurie Schenkel, Jennifer Molina, Kerren Swinger, Ryan Abo, Danielle Blackwell, Anne Cheung, William Church, Kristy Kuplast-Barr, Alvin Lu, Elena Minissale, Mario Niepel, Melissa Vasbinder, Tim Wigle, Victoria Richon, Heike Keilhack, Kevin Kuntz. Ribon Therapeutics, Cambridge, MA

12:30 PM – 12:35 PM
– Discussion

12:35 PM – 12:45 PM
1039 – Fragment-based drug discovery to identify small molecule allosteric inhibitors of SHP2. Philip J. Day, Valerio Berdini, Juan Castro, Gianni Chessari, Thomas G. Davies, James E. H. Day, Satoshi Fukaya, Chris Hamlett, Keisha Hearn, Steve Hiscock, Rhian Holvey, Satoru Ito, Yasuo Kodama, Kenichi Matsuo, Yoko Nakatsuru, Nick Palmer, Amanda Price, Tadashi Shimamura, Jeffrey D. St. Denis, Nicola G. Wallis, Glyn Williams, Christopher N. Johnson. Astex Pharmaceuticals, Inc., Cambridge, United Kingdom, Taiho Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd, Tsukuba, Japan

Abstract: The ubiquitously expressed protein tyrosine phosphatase SHP2 is required for signalling downstream of receptor tyrosine kinases (RTKs) and plays a role in regulating many cellular processes. Recent advances have shown that genetic knockdown and pharmacological inhibition of SHP2 suppresses RAS/MAPK signalling and inhibits proliferation of RTK-driven cancer cell lines. SHP2 is now understood to act upstream of RAS and plays a role in KRAS-driven cancers, an area of research which is rapidly growing. Considering that RTK deregulation often leads to a wide range of cancers and the newly appreciated role of SHP2 in KRAS-driven cancers, SHP2 inhibitors are therefore a promising therapeutic approach.
SHP2 contains two N-terminal tandem SH2 domains (N-SH2, C-SH2), a catalytic phosphatase domain and a C-terminal tail. SHP2 switches between “open” active and “closed” inactive forms due to autoinhibitory interactions between the N-SH2 domain and the phosphatase domain. Historically, phosphatases were deemed undruggable as there had been no advancements with active site inhibitors. We hypothesised that fragment screening would be highly applicable and amenable to this target to enable alternative means of inhibition through identification of allosteric binding sites. Here we describe the first reported fragment screen against SHP2.
Using our fragment-based PyramidTM approach, screening was carried out on two constructs of SHP2; a closed autoinhibited C-terminal truncated form (phosphatase and both SH2 domains), as well as the phosphatase-only domain. A combination of screening methods such as X-ray crystallography and NMR were employed to identify fragment hits at multiple sites on SHP2, including the tunnel-like allosteric site reported by Chen et al, 2016. Initial fragment hits had affinities for SHP2 in the range of 1mM as measured by ITC. Binding of these hits was improved using structure-guided design to generate compounds which inhibit SHP2 phosphatase activity and are promising starting points for further optimization.

  • anti estrogen receptor therapy: ER degraders is one class
  • AZ9833 enhances degradation of ER alpha
  • worked in preclinical mouse model (however very specific)
  • PK parameters were good for orally available in rodents;  also in vitro and in vivo correlation correlated in rats but not in dogs so they were not sure if good to go in humans
  • they were below Km in rats but already at saturated in dogs, dogs were high clearance
  • predicted human bioavailability at 40%

 

12:45 PM – 12:50 PM
– Discussion

12:50 PM – 1:00 PM
1042 – Preclinical pharmacokinetic and metabolic characterization of the next generation oral SERD AZD9833Eric T. Gangl, Roshini Markandu, Pradeep Sharma, Andy Sykes, Petar Pop-Damkov, Pablo Morentin Gutierrez, James S. Scott, Dermot F. McGinnity, Adrian J. Fretland, Teresa Klinowska. AstraZeneca, Waltham, MA

1:00 PM – 1:05 PM
– Discussion

1:05 PM – 1:15 PM
– Closing RemarksChristopher G. Nasveschuk. MA

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Updated listing of COVID-19 vaccine and therapeutic trials from NIH Clinical Trials.gov

Curator: Stephen J. Williams, PhD

 

The following file contains an updated list (search on 4/15/2020) of COVID-19 related clinical trials from https://clinicaltrials.gov/

 

The Excel file can be uploaded here: Current Covid-19 Trials

 

Each sheet in the workbook is separated by current COVID-19 vaccine trials, currents COVID-19 trials with the IL6R (interleukin 6 receptor) antagonist tocilizumab, and all COVID related trials.  The Excel spreadsheet also contains links to more information about the trials.

 

As of April 15, 2020 the number of listed trials are as follows:

 

clinicaltrials.gov search terms Number of results Number of completed  trials Number of trials currently recruiting
COVID-19 or SARS-CoV-2 410 5 completed

5 withdrawn  

192
1st row terms + vaccine 28 0 15
1st row terms + tocilizumab 16 0 10
1st row terms + hydroxychloroquine 61 1 22

 

A few highlights of the COVID related trials on clinicaltrials.gov

 

Withdrawn trials

 

Recombinant Human Angiotensin-converting Enzyme 2 (rhACE2) as a Treatment for Patients With COVID-19 (NCT04287686)

Study Description

Go to 

Brief Summary:

This is an open label, randomized, controlled, pilot clinical study in patients with COVID-19, to obtain preliminary biologic, physiologic, and clinical data in patients with COVID-19 treated with rhACE2 or control patients, to help determine whether a subsequent Phase 2B trial is warranted.

 

Condition or disease  Intervention/treatment  Phase 
COVID-19 Drug: Recombinant human angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (rhACE2) Not Applicable

 

Detailed Description:

This is a small pilot study investigating whether there is any efficacy signal that warrants a larger Phase 2B trial, or any harm that suggests that such a trial should not be done. It is not expected to produce statistically significant results in the major endpoints. The investigators will examine all of the biologic, physiological, and clinical data to determine whether a Phase 2B trial is warranted.

Primary efficacy analysis will be carried only on patients receiving at least 4 doses of active drug. Safety analysis will be carried out on all patients receiving at least one dose of active drug.

It is planned to enroll more than or equal to 24 subjects with COVID-19. It is expected to have at least 12 evaluable patients in each group.

Experimental group: 0.4 mg/kg rhACE2 IV BID and standard of care Control group: standard of care

Intervention duration: up to 7 days of therapy

No planned interim analysis.

Study was withdrawn before participants were enrolled.

Washed Microbiota Transplantation for Patients With 2019-nCoV Infection (NCT04251767)

Study Description

Go to 

Brief Summary:

Gut dysbiosis co-exists in patients with coronavirus pneumonia. Some of these patients would develop secondary bacterial infections and antibiotic-associated diarrhea (AAD). The recent study on using washed microbiota transplantation (WMT) as rescue therapy in critically ill patients with AAD demonstrated the important clinical benefits and safety of WMT. This clinical trial aims to evaluate the outcome of WMT combining with standard therapy for patients with 2019-novel coronavirus pneumonia, especially for those patients with dysbiosis-related conditions.

 

Detailed Description:

An ongoing outbreak of 2019 novel coronavirus was reported in Wuhan, China. 2019-nCoV has caused a cluster of pneumonia cases, and posed continuing epidemic threat to China and even global health. Unfortunately, there is currently no specific effective treatment for the viral infection and the related serious complications. It is in urgent need to find a new specific effective treatment for the 2019-nCoV infection. According to Declaration of Helsinki and International Ethical Guidelines for Health-related Research Involving Humans, the desperately ill patients with 2019-nCov infection during disease outbreaks have a moral right to try unvalidated medical interventions (UMIs) and that it is therefore unethical to restrict access to UMIs to the clinical trial context.

There is a vital link between the intestinal tract and respiratory tract, which was exemplified by intestinal complications during respiratory disease and vice versa. Some of these patients can develop secondary bacterial infections and antibiotic-associated diarrhea (AAD). The recent study on using washed microbiota transplantation (WMT) as rescue therapy in critically ill patients with AAD demonstrated the important clinical benefits and safety of WMT. Additionally, the recent animal study provided direct evidence supporting that antibiotics could decrease gut microbiota and the lung stromal interferon signature and facilitate early influenza virus replication in lung epithelia. Importantly, the above antibiotics caused negative effects can be reversed by fecal microbiota transplantation (FMT) which suggested that FMT might be able to induce a significant improvement in the respiratory virus infection. Another evidence is that the microbiota could confer protection against certain virus infection such as influenza virus and respiratory syncytial virus by priming the immune response to viral evasion. The above results suggested that FMT might be a new therapeutic option for the treatment of virus-related pneumonia. The methodology of FMT recently was coined as WMT, which is dependent on the automatic facilities and washing process in a laboratory room. Patients underwent WMT with the decreased rate of adverse events and unchanged clinical efficacy in ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease. This clinical trial aims to evaluate the outcome of WMT combining with standard therapy for patients with novel coronavirus pneumonia, especially for those patients with dysbiosis-related conditions.

 

Responsible Party: Faming Zhang, Director of Medical Center for Digestive Diseases, The Second Hospital of Nanjing Medical University
Identifier NCT04251767     History of Changes

Study was withdrawn before participants were enrolled.

 

Therapy for Pneumonia Patients iInfected by 2019 Novel Coronavirus (NCT04293692)

Study Description

Go to 

Brief Summary:

The 2019 novel coronavirus pneumonia outbroken in Wuhan, China, which spread quickly to 26 countries worldwide and presented a serious threat to public health. It is mainly characterized by fever, dry cough, shortness of breath and breathing difficulties. Some patients may develop into rapid and deadly respiratory system injury with overwhelming inflammation in the lung. Currently, there is no effective treatment in clinical practice. The present clinical trial is to explore the safety and efficacy of Human Umbilical Cord Mesenchymal Stem Cells (UC-MSCs) therapy for novel coronavirus pneumonia patients.

Detailed Description:

Since late December 2019, human pneumonia cases infected by a novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) were firstly identified in Wuhan, China. As the virus is contagious and of great epidemic, more and more cases have found in other areas of China and abroad. Up to February 24, a total of 77, 779 confirmed cases were reported in China. At present, there is no effective treatment for patients identified with novel coronavirus pneumonia. Therefore, it’s urgent to explore more active therapeutic methods to cure the patients.

Recently, some clinical researches about the 2019 novel coronavirus pneumonia published in The Lancet and The New England Journal of Medicine suggested that massive inflammatory cell infiltration and inflammatory cytokines secretion were found in patients’ lungs, alveolar epithelial cells and capillary endothelial cells were damaged, causing acute lung injury. It seems that the key to cure the pneumonia is to inhibit the inflammatory response, resulting to reduce the damage of alveolar epithelial cells and endothelial cells and repair the function of the lung.

Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) are widely used in basic research and clinical application. They are proved to migrate to damaged tissues, exert anti-inflammatory and immunoregulatory functions, promote the regeneration of damaged tissues and inhibit tissue fibrosis. Studies have shown that MSCs can significantly reduce acute lung injury in mice caused by H9N2 and H5N1 viruses by reducing the levels of proinflammatory cytokines and the recruitment of inflammatory cells into the lungs. Compared with MSCs from other sources, human umbilical cord-derived MSCs (UC-MSCs) have been widely applied to various diseases due to their convenient collection, no ethical controversy, low immunogenicity, and rapid proliferation rate. In our recent research, we confirmed that UC-MSCs can significantly reduce inflammatory cell infiltration and inflammatory factors expression in lung tissue, and significantly protect lung tissue from endotoxin (LPS) -induced acute lung injury in mice.

The purpose of this clinical study is to investigate safety and efficiency of UC-MSCs in treating pneumonia patients infected by 2019-nCoV. The investigators planned to recruit 48 patients aged from 18 to 75 years old and had no severe underlying diseases. In the cell treatment group, 24 patients received 0.5*10E6 UC-MSCs /kg body weight intravenously treatment 4 times every other day besides conventional treatment. In the control group, other 24 patients received conventional treatment plus 4 times of placebo intravenously. The lung CT, blood biochemical examination, lymphocyte subsets, inflammatory factors, 28-days mortality, etc will be evaluated within 24h and 1, 2, 4, 8 weeks after UC-MSCs treatment.

Sponsor:

Puren Hospital Affiliated to Wuhan University of Science and Technology

Collaborator:

Wuhan Hamilton Bio-technology Co., Ltd

Study was withdrawn before participants were enrolled.

 

Prognositc Factors in COVID-19 Patients Complicated With Hypertension (NCT04272710)

Study Description

Brief Summary:

There are currently no clinical studies reporting clinical characteristics difference between the hypertension patients with and without ACEI treatment when suffered with novel coronavirus infection in China

Detailed Description:

At present, the outbreak of the new coronavirus (2019-nCoV) infection in Wuhan and Hubei provinces has attracted great attention from the medical community across the country. Both 2019-nCoV and SARS viruses are coronaviruses, and they have a large homology.

Published laboratory studies have suggested that SARS virus infection and its lung injury are related to angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) in lung tissue. And ACE and ACE2 in the renin-angiotensin system (RAS) are vital central links to maintain hemodynamic stability and normal heart and kidney function in vivo.

A large amount of evidence-based medical evidence shows that ACE inhibitors are the basic therapeutic drugs for maintaining hypertension, reducing the risk of cardiovascular, cerebrovascular, and renal adverse events, improving quality of life, and prolonging life in patients with hypertension. Recent experimental studies suggest that treatment with ACE inhibitors can significantly reduce pulmonary inflammation and cytokine release caused by coronavirus infection.

 

ACEI treatment

hypertension patients with ACEI treatment when suffered with novel coronavirus infection in China

Control

hypertension patients without ACEI treatment when suffered with novel coronavirus infection in China

 

Locations

China
The First Affiliated Hospital of Chongqing Medical University Chongqing, China

Sponsors and Collaborators Chongqing Medical University

 

Responsible PI: Dongying Zhang, Associate Professor, Chongqing Medical University

Withdrawn (Similar projects have been registered, and it needs to be withdrawn.)

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The Problem and Challenges of Commercialization

Curator and Reporter: Joel Shertok, PhD

 

As the old saying goes,

Anybody can do something once; the problem is: can you do it twice, or for that matter, over and over again?

This is the essential issue faced by those personnel in the throes of the commercialization process.

Any successful commercial process has to meet a number of criteria:

  1. The process must be reproducible — it must yield the same product/results given the same inputs.
  2. The process must be economically viable: given the constraints of raw material, energy, and labor costs, depreciation schedules for equipment, expected process failures, R/D, Marketing, and Sales support costs, the process needs to yield both a profit and positive cash flow
  3. The process should be implemented using readily available commercial components and control instrumentation. On occasion, successful implementation of a project will require specialized components; however these components themselves must meet the criteria for successful commercialization
  4. The process must be “simple” enough so that suitably trained operators can manage the process. A unit that requires Ph.D.’s to maintain operations is doomed to failure

History is replete with novel processes that worked on the lab scale, but were failures when a commercial operation was attempted. The issues that are most responsible for lab-to-production failure are listed under the general classification of “scale-up”. Scale-up principles are covered in my monograph, “The Art of Scale-up” (www.artofscaleup.com), but in general follow these rules:

  • Identification of those process parameters that will have major impact on commercial viability: reaction kinetics, mass transfer vs. temperature/kinetic control; if multi-phase systems are involved, the type and energy of required stirring; heat transfer considerations; side reactions; etc.

  • Materials of construction; raw material and product hazards; etc.

  • Regulatory considerations: FDA, OSHA, EPA.

Failure to address any of these issues prior to commercialization will lead to surprises during commercialization.

In addition to the engineering/scale-up aspects of commercialization, there are several other criteria that may need attention:

  1. When to launch a product – where will the new product fit into the overall corporate product portfolio?
  2. Where is the proper location to launch?  A product aimed at flu symptom suppression in cold-weather conditions may not do well in Florida; ….. super-sweet tea does well in the South, and not so well in New England, so that a product to replace sugar might do well in the South.
  3. Who is going to use the product?  Are you targeting doctor’s offices, hospitals, or direct to consumer routes?
  4. How to launch – social media and “influencers” have given rise to new avenues of product introductions.

The old aphorism of “measure twice, cut once” has a special resonance when doing commercialization of a new process or product. The more the process is thought out ahead of time, the less issues there will be down the road. In the commercial world, there is constant pressure to rush things to meet management deadlines, which always leads to problems and extra expense. A crusty of R/D chemist once remarked, “There is never time to do it right, but always time to do it twice.” Everyone needs to keep this in the back of their mind

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Advancing Drug Development – 12/12/2019, 8:30AM – 8:30PM at The University of Massachusetts Club, One Beacon Street, Boston, MA

 

Reporter: Aviva Lev-Ari, PhD, RN

4th Advancing Drug Development Forum – Making the Impossible Possible – Harnessing Small Molecule Drug Development scheduled to take place December 12th, 2019 at The University of Massachusetts Club, in Boston, Massachusetts from 8:30 AM – 8:30 PM.

http://advdrug.com/agenda/

 

Scientists are more than just chipping away and kicking down the barricades to develop complex small molecule products better and faster.  Successful companies are spending quality time finding novel and clever approaches and powerful technologies to better support their knowledgeable teams.  Often it takes establishing strong partnerships with 1 or more specialized service providers, cleverly combining resources – always striving to raise the bar in order to make life threatening diseases more of a chronic and tolerable disease or eradicated completely.

Hear from key opinion leaders in pharma, biotech, the investment community and innovative service providers on how they are meeting the challenges. Keep in mind, it takes being open-minded, flexible and willing sometimes to redesigning a new formulation that better enhances bioavailability, optimizes drug-delivery profiles, reduces dosing frequency, or improves the patient experience to have the potential to deliver quicker returns on investments than developing a completely new drug.

PROGRAM AGENDA Thursday, December 12, 2019
8:30 AM Registration and Networking Continental Breakfast
9:00 AM Welcome Address and Opening Remarks
Kevin Bittorf, Ph.D., & Shelly Amster
9:15 AM Opening VC Keynote
9:45 AM Bridging the Gap between Experimentation and Implementation
Panel Discussion
10:15 AM Refreshment Break
10:45 AM Cross-Talk Between Clin-Ops and Tech-Ops
Panel Discussion
11:15 AM The Cost of Speed and Value in Drug Development
Panel Discussion
12:00 PM Networking Luncheon
1:00 PM Advances in the Delivery of Therapeutics to the Brain
Academic Keynote
Mansoor M. Amiji, Ph.D., University Distinguished Professor, Professor of Pharmaceutical Sciences & Professor of Chemical Engineering, Northeastern University
1:30 PM Advancing Drug Delivery and Controlled Release
Panel Discussion
2:00 PM Drowning in DATA
2:30 PM Disruptive AI Technologies Improving Drug Development
3:00 PM Refreshment Break
3:30 PM Small Specialty VS Full Service – What Makes Sense for US?
Panel Discussion
4:00 PM Fireside Chat
Michael Bonney, Executive Chair, Kaleido Biosciences
Heinrich Schlieker, Ph.D., SVP Technical Operations, Sage Therapeutics
5:00 PM – 8:00 PM Networking Social
Direct electronic communication with Shelly Amster

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