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December 26, 2017updated 04 Jan 2018 11:34am

2017: The year’s biggest Pharmaceutical Technology stories

Biogen entered a new agreement with Alkermes to develop and commercialise ALKS 8700 to treat multiple sclerosis (MS), while Australia announced $100m of funding to advance brain cancer research in order to provide a better life to people suffering from the disease. Pharmaceutical-technology.com wraps up the key headlines from 2017.

Biogen and Alkermes agreed to develop ALKS 8700 for MS treatment

Biogen entered a global licence and collaboration agreement with Alkermes for the development and commercialisation of ALKS 8700 to treat patients with multiple sclerosis (MS).

MS is an unpredictable and often disabling disease of the central nervous system (CNS), which interrupts the flow of information within the brain, as well as between the brain and the body.

ALKS 8700 is a new, oral monomethyl fumarate (MMF) small drug molecule currently in the Phase III development for the treatment of relapsing forms of MS.


Australian Government offered $100m fund for brain cancer research

The Government of Australia announced new funding of $100m to advance brain cancer research as part of efforts to provide a better life to people suffering from the disease.

Formed as an alliance between the Federal Government, philanthropists, medical experts, patients and their families, the Australian Brain Cancer Mission is intended to double patient survival rates over the coming decade.

Initially, the government is awarding $50m through the Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF) and $10m from the Minderoo Foundation’s Eliminate Cancer Initiative.


Research team discovered epithelial cells in eyes can prevent spread of Ebola

A team of researchers from Flinders University, CSIRO and Emory University discovered a super cell in the eye that might have the potential to contain the virus responsible for the spread of Ebola.

The team found that scars on the eyes of an Ebola survivor led them to retinal pigment epithelial cells, which can act as a ‘reservoir’ for Ebola disease and prevent it from spreading.

The examination was conducted on a physician and Ebola survivor, Dr Ian Crozier, whose eye harboured the Ebola virus in recovery when the team commenced its investigations in the laboratory.


Thermo Fisher Scientific agreed to buy Patheon for $7.2bn

US based company Thermo Fisher Scientific agreed to acquire Patheon, a Dutch contract development and manufacturing organisation (CDMO) for $7.2bn.

The transaction has been approved by the board of directors of both the companies.

Thermo Fisher will now start a tender offer to acquire all issued and outstanding shares of Patheon for $35 per share in cash.


SMC approved anti-HIV drug PrEP

The Scottish Medicines Consortium (SMC) approved the treatment known as Pre Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) that reduces the chances of being infected with HIV.

The NHS Scotland-approved, anti-HIV medication PrEP is taken by people who are HIV-negative to lower their risk of acquiring HIV infection.

Truvada has been approved by the Scottish Medicines Consortium for use as PrEP.


ICR scientists uncovered information about genetic causes of brain cancer

A new brain cancer study conducted by scientists at London’s Institute of Cancer Research (ICR) revealed new secrets about the genetic causes of the disease.

ICR scientists partnered with colleagues in Europe and the US to conduct the study, which involved more than 30,000 people with and without glioma, the most common form of brain cancer.

The research was funded by the National Institutes for Health in the US, with additional support from UK charities Cancer Research UK, Wellcome and the DJ Fielding Medical Research Trust.


J&J agreed to acquire Swiss biotech company Actelion for $30bn

US-based healthcare company Johnson & Johnson (J&J) signed an agreement to acquire Swiss biotech company Actelion in a deal valued at $30bn.

J&J plans to fund the transaction with cash held outside the US, and stated that the addition of Actelion’s in-market medicines and late-stage products is consistent with its efforts to grow in complementary therapeutic areas.

Furthermore, J&J will be able to accelerate investment in its pipeline to drive additional growth and expects to retain Actelion’s presence in Switzerland.


Sanofi and Lonza planned to build €270m mammalian cell culture facility in Switzerland

Sanofi and Lonza made plans to invest €270m in a new mammalian cell culture facility in Visp, Switzerland, for monoclonal antibody production.

The proposed facility will be established through a 50-50 joint venture (JV).

The partnership will leverage Sanofi’s strength in developing and launching biologics based treatments and Lonza’s experience in large-scale mammalian cell culture facilities.


US FDA approved Xadago to treat patients with Parkinson’s disease

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved Newron Pharmaceuticals’ Xadago (safinamide) tablets to treat patients with Parkinson’s disease.

The drug had been approved as an add-on treatment for patients who are currently taking levodopa / carbidopa and experiencing ‘off’ episodes.

FDA centre for drug evaluation and research division of neurology products deputy director Eric Bastings said: “Parkinson’s is a relentless disease without a cure.


UK scientists found arthritis treatment is effective for skin cancer

A study by scientists at the UK’s University of East Anglia (UEA) showed that rheumatoid arthritis drug leflunomide could be used to help treat advanced skin cancer.

Performed in mice, the study demonstrated that the conjunctive treatment with a drug called selumetinib almost completely terminated the growth of melanoma tumour.

Melanoma is treatable during the early stages, yet is reported to cause the majority of deaths and becomes resistant to most drugs when it advances.

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