Zika virus was expected to infect four million people in Americas: WHO

The World Health Organisation (WHO) reported that the mosquito-transmitted Zika virus has been spreading explosively and could infect as many as three to four million people in the Americas.

The virus has mainly been linked to severe birth defects in thousands of babies in Brazil and has dramatically increased.

The WHO called for an emergency meeting to help determine its response, as well as an observed rise in neurological disorders and neonatal malformations.

AbbVie’s leukaemia drug venetoclax was accepted for review in US and Europe

Regulators in the US and Europe agreed to review AbbVie’s venetoclax as a potential treatment for certain adults with chronic lymphocytic leukaemia (CLL).

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) accepted the new drug application (NDA) and granted priority review for venetoclax to treat CLL in adults who have received at least one prior therapy, including patients with 17p deletion.

In addition, the European Medicines Agency (EMA) validated the company’s marketing authorisation application (MAA) for venetoclax to treat CLL patients with 17p deletion or TP53 mutation.

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Shire agreed to acquire Baxalta for $32bn


Irish drugmaker Shire entered into an agreement to acquire US-based biopharmaceutical firm Baxalta in a deal worth approximately $32bn.

The transaction is expected to be completed in mid-2016 and will create a global biotechnology company focused on rare diseases, as well as provide a foundation for haematology and oncology business.

The combined company will focus on immunology; neuroscience; lysosomal storage diseases; gastrointestinal / endocrine; and hereditary angioedema (HAE).

Sanofi and Warp Drive entered new collaboration to develop new oncology therapies and antibiotics

French pharmaceutical firm Sanofi entered into a new collaboration with Warp Drive Bio, a US-based biotechnology firm using the molecules and mechanisms of nature to discover and develop transformative medicines.

The companies extended and reshaped their existing collaboration using Warp Drive’s Small Molecule Assisted Receptor Targeting (SMART), and Genome Mining platforms to discover new oncology therapeutics and antibiotics.

As part of the deal, Warp Drive will lead the research collaboration for a period of five years, while Sanofi will receive worldwide exclusive licenses to develop and commercialise the candidates discovered during the research term.

CRT and MSD entered into licence agreement to develop inhibitors of PRMT5 for cancer and blood disorders


Cancer Research UK’s development and commercialisation arm Cancer Research Technology (CRT) entered into a licence agreement with MSD (Merck, in the US and Canada) to develop and commercialise drugs arising from the protein arginine methyltransferase 5 (PRMT5) inhibitor programme.

Australian Cooperative Research Centre (CRC) for Cancer Therapeutics (CTx) has developed these new drugs with support from the Wellcome Trust and CRT.

The new drugs are claimed to have potential clinical applications in both cancer and non-cancer blood disorders.

Merck agreed to acquire UK’s IOmet Pharma

Merck entered into an agreement to acquire IOmet Pharma, a UK-based small-molecule drug developer focused on cancer immunotherapy and cancer metabolism, for an undisclosed price.

Following completion of the transaction, IOmet will become a wholly owned subsidiary of Merck strengthening its oncology pre-clinical pipeline.

The acquisition will include IOmet’s pre-clinical pipeline of IDO (indoleamine-2, 3-dioxygenase 1), TDO (tryptophan-2, 3-dioxygenase), and dual-acting IDO / TDO inhibitors.

UK’s NICE approved AstraZeneca’s new ovarian cancer drug Lynparza

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The UK National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) issued technology appraisal guidance (TAG) for AstraZeneca’s Lynparza (olaparib) to treat women with platinum-sensitive relapsed (PSR) BRCA-mutated (BRCAm) high-grade serious ovarian cancer.

The drug is recommended for use in patients who have had three or more courses of platinum-based chemotherapy and who meet the European licence criteria.

NICE noted that clinical commissioning groups, NHS England and local authorities are required to comply with this recommendation and ensure that olaparib treatment is funded and accessible within 90 days.

Pharmaceutical majors joined hands with leading universities for Apollo Therapeutics Fund


Pharmaceutical companies AstraZeneca, GlaxoSmithKline, Johnson & Johnson Innovation have joined hands with three leading universities, Imperial College London, University of Cambridge and University College London to support research for innovative medicines.

They are to create a £40m fund called Apollo Therapeutics Fund, which will help in developing new medicines from the research conducted by the universities.

The three industry partners will invest £10m over six years to the project, while the universities have pledged to invest £3.3m each.