Mirati and MD Anderson team up on KRAS; Sanofi inks deal with a Harvard spinout for oral biologics

Mirati, the other KRAS-focused biotech, is getting some extra ammo as it looks to leapfrog Amgen in the hunt for the first, most effective and most broadly effective for one of the most ubiquitous and hard-to-hit oncogenes.

The California biotech has signed a research and developmental with MD Anderson to help advance both Mirati’s lead KRAS G12C molecule — the one that’s now proven effective in certain lung cancer patients — and a preclinical molecule that goes after another KRAS mutation, G12D. The Texas-based research institute will help Mirati design and run preclinical and clinical studies for several solid tumors, including non-small cell lung, pancreatic, colorectal and gynecological cancers, over the next 5 years.

Although trailing Amgen for the first approval, both companies are still working to show how effective a KRAS drug can be in lung cancer and, crucially, in other tumors, where Amgen has only shown mixed results

“Effective targeted therapies against mutant KRAS could address a major unmet need for many patients,” Christopher Flowers, interim head of Cancer Medicine at MD Anderson, said in a statement. “Our collaboration with Mirati represents an important opportunity to work toward advancing new treatment options for patients using novel KRAS inhibitors that target two of the most frequent KRAS mutations in common cancers.” — Jason Mast

Sanofi enlists i2O in the hunt for really small drugs

Just ten months after they spun out from Harvard, i2O Therapeutics has a big name collaborator: Sanofi.

The French pharma enlisted the smaller biotech to help them deliver nanobodies — tiny versions of antibodies that can be just as accurate but potentially confer a range of advantages, including better ability to penetrate tissues, greater scalability, and a longer half-life. They’ve got attention as potential Covid-19 drugs, but Sanofi sees potential in a wide variety of fields, including diabetes and immuno-oncology.

i2O makes oral forms of biologics by encasing them in a kind of ionized slush as opposed to water. They will help Sanofi research ways of making pill forms of the nanobodies.  — Jason Mast

AstraZeneca lends a hand with Hong Kong’s new biotech incubator

After carving out a valuable franchise in China’s oncology market, AstraZeneca is now helping set up a new incubator in Hong Kong for biotech startups looking to hatch new cancer drugs and diagnostics.

The pharma giant teamed with Hong Kong Science and Technology Parks, offering support services to the startups that are accepted. The fledglings in turn gain access to cash and lab services as well as an extended set of support services to help guide the initial phase of their work.

Alfred Sit, the secretary for innovation and technology, had this to say:

This co-incubation collaboration is a great leap in the biotech field of the local ecosystem. By creating, as I would describe, a unique “one-stop solution integration platform” for the whole course of action in combating cancer from diagnosis, to monitoring and treatment, the collaboration is a breakthrough in research on oncology, which is currently conducted in a segmental manner predominantly by looking into discrete actions against cancer. This will make research on oncology more consolidated, standing a higher chance of actualising new and better options to fight against the life-threatening disease.