5 Biotech and Pharma Companies in New Jersey You Oughta Know
By Alex Keown
February 21, 2023
The biopharma landscape in New Jersey is dominated by big pharma – companies like Merck, Bristol Myers Squibb, and Johnson & Johnson.
However, there are numerous small and mid-sized biotech and biopharma companies that are sometimes overshadowed by the bigger fish in the pond. Don’t be fooled, though – while they’re smaller than their big pharma neighbors, these companies are packing a big punch in their unique approaches to tackling cancer and other diseases. Here are just a few of the companies that call the Garden State home that we think you should know.
Based in Monmouth Junction, Elucida Oncology is focused on developing targeted cancer therapies with its first-in-class, ultra-small nanoparticle C’Dot drug conjugate (CDC) platform. According to the company, CDCs are capable of deeper penetration into tumors, which enables a higher payload delivery compared to antibody-drug conjugates.
Elucida notes on its website that its proprietary surface chemistry technique “enables C’Dots post-synthesis functionalization with large amounts of toxic payloads, radionuclides, and cancer-targeting ligands.”
The company’s lead asset is ELU001, a Fra-exatecan CDC aimed at different solid tumors associated with ovarian, endometrial, gastrointestinal and lung cancers. ELU001 is currently in Phase I/II studies. Elucida also has a preclinical candidate aimed at brain metastases.
Based in Ewing, N.J., NovaRock Biotherapeutics is focused on the development of novel antibody therapies for cancer and autoimmune diseases. In December, NovaRock received FDA clearance to initiate a Phase I trial of NBL-020, a tumor necrosis factor receptor 2 (TNFR2) antibody for the treatment of advanced solid tumors. The drug candidate is designed to stimulate immune suppressive cell types, including regulatory T-cells (Tregs) and myeloid-derived suppressor cells.
Founded in 2018, NovaRock has forged multiple partnerships with other companies. In 2022, NovaRock partnered with Shanghai JMT-Bio Technology Co., Ltd., a subsidiary of China’s CSPC Pharmaceutical Group Limited on the development and commercialization of NBL-012, a novel Interleukin 23 p19 neutralizing antibody. CSPC committed to advancing NBL-012 into Phase II studies in psoriasis and Inflammatory bowel diseases.
In 2021, NovaRock and Flame Biosciences teamed up to develop two CD137 bispecific antibody programs based on NovaRock’s NovaTE technology platform.
Cranbrook-based Rocket Pharmaceuticals is developing a pipeline of gene therapies aimed at rare childhood disorders.
The company is developing multiple gene therapy approaches to disease, including the use of adeno-associated virus (AAV)-based gene therapies and lentiviral vector (LVV)-based gene therapies. Rocket Pharmaceuticals uses different approaches because the company’s leadership believes in harnessing the most practical gene therapy platform for the disease being targeted.
Currently, the company is developing therapies for forms of cancer and cardiovascular conditions. Rocket Pharmaceuticals is developing an AAV gene therapy for Danon Disease, a devastating, pediatric heart failure condition. In preclinical development, Rocket has AAV gene therapy programs in PKP2-arrhythmogenic cardiomyopathy and BAG3-associated dilated cardiomyopathy.
Rocket Pharmaceuticals is also developing LVV gene therapies for Fanconi Anemia, a difficult-to-treat genetic disease that leads to bone marrow failure, as well as Leukocyte Adhesion Deficiency-I, a severe pediatric genetic disorder. Rocket is also developing an LVV for Pyruvate Kinase Deficiency, a rare, monogenic red blood cell disorder.
Monmouth Junction-based Tris Pharma is a privately-held pharmaceutical company focused on developing therapies for central nervous system disorders, including attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, narcolepsy and spasticity.
In 2021, Tris Pharma won approval for Dynavel XR (amphetamine), an extended release once-per-day tablets, for the treatment of ADHD in patients 6 years and older. Data that supported approval showed Dynavel XR improved ADHD symptoms within 1 hour, and lasted through 13 hours.
The company also won approval for the first generic version of Delsym. Since its approval in 1982, Delsym did not have a generic until the approval of Tris Pharma’s generic alternative.
In all, Tris Pharma has received regulatory approval of eight New Drug Applications
GenScript Biotech Corporation
Based in Piscataway, N.J., GenScript is a life sciences research tools and services provider.
The company’s business is divided into four different platforms: a life science service and product platform, a biologics contract development and manufacturing organization (CDMO) platform, a global cell therapy platform, and an industrial synthesis biological product platform. GenScript provides innovative custom reagent and instrument solutions to research communities across the globe.
In December 2022, GenScript closed out the year by signing a partnership with Singapore-based Allozymes to accelerate enzyme discovery and development process. Through the terms of the partnership, GenScript will provide the company with mutant libraries construction and expression.
Also in December, GenScript expanded its single-guide RNA manufacturing capabilities to meet a growing demand for cell and gene therapies. The company’s 400,000 square foot facility will enable the advancement of next-generation gene and cell therapy R&D programs.