Weekly Quick Hits (Greater Philly) – Week of June 12, 2023

By Mark Terry
June 16, 2023

Funding, Awards and Collaborations

Coeptis Announces Pricing of $3.5 Million Underwritten Offering

Coeptis Therapeutics Holdings, based in Wexford, Pa., announced the pricing of an underwritten offering for gross proceeds of about $3.5 million to a single healthcare-focused investor. The offering is made up of 2.15 million shares of common stock, 1.35 million pre-funded warrants, and 3,062,500 Series B Warrants with an exercise price of $1.65 per share and a term of five years after the initial exercise date.

Verismo and CVPF Ink Manufacturing Relationship

Verismo Therapeutics, a University of Pennsylvania spinout, announced an expansion of its partnership with Penn to include clinical cell manufacturing of the company’s SynKIR-110 KIR-CAR T cell therapy by the Clinical Cell and Vaccine Production Facility (CVPF) at Penn’s Perelman School of Medicine. The product will be used for clinical testing and potential use in a Phase I trial.

In the Clinic

CellDex Presented Positive Data for Barzolvolimab for Chronic Urticaria

Celldex Therapeutics, located in Hampton, NJ, presented updated data from its Phase Ib trial of barzolvolimab in chronic spontaneous urticaria, as well as new data from the Phase Ib single-dose cholinergic cohort in chronic inducible urticaria. Barzolvolimab is a humanized monoclonal antibody that binds the receptor tyrosine kinase KIT with high specificity and potently inhibits its activity.

Aclaris Completed Enrollment in Phase IIb Rheumatoid Arthritis Trial

Wayne, Pa.-based Aclaris Therapeutics completed enrollment into ATI-450-RA-202, its Phase IIb trial of oral zunesemetinib in moderate to severe rheumatoid arthritis. The company plans to announce topline data and other preliminary data in the fourth quarter of this year.

New Products

Avertix’s Guardian System Now Available at AdventHealth Orlando

Avertix Medical, headquartered in Eatontown, NJ, announced that its Guardian System, the first and only FDA-approved implantable heart attack detection and warning system, is now available at AdventHealth Orlando. The device is designed to detect acute coronary syndrome events in real time

Research Roundup

Drexel Research: Predicting the Severity of COVID-19

Researchers from Drexel University’s College of Medicine, Boston Children’s Hospital, Yale, and other institutions across the country published findings of a study that allows them to better predict the severity of COVID-19 in patients. The researchers identified a range of factors that predict more severe disease, including higher viral load, higher inflammatory pathways in the airway, and others.

CHOP Research: Stable, Scalable Universal MHC Molecules

Researchers at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) have engineered stable, universal MHC-1 molecules that can be manufactured quickly at scale. Class I major histocompatibility complex (MHC-1) proteins play a big role in the immune system of all jawed vertebrates but are unstable and difficult to manufacture for use in vaccine and immunotherapy production.

Penn Research: Adolescent Binge Drinking May Cause Long-Lasting Brain Changes

Researchers at Penn State’s neuroscience program published research in mice that suggested binge drinking in adolescents may cause long-lasting changes in the brain’s ability to signal and communicate. These changes may lead to long-term behavioral changes and alcohol-induced cognitive changes.

Proscia-Sponsored Report Finds 70% of Pharma and CROs Adopted Digital Pathology

Philadelphia-based Proscia commissioned a report which found 70% of major pharma companies and CROs have adopted digital pathology to advance drug R&D. More than half, 53%, focus their operations around legacy software systems for basic image viewing despite growing use of AI.

OraSure’s Study Found Self-Sampling Using Colli-Pee for HPV Screening is Cost Effective

Bethlehem, Pa.-based OraSure Technologies reported a major health economics study featuring its Colli-Pee device for HPV screening is cost-effective and could improve patient access. The study was conducted by Aquarius Population Health in London and the University of Manchester, and published in BMJ Open.

Penn Research: Plant-Based, Oral Delivery of Insulin

Research out of Penn’s School of Dental Medicine found that a plant-based, oral delivery of proinsulin appears to provide a steadier, less costly approach to insulin injections. Henry Daniell’s lab developed a plant-based insulin that contains three peptides that are missing in clinical insulin; the plant cell walls appear to protect the insulin from acids and enzymes in the patient’s stomach that breaks down insulin before it can be delivered to the liver by way of the gut-liver axis.

Temple Research: Juice Concentrate from Japanese Plum Benefits Cardiovascular Health

Researchers at the Lewis Katz School of Medicine at Temple University found that juice concentrate from the Japanese plum (Prunus mume) may help control hypertension and decrease cardiovascular disease. The raw fruit of the Japanese plum is toxic, but when processed into juices or wine, is safe to drink. The infused juice concentrate is called bainiku-ekisu.

Penn Research: New DNA Sequencing Method for Earlier Cancer Detection

Researchers from the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania have developed a new way to map specific DNA markers dubbed 5-methylcytosine (5mC), which regulate gene expression. These markers play key roles in health and disease. They believe it could potentially be used in liquid biopsies and early cancer detection.

Penn Research: Genes Make Us More Likely to Have Allergies

Researchers with the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania identified how genetic differences in the ETS1 protein can affect the body’s response to allergies. In an animal model, small changes in ETS1 led to an increased likelihood for allergic reactions that cause inflammation.

CHOP Research: Climate Change Will Increase Kidney Stones

Research from the Division of Urology at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP), analyzing data from South Carolina, found that rising temperatures due to climate change will lead to an increase in cases of kidney stones over the next seven decades. Previous research demonstrated that high ambient temperatures increase the risk of developing kidney stone disease.

Regulatory and Advocacy

FDA Approves Additional Data for Bristol Myers Squibb’s Camzyos Study

The Food and Drug Administration approved Bristol Myers Squibb’s request to add positive data to its supplemental New Drug Application (sNDA) from the Phase III VALOR-HCM trial. The study evaluated Camzyos (mavacamten). The data added to the label demonstrated that Camzyos significantly decreased the composite endpoint of guideline-based eligibility for septal reduction therapy at Week 16 or the decision to proceed with SRT prior to or at Week 16. The drug was approved last year to treat adults with symptomatic New York Heart Association (NYHA) class II-III obstructive HCM to improve functional capacity and symptoms.

People on the Move

Princeton Biologist John Brooks Named Pew Scholar in the Biomedical Sciences

John Brooks, Assistant Professor of Molecular Biology at Princeton University, was named one of 22 new Pew Scholars in the Biomedical Sciences. As such, he will receive four years of funding to support his research into how circadian rhythms work with the immune system to equilibrate the gut microbiome.

Carisma Appoints New General Counsel and Senior VP of HR

Philadelphia-based Carisma Therapeutics appointed Eric Siegel General Counsel and Corporate Secretary and Terry Shields was named Senior Vice President of Human Resources. Siegel was previously Chief Compliance Officer for Idorsia Pharmaceuticals U.S. Shields is joining Carisma after 25 years as a human resources consultant.

Wistar Institute Appoints Sozi Tulante to Board of Trustees

The Wistar Institute appointed Sozi Tulante to its Board of Trustees. Tulante is currently General Counsel of Form Energy.