One of the world’s largest cancer centers will collaborate with microbiome biotech Seres Therapeutics to investigate the gut microbiota’s role in shaping a patient’s response to immunotherapies. The MD Anderson Cancer Center and the Parker Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy signed the agreement with the Cambridge, Massachusetts–based biotech in November. Read more in Nature Biotechnology.
In early May the pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca completed a deal with Boston-based Pieris Pharmaceuticals worth up to $2.1 billion to bring Pieris’ anticalin asthma drug PRS-060, an engineered protein that mimics antibodies, to the clinic. And on June 1, Bicycle Therapeutics in Cambridge, UK, pulled in $52 million in a series B funding round with several high-profile investors to continue developing its bicycle peptides for a variety of cancer types.
Those are just two of the wide variety of protein scaffold drugs currently in development. “There’s a whole zoo of non-antibody scaffolds out there,” says Daniel Christ, an immunologist at the Garvan Institute of Medical Research in Sydney, Australia. Read more in Nature Biotechnology.
The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in December rejected the new antibiotic solithromycin over liver toxicity fears, putting the future of the drug in doubt and sending a chill through companies working on novel antimicrobials. “The problems with solithromycin are going to hit the whole sector hard,” says Lloyd Czaplewski, director of Chemical Biology Ventures, a pharmaceutical R&D consultancy in Oxford, UK. “It could put people off getting into an area where we really need some successes.” Read more in Nature Biotechnology.