September 30th, 2022 | 10:59 CEST
Biogen, XPhyto, BioNTech: Alzheimer's disease, depression, cancer - Pharma for life
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Biogen - Breakthrough in Alzheimer's Disease
This week's news gives hope to 30 million people worldwide: the US company Biogen has achieved a breakthrough in the fight against Alzheimer's disease. Together with its Japanese partner Eisai, the Company has published study results that underscore the efficacy of the drug Lecanemab. In the otherwise incurable neurodegenerative disease, nerve cells in the brain gradually die. Typical Alzheimer's symptoms include memory problems, disorientation and confusion. In the course of the disease, personality and behavior change. Many sufferers become restless, aggressive or depressed. In addition, speech and judgment decline.
The two groups said that data from a study involving 1795 participants show that the progression of the disease is significantly slowed. After all the COVID vaccine news in recent months, investors worldwide celebrated this medical breakthrough. The Biogen share was trading as much as 40% higher in pre-market trading. It had to be briefly halted from trading at the start on Wall Street. Eisei rose 17%.
"Today's announcement provides hope to patients and their families that Lecanemab, if approved, may slow the progression of Alzheimer's disease and have a clinically meaningful impact on cognition and function," said Michel Vounatsos, Chief Executive Officer at Biogen. "Importantly, the study shows that removal of aggregated amyloid beta in the brain is associated with a slowing of disease progression in patients with early-stage disease." Plans call for approval in the US later this year and in Europe in 2023.
XPhyto Therapeutics - Using psychedelics to fight depression
Another neurological disorder is depression. Worldwide, 350 million people are affected by this disorder of the brain. Depressed people suffer from anxiety, overthinking, strong self-doubt, hopelessness and lack of motivation. According to the German Society for Psychiatry, Psychotherapy and Neurology (DGPPN), there is a 16 to 20% chance that everyone will develop a severe depression requiring treatment at least once during their lifetime.
Psychiatrists often prescribe antidepressants to their patients as a supportive treatment for psychotherapy. But the risk of dependence on the substances remains even after discontinuation. Depending on the length of time taken, the body and psyche become accustomed to the substitutes. According to the journal "Depression heute" meta-analyses, even after the obligatory two weeks after discontinuing the drug, the risk of dependence can persist for up to a year. Prof. Voderholzer, medical director of Schönklinik Roseneck, says "What amazes me most as a scientist and clinician personally is that, to my knowledge, despite a 60-year history with antidepressants, a variety of different substances, and an immense number of studies over short periods of time, there is not a single major randomized controlled trial that has attempted to investigate possible discontinuation and rebound effects in a clinical population over a longer period of time."
What many do not know: Psychedelics like LSD, mescaline, and hallucinogenic mushrooms do not cause addiction. And that is where XPhyto Therapeutics comes in, in the development of drugs to treat depression.
The Canadian Company specializes in the development of psychedelic pharmaceutical drugs for the treatment of mental illnesses such as depression, anxiety, addiction and trauma-related stress disorders. XPhyto Therapeutics is developing processes for the industrial production of pharmaceutical-grade psychedelic compounds, including psilocybin and mescaline. The potential for treating depression is immense, and a collaboration with the Technical University of Munich (TUM) has been set up for this project in particular.
**In addition, XPhyto Therapeutics' pipeline includes Point-of-Care Diagnostics and biosensor products for early detection of other diseases.
BioNTech - Defeating testicular cancer with mRNA technology
Bundesliga fans likely already know: within a few months, the fourth case of a player diagnosed with testicular cancer has been reported. Testicular cancer is a malignant disease that occurs in the testicles. As it progresses, it can also affect the epididymis and vas deferens. Testicular cancer is a less common tumor disease, accounting for 1.6% of all cancers. According to the Robert Koch Institute (RKI), 4,070 men develop this malignant testicular tumor each year.
Testicular tumors mainly affect young men between the ages of 25 and 45. It is the most common new cancer in men at this age, accounting for 20-30% of all cancer cases. The average age of men diagnosed with testicular cancer is 38 years.
BioNTech now presents further promising data from the ongoing Phase 1/2 clinical trial of its novel CAR-T cell therapy approach, BNT211. The product, also based on mRNA technology, is specifically designed for use in advanced tumors.
"The new data support the encouraging results we had previously observed for BNT211. Together with the recently granted PRIME status for BNT211 for the treatment of testicular cancer, we feel encouraged in our strategy to combine two of our technology platforms in one therapeutic approach, especially for difficult-to-treat tumor indications," explained Prof. Dr Özlem Türeci, Chief Medical Officer and co-founder of BioNTech. BNT211, a drug for the treatment of testicular cancer, was recently approved by the European Medicines Agency (EMA) as a third- or late-stage therapy for patients with advanced cancer.
Investors should give innovative pharmaceutical and biotech companies their own space in their portfolios. Medical breakthroughs such as slowing Alzheimer's disease through Biogen's new drug or non-addictive psychedelics as a therapy for depression through XPhyto Therapeutics have arrived in the here and now. In addition to legally mandated and detailed research cycles, a mature market access strategy is needed to ensure that breakthrough drugs and therapeutics find their way into outpatient and inpatient care. Every investor experienced just how far-reaching such measures can go during the Corona pandemic. BioNTech appears to have scored the next coup with its therapeutic agent in the fight against testicular cancer.
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