Biotech & Health

April 2020 was a “Positive” Month for Washington D.C. Area Biotechs

Howard Frazier

April was a good month for Washington, D.C. area biotechs, as the industry moves towards maturity and growth, companies are finding their footing in a complex and competitive industry. It can take biotechs a decade to get FDA approval and put a drug on the market.

With the epicenter for the industry being in none other than Montgomery County, several biotechs there have moved beyond dependence on a single product and are finding multiple ways to generate revenue, raking in billions of dollars. This past month several biotechs reported positive news from manufacturing agreements and capital raises to successes in ongoing drug trials in the hopes of developing their next blockbuster product.

Happening in the month of April, here’s a list of five Montgomery County biotechs that posted positive news updates,

Based in Rockville, fast-growing Regenxbio, Inc. (NASDAQ: RGNX), announced on April 22, that its’ RGX-314 therapeutic drug is meeting long-term endpoints in its’ Phase I/IIA trials. RGX-314 is a treatment for wet age-related macular degeneration or wet AMD. According to Regenxbio, it’s a loss of vision due to excess blood vessel formation between two layers of cells in the retina. If successful, RGX-314 could be a one-time treatment option for people suffering from wet AMD. Regenxbio is making big moves, including moving to a brand new office building at 9800 Medical Center Drive off Shady Grove Road in Rockville. The firm will take up the entire building that will become its new headquarters.

Silver Spring-based United Therapeutics Corporation (NASDAQ: UTHR) has five drugs on the market and has some cutting-edge developments in its pipeline including artificial lung replication. It announced further evidence on April 23 that it’s pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH) drug Orenitram (treprostinil) Extended-Release Tablet, not only improved patient health but significantly lowered healthcare costs to patients versus the generic competitor selexipag. United Therapeutics recently announced positive earnings and noted its success against generic drug competition.

Also on April 23, Gaithersburg-based Emergent Biosolutions (NYSE:EBS) reported big news of an agreement with pharmaceutical giant Johnson & Johnson (NYSE:JNJ) to the tune of approximately $135 million to manufacture it’s lead COVID-19 vaccine candidate. In addition to a product line of its own — including treatment for Antrax, Emergent BioSolutions has found another big revenue generator in third-party drug manufacturing. Johnson and Johnson’s coronavirus vaccine candidate will be manufactured in Emergent’s Bayview facility in Baltimore.

Another biotech made a huge announcement on April 23 with one of largest investment rounds in the D.C. area year-to-date. Rockville-based Immunomic Therapeutics raised $61.3 million in financing and that was only the second round of funding with a $10 million first round placed in February 2020. HLB Co., LTD, a pharmaceutical company based in South Korea led the investment consortium. The capital will be used to fund Immunomic’s Phase II clinical trial of it’s ITI-1000 drug for the treatment of glioblastoma multiforme (GBM), an aggressive form of cancer that can occur in the brain or spinal cord according to the Mayo Clinic.

GlycoMimetics, Inc. (NASDAQ: GLYC) said that a new study published on April 27 in peer-reviewed journal Nature Communications, showed its’ compound of discovery uproleselan is effective in reducing chemoresistance in the treatment of acute myeloid leukemia or AML. Rockville-based GlycoMimetics received breakthrough Therapy Designation from the U.S. FDA for uproleselan and is currently in Phase 3 development trials.