The Latest News in the Peptide World

February 2024

The "February 2024 Peptide Spotlight" presents the top 10 articles in the peptide space. In February 2024, there were breakthroughs across peptide and protein therapies, with notable achievements including Protagonist Therapeutics' promising psoriasis treatment, JNJ-2113, and of course Novo Nordisk's market value surge due to its obesity drug, Wegovy. Innovations in peptide modification, as highlighted by research from The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and strategic expansions, like Bachem's facility in Switzerland, underline the industry's growth and focus on advanced therapeutics. Also don't forget to read the review of peptide and oligonucleotide drugs released in 2023 by those at University of KwaZulu-Natal and Imperial College London.

01. Protagonist Therapeutics' JNJ-2113 Achieves Milestone in Phase 2b Psoriasis Study

Protagonist Therapeutics announced in the New England Journal of Medicine the success of JNJ-2113, a targeted oral peptide, in the FRONTIER 1 Phase 2b study for moderate-to-severe plaque psoriasis. Achieving all primary and secondary endpoints, including significant PASI 100 and IGA 0 responses, JNJ-2113's efficacy and safety data underline its potential as a first-in-class IL-23 receptor inhibitor. This paves the way for multiple Phase 3 studies under the ICONIC-program, aiming to set a new treatment benchmark for psoriasis.


02. Harnessing Selenium Chemistry for Precision Peptide and Protein Functionalization

The article by researchers from The Hebrew University of Jerusalem in Nature Reviews Chemistry explores the innovative use of selenium chemistry for the site-selective functionalization of peptides and proteins, a significant challenge due to the complexity of protein structures and the necessity for mild, aqueous conditions. The authors delve into metal-free and metal-catalyzed transformations and traceless modifications, highlighting selenium's unique role in enabling precise, regioselective enhancements that improve protein folding, stability, and solubility, paving the way for advanced therapeutic applications and chemical biology research.


03. Bachem Expands Presence in Northwestern Switzerland with CHF 750 million Investment

Bachem, a leading company in peptide and oligonucleotide manufacturing, is expanding its presence in northwestern Switzerland with a new production site planned in Sisslerfeld. The site is part of Bachem's strategy to increase production capacity and create up to 3,000 new jobs. With an initial investment of CHF 750 million, the site will focus on peptides and oligonucleotides production, essential for treating various diseases, including diabetes and cancer. This expansion underscores Bachem's commitment to growth and innovation in the pharmaceutical industry.


04. Novo Nordisk Smashes Past $500 Billion Value on Wegovy Frenzy

Novo Nordisk A/S surpassed a $500 billion market value, driven by high demand for its obesity drug Wegovy. This milestone marks Novo Nordisk as the second European company to achieve this valuation, propelled by optimistic revenue and profit forecasts linked to Wegovy and its diabetes counterpart, Ozempic. Despite facing supply challenges and competition, investments in manufacturing capacity aim to meet demand, highlighting the company's growth trajectory and the pharmaceutical industry's evolving landscape.


05. Johnson & Johnson's Novel Targeted Oral Peptide Shows Promise in Phase II Psoriasis Trial

Johnson & Johnson's investigational oral peptide, JNJ-2113, targeting the IL-23 receptor, demonstrated significant efficacy in a Phase II trial for moderate-to-severe plaque psoriasis. The study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, met its primary and secondary endpoints, offering a potential new oral treatment that combines efficacy with an acceptable safety profile. This development is particularly encouraging for patients seeking alternatives to injectable treatments, and further research is underway to explore JNJ-2113's potential across other IL-23-mediated diseases.


06. Design of Target Specific Peptide Inhibitors Using Generative Deep Learning and Molecular Dynamics Simulations

This study introduces a novel computational approach for designing peptide inhibitors that target specific proteins, combining generative deep learning models with molecular dynamics simulations. By integrating a Gated Recurrent Unit-based Variational Autoencoder with Rosetta FlexPepDock, the method efficiently generates peptide sequences with high binding affinity. The approach was applied to design inhibitors for β-catenin and NF-κB essential modulator, demonstrating its potential to accelerate the discovery and optimization of peptide-based therapeutics.


07. Merck & Co. Signs $220M Deal for Macrocyclic Peptide Development

Merck & Co. has entered into a $220 million agreement with Unnatural Products to further explore the potential of macrocyclic peptides, considered the "next wave of drug discovery." This collaboration aims to leverage Unnatural Products' AI and chemistry expertise to develop new macrocyclic candidates targeting a specific, yet undisclosed, oncology target. The deal includes an upfront payment and potential for further development and commercial milestones, highlighting the growing interest in macrocyclic peptides for their unique therapeutic properties.


08. Teva Announces Intention to Divest API Business

Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd. plans to divest its active pharmaceutical ingredient (API) business, TAPI, as part of its "Pivot to Growth" strategy. This move aims to focus Teva's efforts on its core business strengths, capital allocation towards growth engines, and innovation. The divestiture is expected to enhance TAPI's position as a global leader in the API market, benefiting shareholders and stakeholders by addressing growing market demands more effectively.


09. Nature-Inspired Peptide of MtDef4 C-terminus Tail Enables Protein Delivery in Mammalian Cells

A study detailed in Scientific Reports investigates a peptide derived from the C-terminus of Medicago truncatula defensin MtDef4, demonstrating its potential as a cell-penetrating peptide (CPP) for intracellular delivery of therapeutic agents. The peptide, characterized by efficient mammalian cell penetration and minimal impact on cell viability, could significantly advance the development of peptide-based therapeutics and drug delivery systems, opening new avenues for treating various diseases.


10. Revolo Biotherapeutics' Peptide Receives Orphan Drug Designation for Eosinophilic Esophagitis

The FDA has granted orphan drug designation to Revolo Biotherapeutics' '1104, a pioneering immune-resetting peptide for eosinophilic esophagitis (EoE) treatment. In a phase 2a study, '1104 showed promising results, significantly improving dysphagia symptoms and impacting eosinophil counts and CD4+ and CD8+ cells while increasing regulatory T and B cells. This designation underscores the potential of '1104 to fill an unmet need in EoE treatment, offering a new approach by resetting immune responses upstream of inflammation.



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