J&J’s COVID-19 vaccine enters a new 6,000-person late-stage trial


A coronavirus vaccine from a unit of Johnson & Johnson is set to move to the third phase of clinical trials in the U.K. on Monday that will test the safety and effectiveness of the shot.

The testing round by Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies will include 6,000 volunteers and take place across 17 sites, according to a statement. The vaccine is the third candidate to be tested in the U.K., alongside one from an AstraZeneca in partnership with the University of Oxford and another from Novavax Inc., it said.

Progress toward creating vaccines against COVID-19 has accelerated this month, with Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech SE saying their shot prevented more than 90% of symptomatic infections in a trial. Still, hurdles for production and development remain before vaccines could reach widespread use.

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Recent data indicate “we could be on the cusp of the first major breakthrough since the pandemic began,” U.K. Business Secretary Alok Sharma said. “While we are optimistic with the progress being made, there are no guarantees and it is possible there will be no one-size-fits-all vaccine.”

If the vaccine from New Jersey-based Janssen proves safe and effective, 30 million doses could be available in the U.K. by mid-2021, according to the release. The government’s Vaccine Taskforce is partially funding the effort.

The government also announced that it will open two new “megalabs” early next year, which will together increase daily testing capacity by 600,000. The labs will be used for COVID-19, as well as testing for other critical illnesses such as cancer, according to a statement.

The U.K. recently became the first country in Europe to record more than 50,000 deaths from the virus, and England is under lockdown restrictions until early December due to a surge in cases.

J&J has been further behind other pharmaceutical companies in the vaccine hunt, while it plans to boost spending to expand a development deal with the U.S. government and catch up with rivals. The company had paused a vaccine trial in October after a participant fell ill.

More health care and Big Pharma coverage from Fortune:

  • The biggest errors the Trump administration made in response to COVID
  • Hackers are trying to disrupt and steal COVID-19 vaccine research
  • Infectious disease experts are very excited about the Pfizer and BioNTech vaccine
  • We don’t know enough about COVID antibodies to count on them
  • U.K. to use A.I. to spot dangerous side effects in the millions of COVID-19 vaccinations it will deliver



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Peregrine Ventures launches new $300 million fund to focus on late-stage life science companies – Jewish Business News


Peregrine Ventures launches new $300 million fund to focus on late-stage life science companies

Peregrine Ventures, an Israeli venture capital firm today announced the launch of a new growth fund, Peregrine Growth, which focuses on late-stage life science companies. 

Peregrine closed $101 million of the planned $300 million fund, with participation of leading Israeli institutional investors. Currently, the firm aiming to raise additional funds from institutional investors and family offices worldwide. 

The 2019 report of the Israeli Advanced Technology Industries (IATI) notes that Israel, with a population of around 9 million, has “a robust, growing and increasingly integrated ecosystem of biopharma, medtech, digital health, and healthcare sectors which have merged into a “single bio-convergent industry.” 

The report refers to 1,600 life science companies employing nearly 85,000 people. A majority of them are in the R&D stage (51%), though 547 firms (34%) are generating initial revenues; and 64 firms (4%) are in revenue growth mode. 

Peregrine Growth will invest $20 to $30 million per funding round, with a strong emphasis on companies that are on the verge of an IPO or M&A.  Peregrine invests in sectors such as medical devices, pharma and digital health. 

Peregrine Growth is Peregrine Ventures’ fifth fund and first growth fund. It follows Peregrine IV, which closed in December 2019 after raising $115 million. The performance of Peregrine’s portfolio places the firm in the upper quartile of IRR results for all venture capital firms in global benchmarks.

“Peregrine has nearly 20 years experience in life science investing at all stages, on companies that are at an incredibly exciting time: on the cusp of an IPO or M&A,” said Eyal Lifschitz, managing partner, and co-founder at Peregrine Ventures.

“With the renewed focus on biotech, health, and life science in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis, the potential of Peregrine Growth is great. Many industry executives are aware that insufficient funds have been invested in healthcare and pharma technologies, and therefore expect that the life science sector will experience significant growth over the next decade. Institutional investors are taking note of the trend and will be allocating a larger percentage of their investments toward life science,” said Lifschitz.

Peregrine’s portfolio companies completed exits totaling more than $2 billion to date, among them Valtech and Neovasc, among the largest exits in the field of medical devices in Israel’s history.

Additionally, Peregrine’s portfolio includes mature growth companies worth hundreds of millions of dollars. The fund has invested in and helped develop numerous successful companies in the MedTech field, including medical devices, biotech, pharma, esthetics, and digital health, such as Memic, CartiHeal, Cordio, and Magneto. 

A number of Peregrine’s current portfolio companies have pivoted to use their technologies to combat the coronavirus. Among them, Cordio’s noninvasive technology is able to remotely monitor and diagnose the status of COVID-19 patients based on the analysis of their speech pattern sampled with the use of a cellular application.

After the establishment of Peregrine, the co-founders were joined by partners Tamir Tal Lior Shahory, David Eldar and Tal Carasso. The firm has become a prominent investor in Israel’s medical, life science and biotech sectors with a specific focus on medical devices.

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