Zenas BioPharma Announces Publication of Phase 2 Study of Obexelimab, an Investigational Treatment for IgG4-Related Disease (IgG4-RD), in The Lancet Rheumatology

Study found obexelimab produced rapid, strong, and sustained clinical improvement, including complete clinical remission, in most patients with active IgG4-RD Results support the continued development of obexelimab for the treatment of IgG4-RD and potentially other B cell-mediated autoimmune conditions WALTHAM, Mass., Aug. 01, 2023 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Zenas BioPharma, a global biopharmaceutical company committed to […]

Study found obexelimab produced rapid, strong, and sustained clinical improvement, including complete clinical remission, in most patients with active IgG4-RD

Results support the continued development of obexelimab for the treatment of IgG4-RD and potentially other B cell-mediated autoimmune conditions

WALTHAM, Mass., Aug. 01, 2023 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Zenas BioPharma, a global biopharmaceutical company committed to becoming a leader in the development and commercialization of immune-based therapies, announces The Lancet Rheumatology has published findings from a Phase 2 study evaluating obexelimab for the treatment of patients with IgG4-Related Disease (IgG4-RD). Based on the results of this study, a Phase 3 study in patients with IgG4-RD is ongoing to further investigate the efficacy and safety of obexelimab administered as a subcutaneous injection.

IgG4-RD is a chronic, immune-mediated fibro-inflammatory disease that can affect multiple organs including the major salivary glands, orbits, lacrimal glands, pancreas, biliary tree, lungs, kidneys, and retroperitoneum. Approximately 20,000 patients are diagnosed with IgG4-RD in the United States alone. Despite its increasing recognition, there remains a need for further research and effective therapeutic options for individuals living with this debilitating disease.

Across the world, the use of glucocorticoids is widely considered to be the standard of care for treating IgG4-RD. There are no approved treatment options for this condition. While commonly used, glucocorticoids and available B cell depleting therapies rarely lead to long-term, treatment-free remissions, and are associated with a high risk of toxicity in these patients. Such therapies also impair vaccine responses, including those for SARS-CoV-2 and influenza.

In a prospective, open-label, single arm, single-center pilot study to assess the efficacy and safety of obexelimab in the treatment of patients with IgG4-RD (clinicaltrials.gov registration NCT02725476), obexelimab demonstrated strong improvement in the IgG4-RD Responder Index, a measure of disease activity, by inhibiting B cell function, without depleting B cells.

The published manuscript, titled “Obexelimab for the Treatment of Patients with IgG4-Related Disease: An Open-Label, Single-Arm, Pilot Study to Evaluate Efficacy, Safety, and Mechanism of Action,” is available online and will appear in the August issue of The Lancet Rheumatology 2023;5(8) [E428-E429].

The following are the key findings in the paper:

  • Obexelimab produced rapid, strong, and sustained clinical improvement, including complete remission (IgG4-RD Responder Index score of 0), in most patients with active IgG4-RD.
  • During obexelimab treatment, reductions in circulating B cells, including plasmablasts, were observed without evidence of cell death.
  • Additionally, reduction of circulating B cells and rapid return to near normal levels after treatment discontinuation suggests that obexelimab may lead to B cell sequestration in lymphoid organs or the bone marrow.
  • Obexelimab was well tolerated. The majority of treatment-related adverse events were grades 1 or 2, with the most common adverse events being gastrointestinal infusion-related events, most of which were mild.

“Our findings are a significant step forward in understanding the underlying mechanisms of IgG4-Related Disease; paving the way for more targeted treatment strategies,” said John Stone, MD, MPH, Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School, and the Edward A. Fox Chair in Medicine at Mass General Hospital. “Our team is honored to have our research recognized by The Lancet Rheumatology, and we are immensely grateful to the patients who participated in this groundbreaking study.”

About Obexelimab

Obexelimab is an investigational Phase 3-stage, bifunctional, non-cytolytic, humanized monoclonal antibody that mimics the action of antigen-antibody complexes by binding CD19 and FcγRIIb to inhibit B-lineage cell activity. In several early-stage clinical studies in various autoimmune diseases, 198 subjects were treated with obexelimab. In these clinical studies, obexelimab demonstrated effective inhibition of B cell function without depleting the cells, resulting in encouraging treatment effect in patients with various autoimmune diseases. Zenas acquired exclusive worldwide rights to obexelimab from Xencor, Inc.

More information on the Phase 3 (INDIGO) study for the treatment of IgG4 Related Disease is available at clinicaltrials.gov: NCT05662241.

About Zenas BioPharma

Zenas BioPharma is a global biopharmaceutical company committed to becoming a leader in the development and commercialization of immune-based therapies for patients around the world. With clinical development and operations globally, Zenas is advancing a deep and balanced global portfolio of potential first- and best-in-class autoimmune therapeutics in areas of high unmet medical need while meeting the value requirements of the dynamic global healthcare environment. The company’s pipeline continues to grow through our successful business development strategy. Our experienced leadership team and network of business partners drive operational excellence to deliver potentially transformative therapies to improve the lives of those facing autoimmune and rare diseases. For more information about Zenas BioPharma, please visit www.zenasbio.com and follow us on Twitter at @ZenasBioPharma and LinkedIn.

Investor and Media Contact:
Joe Farmer, President & COO
Zenas BioPharma
IR@zenasbio.com

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Conagen and Sumitomo Chemical jointly develop a new era of renewable carbon materials

Bedford, Mass., Aug. 01, 2023 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Conagen, the bioplatform innovator and biomanufacturer, and Sumitomo Chemical, Japan’s leading chemical company, have announced to jointly develop p-hydroxystyrene (HS) and its polymer, poly p-hydroxystyrene (PHS), using a combination of biosynthesis, chemosynthesis, and polymerization. The monomer and the polymer are 100% renewable carbon, marking a new era of […]

Bedford, Mass., Aug. 01, 2023 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Conagen, the bioplatform innovator and biomanufacturer, and Sumitomo Chemical, Japan’s leading chemical company, have announced to jointly develop p-hydroxystyrene (HS) and its polymer, poly p-hydroxystyrene (PHS), using a combination of biosynthesis, chemosynthesis, and polymerization. The monomer and the polymer are 100% renewable carbon, marking a new era of sustainable production.

Developing PHS using a combination of biosynthesis, chemosynthesis, and polymerization represents a significant breakthrough in sustainable material production. Efforts to reduce reliance on petroleum and transition towards renewable and sustainable alternatives have gained momentum in recent years. With renewable biomass as the starting material, this joint devolvement between Conagen and Sumitomo Chemical creates an environmentally friendly and cost-effective product. The partnership is in the lead position of active global initiatives to reduce petroleum-based products’ consumption and environmental impact.

This partnership represents a significant milestone in developing sustainable materials, and this approach to PHS production is expected to reduce the carbon footprint associated with traditional chemical synthesis methods. It is a crucial step towards more sustainable manufacturing processes with a positive impact.

The Conagen-Sumitomo partnership leverages Conagen’s expertise in microbial strain design and development with Sumitomo Chemical’s proficiency in chemical production and commercialization. The collaboration aims to create a platform that enables the production of sustainable chemicals to replace petrochemicals in an extended range of many applications.

PHS is used to produce polymers, resins, and other chemicals. The monomer HS can also be used as an input for the synthesis of other substances, such as pharmaceuticals and fragrances. The applications of HS and PHS are limitless and can span uses from electronics to personal care and other consumer products.

“This partnership represents a significant step forward in pursuing green chemicals for sustainable material production,” said J. McNamara, Ph.D., V.P. of chemical applications at Conagen. “Our commitment is a testament to the power of collaboration and the potential of combining our technologies with synthetic and polymer chemistries to create innovative, sustainable solutions that can significantly reduce petroleum-based products in the environment,” McNamara stated. “Together, we’re marking a new era of carbon-neutral material production efforts.”

The monomer HS, with the chemical formula C8H8O, is a derivative of styrene in which a hydroxyl group (-OH) is attached to the aromatic ring’s para position (carbon atom 4). The HS and PHS are examples of green chemistry for minimizing waste, reducing hazardous chemicals, and using catalysts that can be easily separated and reused. This joint development project promises to potentially pave the way for developing novel renewable and sustainable materials. “Similar technology can be used to produce other key chemical ingredients by fermentation at industrial scale, such as cinnamic acid, monohydroxy-benzoic acid, and dihydroxy-benzoic acid,” said McNamara.

About Conagen

Conagen is making the impossible possible. It is a product-focused, synthetic biology R&D company with large-scale manufacturing service capabilities. Its proprietary strain development, fermentation, and scale-up technologies enhance our partners’ sales, production, and profitability across a broad spectrum of current and developing markets in food, beverage, nutrition, flavor and fragrance, pharmaceutical, and renewable materials.

About Sumitomo Chemical

Sumitomo Chemical is Japan’s leading chemical company, with a global presence in the chemicals, petrochemicals, and plastics industries. The company is committed to sustainability and has a product portfolio contributing to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.Top of Form

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Ana Capretz, Head of Public Relations and Communications
Conagen
+1-781-271-1588
ana.capretz@conagen.com

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Pakistan blast: How did we get here?

With the death toll for the most recent suicide bombing climbing past 50 in Pakistan, the head of Jamiat Ulema Islam (JUI-F) party, whose supporters were targeted in the blast, decried the country’s security forces over the apparent “intelligence failu…

With the death toll for the most recent suicide bombing climbing past 50 in Pakistan, the head of Jamiat Ulema Islam (JUI-F) party, whose supporters were targeted in the blast, decried the country's security forces over the apparent "intelligence failure."

"Where are they? When will they listen to us? When will they heal our wounds? When will they establish a system that safeguards our future generations?" JUI-F leader Fazl-ur-Rehman asked on Twitter.

The conservative preacher is not the only one in Pakistan raising his voice against the rise of terrorist attacks, including suicide bombings.

The Sunday blast in Bajaur was claimed by a local affiliate of the "Islamic State" militia. The "Islamic State Khorasan" (ISIS-K) accuses JUI-F of hypocrisy for being an Islamic political group that has supported secular governments and the military.

But other extremist groups are also using suicide to target their political enemies in Pakistan. The nation experienced more than a dozen suicide attacks in the first half of 2023, according to report by the Pakistan Institute for Conflict and Security Studies, an Islamabad-based security think-tank. This also includes a bombing in a Peshawar mosque that killed over 100 people. A commander of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan, or TTP, initially claimed responsibility, but this was later denied by a TTP spokesman.

And the Sunday blast at the JUI-F rally was only the latest in the northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, which borders Afghanistan.

On July 18, eight people were injured in an apparent suicide bombing in Peshawar. On July 20, two suicide bombers attacked the official compound in Bara, Khyber district, with at least four police officers losing their lives. Another police officer was killed five days later while attempting to arrest a suicide bomber in a mosque.

Competing factions behind deadly terror strikes

Abdul Basit, a senior fellow at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies and an expert on jihadi networks, told DW that the TTP terror group has been associated with suicide terrorism in Pakistan since it was established in December 2007.

"Apart from TTP, other major groups involved in suicide attacks include ISIS-K, North Waziristan-based commander Hafiz Gul Bahadur's faction in North Waziristan, and the recently formed Tehreek-e-Jihad Pakistan," Basit told DW.

"Additionally, among the various secular ethnic-separatist groups, the Baloch Liberation Army (BLA) stands out as one of the major actors who took inspiration from the Islamist militants, and adopted suicide bombing as a warfare tactic," he said.

In June, the BLA claimed responsibility for a suicide attack involving a woman bomber targeting a law enforcement convoy in the Pakistani section of Balochistan.

Long history of suicide bombings

Pakistan has experienced multiple suicide attacks since the mid-1990s, but most of bombings of that era were organized by international militant organizations and sectarian outfits.

In November 1995, terrorist targeted the Egyptian embassy in Islamabad, killing 17 people. The bombings were linked to Ayman al-Zawahiri and his then-Egyptian Islamic Jihad militant outfit.

In May 2002, a suicide bombing on a bus in Karachi resulted in the deaths of 14 people, including 11 French engineers. The US consulate in Karachi was also attacked by suicide bombers in June 2002 and March 2006, leading to the death of a US diplomat and many others.

Even Pakistan's top officials faced the threat of suicide blasts, including ex-President General Pervez Musharraf, and ex-Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz, in 2003 and 2004 respectively. Both were unharmed in the attacks.

In 2005, Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, a Pakistani sectarian terror outfit, carried out suicide attacks at the shrines of Pir Rakheel Shah in the Jhal Magsi district of the Balochistan province, and of Bari Imam in Islamabad.

TTP rises after Red Mosque clampdown

Organized suicide terrorism in Pakistan took root after a military operation against militants sheltered in Islamabad's radical Red Mosque in June 2007.

The siege culminated in a deadly battle, with more than 100 militants and at least 11 law enforcement members losing their lives. Several months later, the TTP appeared on the scene as a formidable militant outfit.

"This marked a significant turning point in Pakistan's history, as the TTP began a series of suicide attacks that terrorized the nation for years," said Fakhar Kakakhel, a Peshawar-based journalist who covered Islamist militancy extensively. "The suicide bombings targeted military, government installations, public places and civilian gatherings, instilling fear and chaos in society."

Attacks quickly grew more frequent, with former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto dying in a suicide attack on December 2007. The background of her assassination was never fully made clear.

In 2008, Pakistani officials noted 59 suicide attacks in the country, with more total casualties from such attacks than Afghanistan and Iraq had that same year. The numbers remained high for several years after that.

Years of decline

In 2014, the military launched a major military operation known as "Zarb-e-Azb," aimed to eradicate TTP and other al-Qaida-linked militant groups. In the years that followed, Pakistan has experienced fewer suicide attacks, with the numbers dropping into single digits around the turn of the decade. Namely, officials noted four, three and five suicide attacks occurring in 2019, 2020 and 2021, respectively, according to the Pakistan Institute for Peace Studies.

"Until late-2020, TTP had been crumbling under Pakistan's sustained Zarb-e-Azb operation, the deaths of successive leaders by US drone strikes and an internal rift that steadily pushed factions of the terror organization to relocate to neighboring Afghan provinces," journalist Kakakhel said.

Taliban takeover in Afghanistan boosts militants

With the rise of the Taliban government in Afghanistan in August 2021, however, the TTP has resurfaced as a serious threat.

"Since the reunification with several splinter groups, TTP has aspired to reestablish control of territory in Pakistan after being emboldened by the Taliban takeover in Afghanistan," according to the UN Security Report on July 25.

"The group is focused on high-value targets in border areas and soft targets in urban areas. TTP capability is assessed as not matching its ambition, given that it does not control territory and lacks popular appeal in the [country's] tribal areas," the report said.

Experts said that the recent suicide attack in Bajaur undoubtedly shows a substantial escalation of militant groups' capabilities and assertive approach in Pakistan.

"As the conflict intensifies, suicide terrorism also tends to increase, while when militant groups face suppression through operations like Zarb-e-Azb, the incidents of suicide terrorism decrease," Basit said.

Source: Deutsche Welle

Allama Iqbal Open University Announces Admission Deadline for Various Programs

Allama Iqbal Open University (AIOU) has announced important dates for the admission process in various merit-based (face-to-face) programs for the first phase of the autumn 2023 semester.The university has set August 15 as the deadline for new student…

Allama Iqbal Open University (AIOU) has announced important dates for the admission process in various merit-based (face-to-face) programs for the first phase of the autumn 2023 semester.

The university has set August 15 as the deadline for new students to apply online for BS, MBA, M.Sc (Hons), MPhil, MS, and PhD programs. Prospective students seeking admission to these programs are urged to complete their applications before this date.

For continuing students in these programs, the deadline for enrollment in the next semester is August 22. It is essential for current students to ensure timely enrollment to secure their academic progress.

As part of the admission process for MPhil, MS, and PhD programs, the university will conduct entrance tests and interviews from August 17 to 23. These assessments are crucial for selecting qualified candidates for these specialized programs.

The university aims to finalize the merit lists of successful candidates within two weeks after the completion of the interviews. These lists will be made available on the university’s official website, allowing applicants to check their admission status.

For other programs such as Matric, Intermediate, and certificate courses, the admission process will continue until September 5, 2023. Students interested in these programs have the opportunity to apply until this date and secure their places in their desired courses.

AIOU encourages all prospective students to adhere to the deadlines and complete the necessary application procedures promptly. The university remains committed to providing quality education and fostering academic excellence in various disciplines.

Source: Pro Pakistani

Seagold Private Limited Recognized as Top Cargo Agent by Emirates SkyCargo

Seagold Private Limited, one of the leading logistics companies in Pakistan, is thrilled to announce that it has been honored as one of the Top Cargo Agents for Karachi by Emirates SkyCargo for the year 2022-23.The prestigious award was presented at a…

Seagold Private Limited, one of the leading logistics companies in Pakistan, is thrilled to announce that it has been honored as one of the Top Cargo Agents for Karachi by Emirates SkyCargo for the year 2022-23.

The prestigious award was presented at a grand ceremony held at a local hotel in Karachi. Faisal Yaqoob, Director – Global Air Freight, Seagold (Private) Limited, received the accolade from Saeed Abdulla, Cargo Manager Pakistan – Emirates SkyCargo.

The esteemed recognition from Emirates SkyCargo is a testament to Seagold’s unwavering commitment to excellence in the cargo industry for over two decades.

With a legacy of more than 11 years of partnership with Emirates, Seagold has consistently demonstrated exceptional dedication and professionalism in its operations.

Receiving the Top Agent award for Karachi consecutively for the past three years further validates Seagold’s commitment to delivering excellence consistently.

“We are incredibly honored to be acknowledged as one of the Top Cargo Agents by Emirates SkyCargo,” said Ayaz Admani, CEO, Seagold (Pvt.) Ltd.

He added: “This recognition not only reflects our strong partnership with Emirates but also serves as a motivation to continuously raise the bar in providing top-notch logistics solutions to our valued clients.”

Seagold has been proudly serving clients, operating to Europe and USA destinations through its collaboration with Emirates SkyCargo. Their expertise in handling these specialized shipments has garnered praise from both customers and industry peers, positioning Seagold as a trusted and reliable logistics partner.

This recognition highlights Seagold’s dedication to ensuring efficient and reliable cargo services, fostering a strong foundation for mutually beneficial partnerships.

As Seagold (Pvt.) Limited continues to expand and enhance its services, this prestigious accolade from Emirates SkyCargo strengthens the company’s position as a market leader in the cargo and logistics industry.

Source: Pro Pakistani

President emphasizes exploring new trade opportunities with Malaysia

President Arif Alvi has said Pakistan desires to further improve bilateral cooperation with Malaysia in the areas of trade, economy, education and culture.Talking to Pakistan’s High Commissioner designate to Malaysia Syed Ahsan Raza Shah in Islamabad,…

President Arif Alvi has said Pakistan desires to further improve bilateral cooperation with Malaysia in the areas of trade, economy, education and culture.

Talking to Pakistan's High Commissioner designate to Malaysia Syed Ahsan Raza Shah in Islamabad, the President emphasized for fostering linkages with the Malaysian business community and Chambers of Commerce.

The President said efforts should be made to further enhance Pakistan's exports to Malaysia through value added products.

President Arif Alvi said Malaysian entrepreneurs should benefit from the investment friendly policies of Pakistan.

The President asked the High Commissioner to work for facilitation and welfare of the Pakistani workforce in Malaysia besides making efforts to further strengthen and diversify Pakistan-Malaysia bilateral relations.

Source: Radio Pakistan

Libyan authorities recover 385 Pakistani migrants from trafficking warehouses

Libyan authorities have recovered at least 385 Pakistani migrants from trafficking warehouses during a raid in the al-Khueir area.A migrants rights group Al-Abreen, which helps migrants in Libya told that the freed Pakistani nationals had arrived in t…

Libyan authorities have recovered at least 385 Pakistani migrants from trafficking warehouses during a raid in the al-Khueir area.

A migrants rights group Al-Abreen, which helps migrants in Libya told that the freed Pakistani nationals had arrived in the country to travel for Europe but were detained by smugglers who demand a ransom for their release.

Source: Radio Pakistan

Pakistan’s Inflation Clocks in At 28.3% in July

Pakistan’s Consumer Price Index (CPI) based inflation increased to 28.3 percent on a year-on-year basis in July 2023 as compared to an increase of 29.4 percent in the previous month and 24.9 percent in July 2022, says Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PB…

Pakistan’s Consumer Price Index (CPI) based inflation increased to 28.3 percent on a year-on-year basis in July 2023 as compared to an increase of 29.4 percent in the previous month and 24.9 percent in July 2022, says Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS).

On a month-on-month basis, it increased to 3.5 percent in July 2023 as compared to a decrease of 0.3 percent in the previous month and an increase of 4.3 percent in July 2022.

CPI inflation Urban increased to 26.3 percent on a year-on-year basis in July 2023 as compared to an increase of 27.3 percent in the previous month and 23.6 percent in July 2022. On a month-on-month basis, it increased to 3.6 percent in July 2023 as compared to an increase of 0.1 percent in the previous month and an increase of 4.5 percent in July 2022.

CPI inflation in Rural increased to 31.3 percent on a year-on-year basis in July 2023 as compared to an increase of 32.4 percent in the previous month and 26.9 percent in July 2022. On a month-on-month basis, it increased to 3.3 percent in July 2023 as compared to a decrease of 0.8 percent in the previous month and an increase of 4.2 percent in July 2022.

The Sensitive Price Index (SPI) inflation on YoY increased to 29.3 percent in July 2023 as compared to an increase of 34.9 percent a month earlier and 28.2 percent in July 2022. On MoM basis, it increased by 2.8 percent in July 2023 as compared to an increase of 0.2 percent a month earlier and an increase of 7.3 percent in July 2022.

The Wholesale Price Index (WPI) inflation on YoY basis increased to 23.1 percent in July 2023 as compared to an increase of 22.4 percent a month earlier and an increase of 38.5 percent in July 2022. On an MoM basis, it increased by 2.5 percent in July 2023 as compared to a decrease of 0.3 percent a month earlier and an increase of 2.0 percent in the corresponding month of last year i.e. July 2022.

Core inflation (NFNE)

Measured by non-food non-energy Urban increased to 18.4 percent on a YoY basis in July 2023 as compared to an increase of 18.5 percent in the previous month and 12.0 percent in July 2022. On an MoM basis, it increased by 1.2 percent in July 2023 as compared to an increase of 0.7 percent in the previous month, and an increase of 1.2 percent in the corresponding month of last year i.e. July, 2022.

Measured by non-food non-energy Rural increased to 24.6 percent on a YoY basis in July 2023 as compared to an increase of 25.2 percent in the previous month and 14.6 percent in July 2022. On an MoM basis, it increased by 1.2 percent in July 2023 as compared to an increase of 0.9 percent in the previous month, and an increase of 1.6 percent in the corresponding month of last year i.e. July 2022.

Core inflation (Trimmed)

Measured by a 20 percent weighted trimmed mean Urban increased to 21.7 percent on a YoY basis in July 2023 as compared to 22.9 percent in the previous month and 19.0 percent in July 2022. On an MoM basis, it increased by 1.9 percent in July 2023 as compared to an increase of 0.8 percent in the previous month and an increase of 2.7 percent in the corresponding month of last year i.e. July 2022.

Measured by a 20 percent weighted trimmed mean Rural increased to 28.7 percent on a YoY basis in July 2023 as compared to 29.9 percent in the previous month and 21.7 percent in July 2022. On an MoM basis, it increased to 2.4 percent in July 2023 as compared to an increase of 0.1 percent in the previous month and an increase of 2.7 percent in the corresponding month of last year i.e. July 2022.

Source: Pro Pakistani