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Updated: 48 min ago

Kymera Therapeutics Unveils IPO Pitch for Protein Degradation

Fri, 07/31/2020 - 17:44

Kymera Therapeutics has a pipeline of preclinical drug candidates that use an experimental approach to get rid of disease-causing proteins and it’s now looking to tap the public markets to finance tests of the technology in humans.

In paperwork submitted to the Securities and Exchange Commission on Friday, Kymera set a $100 million goal for its IPO. The filing comes three weeks after the Cambridge, MA-based biotech inked a multi-year, multi-product R&D partnership with Sanofi (NYSE: SNY) that paid $150 million up front.

Kymera is developing drugs that harness protein degradation, a cell’s built-in process for recycling or disposing of... Read more »

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AnaptysBio Appoints Paul Lizzul as Its Chief Medical Officer

Fri, 07/31/2020 - 14:07

Paul Lizzul has joined AnaptysBio (NASDAQ: ANAB) as the company’s chief medical officer. He succeeds Marco Londei, who held the roles of CMO and chief development officer at AnaptysBio until earlier this year, when he joined Dutch biotech Gadeta as CEO.

Lizzul most recently served a short stint at Amgen (NASDAQ: AMGN) as global development lead for inflammation. Previously he was CMO at Sienna Biopharmaceuticals, which shuttered in 2019, and senior medical director at cosmetic drug company Kythera Biopharmaceuticals, which Allergan acquired for $2.1 billion in 2015. San Diego-based AnaptysBio is developing antibodies to treat inflammatory disorders; the company... Read more »

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Bio Roundup: Cerevel’s Shell, Thrive’s Rise, Drug Price Drama & More

Fri, 07/31/2020 - 07:20

The biotech IPO market is buzzing but Cerevel Therapeutics is showing that there’s more than one path to the public markets. This week the neuroscience drug developer reached a deal to merge with publicly traded Arya Sciences Acquisition Corp II.

If you’ve never heard of Arya (NASDAQ: ARYBU), it’s a shell company that Perceptive Advisors formed specifically to serve as a vehicle to take a private company public. Cerevel is young, but it’s pretty far along. Bain Capital and Pfizer (NYSE: PFE) launched it in 2018 with neuroscience compounds from the pharma giant’s labs. Now Arya and a... Read more »

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Novartis Pays $75M to Get Hands on Sangamo’s Zinc Fingers for Drug R&D

Thu, 07/30/2020 - 17:34

Another biopharma has signed up to use Sangamo Therapeutics’ gene editing technology to develop therapies that can address disease by heightening or depressing a gene’s activity level.

Sangamo on Thursday announced that Novartis (NYSE: NVS) had agreed to shell out $75 million up front to leverage the biotech’s genome regulation technology to treat certain neurodevelopmental conditions. Brisbane, CA-based Sangamo could earn up to $720 million in milestone payments, plus royalties on any products that emerge from the deal.

The Sangamo (NASDAQ: SGMO) tech uses proteins known as zinc finger nucleases that bind DNA to edit genes. Novartis says it... Read more »

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Arcutis Taps Verrica’s Burnett to Succeed Retiring Chief Medical Officer

Thu, 07/30/2020 - 13:23

Patrick Burnett is joining Arcutis Biotherapeutics (NASDAQ: ARQT) as its chief medical officer following the retirement of Howard Welgus, who has held the role since the company’s founding in 2016.

Burnett was most recently CMO at dermatology therapeutics developer Verrica Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: VRCA), whose investigational topical therapy for molluscum contagiosum was rejected by the FDA earlier this month. Burnett’s previous experience includes roles at Sun Pharmaceuticals and Novartis (NYSE: NVS). Westlake Village, CA-based Arcutis said Welgus has joined its board of directors and will continue as a strategic advisor to the company. Arcutis is developing treatments for immune-mediated dermatological diseases... Read more »

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AlloVir’s IPO Raises $276M to Test Cell Therapies in Transplant Patients

Thu, 07/30/2020 - 10:52

AlloVir is the latest biotech company to go public, raising about $276.3 million to pull its cell therapies off the shelf and run multiple clinical trials testing them in stem cell and organ transplant patients.

On Thursday, Cambridge, MA-based AlloVir (NASDAQ: ALVRpriced its offering of 16.25 million shares at $17 apiece, the midpoint of its targeted $16 to $18 per share price range. The company was able to sell more shares than it planned, boosting the size of the stock offering from the initial target of 14.75 million shares. AlloVir shares opened at $20 apiece, up 17.6 percent from... Read more »

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Amid Boom Days for Biotech, Inhibrx Lines Up Another IPO Effort

Wed, 07/29/2020 - 17:00

Public investors are betting big on biotechs, and Inhibrx is looking to capitalize on the industry’s recent resurgence of initial public offerings.

The La Jolla, CA-based company, which is developing drugs for cancer and a rare respiratory disease, has again applied for a listing on the Nasdaq, a filing that comes more than a year after it first outlined an IPO plan. It quietly withdrew that proposal last November.

In its second run at the public markets, Inhibrix has set a preliminary $100 million IPO goal, up by about one-third from the target it set last year. The company has... Read more »

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Roche Pays $120M for Rights to UCB’s Tau-Targeting Alzheimer’s Drug

Wed, 07/29/2020 - 11:27

As the Alzheimer’s disease world continues to closely follow the development of therapies that break up clumps of beta amyloid on patients’ brains, Roche is placing a bet on another approach via a deal that secures rights to a clinical-stage UCB compound that targets tau, another protein associated with the neurodegenerative disorder.

According to terms announced Wednesday, Roche is paying $120 million up front for global rights to the UCB drug, UCB0107. Belgium-based UCB remains responsible for conducting and funding a proof-of-concept study in patients with Alzheimer’s. After that study is complete, the Swiss pharmaceutical giant’s Genentech subsidiary may choose to... Read more »

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2020 National Xconomy Awards Finalists Announced

Wed, 07/29/2020 - 09:01

After receiving and reviewing nearly 600 entries spanning 10 award categories, Xconomy is thrilled to announce the 2020 Xconomy National Awards Finalists.

Since 2017, the mission of Xconomy’s annual awards programs has been to provide the industry a moment to pause, recognize, and honor the very best the life sciences has to offer – the people, companies, and organizations that challenge the status quo and never accept what works as good enough.

See the finalists.

More about the 2020 National Xconomy Awards event series:

Sept. 8-23: Meet the Finalists
A series of 11, 25-minute on-demand complimentary webcasts designed... Read more »

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Omega Therapeutics Lands $85M to Tap Into “Control Room” of Biology

Wed, 07/29/2020 - 05:01

The promise of gene therapies and gene-editing drugs is a long-lasting treatment that’s potentially a cure. But making permanent genetic changes means any accompanying problems could be long-lasting as well, says Omega Therapeutics CEO Mahesh Karande.

Omega is developing technology that takes a more nuanced approach to genomic medicine. Instead of fixing or replacing faulty genes, the company aims to harness the biological system that regulates them. If a gene is not properly translating DNA instructions into a needed protein, Omega can tune the gene expression up, Karande says. If gene expression is too high, the company’s technology dials it down.... Read more »

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Nura Bio Debuts With $73M and Plan to Develop “Neuroprotective” Drugs

Wed, 07/29/2020 - 04:00

Damage to axons, the slender tendrils through which nerve cells communicate, is an early indication of several neurological diseases. Nura Bio, which formed around new research into a mechanism underlying axonal degeneration, made its public debut Wednesday with a $73 million financing round and a chief executive who has experience shepherding multiple drug development programs from discovery to commercialization.

Alpna Seth leads Nura (formerly Proneurotech) as its president and CEO. She joined last August, while the startup was still under wraps, after a stint as chief operating officer at Vir Biotechnology (NASDAQ: VIR) and two decades at neuro drug developer... Read more »

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Thrive Adds $257M, Plans Pivotal Trial of Early Cancer Detection Test

Wed, 07/29/2020 - 04:00

Thrive Earlier Detection, one of the companies vying to be the first to commercialize a blood test that can uncover cases of cancer before symptoms arise, has raised $257 million and announced plans to evaluate its CancerSEEK test in a registrational study.

Many cancers grow silently, and once malignant cells are discovered a patient’s prognosis is grimmer than if the disease had been detected sooner.

On Wednesday the Cambridge, MA-based company, which was launched last year by Third Rock Ventures, announced that New York investment firm Casdin Capital and San Diego area-based venture firm Section 32 had co-led its Series B... Read more »

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Pfizer, BioNTech Choose Full Spike Protein for Pivotal Vaccine Test

Tue, 07/28/2020 - 09:11

Pfizer and BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine research started with multiple approaches—four shots on the messenger RNA goal. The partners have narrowed their choices to one for pivotal testing, and that candidate takes the same tack as other companies trying to address the novel coronavirus.

BNT162b2, the vaccine candidate that Pfizer (NYSE: PFE) and BioNTech (NASDAQ: BNTX) will advance to a Phase 2/3 study, is designed to get cells to produce the full spike protein of the novel coronavirus as a way to spark immunity. The choice is somewhat of a surprise. Earlier this month, the companies published preliminary Phase... Read more »

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Telehealth Firm AristaMD Adds $24M to Link Primary Docs With Specialists

Mon, 07/27/2020 - 19:50

Telemedicine isn’t just another way to connect patients with doctors. AristaMD has carved out a niche in connecting doctors with, well, other doctors.

The San Diego-based telehealth company’s software links primary care physicians and medical specialists through virtual consultations, communication that is intended to reduce healthcare costs by slimming down the number of referrals made to specialty care providers. Wait times associated with specialist referrals are notoriously lengthy, during which time a worsening condition can result in a trip to the emergency room or even hospitalization.

AristaMD, founded in 2013, aims to improve patient access to specialty care by providing primary... Read more »

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AstraZeneca to Pay $1B to Team Up With Daiichi Sankyo Again in Cancer

Mon, 07/27/2020 - 13:13

AstraZeneca’s partnership with Daiichi Sankyo led to FDA approval of an antibody cancer drug late last year. Now the British pharmaceutical giant is paying $1 billion up front to join forces on another antibody drug addressing a different cancer target.

The deal announced Monday calls for AstraZeneca (NYSE: AZN) to share in the development and, if approved, commercialization of the drug, DS-1062, globally. The deal excludes Japan, where Daiichi Sankyo is keeping exclusive rights.

The Daiichi Sankyo drug is an antibody drug conjugate (ADC), a type of therapy that hitches a powerful cancer-killing compound to a targeting antibody. This approach... Read more »

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Avidity Biosciences Appoints Alnylam’s Jae Kim as Chief Medical Officer

Mon, 07/27/2020 - 12:24

Avidity Biosciences (NASDAQ: RNA) has added Jae Kim to its C-suite as chief medical officer. Kim most recently served as vice president of clinical development at Alnylam Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: ALNY). His prior experience includes roles at MyoKardia (NASDAQ: MYOK) and Amgen (NASDAQ: AMGN).

San Diego-based Avidity, which raised a $100 million Series C financing round last November then added nearly $260 million in its initial public offering this June, is developing drugs called antibody-oligonucleotide conjugates to address muscle disorders.

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Clinical Trial Diversity Isn’t Just a Moral Issue–It’s a Scientific Imperative

Mon, 07/27/2020 - 03:00

The lack of diversity in clinical trials is a serious problem that’s persisted for decades. Black Americans—who make up 20 percent of US multiple myeloma patients and are twice as likely to be diagnosed—have only accounted for 4.5 percent of participants in multiple myeloma trials since 2003. Asian Americans—who make up nearly 6 percent of the U.S. population—have accounted for less than 2 percent of US-based trials.

The reality is that diverse patient populations have different responses to certain pharmaceuticals, and ignoring this poses a significant community and global health risk.

A critical reason behind this... Read more »

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Gilead Gets Another CAR-T Approval, This Time for Mantle Cell Lymphoma

Fri, 07/24/2020 - 15:14

The FDA on Friday approved a Gilead Sciences drug developed for treating mantle cell lymphoma, paving the way for the company to commercialize its second cancer cell therapy.

Approval for the drug, brexucabtagene autoleucel (Tecartus), covers patients whose cancer has relapsed or has not responded to earlier treatments. Gilead (NASDAQ: GILD) added the therapy to its pipeline via its $12 billion acquisition of Kite Pharma in 2017, a deal headlined by Yescarta, a cell therapy that went on to win approval later that year in non-Hodgkin lymphoma. Both Yescarta and Tecartus are chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T cell... Read more »

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Bio Roundup: Jazz Drug OK’d, Gilead’s Bet, Moderna Patent Decision & More

Fri, 07/24/2020 - 06:43

EQRx launched in January during the JP Morgan Healthcare Conference with an audacious pledge to create 10 new drugs in as many years and then sell them at “dramatically” lower prices than existing medicines. But it offered few specifics about how it would achieve those goals.

This week, drug licensing deals it made with two publicly traded companies spurred it to say more. But not much. Both drugs are anti-cancer molecules in mid-stage development that have been designed to hit known cancer targets. They’re intended to address the No. 1 and No. 2 causes of cancer death worldwide. But the firm... Read more »

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Scholar Rock’s Alan Buckler Joins Triplet as Chief Scientific Officer

Thu, 07/23/2020 - 13:14

Triplet Therapeutics has appointed Alan Buckler to serve as chief scientific officer, the same role he held most recently at Scholar Rock (NASDAQ: SRRK). Buckler’s experience also includes positions at Biogen (NASDAQ: BIIB), the Novartis Institutes of Biomedical Research, and Axys Pharmaceuticals.

Cambridge, MA-based Triplet launched last year with $49 million in financing to support development of drugs that treat diseases caused by repeating sequences of DNA. The company says it plans to file an investigational new drug application in the second half of 2021 for lead drug candidate TTX-3360, a potential Huntington’s disease therapy.

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