Daisy Robinton, Oviva Therapeutics co-founder and CEO

A new spin­out wades in­to ovar­i­an ag­ing, armed with a seed round and ex­per­i­men­tal drugs from Mass Gen­er­al

There aren’t many biotechs em­pha­siz­ing women’s health, but a new spin­out is try­ing to change that.

Ovi­va Ther­a­peu­tics, a pipeline com­pa­ny of New York-based Cam­bri­an Bio­phar­ma, emerged from stealth ear­li­er this week to dive in­to the idea of ex­tend­ing women’s “healthspans,” or what it says is the part of a per­son’s life spent in gen­er­al­ly good health, with a spe­cif­ic fo­cus on ovaries. The emer­gence comes both with a seed fi­nanc­ing worth $11.5 mil­lion from Cam­bri­an, and an in-li­cens­ing agree­ment with Mass­a­chu­setts Gen­er­al Hos­pi­tal for a trio of patents.

Co-founder Daisy Robin­ton, a Har­vard-trained mol­e­c­u­lar bi­ol­o­gist, will helm the spin­out as CEO.

She told End­points News that she came on board with Cam­bri­an as a sci­en­tist in res­i­dence in 2020, af­ter hav­ing a chat with CEO James Pey­er about how no one fo­cus­es on the ovaries, de­spite how it’s the first or­gan to de­cline with ag­ing. Robin­ton and Pey­er had known each oth­er since around 2014 due to be­ing in sim­i­lar cir­cles at con­fer­ences and the like.

“So when you think about in­ter­ven­ing on the ag­ing process, it’s such an ob­vi­ous thing to do. And be­cause of the lack of re­search around fe­male phys­i­ol­o­gy, there’s all this low-hang­ing fruit, so huge po­ten­tial for im­pact,” Robin­ton re­called telling Pey­er in 2019, which is how she ul­ti­mate­ly start­ed at Cam­bri­an af­ter the CEO asked if she could po­ten­tial­ly build a com­pa­ny around that idea.

When Robin­ton start­ed, though, it was March 2020, right as the Covid-19 pan­dem­ic came in­to full swing. The lock­downs took her at­ten­tion away from her orig­i­nal idea un­til the late sum­mer and fall of 2020, and Ovi­va of­fi­cial­ly launched in March and April of 2021.

Ovi­va is de­vel­op­ing an agent look­ing to lim­it fol­licu­lo­ge­n­e­sis, the process where­in fol­li­cles — hairs in the ovary that each have one egg — ma­ture to ul­ti­mate­ly ovu­late. This process even­tu­al­ly leads to the de­ple­tion of most of a woman’s eggs, reach­ing a low thresh­old that can sub­se­quent­ly trig­ger menopause. By lim­it­ing the process, the hope is that it can slow down de­ple­tion of the ovar­i­an re­serve, ex­tend­ing ovar­i­an func­tion and thus, the fe­male healthspan.

The first av­enue is look­ing at An­ti-Mül­ler­ian Hor­mone, or AMH — a hor­mone that plays a key role in sex dif­fer­en­ti­a­tion. This is where Ovi­va’s oth­er co-founders come in, two Har­vard pro­fes­sors who work out of Mass­a­chu­setts Gen­er­al Hos­pi­tal: Pa­tri­cia Don­a­hoe and David Pépin. Don­a­hoe heads up the famed hos­pi­tal’s pe­di­atric sur­gi­cal re­search lab­o­ra­to­ries, and is the Chief Emeri­ta of Pe­di­atric Sur­gi­cal Ser­vices. Pépin, an ovar­i­an phys­i­ol­o­gist, works out of the hos­pi­tal as an as­so­ciate mol­e­c­u­lar bi­ol­o­gist.

Don­a­hoe, 86, was among one of the ear­li­est re­searchers on AMH, pub­lish­ing as far back as the 1970s. While she fo­cused more on the hor­mone’s role in ovar­i­an can­cer over the decades, Pépin looked at the func­tion of the AMH gene in adult women, as they ex­press AMH. The three patents ob­tained in the li­cens­ing agree­ments were de­vel­oped at MGH by Don­a­hoe and Pépin, in­clud­ing ana­log ver­sions of AMH.

As for the biotech’s next steps, Robin­ton said Ovi­va is look­ing to start dis­cus­sions with the FDA lat­er this year and go straight for the IND stage with their first pro­gram, look­ing to mir­ror the el­e­va­tion of en­doge­nous AMH. As for more fi­nanc­ing, she added that it’s look­ing at clos­ing a Se­ries A late this year or some­time ear­ly next year.

Vas Narasimhan (Photographer: Jason Alden/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

No­var­tis de­tails plans to axe 8,000 staffers as Narasimhan be­gins sec­ond phase of a glob­al re­org

We now know the number of jobs coming under the axe at Novartis, and it isn’t small.

The pharma giant is confirming a report from Swiss newspaper Tages-Anzeiger that it is chopping 8,000 jobs out of its 108,000 global staffers. A large segment will hit right at company headquarters in Basel, as CEO Vas Narasimhan axes some 1,400 of a little more than 11,000  jobs in Switzerland.

The first phase of the work is almost done, the company says in a statement to Endpoints News. Now it’s on to phase two. In the statement, Novartis says:

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Bob Nelsen (Lyell)

As bear mar­ket con­tin­ues to beat down biotech, ARCH clos­es a $3B ear­ly-stage fund

One of the biggest names in biotech investing has a whole lot of new money to spend.

ARCH Venture Partners closed its 12th venture fund early Wednesday morning, the firm said, bringing in almost $3 billion to invest in early-stage biotechs. The move comes about a year and a half after ARCH announced its previous fund, for almost $2 billion back in January 2021.

In a statement, ARCH managing director and co-founder Bob Nelsen appeared to brush off concerns about the broader market troubles, alluding to the downturn that’s seen several biotechs downsize and the XBI fall back to almost pre-pandemic levels.

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Peter Marks (Jim Lo Scalzo/Pool via AP Images)

FDA's VRB­PAC votes in fa­vor of adapt­ing the Covid-19 vac­cine to the lat­est Omi­cron vari­ant

The FDA’s Vaccine and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee on Tuesday gave the thumbs up — by a vote of 19-2 — that the FDA should require an Omicron-related component in this next season’s booster dose for Covid-19, which both Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna are hard at work on.

And while neither booster will likely be ready to go with adequate supplies for all American adults by the beginning of the next school year, the situation is still complex and fluid, with CBER Director Peter Marks telling the committee that it’ll take companies at least three months to ready their supplies for this expected next wave.

Lina Gugucheva, NewAmsterdam Pharma CBO

Phar­ma group bets up to $1B-plus on the PhI­II res­ur­rec­tion of a once dead-and-buried LDL drug

Close to 5 years after then-Amgen R&D chief Sean Harper tamped the last spade of dirt on the last broadly focused CETP cholesterol drug — burying their $300 million upfront and the few remaining hopes for the class with it — the therapy has been fully resurrected. And today, the NewAmsterdam Pharma crew that did the Lazarus treatment on obicetrapib is taking another big step on the comeback trail with a €1 billion-plus regional licensing deal, complete with close to $150 million in upfront cash.

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How pre­pared is bio­phar­ma for the cy­ber dooms­day?

One of the largest cyberattacks in history happened on a Friday, Eric Perakslis distinctly remembers.

Perakslis, who was head of Takeda’s R&D Data Sciences Institute and visiting faculty at Harvard Medical School at the time, had spent that morning completing a review on cybersecurity for the British Medical Journal. Moments after he turned it in, he heard back from the editor: “Have you heard what’s going on right now?”

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Sanofi to cut in­sulin prices for unin­sured from $99 to $35, match­ing the in­sulin cap com­ing through Con­gress

As the House-passed bill to cap the monthly price of insulin at $35 nationwide makes its way for a Senate vote soon, Sanofi announced Wednesday morning that beginning next month it will cut the monthly price of its insulins for uninsured Americans to $35, down from $99 previously.

The announcement from Sanofi, which allows the uninsured to buy one or multiple Sanofi insulins (Lantus, Insulin Glargine U-100, Toujeo, Admelog, and Apidra) at $35 for a 30-day supply effective July 1, follows House passage (232-193) of the monthly cap in March, with just 12 Republicans voting in favor of the measure.

Shehnaaz Suliman, ReCode Therapeutics CEO (Photo by Jennifer Leahy)

Pfiz­er, Sanofi-backed LNP out­fit goes back to the well and draws $120M for its trek to the clin­ic

A preclinical biotech touting a five-lipid drug delivery platform is looking to break out of its preclinical mold, and it just secured a sizable raise to do just that.

ReCode Therapeutics reported Wednesday morning that Leaps by Bayer and Matrix Capital Management affiliate AyurMaya co-led a Series B extension round, adding $120 million to the biotech’s previous Series B haul of $80 million. The biotech has been backed by several players in Big Pharma, notably Pfizer and Sanofi from its original Series B close last fall. And in this extension — featuring all new investors, CEO Shehnaaz Suliman tells Endpoints News — Amgen’s VC arm jumped on board.

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Eliot Charles, MiroBio executive chairman

Ox­ford spin­out nabs al­most $100M in new cash to test PD-1 in au­toim­mune dis­eases and hunt for a CEO

After about 15 years in an Oxford lab and three more years in the upstart world following a 2019 spinout, MiroBio is ready to enter UK clinical trials and, en route to the clinic, the biotech has picked up $97 million in Series B funds.

The £80 million financing round kicked off in earnest last September and includes a transatlantic consortium — led by Medicxi — ready to bankroll that first clinical trial, beginning “imminently,” as well as the debut study of a second program thereafter, executive chair Eliot Charles, an SR One venture partner, told Endpoints News.

Hank Safferstein, Generian CEO

Astel­las sub­sidiary to part­ner with Pitts­burgh up­start in search for 'un­drug­gable' pro­teins

As Astellas continues its drive to build out its gene therapy portfolio and capabilities, a subsidiary of the Japanese pharma company has entered into a collaboration with a little-known Pittsburgh biotech.

Astellas-owned Mitobridge and Generian Pharmaceuticals announced on Wednesday that they will work together in a new deal for “undruggable” protein targets. Generian will net an undisclosed upfront payment and could get up to $180 million in milestones, should anything from its platform prove successful, as well as single-digit royalties on global net sales.