Act One: An­ti-ag­ing team at Ju­ve­nes­cence adds $50M to the cache as it builds steam on de­vel­op­ment ef­forts

When Ju­ve­nes­cence got start­ed a year ago, the an­ti-ag­ing biotech had some big names at­tached but not big cash. To­day, they’re start­ing to se­ri­ous­ly make up for the gap.

Greg Bai­ley

The com­pa­ny, guid­ed by De­clan Doogan, Greg Bai­ley, An­nal­isa Jenk­ins, Jim Mel­lon and oth­ers, says it has round­ed up $50 mil­lion from an un­spec­i­fied set of “founders, in­sid­ers, in­sti­tu­tion­al in­vestors and fam­i­ly of­fices.” That brings the to­tal raise now to $63 mil­lion.

De­clan Doogan

Ju­ve­nes­cence has been build­ing a set of port­fo­lio col­lab­o­ra­tors that in­cludes In­sil­i­co Med­i­cine, Alex Zha­voronkov’s AI group that just raised some mil­lions of its own. They have al­so struck up a part­ner­ship with the Buck In­sti­tute for Re­search on Ag­ing, and plan to add to some ad­di­tion­al pacts lat­er in the year.

Bai­ley, the CEO of Ju­ve­nes­cence, was one of the ear­ly back­ers of Medi­va­tion, where he was a board di­rec­tor for 7 years — be­fore Pfiz­er stepped in to buy the biotech for $14 bil­lion. De­clan Doogan, a for­mer top Pfiz­er re­search ex­ec, came in as a prin­ci­pal to the new ven­ture along­side bil­lion­aire Mel­lon and Bai­ley.

An­nal­isa Jenk­ins

They’ve brought on An­nal­isa Jenk­ins as the COO. Jenk­ins played a ma­jor role at Bris­tol-My­ers, lat­er jump­ing to head of R&D at Mer­ck KGaA and then on to run her own biotech, which ran in­to trou­ble with the lead pro­gram and was bought out by Ul­tragenyx.

And they’ve all been think­ing big.

Jim Mel­lon

Like a num­ber of up-and-com­ing biotechs, Ju­ve­nes­cence is fo­cused on a med­ley of ther­a­peu­tics, di­ag­nos­tics and de­vices that can start to bat back the ef­fects of ag­ing, of­fer­ing bet­ter liv­ing to a longer life. It’s not go­ing to be easy or fast. But the part­ners def­i­nite­ly want it to be im­pact­ful.

“I think this is go­ing to be the biggest deal I’ve ever done,” Bai­ley told me back in Ju­ly. “It will need repet­i­tive fi­nanc­ing. Five to $600 mil­lion was raised for Medi­va­tion. As we hit in­flec­tion points, we will need to raise a dra­mat­ic amount of mon­ey.”

In an in­ter­view with the Fi­nan­cial Times, Mel­lon not­ed that the biotech plans to raise an­oth­er $100 mil­lion this year and then add on fresh funds from an IPO in 2019.

“We aim to have about 20 shots on this goal — longevi­ty sci­ence — and if we get two or three of them right, there will be a very good re­turn to share­hold­ers,” Mel­lon told the FT.

This isn’t a dra­mat­ic mon­ey sto­ry yet, but it’s pret­ty good for the first act.

We­bi­nar: Re­al World End­points — the brave new world com­ing in build­ing fran­chise ther­a­pies

Several biopharma companies have been working on expanding drug labels through the use of real world endpoints, combing through the data to find evidence of a drug’s efficacy for particular indications. But we’ve just begun. Real World Evidence is becoming an important part of every clinical development plan, in the soup-through-nuts approach used in building franchises.

I’ve recruited a panel of 3 top experts in the field — the first in a series of premium webinars — to look at the practical realities governing what can be done today, and where this is headed over the next few years, at the prodding of the FDA.


ZHEN SU — Merck Serono’s Senior Vice President and Global Head of Oncology


ELLIOTT LEVY — Amgen’s Senior Vice President of Global Development


CHRIS BOSHOFF — Pfizer Oncology’s Chief Development Officer

A premium subscription to Endpoints News is required to attend this webinar. Please upgrade to either an Insider or Enterprise plan for access. Already have Endpoints Premium? Please sign-in below. You can contact our Subscriptions team at help@endpointsnews.com with any issues.

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Brian Kaspar. AveXis via Twitter

AveX­is sci­en­tif­ic founder fires back at No­var­tis CEO Vas Narasimhan, 'cat­e­gor­i­cal­ly de­nies any wrong­do­ing'

Brian Kaspar’s head was among the first to roll at Novartis after company execs became aware of the fact that manipulated data had been included in its application for Zolgensma, now the world’s most expensive therapy.

But in his first public response, the scientific founder at AveXis — acquired by Novartis for $8.7 billion — is firing back. And he says that not only was he not involved in any wrongdoing, he’s ready to defend his name as needed.

I reached out to Brian Kaspar after Novartis put out word that he and his brother Allen had been axed in mid-May, two months after the company became aware of the allegations related to manipulated data. His response came back through his attorneys.

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UP­DAT­ED: Pay­back? An­a­lysts say Sarep­ta was blind­sided by an FDA re­jec­tion dri­ven by reg­u­la­to­ry re­venge

In one of the least anticipated moves of the year, the FDA has rejected Sarepta’s application for an accelerated approval of its Duchenne MD drug golodirsen after fretting over safety issues.

In a statement that arrived after the bell on Monday, Sarepta explained the CRL, saying:

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FDA de­ci­sion on Ver­tex's CF triple will come just ahead of planned CEO shake­up

Vertex has clinched a priority review for the all-important cystic fibrosis triple that will blaze the trail for treating a large group of patients unhelped by its current drugs.

FDA regulators have set a PDUFA date of March 19, 2020, just a year after the Boston biotech posted positive Phase III results showing that people with two F508del mutations experienced statistically significant improvements in lung function after a 4-week regimen of VX-445, tezacaftor and ivacaftor. After reviewing 24-week data among patients with one F508del mutation and one minimal function mutation — and thoroughly comparing the VX-445 triple with another combo featuring VX-659 on scores like safety, drug-drug interactions, and photosensitivity — Vertex ultimately went with VX-445.

An MIT spin­out kills one of its ‘liv­ing ther­a­peu­tics’ af­ter flunk­ing an ear­ly-stage study — shares rout­ed

Just a few weeks after bagging $80 million in a deal to collaborate with Gingko Bioworks on its special blend of engineered bacteria used for “living therapeutics,” little Synlogic in Boston $SYBX is tossing one of its two clinical programs after watching an early-stage study go down in defeat.

Their Phase Ib/IIa study for SYNB1020 to counter the accumulation of ammonia in the body, a condition called hyperammonemia or urea cycle disorder, floundered at the interim readout, forcing the biotech to kill it and reserve its cash for pipeline therapies with greater potential.

Elan­co to buy Bay­er's an­i­mal health busi­ness for $7.6B, as deal­mak­ing gath­ers steam in the sec­tor

Last week, Elanco explicitly dodged answering questions about its rumored interest in Bayer’s animal health business in its post-earnings call. On Tuesday, the Eli Lilly spinoff disclosed it was purchasing the German drug maker’s veterinary unit in a cash-and-stock deal worth $7.6 billion. 

Elanco $ELAN has been busy on the deal-making front. In April, it laid out plans to swallow its partner, Kansas-based pet therapeutics company Aratana $PETX. A July report by Reuters suggested a potential Bayer deal was being explored, and Bloomberg last week said the deal was imminent, citing sources. 

As­traZeneca's di­a­betes drug Farx­i­ga helps pa­tients with heart dis­ease and with­out di­a­betes in land­mark tri­al

Months ago, data on J&J’s $JNJ Invokana indicated the diabetes drug conferred cardiovascular (CV) benefit in patients who do and do not have preexisting CV disease. On Tuesday, AstraZeneca’s $AZN rival treatment, Farxiga, was shown to cut the risk of CV death or the worsening of heart failure in patients with heart disease, in a landmark trial.

The treatments, in addition to Jardiance from Eli Lilly $LLY, belong to a class of diabetes drugs called sodium-glucose co-transporter 2 (SGLT2) inhibitors, which work by curbing the absorption of glucose via the kidneys so that surplus glucose is excreted through urination.

Levi Garraway. Broad Institute via Youtube

Roche raids Eli Lil­ly for its next chief med­ical of­fi­cer as San­dra Horn­ing plans to step down

We found out Monday morning where Levi Garraway was headed after he left Eli Lilly as head of oncology R&D a few days ago. Roche named Garraway as their new chief medical officer, replacing Sandra Horning, who they say is retiring from the company.

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Af­ter a posse of Wall Street an­a­lysts pre­dict a like­ly new win for Sarep­ta, we're down to the wire on a crit­i­cal FDA de­ci­sion

As Bloomberg notes, most of the Wall Street analysts that cover Sarepta $SRPT are an upbeat bunch, ready to cheer on the team when it comes to their Duchenne MD drugs, or offer explanations when an odd setback occurs — as happened recently with a safety signal that was ‘erroneously’ reported last week.

Ritu Baral Cowen
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