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.

A new era of treat­ment: How bio­mark­ers are chang­ing the way we think about can­cer

AJ Patel was recovering from a complicated brain surgery when his oncologist burst into the hospital room yelling, “I’ve got some really great news for you!”

For two years, Patel had been going from doctor to doctor trying to diagnose his wheezing, only to be dealt the devastating news that he had stage IV lung cancer and only six months to live. And then they found the brain tumors.

“What are you talking about?” Patel asked. He had never seen an oncologist so happy.

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ProFound Therapeutics founding team

Flag­ship's lat­est biotech could turn some of the thou­sands of new pro­teins it dis­cov­ered in­to ther­a­pies — and it has $75M to start

Flagship Pioneering, the incubator of Moderna and dozens of other biotechs, says it has landed upon tens of thousands of previously undiscovered human proteins. The VC shop wants to potentially turn them into therapeutics.

Like other drug developers that have turned proteins into therapeutics (think insulin for diabetes), Flagship’s latest creation, ProFound Therapeutics, wants to tap into this new trove of proteins as part of its mission to treat indications ranging from rare diseases to cancer to immunological diseases.

Richard Silverman, Akava Therapeutics founder and Northwestern professor

This time around, Lyri­ca's in­ven­tor is de­vel­op­ing his North­west­ern dis­cov­er­ies at his own biotech

Richard Silverman was left in the dark for the last five years of clinical development of the drug he discovered. The Northwestern University professor found out about the first approval of Lyrica, in the last few days of 2004, like most other people: in the newspaper.

What became one of Pfizer’s top-selling meds, at $5 billion in 2017 global sales before losing patent protection in 2019, started slipping out of his hands when Northwestern licensed it out to Parke-Davis, one of two biotechs that showed interest in developing the drug in the pre-email days, when the university’s two-person tech transfer team had to ship out letters to garner industry appetite.

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David Ricks, Eli Lilly CEO (David Paul Morris/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Eli Lil­ly set to in­vest $2.1B in home state man­u­fac­tur­ing boost

Eli Lilly is looking to expand its footprint in its home Hoosier State by making a major investment in manufacturing.

The pharma is investing $2.1 billion in two new manufacturing sites at Indiana’s LEAP Lebanon Innovation and Research District in Boone County, northwest of Lilly’s headquarters in Indianapolis.

The two new facilities will expand Lilly’s manufacturing network for active ingredients and new therapeutic modalities, including genetic medicines, according to a press release.

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Up­dat­ed: US sees spike in Paxlovid us­age as Mer­ck­'s mol­nupi­ravir and As­traZeneca's Evusheld are slow­er off the shelf

New data from HHS show that more than 162,000 courses of Pfizer’s Covid-19 antiviral Paxlovid were administered across the US over the past week, continuing a streak of increased usage of the pill, and signaling not only rising case numbers but more awareness of how to access it.

In comparison to this week, about 670,000 courses of the Pfizer pill have been administered across the first five months since Paxlovid has been on the US market, averaging about 33,000 courses administered per week in that time.

Pfiz­er and CD­MOs ramp up Paxlovid man­u­fac­tur­ing with Kala­ma­zoo plant ex­pan­sion lead­ing the way

As the Covid-19 pandemic continues to evolve, pharma companies and manufacturers are exploring how to step up production on antivirals.

Pfizer is planning to expand its Kalamazoo-area facility to increase manufacturing capabilities for the oral Covid-19 antiviral Paxlovid, according to a report from Michigan-based news site MLive. The expansion of the facility, which serves as Pfizer’s largest manufacturing location, is expected to create hundreds of “high-skilled” STEM jobs, MLive reported. No details about the project’s cost and timeline have been released, but according to MLive, Pfizer will announce the details of the expansion at some point in early June.

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FDA spells out the rules and re­stric­tions for states seek­ing to im­port drugs from Cana­da

The FDA is offering more of an explanation of the guardrails around its program that may soon allow states to import prescription drugs in some select circumstances from Canada, but only if such imports will result in significant cost reductions for consumers.

While the agency has yet to sign off on any of the 5 state plans in the works so far, and PhRMA’s suit to block the Trump-era rule allowing such imports is stalled, the new Q&A guidance spells out the various restrictions that states will have to abide by, potentially signaling that a state approval is coming.

Simba Gill, CEO of Evelo Biosciences

While down 87% YOY, Evelo gets Flag­ship and oth­ers to in­fuse new cap­i­tal for come­back hope

Just four years after Flagship spinout Evelo Biosciences went public in an IPO worth $85 million, the biotech has seen its share price tank from $13 a share this time last year (ultimately reaching a peak of over $17) to now under $1.50. And today, it looks like Flagship still thinks the fledging biotech, in a down market, is still worth something after initial pre-IPO backing from the likes of Google’s GV, Celgene, Mayo Clinic and Alexandria Venture.

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Peter Thompson, Terremoto Biosciences interim CEO

For­mer Prin­cip­ia team looks to shake up co­va­lent small mol­e­cules again, this time at 'earthquake' scale

Terremoto Biosciences goes back a long ways, in a sense, to about a dozen years ago when Principia Biopharma was founded by UCSF professor Jack Taunton. Peter Thompson initially helmed the biotech.

The company helped expand covalent small molecule inhibitors beyond oncology and into autoimmune disease by targeting cystine. But that amino acid is uncommon in a lot of proteins, offering fewer drug targets than, say, lysine, which is present in most proteins of interest. So, over the years, Taunton went back to the drawing board to check out that second amino acid.

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