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.

2023 Spot­light on the Fu­ture of Drug De­vel­op­ment for Small and Mid-Sized Biotechs

In the context of today’s global economic environment, there is an increasing need to work smarter, faster and leaner across all facets of the life sciences industry.  This is particularly true for small and mid-sized biotech companies, many of which are facing declining valuations and competing for increasingly limited funding to propel their science forward.  It is important to recognize that within this framework, many of these smaller companies already find themselves resource-challenged to design and manage clinical studies themselves because they don’t have large teams or in-house experts in navigating the various aspects of the drug development journey. This can be particularly challenging for the most complex and difficult to treat diseases where no previous pathway exists and patients are urgently awaiting breakthroughs.

Kristen Hege, Bristol Myers Squibb SVP, early clinical development, oncology/hematology and cell therapy (Illustration: Assistant Editor Kathy Wong for Endpoints News)

Q&A: Bris­tol My­er­s' Kris­ten Hege on cell ther­a­py, can­cer pa­tients and men­tor­ing the next gen­er­a­tion

Kristen Hege leads Bristol Myers Squibb’s early oncology discovery program carrying on from the same work at Celgene, which was acquired by BMS in 2019. She’s known for her early work in CAR-T, having pioneered the first CAR-T cell trial for solid tumors more than 25 years ago.

However, the eminent physician-scientist is more than just a drug developer mastermind. She’s also a practicing physician, mother to two young women, an avid backpacker and intersecting all those interests — a champion of young women and people of color in STEM and life sciences.

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Gossamer Bio CEO Faheem Hasnain at Endpoints' #BIO22 panel (J.T. MacMillan Photography for Endpoints News)

Gos­samer’s Fa­heem Has­nain de­fends a round of pos­i­tive PAH da­ta as a clear win. But can these PhII re­sults stand up to scruti­ny?

Gossamer Bio $GOSS posted a statistically significant improvement for its primary endpoint in the key Phase II TORREY trial for lead drug seralutinib on Tuesday morning. But CEO Faheem Hasnain has some explaining to do on the important secondary of the crucial six-minute walk distance test — which will be the primary endpoint in Phase III — as the data on both endpoints fell short of expectations, missing one analyst’s bar on even modest success.

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Rick Modi, Affinia Therapeutics CEO

Ver­tex-part­nered gene ther­a­py biotech Affinia scraps IPO plans

Affinia Therapeutics has ditched its plans to go public in a relatively closed-door market that has not favored Nasdaq debuts for the drug development industry most of this year. A pandemic surge in 2020 and 2021 opened the doors for many preclinical startups, which caught Affinia’s attention and gave the gene therapy biotech confidence in the beginning days of 2022 to send in its S-1.

But on Friday, Affinia threw in the S-1 towel and concluded now is not the time to step onto Wall Street. The biotech has put out few public announcements since the spring of this year. Endpoints News picked the startup as one of its 11 biotechs to watch last year.

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Bob Duggan, Summit Therapeutics co-CEO

Bounc­ing from ma­jor set­back, Sum­mit hands out $500M cash for can­cer drug — thanks to a loan from bil­lion­aire CEO

After hitting a dead end with Summit Therapeutics’ lead program, Bob Duggan has found the drug that he believes will usher into a compelling second act. So compelling, in fact, that it involves $500 million cash — and he’s taking money out of his own pocket to fund the deal.

Striking a partnership with Akeso Therapeutics out of China, Summit is bringing in a bispecific antibody that blocks both PD-1 and VEGF called ivonescimab. Akeso, which has a PD-1/CTLA-4 bispecific approved in China, has already taken ivonescimab into multiple clinical trials, including a Phase III in lung cancer.

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Jay Lichter, Arialys Therapeutics CEO (Avalon Ventures)

Scoop: Aval­on, MPM back new CNS biotech with sci­en­tif­ic chops from Astel­las

A preclinical central nervous system biotech is in the works in La Jolla, CA, and the drug developer has reeled in capital from a syndicate of investors, Endpoints News has learned.

Arialys Therapeutics filed incorporation documents in the Golden State last December and applied its name for trademark protection with the US Patent and Trademark Office the week prior to that. Paperwork with the SEC also outlines plans to offer up equity in exchange for $55 million.

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Eu­ro­pean Com­mis­sion lays ground­work to un­wind Il­lu­mi­na's $7B+ Grail merg­er

The European Commission has recommended steps that — though not yet final — would require Illumina to “swiftly” unwind its controversial $7.1 billion Grail buyout.

The Commission delivered a “statement of objections” on Monday, detailing the process Illumina would need to take in divesting Grail, its blood testing spinout launched in 2016. Illumina re-acquired Grail back in August, despite criticism from both the FTC and EU.

US sup­ports ex­ten­sion for Covid-19 IP waiv­er de­ci­sion

After much debate, the US government is now calling for a deadline extension to discuss a controversial potential IP waiver for Covid-19 diagnostics and therapeutics.

Over the last five months, the Office of the United States Trade Representative said it has consulted with members of Congress, public health advocates, organized labor groups, academics, think tanks, companies and trade associations on the WTO’s recent TRIPS agreement, which established a 5-year waiver of certain patent requirements on Covid-19 vaccines.

Mar­ket­ingRx roundup: Phar­mas lay off Twit­ter ads for an­oth­er week; WPP un­cov­ers LGBTQ+ mar­ket­ing find­ings

When Twitter’s new owner Elon Musk tweeted this weekend, “Just a note to thank advertisers for returning to Twitter,” he likely wasn’t talking about big pharma companies. The vast majority of the top spending pharma advertisers had not returned last week, according to updated tracking data Pathmatic for Endpoints News.

Only three pharma advertisers spent any money at all, which is about the same as the past several weeks. AstraZeneca rejoined the active advertiser list, although at $700 spent hardly worth a personal Musk expression of gratitude. GSK remained active with $3,500 spent ad much lower than its previous spending, according to the Pathmatics data. Only Bayer spent any significant amount in advertising, with $244,000 spent last week, but that’s a considerable drop from almost $500,000 spent on OTC, prescription and corporate Twitter ads in each of the previous two weeks.

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