Ad­di­tion­al back­ing arms Schrödinger with $110M in first ven­ture round — shin­ing a spot­light on its own pipeline

Turns out Schrödinger wasn’t done with its Se­ries E yet when it an­nounced a star-stud­ded $85 mil­lion in­vest­ment this Jan­u­ary in the lead-up to the JP Mor­gan con­fab. With a new stream of cash from In­vus, Pavil­ion Cap­i­tal, Lau­ri­on Cap­i­tal Man­age­ment and vir­tu­al re­al­i­ty en­tre­pre­neur Michael Antonov, the New York-based com­pa­ny now has $110 mil­lion in to­tal to grow its sprawl­ing com­pu­ta­tion­al chem­istry op­er­a­tion.

Ramy Farid

CEO Ramy Farid took the op­por­tu­ni­ty to boast that Schrödinger’s plat­form “has been val­i­dat­ed again and again across hun­dreds of tar­gets in re­al-world drug dis­cov­ery projects,” a num­ber that’s bound to get much big­ger as his team of 400 push­es the reach of their tech­nol­o­gy.

By in­te­grat­ing the speed of ma­chine learn­ing and ac­cu­ra­cy of physics-based mol­e­c­u­lar sim­u­la­tions, Schrödinger has a “pow­er­ful com­bi­na­tion” of tech­nolo­gies that al­lows it to crawl a vast chem­i­cal space to ar­rive at pre­cise an­swers, Farid tells me. The promise of bet­ter, new­er drug de­sign has en­ticed mul­ti­ple bio­phar­ma part­ners, while al­so lead­ing to the cre­ation of splashy star­tups like Nim­bus and Mor­phic Ther­a­peu­tics that have gone on to take ven­ture and deal lives of their own. Then there’s the joint ven­ture with WuXi AppTec, an at­tempt at mar­ry­ing its soft­ware with the glob­al CRO’s lead op­ti­miza­tion prowess an­nounced last Oc­to­ber.

Karen Akin­sanya

Schrödinger is now keen to ex­pand its in­ter­nal pipeline, con­tin­ue de­vel­op­ing the plat­form and ex­pand the busi­ness fol­low­ing the Se­ries E, which is al­so its first round fea­tur­ing in­sti­tu­tion­al back­ers. (David E. Shaw pro­vid­ed the Se­ries A, while Bill Gates sin­gle-hand­ed­ly cov­ered all three sub­se­quent rounds.) Crossover in­vestors are in the mix — a fact that should of­fer a clue of where the 29-year-old com­pa­ny is head­ed next, Farid says.

Where­as its ther­a­peu­tic fo­cus has his­tor­i­cal­ly ranged from an­ti­fun­gal and fi­bro­sis to meta­bol­ic dis­eases and type 2 di­a­betes, Schrödinger has spent the past year a half drilling down on on­col­o­gy, par­tic­u­lar­ly the repli­ca­tion stress re­sponse and DNA dam­age re­pair path­ways, says chief bio­med­ical of­fi­cer Karen Akin­sanya. A Mer­ck vet, Akin­sanya joined Schrödinger last year to over­see its in­ter­nal pro­grams.

For an idea on plat­form R&D, the com­pa­ny added:

The Schrödinger plat­form now can pre­dict po­ten­cy, sol­u­bil­i­ty and se­lec­tiv­i­ty with ex­per­i­men­tal ac­cu­ra­cy — in oth­er words, the atom­ic-lev­el mol­e­c­u­lar mod­el­ing in sil­i­co is as ef­fec­tive at as­sess­ing those prop­er­ties as syn­the­siz­ing the com­pound in the lab. And it’s far, far quick­er and cheap­er. Schrödinger is com­mit­ted to con­tin­ued R&D to keep ex­pand­ing the range of prop­er­ties its plat­form can as­sess with this de­gree of ac­cu­ra­cy.

You can ex­pect more col­lab­o­ra­tions to come. There’s no word on new star­tups yet.

The new in­vestors join a mar­quee hon­or roll that in­cludes the Bill and Melin­da Gates Foun­da­tion Trust, WuXi AppTec’s Cor­po­rate Ven­ture Fund, Deer­field Man­age­ment, Baron, Qim­ing Ven­ture Part­ners and GV.

Nick Leschly via Getty

UP­DAT­ED: Blue­bird shares sink as an­a­lysts puz­zle out $1.8M stick­er shock and an un­ex­pect­ed de­lay

Blue­bird bio $BLUE has un­veiled its price for the new­ly ap­proved gene ther­a­py Zyn­te­glo (Lenti­Glo­bin), which came as a big sur­prise. And it wasn’t the on­ly un­ex­pect­ed twist in to­day’s sto­ry.

With some an­a­lysts bet­ting on a $900,000 price for the β-tha­lassemia treat­ment in Eu­rope, where reg­u­la­tors pro­vid­ed a con­di­tion­al ear­ly OK, blue­bird CEO Nick Leschly said Fri­day morn­ing that the pa­tients who are suc­cess­ful­ly treat­ed with their drug over 5 years will be charged twice that — $1.8 mil­lion — on the con­ti­nent. That makes this drug the sec­ond most ex­pen­sive ther­a­py on the plan­et, just be­hind No­var­tis’ new­ly ap­proved Zol­gens­ma at $2.1 mil­lion, with an­a­lysts still wait­ing to see what kind of pre­mi­um can be had in the US.

Fol­low­ing CAR-T pi­o­neer­s' foot­steps, Tes­sa launch­es Chi­na JV in $120M deal

These days just about every biotech se­ri­ous about glob­al de­vel­op­ment — and not just com­mer­cial­iza­tion — has a Chi­na strat­e­gy. Tes­sa Ther­a­peu­tics, a Bay­lor as­so­ci­at­ed out­fit based out of Sin­ga­pore, is no ex­cep­tion.

Tak­ing a page out of the CAR-T pi­o­neers’ play­book, Tes­sa is es­tab­lish­ing a joint ven­ture with Chi­na-Sin­ga­pore Guangzhou Knowl­edge City, which is ini­tial­ly putting down $40 mil­lion for a 13% stake with $40 mil­lion more to come in a sec­ond stage. The biotech, which now re­tains an 87% con­trol, is al­so rolling out its own con­tri­bu­tions in two phas­es, start­ing with $20 mil­lion and all its tech­nol­o­gy li­cense rights for Chi­na.

Bain’s biotech team has cre­at­ed a $1B-plus fund — with an eye to more Big Phar­ma spin­outs

One of the biggest investors to burst onto the biotech scene in recent years has re-upped with more than a billion dollars flowing into its second fund. And this next wave of bets will likely include more of the Big Pharma spinouts that highlighted their first 3 years in action.

Adam Koppel and Jeff Schwartz got the new life sciences fund at Bain Capital into gear in the spring of 2016, as they were putting together a $720 million fund with $600 million flowing in from external investors and the rest drawn from the Bain side of the equation. This time the external investors chipped in $900 million, with Bain coming in for roughly $180 million more.

They’re not done with Fund I, with plans to add a couple more deals to the 15 they’ve already posted. And once again, they’re estimating another 15 to 20 investments over a 3- to 5-year time horizon for Fund II.

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Neil Woodford, Woodford Investment Management via YouTube

Un­der siege, in­vest­ment man­ag­er Wood­ford faces an­oth­er in­vest­ment shock

Em­bat­tled UK fund man­ag­er Neil Wood­ford — who has con­tro­ver­sial­ly blocked in­vestors from pulling out from his flag­ship fund to stem the blood­let­ting, af­ter a slew of dis­ap­point­ed in­vestors fled fol­low­ing a se­ries of sour bets — is now pay­ing the price for his ac­tions via an in­vestor ex­o­dus on an­oth­er fund.

Har­g­reaves Lans­down, which has in the past sold and pro­mot­ed the Wood­ford funds via its re­tail in­vest­ment plat­form, has re­port­ed­ly with­drawn £45 mil­lion — its en­tire po­si­tion — from the in­vest­ment man­ag­er’s In­come Fo­cus Fund.


Glob­al Blood Ther­a­peu­tics poised to sub­mit ap­pli­ca­tion for ac­cel­er­at­ed ap­proval, with new piv­otal da­ta on its sick­le cell dis­ease drug

Global Blood Therapeutics is set to submit an application for accelerated approval in the second-half of this year, after unveiling fresh data from a late-stage trial that showed just over half the patients given the highest dose of its experimental sickle cell disease drug experienced a statistically significant improvement in oxygen-wielding hemoglobin, meeting the study's main goal.

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Gene ther­a­pies seize the top of the list of the most ex­pen­sive drugs on the plan­et — and that trend has just be­gun

Anyone looking for a few simple reasons why the gene therapy field has caught fire with the pharma giants need only look at the new list of the 10 most expensive therapies from GoodRx.

Two recently approved gene therapies sit atop this list, with Novartis’ Zolgensma crowned the king of the priciest drugs at $2.1 million. Right below is Luxturna, the $850,000 pioneer from Spark, which Roche is pushing hard to acquire as it adds a gene therapy group to the global mix.

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Adding mar­quee in­vestors, Black­Thorn bags $76M to back an AI-dri­ven strat­e­gy for pre­ci­sion neu­ro med­i­cine

As ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence and ma­chine learn­ing loom ever larg­er in drug dis­cov­ery and de­vel­op­ment, a biotech op­er­at­ing at the “nexus” of tech­nol­o­gy and neu­ro­sciences has cashed in with $76 mil­lion in fresh fi­nanc­ing.

The big idea at Black­Thorn Ther­a­peu­tics is to do for neu­robe­hav­ioral dis­or­ders what ge­net­i­cal­ly tar­get­ed ther­a­py has done for on­col­o­gy: Re­de­fine pa­tient pop­u­la­tions by the un­der­ly­ing bi­ol­o­gy — dys­reg­u­lat­ed brain cir­cuits, or neu­rotypes — in­stead of symp­toms, there­by find­ing the pa­tients who are most like­ly to ben­e­fit at en­roll­ment phase.

News­mak­ers at #EHA19: Re­gen­eron, Ar­Qule track progress on re­sponse rates

Re­gen­eron’s close­ly-watched bis­pe­cif­ic con­tin­ues to ring up high re­sponse rates

Re­gen­eron’s high-pro­file bis­pe­cif­ic REGN1979 is back in the spot­light at the Eu­ro­pean Hema­tol­ogy As­so­ci­a­tion sci­en­tif­ic con­fab. And while the stel­lar num­bers we saw at ASH have erod­ed some­what as more blood can­cer pa­tients are eval­u­at­ed, the re­sponse rates for this CD3/CD20 drug re­main high.

A to­tal of 13 out of 14 fol­lic­u­lar lym­phomas re­spond­ed to the drug, a 93% ORR, down from 100% at the last read­out. In 10 out of 14, there was a com­plete re­sponse. In dif­fuse large B-cell lym­phoma the re­sponse rate was 57% among pa­tients treat­ed at the 80 mg to 160 mg dose range. They were all com­plete re­spons­es. And 2 of these Cars were for pa­tients who had failed CAR-T ther­a­py.

Search­ing for the next block­buster to fol­low Darza­lex, J&J finds a $150M an­ti-CD38 drug from part­ner Gen­mab

Now that J&J and Genmab have thrust Darzalex onto the regulatory orbit for first-line use in multiple myeloma, the partners are lining up a deal for a next-gen follow-on to the leading CD38 drug.

Janssen — J&J’s biotech unit — has its eyes on HexaBody-CD38, a preclinical compound generated on Genmab’s tech platform designed to make drugs more potent via hexamerization.

Genmab is footing the bill on studies in multiple myeloma and diffuse large B-cell lymphoma; once it completes clinical proof of concept, Janssen has the option to license the drug for a $150 million exercise fee. There’s also $125 million worth of milestones in play.

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