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.

Pfiz­er’s Doug Gior­dano has $500M — and some ad­vice — to of­fer a cer­tain breed of 'break­through' biotech

So let’s say you’re running a cutting-edge, clinical-stage biotech, probably public, but not necessarily so, which could see some big advantages teaming up with some marquee researchers, picking up say $50 million to $75 million dollars in a non-threatening minority equity investment that could take you to the next level.

Doug Giordano might have some thoughts on how that could work out.

The SVP of business development at the pharma giant has helped forge a new fund called the Pfizer Breakthrough Growth Initiative. And he has $500 million of Pfizer’s money to put behind 7 to 10 — or so — biotech stocks that fit that general description.

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Bris­tol My­ers is clean­ing up the post-Cel­gene merg­er pipeline, and they’re sweep­ing out an ex­per­i­men­tal check­point in the process

Back during the lead up to the $74 billion buyout of Celgene, the big biotech’s leadership did a little housecleaning with a major pact it had forged with Jounce. Out went the $2.6 billion deal and a collaboration on ICOS and PD-1.

Celgene, though, also added a $530 million deal — $50 million up front — to get the worldwide rights to JTX-8064, a drug that targets the LILRB2 receptor on macrophages.

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Leen Kawas, Athira CEO (Athira)

Can a small biotech suc­cess­ful­ly tack­le an Ever­est climb like Alzheimer’s? Athi­ra has $85M and some in­flu­en­tial back­ers ready to give it a shot

There haven’t been a lot of big venture rounds for biotech companies looking to run a Phase II study in Alzheimer’s.

The field has been a disaster over the past decade. Amyloid didn’t pan out as a target — going down in a litany of Phase III failures — and is now making its last stand at Biogen. Tau is a comer, but when you look around and all you see is destruction, the idea of backing a startup trying to find complex cocktails to swing the course of this devilishly complicated memory-wasting disease would daunt the pluckiest investors.

Fangliang Zhang, AP Images

UP­DAT­ED: Leg­end fetch­es $424 mil­lion, emerges as biggest win­ner yet in pan­dem­ic IPO boom as shares soar

Amid a flurry of splashy pandemic IPOs, a J&J-partnered Chinese biotech has emerged with one of the largest public raises in biotech history.

Legend Biotech, the Nanjing-based CAR-T developer, has raised $424 million on NASDAQ. The biotech had originally filed for a still-hefty $350 million, based on a range of $18-$20, but managed to fetch $23 per share, allowing them to well-eclipse the massive raises from companies like Allogene, Juno, Galapagos, though they’ll still fall a few dollars short of Moderna’s record-setting $600 million raise from 2018.

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As it hap­pened: A bid­ding war for an an­tibi­ot­ic mak­er in a mar­ket that has rav­aged its peers

In a bewildering twist to the long-suffering market for antibiotics — there has actually been a bidding war for an antibiotic company: Tetraphase.

It all started back in March, when the maker of Xerava (an FDA approved therapy for complicated intra-abdominal infections) said it had received an offer from AcelRx for an all-stock deal valued at $14.4 million.

The offer was well-timed. Xerava was approved in 2018, four years after Tetraphase posted its first batch of pivotal trial data, and sales were nowhere near where they needed to be in order for the company to keep its head above water.

RA Cap­i­tal, Hill­house join $310M rush to back Ever­est's climb to com­mer­cial heights in Chi­na

Money has never been an issue for Everest Medicines. With an essentially open tab from their founders at C-Bridge Capital, the biotech has gone two and a half years racking up drug after drug, bringing in top exec after top exec, and issuing clinical update after update.

But now other investors want in — and they’re betting big.

Everest is closing its Series C at $310 million. The first $50 million comes from the Jiashan National Economic and Technological Development Zone; the remaining C-2 tranche was led by Janchor Partners, with RA Capital Management and Hillhouse Capital as co-leaders. Decheng Capital, GT Fund, Janus Henderson Investors, Rock Springs Capital, Octagon Investments all joined.

Por­tion of Neil Wood­ford’s re­main­ing in­vest­ments, in­clud­ing Nanopore, sold off for $284 mil­lion

It’s been precisely one year and one day since Neil Woodford froze his once-vaunted fund, and while a global pandemic has recently shielded him from the torrent of headlines, the fallout continues.

Today, the California-based patent licensing firm Acacia Research acquired the fund’s shares for 19 healthcare and biotech companies for $284 million.  Those companies include shares for public and private companies and count some of Woodford’s most prominent bio-bets, such as Theravance Biopharma, Oxford Nanopore and Mereo Biopharma, according to Sky News, which first reported the sale. It won’t include shares for BenevelontAI, the machine learning biotech once valued at $2 billion.

Drug man­u­fac­tur­ing gi­ant Lon­za taps Roche/phar­ma ‘rein­ven­tion’ vet as its new CEO

Lonza chairman Albert Baehny took his time headhunting a new CEO for the company, making it absolutely clear he wanted a Big Pharma or biotech CEO with a good long track record in the business for the top spot. In the end, he went with the gold standard, turning to Roche’s ranks to recruit Pierre-Alain Ruffieux for the job.

Ruffieux, a member of the pharma leadership team at Roche, spent close to 5 years at the company. But like a small army of manufacturing execs, he gained much of his experience at the other Big Pharma in Basel, remaining at Novartis for 12 years before expanding his horizons.

Covid-19 roundup: Ab­b­Vie jumps in­to Covid-19 an­ti­body hunt; As­traZeneca shoots for 2B dos­es of Ox­ford vac­cine — with $750M from CEPI, Gavi

Another Big Pharma is entering the Covid-19 antibody hunt.

AbbVie has announced a collaboration with the Netherlands’ Utrecht University and Erasmus Medical Center and the Chinese-Dutch biotech Harbour Biomed to develop a neutralizing antibody that can treat Covid-19. The antibody, called 47D11, was discovered by AbbVie’s three partners, and AbbVie will support early preclinical work, while preparing for later preclinical and clinical development. Researchers described the antibody in Nature Communications last month.