AI up­start grabs $40M launch round; Sanofi backs a gene ther­a­py play­er; Ax­some hits a snag at the FDA

Boston AI-fo­cused biotech Deep­Cure closed a $40 mil­lion Se­ries A, ac­cord­ing to a com­pa­ny an­nounce­ment this morn­ing — adding more than five times the amount of mon­ey the com­pa­ny had be­fore: from $7 mil­lion raised since the com­pa­ny’s found­ing in 2018 to $47 mil­lion to­tal.

Their goal? To have an R&D process that has drugs ful­ly de­signed, syn­the­sized and test­ed by AI, ac­cord­ing to a com­pa­ny state­ment.

The round was led by Morn­ing­side Ven­tures — elic­it­ing par­tic­i­pa­tion from pre­vi­ous in­vestors such as TLV Part­ners, Sapir Ven­ture Part­ners, and Benon Group.

Kfir Schreiber

“We are de­light­ed to wel­come a top-tier syn­di­cate of lead­ing health­care in­vestors led by Morn­ing­side Ven­tures that sup­port our vi­sion of de­vel­op­ing an end-to-end drug dis­cov­ery pipeline de­signed, op­ti­mized, syn­the­sized, and an­a­lyzed by AI,” said Deep­Cure CEO and co-founder Kfir Schreiber.

The mon­ey will be used to ex­pand Deep­Cure’s pipeline with five ad­di­tion­al on­col­o­gy pro­grams and de­vel­op an au­to­mat­ed ro­bot­ic wet lab to fur­ther its goal of AI-in­volved R&D. The fund­ing will al­so be used to hire more drug dis­cov­ery sci­en­tists and tech­nol­o­gists — dou­ble what the com­pa­ny cur­rent­ly has in tan­dem with Deep­Cure’s planned glob­al ex­pan­sion with the launch of two new sites in Greece and Is­rael.

“This in­vest­ment po­si­tions us to ad­vance our first nov­el small mol­e­cule com­pound to file for IND, ad­vance our pipeline and re­al­ize our vi­sion of mak­ing a sig­nif­i­cant im­pact for pa­tients,” added Deep­Cure’s CSO and oth­er co-founder Joseph Ja­cob­son. — Paul Schloess­er

UK biotech Gy­ro­scope to re­ceive eq­ui­ty in­vest­ment from Sanofi six months af­ter abrupt­ly post­pon­ing IPO

Gy­ro­scope Ther­a­peu­tics an­nounced that Sanofi has com­mit­ted up to $60 mil­lion in an eq­ui­ty in­vest­ment.

The eye dis­ease-fo­cused gene ther­a­py biotech said this morn­ing in a state­ment that the French Big Phar­ma will in­vest $40 mil­lion as an ini­tial eq­ui­ty in­vest­ment in­to Gy­ro­scope ini­tial­ly, at a pre­mi­um to Gy­ro­scope’s pre­vi­ous $148 mil­lion Se­ries C fi­nanc­ing. The ad­di­tion­al $20 mil­lion will be in­vest­ed based on a fu­ture qual­i­fy­ing in­vest­ment round — and sub­ject to cer­tain clos­ing con­di­tions.

The biotech star­tled in­vestors and an­a­lysts af­ter post­pon­ing its IPO in May, cit­ing mar­ket con­di­tions.

Khurem Fa­rooq

“We are thrilled to wel­come Sanofi on­board as an in­vestor in Gy­ro­scope,” said Gy­ro­scope CEO Khurem Fa­rooq. “We be­lieve our lead in­ves­ti­ga­tion­al gene ther­a­py, GT005, has the po­ten­tial to be the first gene ther­a­py for ge­o­graph­ic at­ro­phy.”

Ge­o­graph­ic at­ro­phy is chron­ic pro­gres­sive de­gen­er­a­tion of the back of the eye and can be seen as part of late-stage age-re­lat­ed mac­u­lar de­gen­er­a­tion, or AMD.

An un­named Sanofi R&D ex­ec­u­tive will join Gy­ro­scope’s clin­i­cal ad­vi­so­ry board to ad­vise on mat­ters re­lat­ed to the de­vel­op­ment of GT005 for ge­o­graph­ic at­ro­phy. Ad­di­tion­al­ly, Gy­ro­scope has grant­ed Sanofi ex­clu­sive right of first re­fusal on cer­tain po­ten­tial fu­ture trans­ac­tions for GT005 in se­lect mar­kets.

Gy­ro­scope plans to use pro­ceeds from this in­vest­ment to sup­port fund­ing of on­go­ing clin­i­cal tri­als of GT005, as the drug has been grant­ed fast track des­ig­na­tion by the FDA. — Paul Schloess­er

Se­lec­ta shows promis­ing re­sults in gene ther­a­py de­liv­ery and re-dos­ing pa­tients in Phase I tri­al

Gene ther­a­py sci­en­tists see a ben­e­fit in re­dos­ing pa­tients af­ter the first dose of a ther­a­py. But the is­sue of an im­mune re­sponse against ade­no-as­so­ci­at­ed virus­es (AAVs) has pushed com­pa­nies to try and get around it.

Se­lec­ta Bio­sciences thought it found a way to tamp down the body’s im­mune re­sponse back in Oc­to­ber — and Take­da doled out more than $1 bil­lion to get in on the ac­tion.

Now to­day, the biotech re­vealed re­sults from a Phase I tri­al look­ing in­to the body’s im­mune re­sponse to their Imm­TOR plat­form — and the re­sults may be promis­ing.

With AskBio, Se­lec­ta un­veiled top-line re­sults this morn­ing from a Phase I ran­dom­ized, place­bo con­trolled, dou­ble blind, dose-es­ca­la­tion study. The goal is to eval­u­ate Se­lec­ta’s Imm­TOR plat­form in mit­i­gat­ing the for­ma­tion of neu­tral­iz­ing an­ti­bod­ies against an AAV8 cap­sid — which is used in gene ther­a­pies.

At day 30, in sub­jects who were ad­min­is­tered a sin­gle 0.3 mg/kg dose of Imm­TOR, Se­lec­ta ob­served a me­di­an an­ti-AAV8 neu­tral­iz­ing an­ti­body titer of 1:5 — 250 times low­er than that ob­served in sub­jects dosed with AAV8 cap­sid alone, ac­cord­ing to a Se­lec­ta state­ment.

“We look for­ward to lever­ag­ing these ex­cit­ing and nov­el find­ings in the clin­ic across our whol­ly owned gene ther­a­py pipeline and along­side our world class gene ther­a­py part­ners to achieve our goal of im­prov­ing the lives of those liv­ing with mono­genic dis­eases,” said Se­lec­ta pres­i­dent and CEO Carsten Brunn.

In the Phase I study, re­searchers eval­u­at­ed the ad­min­is­tra­tion of a sin­gle IV dose of a AAV8 emp­ty cap­sid con­tain­ing no DNA with and with­out a sin­gle dose of Imm­TOR in 23 sub­jects. — Paul Schloess­er

Ax­some de­pres­sion drug hits a CMC hur­dle at the FDA

Ax­some’s de­pres­sion drug AXS-05 has hit a snag at the FDA.

The biotech $AXSM re­port­ed Mon­day morn­ing that reg­u­la­tors no­ti­fied the com­pa­ny that they will not hit the PDU­FA tar­get ac­tion date — set all the way back on Aug. 22 — af­ter cit­ing CMC de­fi­cien­cies.

Ac­cord­ing to their state­ment:

The Com­pa­ny was re­cent­ly in­formed of two de­fi­cien­cies re­lat­ed to an­a­lyt­i­cal meth­ods in the Chem­istry, Man­u­fac­tur­ing, and Con­trols (CMC) sec­tion of the NDA, which must be ad­dressed pri­or to the FDA tak­ing ac­tion on the NDA. The Com­pa­ny be­lieves these de­fi­cien­cies are ad­dress­able and is con­firm­ing the de­tails of the re­quest with the FDA.

— John Car­roll

Biotech in­vestors and CEOs see two paths to growth, but are they equal­ly vi­able?

The dynamic in the biotech market has been highly volatile in the last few years, from the high peaks immediately after the COVID vaccine in 2021, to the lowest downturns of the last 20 years in 2022. This uncertainty makes calling the exact timing of the market’s turn something of a fool’s errand, according to Dr. Chen Yu, Founder and Managing Partner of TCG Crossover (TCG X). He speaks with RBC’s Noël Brown, Head of US Biotechnology Investment Banking, about the market’s road ahead and two possible paths for growth.

Casey McPherson shows his daughters Rose (left) and Weston around Everlum Bio, a lab that he co-founded to spark a treatment for Rose and others with ultra-rare conditions. (Ilana Panich-Linsman)

Fa­ther starts lab af­ter in­tel­lec­tu­al prop­er­ty is­sues stymie rare dis­ease drug de­vel­op­ment

Under bright lab lights, Casey McPherson holds his 6-year-old daughter, Rose. His free hand directs Rose’s gaze toward a computer screen with potential clues in treating her one-of-a kind genetic condition.

Gray specks on the screen show her cells that scientists reprogrammed with the goal of zeroing in on a custom medicine. McPherson co-founded the lab, Everlum Bio, to spark a treatment for Rose — and others like her. A regarded singer-songwriter, McPherson never imagined going into drug development.

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 150,400+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

Vlad Coric, Biohaven CEO

Vlad Coric charts course for new Bio­haven with neu­ro­science push and Big Phar­ma vets on board

What’s Biohaven without its CGRP portfolio? That’s what CEO Vlad Coric is tasked with deciding as he maps out the new Biohaven post-Pfizer takeover.

Pfizer officially scooped up Biohaven’s CGRP assets on Monday, including blockbuster migraine drug Nurtec and the investigational zavegepant, for $11.6 billion. As a result, Coric spun the broader pipeline into an independent company on Tuesday — with the same R&D team behind Nurtec but about 1,000 fewer staffers and a renewed focus on neuroscience and rare disease.

In AstraZeneca's latest campaign, wild eosinophils called Phils personify the acting up often seen in uncontrolled asthma

As­traZeneca de­buts an­noy­ing pur­ple ‘Phil’ crea­tures, per­son­i­fied asth­ma eosinophils ‘be­hav­ing bad­ly’

There are some odd-looking purple creatures lurking around the halls of AstraZenca lately. The “Phil” character cutouts are purple, personified eosinophils with big buggy eyes and wide mouths, and they’re a part of AZ’s newest awareness effort to help people understand eosinophilic asthma.

The “Asthma Behaving Badly” characters aren’t only on the walls at AZ to show the new campaign to employees, however. The “Phils” are also showing up online on the campaign website, and in digital and social ads and posts on Facebook and Instagram.

Marc Dunoyer, Alexion CEO (AstraZeneca via YouTube)

Up­dat­ed: As­traZeneca nabs a small rare dis­ease gene ther­a­py play­er for 667% pre­mi­um

AstraZeneca is kicking off the fourth quarter with a little M&A Monday for a gene editing player recently overcoming a second clinical hold to its only program in human studies.

The Big Pharma and its subsidiary Alexion are buying out little LogicBio for $2.07 per share. That’s good for a massive 667% premium over its Friday closing price, when it headed into the weekend at 27 cents and just weeks after Nasdaq said LogicBio would have to delist, which has been put on hold as the biotech requests a hearing. It’s one of two biotech deals to commence October, alongside the news of Incyte buying a vitiligo-focused biotech.

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 150,400+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

Dave Marek, Myovant CEO

My­ovant board balks as ma­jor­i­ty own­er Sum­it­o­mo swoops in with a $2.5B deal to buy them out

Three years after Sumitomo scooped up Roivant’s 46% stake in the publicly traded Myovant $MYOV as part of a 5-company, $3 billion deal, they’re coming back for the whole thing.

But these other investors at Myovant want more than what the Japanese pharma company is currently offering to pay at this stage.

Sumitomo is bidding $22.75 a share for the outstanding stock, which now represents 48% of the company after Sumitomo bumped its ownership since the original deal with Roivant. Myovant, however, created a special committee on the board, and they’re shaking their heads over the offer.

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 150,400+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

Christophe Bourdon, Leo Pharma CEO

Leo Phar­ma looks 'be­yond the skin' in atopic der­mati­tis aware­ness cam­paign

As Leo Pharma aims to take on heavyweight champ Dupixent in atopic dermatitis, the company is launching “AD Days Around the World,” an awareness campaign documenting real patient stories across Europe.

The project, unveiled on Monday, spotlights four patients: Marjolaine, Laura, Julia and África from France, Italy, Germany and Spain, respectively, in short video clips on the challenges of living with AD, the most common form of eczema.

Mar­ket­ingRx roundup: No­var­tis re­cruits NFL coach for Leqvio cam­paign; Pfiz­er pro­motes ‘Sci­ence’ merch on so­cial me­dia

Novartis is turning to a winning coach to talk about Leqvio and the struggles of high cholesterol — including his own. Bruce Arians, the retired NFL head coach of the Arizona Cardinals and Super Bowl-winning Tampa Bay Buccaneers, is partnering with the pharma for its “Coaching Cholesterol” digital, social and public relations effort.

In the campaign, Arians talks about the potential for “great comebacks” in football and heart health. Once nicknamed a “quarterback whisperer,” he is now retired from fulltime coaching (although still a front-office consultant for Tampa Bay), and did a round of media interviews for Novartis, including one with People and Forbes.

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 150,400+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

Amy West, Novo Nordisk head of US digital innovation and transformation (Illustration: Assistant Editor Kathy Wong for Endpoints News)

Q&A: No­vo Nordisk dig­i­tal in­no­va­tion chief Amy West dis­cuss­es phar­ma pain points and a health­care 'easy but­ton’

Amy West joined Novo Nordisk more than a decade ago to oversee marketing strategies and campaigns for its US diabetes portfolio. However, her career path shifted into digital, and she hasn’t looked back. West went from leading Novo’s first digital health strategy in the US to now heading up digital innovation and transformation.

She’s currently leading the charge at Novo Nordisk to not only go beyond the pill with digital marketing and health tech, but also test, pilot and develop groundbreaking new strategies needed in today’s consumerized healthcare world.

Endpoints Premium

Premium subscription required

Unlock this article along with other benefits by subscribing to one of our paid plans.