Rick Tsai, LUCA Science CEO

Aim­ing to har­ness the pow­er of mi­to­chon­dria, a Japan­ese start­up nets new fund­ing

One of the ba­sic lessons in sci­ence class is that mi­to­chon­dria act as the pow­er­house of the cell. But LU­CA Sci­ence, a Japan­ese biotech, is look­ing to take it a step fur­ther.

The com­pa­ny is look­ing to har­ness the pow­er of mi­to­chon­dria to even­tu­al­ly cre­ate ther­a­pies for or­gan and tis­sue re­pair, and on Mon­day it closed a $30.3 mil­lion Se­ries B. Helmed by Rick Tsai, a Mer­ck and Al­ler­gan vet, LU­CA aims to re­search the mi­to­chon­dria’s po­ten­tial in ob­stet­rics, res­pi­ra­to­ry, car­dio­vas­cu­lar, CNS, im­munol­o­gy and on­col­o­gy spaces.

Tsai ex­plains that the com­pa­ny us­es spe­cial mi­to­chon­dria that are dif­fer­ent from tra­di­tion­al meth­ods, as ex­tract­ed mi­to­chon­dria can be high­ly del­i­cate. As such, LU­CA has spent its time de­vel­op­ing a way to iso­late in­tact, func­tion­al mi­to­chon­dria. Tsai said that when the com­pa­ny’s mi­to­chon­dria are ex­tract­ed and thawed, the mem­brane po­ten­tial is still pre­served, al­low­ing for it to be ap­plied to fur­ther re­search and de­vel­oped in­to even­tu­al ther­a­pies.

Tsai not­ed that oth­er com­pa­nies and sci­en­tists work­ing in this field are fo­cused on us­ing the cur­rent­ly avail­able meth­ods for mi­to­chon­dria, main­ly as in­di­rect ap­proach­es to dis­ease treat­ment. What sets LU­CA apart, Tsai said, is how they ap­ply their mi­to­chon­dria for di­rect us­age.

“We can store it and then still main­tain the func­tion, so for the first time, we can ac­tu­al­ly use al­lo­gene­ic mi­to­chon­dria and make it off-the-shelf as the prod­uct,” he said. “This will open up doors for emer­gency sit­u­a­tions and many dif­fer­ent ther­a­pies and make it in­to like a bio­phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal prod­uct.”

Ac­cord­ing to Yoshikazu Tokuo­ka, LU­CA’s CFO, this Se­ries B will keep the com­pa­ny mov­ing for­ward for a while. Ex­ecs are aim­ing for an IPO in Japan around the mid­dle of 2024.

Tokuo­ka al­so not­ed that this round will give LU­CA a run­way of three years while the com­pa­ny es­tab­lish­es its CMC ca­pa­bil­i­ties. Tsai said that they’ll look to file an IND to­ward the end of 2023.

As for their man­u­fac­tur­ing build­out, the com­pa­ny opened its CMC re­search lab­o­ra­to­ry in Tokyo last month to es­tab­lish its man­u­fac­tur­ing process and as­say meth­ods. How­ev­er, Tsai al­so said that the com­pa­ny would be open to work­ing with a larg­er CD­MO to mass-pro­duce their prod­uct.

The com­pa­ny pre­vi­ous­ly net­ted a $9.8 mil­lion Se­ries A and has a sub­sidiary in the UK to fo­cus on re­search col­lab­o­ra­tions with the Uni­ver­si­ty of Ox­ford. LU­CA al­so formed re­search col­lab­o­ra­tions with sev­er­al Japan­ese uni­ver­si­ties and with Ky­owa Kirin.

Mon­day’s was co-led by Japan­ese VC firms DCI Part­ners, and Fast Track Ini­tia­tive, who pre­vi­ous­ly in­vest­ed in the com­pa­ny. Lon­don’s 4BIO Cap­i­tal, which has had a knack for in­vest­ing heav­i­ly in ad­vanced ther­a­pies, was al­so a co-leader in the round. One rep­re­sen­ta­tive from each VC will join LU­CA’s board. Oth­er con­tribut­ing in­vestors in the round in­clude Remiges Ven­tures, Nip­pon Ven­ture Cap­i­tal, Nis­say Cap­i­tal, Asahi Ka­sei Phar­ma, QB Cap­i­tal/NCB Ven­ture Cap­i­tal and SM­BC Ven­ture Cap­i­tal.

Scoop: Boehringer qui­et­ly shut­ters a PhII for one of its top drugs — now un­der re­view

Boehringer Ingelheim has quietly shut down a small Phase II study for one of its lead drugs.

The private pharma player confirmed to Endpoints News that it had shuttered a study testing spesolimab as a therapy for Crohn’s patients suffering from bowel obstructions.

A spokesperson for the company tells Endpoints:

Taking into consideration the current therapeutic landscape and ongoing clinical development programs, Boehringer Ingelheim decided to discontinue our program in Crohn’s disease. It is important to note that this decision is not based on any safety findings in the clinical trials.

Endpoints Premium

Premium subscription required

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

Alex­ion puts €65M for­ward to strength­en its po­si­tion on the Emer­ald Isle

Ireland has been on a roll in 2022, with several large pharma companies announcing multimillion-euro projects. Now AstraZeneca’s rare disease outfit Alexion is looking to get in on the action.

Alexion on Friday announced a €65 million ($68.8 million) investment in new and enhanced capabilities across two sites in the country, including at College Park in the Dublin suburb of Blanchardstown and the Monksland Industrial Park in the central Irish town of Athlone, according to the Industrial Development Agency of Ireland.

A Mer­ck part­ner is sucked in­to the fi­nan­cial quag­mire as key lender calls in a note

Another biotech standing on shaky financial legs has fallen victim to the bears.

Merck partner 4D Pharma has reported that a key lender, Oxford Finance, shoved the UK company into administration after calling in a $14 million loan they couldn’t immediately make good on. Trading in their stock was halted with a market cap that had fallen to a mere £30 million.

“Despite the very difficult prevailing market conditions,” 4D reported on Friday, the biotech had been making progress on finding some new financing and turned to Oxford with an alternative late on Thursday and then again Friday morning.

Members of the G7 from left to right: Prime Minister of Italy Mario Draghi, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, President Joe Biden, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Japan Fumio Kishida, French President Emmanuel Macron and European Council President Charles Michel (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

Biden and G7 na­tions of­fer funds for vac­cine and med­ical prod­uct man­u­fac­tur­ing project in Sene­gal

Amidst recently broader vaccine manufacturing initiatives from the EU and European companies, the G7 summit in the mountains of Bavaria has brought about some positive news for closing vaccine and medical product manufacturing gaps around the globe.

According to a statement from the White House, the G7 leaders have formally launched the partnership for global infrastructure, PGII. The effort will aim to mobilize hundreds of billions of dollars to deliver infrastructure projects in several sectors including the medical and pharmaceutical manufacturing space.

David Loew (Ipsen)

Ipsen snags an ap­proved can­cer drug in $247M M&A deal as an­oth­er bat­tered biotech sells cheap

You can add Paris-based Ipsen to the list of discount buyers patrolling the penny stock pack for a cheap M&A deal.

The French biotech, which has had plenty of its own problems to grapple with, has swooped in to buy Epizyme $EPZM for $247 million in cash and a CVR with milestones attached to it. Epizyme shareholders, who had to suffer through a painfully soft launch of their EZH2a inhibitor cancer drug Tazverik, will get $1.45 per share along with a $1 CVR tied to achieving $250 million in sales from the drug over four consecutive quarters as well as an OK for second-line follicular lymphoma by Jan. 1, 2028.

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 144,400+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

State bat­tles over mifepri­s­tone ac­cess could tie the FDA to any post-Roe cross­roads

As more than a dozen states are now readying so-called “trigger” laws to kick into effect immediate abortion bans following the overturning of Roe v. Wade on Friday, these laws, in the works for more than a decade in some states, will likely kick off even more legal battles as states seek to restrict the use of prescription drug-based abortions.

Since Friday’s SCOTUS opinion to overturn Americans’ constitutional right to an abortion after almost 50 years, reproductive rights lawyers at Planned Parenthood and other organizations have already challenged these trigger laws in Utah and Louisiana. According to the Guttmacher Institute, other states with trigger laws that could take effect include Arkansas, Idaho, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, and Wyoming.

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 144,400+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

Deborah Dunsire, Lundbeck CEO

Af­ter a 5-year re­peat PhI­II so­journ, Lund­beck and Ot­su­ka say they're fi­nal­ly ready to pur­sue OK to use Rex­ul­ti against Alzheimer's ag­i­ta­tion

Five years after Lundbeck and their longtime collaborators at Otsuka turned up a mixed set of Phase III data for Rexulti as a treatment for Alzheimer’s dementia-related agitation, they’ve come through with a new pivotal trial success they believe will finally put them on the road to an approval at the FDA. And if they’re right, some analysts believe they’re a short step away from adding more than $500 million in annual sales for the drug, already approved in depression and schizophrenia.

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 144,400+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

Fed­er­al judge de­nies Bris­tol My­er­s' at­tempt to avoid Cel­gene share­hold­er law­suit

Some Celgene shareholders aren’t happy with how Bristol Myers Squibb’s takeover went down.

On Friday, a New York federal judge ruled that they have a case against the pharma giant, denying a request to dismiss allegations that it purposely slow-rolled Breyanzi’s approval to avoid paying out $6.4 billion in contingent value rights (CVR).

When Bristol Myers put down $74 billion to scoop up Celgene back in 2019, liso-cel — the CAR-T lymphoma treatment now marketed as Breyanzi — was supposedly one of the centerpieces of the deal. After going back and forth on negotiations for about six months, BMS put $6.4 billion into a CVR agreement that required an FDA approval for Zeposia, Breyanzi and Abecma, each by an established date.

Chris Anzalone, Arrowhead CEO

Take­da, Ar­row­head spot­light da­ta from small tri­al show­ing RNAi works in a rare liv­er con­di­tion

Almost two years after Takeda wagered $300 million cash to partner with Arrowhead on an RNAi therapy for a rare disease, the companies are spelling out Phase II data that they believe put them one step closer to their big dreams.

In a small, open label study involving only 16 patients who had liver disease associated with alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency (AATD), Arrowhead’s candidate — fazirsiran, previously ARO-AAT — spurred substantial reductions in accumulated mutant AAT protein in the liver, a hallmark of the condition. Investigators also tracked improvements in symptoms, with seven out of 12 who received the high, 200 mg dose seeing regression of liver fibrosis.

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 144,400+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.