Alex Leech, Alchemab CEO (SV Health Investors)

Alchemab bags fresh round of in­vestor for tar­get-ag­nos­tic an­ti­body de­vel­op­ment for Hunt­ing­ton's, Covid-19

Jane Os­bourn

With a “tar­get-ag­nos­tic” ap­proach to an­ti­body de­vel­op­ment, the UK’s Alchemab has used lessons learned from pa­tients with re­sis­tance to cer­tain dis­eases to chase af­ter con­di­tions as far apart as Hunt­ing­ton’s and Covid-19. Now, in­vestors are jump­ing on board the con­cept with an $86 mil­lion Se­ries A.

The pro­ceeds will go to­ward ad­vanc­ing the com­pa­ny’s tar­get-ag­nos­tic drug dis­cov­ery pro­gram, a re­lease said. That ap­proach looks at the an­ti­body reper­toires of pa­tients who show re­sis­tance to typ­i­cal­ly de­struc­tive dis­eases re­gard­less of ge­net­ic dis­po­si­tion.

In No­vem­ber, the com­pa­ny, whose sci­en­tists were led by CSO Jane Os­bourn, a for­mer As­traZeneca ex­ec­u­tive, joined a task force to de­vel­op an an­ti­body cock­tail for treat­ing Covid-19. That task force claimed to ac­cel­er­ate the time­line for an­ti­body dis­cov­ery from 18 months to 7 months, a path­way that could be ap­plied to fu­ture pan­demics that arise. Alchemab was joined by ION­TAS, LifeArc and Kymab, among oth­er com­pa­nies, ac­cord­ing to Busi­ness Week­ly.

In June, Os­bourn told  Busi­ness Week­ly that there was no rush to get to Se­ries A and said it would be ex­e­cut­ed “when the time is right” as the com­pa­ny had its sights set on glob­al ex­pan­sion. This fund­ing is a step in that di­rec­tion.

Olivia Cavlan

“Our am­bi­tion is to be one of the best…by a hav­ing re­al­ly unique ap­proach to iden­ti­fy­ing new tar­gets and drug­ging them,” head of busi­ness Olivia Cavlan told End­points. “At the mo­ment we have an in­cred­i­bly tal­ent­ed team, we’ve got in­di­vid­u­als ab­solute­ly at the top of their field and a fab­u­lous cul­ture, but the way that you stay on top of your game is by bring­ing new peo­ple in, be­ing in­ter­na­tion­al and un­der­stand­ing what is go­ing on glob­al­ly, so that’s what we need to do.”

Os­bourn has an ex­ten­sive back­ground in phe­no­typ­ic drug dis­cov­ery, and over the last cou­ple of years, the in­no­va­tions sur­round­ing bulk BCR-RNA se­quenc­ing com­bined with Alchemab’s an­a­lyt­i­cal and da­ta man­age­ment tools have been able to cre­ate a method of drug dis­cov­ery that Cavlan says is quite dif­fer­ent.

The com­pa­ny al­so col­lab­o­rates ex­ten­sive­ly with aca­d­e­mics and oth­er com­pa­nies. The com­pa­ny’s ap­proach has sup­port from Ox­ford Uni­ver­si­ty, Johns Hop­kins Uni­ver­si­ty and Mount Sinai Hos­pi­tal. Its work is fo­cused on can­cer and neu­rode­gen­er­a­tive dis­eases.

Alchemab boasts a team of about 30 peo­ple that is un­usu­al­ly more than 50% women, which Cavlan says plays an im­por­tant role in their suc­cess.

“It’s a team that’s learn­ing as we go, will­ing to fail, but every­one work­ing at the ab­solute top of their game,” she said.

Boston-based RA Cap­i­tal Man­age­ment led the round with in­volve­ment from Light­stone Ven­tures, Da­ta Col­lec­tive VC, DHVC, SV Health In­vestors and the De­men­tia Dis­cov­ery Fund.

On March 16, the com­pa­ny an­nounced that it was award­ed a grant from In­no­vate UK to sup­port an­ti­body ther­a­py for Hunt­ing­ton’s dis­ease, in col­lab­o­ra­tion with Med­i­cines Dis­cov­ery Cat­a­pult. Be­fore re­ceiv­ing the fund­ing, sci­en­tists re­port­ed hav­ing iden­ti­fied a pan­el of an­ti­bod­ies with dis­ease-mod­i­fy­ing po­ten­tial. With that mon­ey, Alchemab will con­duct the first in-hu­man stud­ies of the treat­ment over the next 18 months. If suc­cess­ful, a treat­ment that slows or halts dis­ease pro­gres­sion could be the re­sult.

That study fea­tured col­lab­o­ra­tion from the CD­HI, which Cavlan said was cru­cial in iden­ti­fy­ing pa­tients that show re­silien­cy to the dis­ease.

The DCT-OS: A Tech­nol­o­gy-first Op­er­at­ing Sys­tem - En­abling Clin­i­cal Tri­als

As technology-enabled clinical research becomes the new normal, an integrated decentralized clinical trial operating system can ensure quality, deliver consistency and improve the patient experience.

The increasing availability of COVID-19 vaccines has many of us looking forward to a time when everyday things return to a state of normal. Schools and teachers are returning to classrooms, offices and small businesses are reopening, and there’s a palpable sense of optimism that the often-awkward adjustments we’ve all made personally and professionally in the last year are behind us, never to return. In the world of clinical research, however, some pandemic-necessitated adjustments are proving to be more than emergency stopgap measures to ensure trial continuity — and numerous decentralized clinical trial (DCT) tools and methodologies employed within the last year are likely here to stay as part of biopharma’s new normal.

'Chang­ing the whole game of drug dis­cov­ery': Leg­endary R&D vet Roger Perl­mut­ter leaps back in­to work as a biotech CEO

Roger Perlmutter needs no introduction to anyone remotely involved in biopharma. As the R&D chief first at Amgen and then Merck, he’s built a stellar reputation and a prolific career steering new drugs toward the market for everything from cancer to infectious diseases.

But for years, he’s also held a less known title: science partner at The Column Group, where he’s regularly consulted about the various ideas the VCs had for new startups.

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UP­DAT­ED: Pfiz­er hits the brakes on their piv­otal tri­al for a BC­MA/CD3 bis­pe­cif­ic on safe­ty con­cerns while FDA road­block is hold­ing up Duchenne MD PhI­II

Pfizer’s ambitious plan to take a Phase II study of its BCMA CD3-targeted bispecific antibody elranatamab (PF-06863135) and run it through to an accelerated approval has derailed.

The pharma giant said in a release this morning that they have halted enrollment for their MagnetisMM-3 study after researchers tracked three cases of peripheral neuropathy in the ongoing Phase I. They are now sharing info with the FDA as they explore the red safety flag.

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Matt Gline (L) and Vivek Ramaswamy

Vivek Ra­maswamy and Matt Gline swoop in­to Nas­daq on the wings of Jim Mom­tazee's SPAC with a $7B-plus Roivant de­but ready to do some deals

Seven years after founding Roivant Sciences as an upstart contender in the world of biotech creation, Vivek Ramaswamy and his recently anointed CEO Matt Gline are gliding into Nasdaq on the gilded wings of a cash-heavy SPAC.

In a carefully crafted SPAC pact aimed at wedding new investors at Montes Archimedes Acquisition Corp. with a syndicate of investors coming back to re-up for the next round of company building, they’ve assembled a fresh $611 million in financing for Roivant — $411 million held in trust from the investors in MAAC with a fresh $200 million from the syndicate.

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Stéphane Bancel at the Endpoints #JPM20 breakfast panel in San Francisco, January 2020 (Photo: Jeff Rumans, Endpoints News)

Mod­er­na says Covid-19 vac­cine boost­er in­creased im­mune re­sponse against vari­ants of con­cern

About a month after announcing their variant-specific Covid-19 vaccine boosters showed promising results in mice, Moderna says it now has some human data to back it up.

Volunteers given a booster shot about six to eight months after receiving their second dose saw increased antibody levels against SARS-CoV-2 and two variants of concern: B.1.351, which was first identified in South Africa, and P.1, first identified in Brazil, the company said on Wednesday.

FDA ex­tends re­search agree­ment with MIT-li­censed or­gan-on-chip sys­tems

The FDA on Wednesday extended its four-year agreement with CN Bio, a developer of single- and multi-organ-on-chip systems used for drug discovery, for another three years.

CN Bio said the scope of the research performed by the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research has expanded to include the exploration of the company’s lung-on-a-chip system to help with the agency’s evaluation of inhaled drugs, in addition to the agency’s work on its liver model.

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In quest to meet user fee goals, FDA’s per­for­mance con­tin­ues down­ward trend

A recent update to the FDA’s running tally of how it’s meeting its user fee-related performance goals during the pandemic shows an agency that is not out of the woods yet.

The latest numbers reveal that for a second straight quarter in 2021, the FDA has met its user fee goal dates for 93% of original new drug applications, which compares with 94% and 98% for the previous two quarters in 2020, respectively.

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Cynthia Butitta (L) and Joe Jimenez

Is that an­oth­er IPO in the mak­ing? Ex-No­var­tis CEO Joe Jimenez and a lead Kite play­er take up new posts at an off-the-shelf ri­val to 2 pi­o­neer­ing drugs

Right on the heels of taking on a $160 million crossover round in a likely leap to Nasdaq, Century Therapeutics CEO Lalo Flores is now pushing ahead with the high-profile ex-Novartis chief Joe Jimenez as chairman.

Jimenez’s greatest fame at Novartis was earned for one of its weakest products, as their pioneering personalized CAR-T Kymriah won the honors for the first such drug to make it to the market. Now a host of players, including Century, are barreling in behind the frontrunners with allogeneic rivals that can be created for off-the-shelf use.

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Joe Wiley, Amryt CEO

A biotech with a yen for pricey rare dis­ease drugs — and bar­gain base­ment shop­ping — adopts an­oth­er or­phan in lat­est M&A pact

After making it through a long, painful haul to get past a CRL and on to an FDA approval last summer, little Chiasma has found a buyer.

Amryt $AMYT, a company known for its appetite for acquiring expensive drugs for rare diseases at bargain prices, snagged Chiasma and its acromegaly drug Mycapssa (octreotide) capsules in an all-stock deal — with an exchange of 0.396 shares of Amryt for every share of Chiasma.