Gary Glick, Odyssey Therapeutics founder

Al­ways busy, Gary Glick re­cruits Or­biMed in a mas­sive $218M Se­ries A for enig­mat­ic da­ta sci­ence biotech

Gary Glick is back at it again, found­ing yet an­oth­er biotech com­pa­ny. And by the sheer size of its first raise, this may be the biggest one yet.

Glick has as­sem­bled what he calls an all-star ros­ter and re­cruit­ed one of the biggest health­care in­vestors in Or­biMed to put to­geth­er a mas­sive $218 mil­lion Se­ries A for his newest ven­ture, Odyssey Ther­a­peu­tics. The launch, an­nounced Tues­day morn­ing and co-led by SR One Cap­i­tal Man­age­ment, comes not three months af­ter Glick sold First Wave Bio to Azur­Rx for $229 mil­lion.

David Pom­pli­ano

But Glick has had Odyssey on his mind since at least ear­ly this year, first craft­ing the vi­sion back in March with co-founder David Pom­pli­ano, with whom Glick did his post­doc at Je­re­my Knowles’ Har­vard lab. Liken­ing Odyssey to one of his ear­li­er com­pa­nies, IFM Ther­a­peu­tics, Glick said the new biotech is plac­ing a sim­i­lar bet on en­sur­ing the best peo­ple are in­volved.

“What’s oc­cur­ring at Odyssey is just some­thing on a much larg­er scale, with a con­sid­er­able amount more depth in many of those sort of drug dis­cov­ery dis­ci­plines,” Glick tells End­points News. “The fi­nanc­ing al­lows us to sup­port not on­ly a larg­er num­ber of pro­grams, but quite a bit of tech­nol­o­gy de­vel­op­ment and in­te­gra­tion to cre­ate the plat­form.

“It’s a recipe for suc­cess that’s worked across all my com­pa­nies,” he added.

So what ex­act­ly is Odyssey all about? No one re­al­ly wants to say. Glick de­clined to elab­o­rate on any of the de­tails about the biotech’s foun­da­tion­al sci­ence, on­ly briefly di­vulging the com­pa­ny’s dis­ease ar­eas as in­flam­ma­tion and on­col­o­gy. He vague­ly de­scribed Odyssey as open to a va­ri­ety of plat­forms that are “fused” to­geth­er and re­spond­ed to a ques­tion about the sci­ence be­hind the biotech with a rhetor­i­cal quip: “Imag­ine ask­ing that to the CEO of No­var­tis or Mer­ck.”

There’s al­so a short men­tion in Odyssey’s press re­lease about how the com­pa­ny will build on the “past ap­proach­es” of an­ti-TNF an­ti­bod­ies, JAK in­hibitors and tar­get­ed can­cer im­munother­a­pies, go­ing “be­yond the lim­i­ta­tions” of these treat­ments. It’s not ex­act­ly clear, how­ev­er, what that means at this stage.

What we can re­port is near­ly a third of Odyssey’s 100-ish em­ploy­ees are da­ta sci­en­tists. Glick placed a huge em­pha­sis on da­ta sci­ence and AI at the biotech, out­lin­ing a broad view of how he hopes “physics based mol­e­c­u­lar sim­u­la­tions” and “quan­tum ma­chine learn­ing” will set Odyssey apart. As an ex­am­ple, Glick de­scribed some of the ad­vances in com­pu­ta­tion­al chem­istry since he was a grad stu­dent in the 1980s.

“A lot of the in­tense in­ter­est re­cent­ly has been around what mol­e­c­u­lar sim­u­la­tions, par­tic­u­lar­ly for small mol­e­cules, can ac­com­plish giv­en the in­creased com­put­ing pow­er,” Glick said. “That’s just one of the foun­da­tion­al pieces that we’ve made an in­vest­ment in, but da­ta sci­ence is much broad­er than that.”

Lead­ing this charge will be chief da­ta of­fi­cer Joe Mc­Don­ald, a 30-year bio­phar­ma vet who led ma­chine learn­ing and physics-based sim­u­la­tion ef­forts at Cel­gene and then Bris­tol My­ers Squibb. For Mc­Don­ald, even though these fields have hit their stride and seen a lot of hype — some­times to oth­er com­pa­nies’ cha­grin — it’s more about putting the tech­nol­o­gy in the hands of the right peo­ple.

Part of that process in­volves a quan­tum ma­chine learn­ing pro­gram Odyssey will have to train. Giv­en the na­ture of the tech­nol­o­gy, Mc­Don­ald said it would on­ly re­quire a small frac­tion of da­ta rel­a­tive to what would be nec­es­sary for a more tra­di­tion­al al­go­rithm. But at the end of the day, it’s how the teams of sci­en­tists solve the prob­lem to­geth­er that mat­ters more.

“What I want to stress is, it is the ex­pe­ri­ence of the sci­en­tists that guide the strat­e­gy,” Mc­Don­ald said. “The ma­chine learn­ing meth­ods are there as add-on ca­pa­bil­i­ties that give our sci­en­tists the op­por­tu­ni­ty to make a de­ci­sion and ef­fec­tive de­ci­sions. But we re­al­ly trust the sci­en­tists at Odyssey to make great, great de­ci­sions.”

Oth­er mem­bers of Odyssey’s start­ing line­up in­clude for­mer Vi­vid­ion CSO Robert Abra­ham as ex­ec­u­tive VP of can­cer bi­ol­o­gy; Na­tal­ie Dales, ex-No­var­tis di­rec­tor of port­fo­lio and strat­e­gy for chem­istry dis­cov­ery, as se­nior VP of of chem­istry and drug dis­cov­ery; Shifeng Pan, an­oth­er No­var­tis chem­istry vet from its ge­nomics in­sti­tute, as head of dis­cov­ery; Pom­pli­ano as chief in­no­va­tion of­fi­cer; and Stephen Sois­son, a Mer­ck Re­search Lab­o­ra­to­ries vet who will head up the pro­tein ther­a­peu­tics di­vi­sion.

Carl Gor­don

Or­biMed man­ag­ing di­rec­tor Carl Gor­don, who earns him­self an Odyssey board seat, said that while many have at­tempt­ed mar­ry­ing drug dis­cov­ery with ma­chine learn­ing, he can’t re­call an­oth­er com­pa­ny that’s got­ten off the ground so quick­ly. That, cou­pled with the peo­ple Glick as­sem­bled, will prove a key dif­fer­en­tia­tor, he said.

“It’s in­creas­ing­ly a sell­er’s mar­ket in re­cruit­ing,” Gor­don said. “So I think it says a lot in re­gard to the vi­sion of the com­pa­ny. And it’s grat­i­fy­ing to see some of the peo­ple that have cho­sen to work with us.”

Up first are sev­en pipeline pro­grams in those in­flam­ma­tion and on­col­o­gy ar­eas, both small mol­e­cules and pro­tein ther­a­peu­tics for “large mar­ket in­di­ca­tions,” Glick said. If every­thing goes ac­cord­ing to plan, the first can­di­dates will hit the clin­ic in late 2023 or ear­ly 2024.

It will take even longer for Odyssey to re­port its first batch of clin­i­cal da­ta, when in­vestors will be­gin to re­al­ize whether this biotech is worth the mas­sive raise or large­ly hype. Many com­pa­nies have gar­nered big rais­es — in­creas­ing­ly fol­lowed by IPOs with just pre­clin­i­cal da­ta — and ul­ti­mate­ly flopped once they be­gan putting their drugs in hu­mans.

But Glick be­lieves the com­bi­na­tion of Odyssey’s tech­nol­o­gy and peo­ple won’t give him a rea­son to sweat.

“Many things in drug dis­cov­ery and clin­i­cal de­vel­op­ment ul­ti­mate­ly wind up not work­ing,” Glick said. “And it’s the peo­ple, ul­ti­mate­ly. It’s great teams that are able to suc­ceed. And so it’s when you have great tech­nol­o­gy in the hands of great peo­ple. That’s re­al­ly the bet here.”

In ad­di­tion to Or­biMed and SR One Cap­i­tal, oth­er in­vestors in­clud­ed Fore­site Cap­i­tal, Wood­line Part­ners LP, Lo­gos Cap­i­tal, HBM Health­care In­vest­ments, Colt Ven­tures, Crea­cion Ven­tures, and oth­er in­sti­tu­tion­al in­vestors.

2023 Spot­light on the Fu­ture of Drug De­vel­op­ment for Small and Mid-Sized Biotechs

In the context of today’s global economic environment, there is an increasing need to work smarter, faster and leaner across all facets of the life sciences industry.  This is particularly true for small and mid-sized biotech companies, many of which are facing declining valuations and competing for increasingly limited funding to propel their science forward.  It is important to recognize that within this framework, many of these smaller companies already find themselves resource-challenged to design and manage clinical studies themselves because they don’t have large teams or in-house experts in navigating the various aspects of the drug development journey. This can be particularly challenging for the most complex and difficult to treat diseases where no previous pathway exists and patients are urgently awaiting breakthroughs.

Spe­cial re­port 2022: Meet 20 women blaz­ing trails in bio­phar­ma R&D

When you run a special report for a fourth year, it can start feeling a little bit like a ritual. You go through the motions — in our case opening up nominations for top women in biopharma R&D and reviewing more than 500 entries — you make your choices of inclusion and exclusion. You host a ceremony.

But then things happen that remind you why you do it in the first place. Perhaps a Supreme Court rules to overturn the constitutional right to abortion and a group of women biotech leaders makes it clear they strongly dissent; perhaps new data on gender diversity in the industry come out that look all too similar to the old ones, suggesting women are still dramatically underrepresented at the top; perhaps protests and conflicts around the world put in stark terms the struggles that many women still face in earning the most basic recognition.

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 154,100+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

Graphic: Shutterstock

Prometheus moves to raise cash hours af­ter PhII da­ta leads to stock surge

After releasing better-than-anticipated data on two mid-stage studies Wednesday morning, Prometheus Biosciences’ CEO said the company would “take some time to assess” its next financing options.

It only needed about seven hours. Wednesday afternoon after the market closed, the biotech announced it would seek $250 million through an equity offering as the company looks to edge out anti-TL1A competitor Pfizer and its new partner Roivant.

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 154,100+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

Kristen Hege, Bristol Myers Squibb SVP, early clinical development, oncology/hematology and cell therapy (Illustration: Assistant Editor Kathy Wong for Endpoints News)

Q&A: Bris­tol My­er­s' Kris­ten Hege on cell ther­a­py, can­cer pa­tients and men­tor­ing the next gen­er­a­tion

Kristen Hege leads Bristol Myers Squibb’s early oncology discovery program carrying on from the same work at Celgene, which was acquired by BMS in 2019. She’s known for her early work in CAR-T, having pioneered the first CAR-T cell trial for solid tumors more than 25 years ago.

However, the eminent physician-scientist is more than just a drug developer mastermind. She’s also a practicing physician, mother to two young women, an avid backpacker and intersecting all those interests — a champion of young women and people of color in STEM and life sciences.

Endpoints Premium

Premium subscription required

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

Gossamer Bio CEO Faheem Hasnain at Endpoints' #BIO22 panel (J.T. MacMillan Photography for Endpoints News)

Gos­samer’s Fa­heem Has­nain de­fends a round of pos­i­tive PAH da­ta as a clear win. But can these PhII re­sults stand up to scruti­ny?

Gossamer Bio $GOSS posted a statistically significant improvement for its primary endpoint in the key Phase II TORREY trial for lead drug seralutinib on Tuesday morning. But CEO Faheem Hasnain has some explaining to do on the important secondary of the crucial six-minute walk distance test — which will be the primary endpoint in Phase III — as the data on both endpoints fell short of expectations, missing one analyst’s bar on even modest success.

Endpoints Premium

Premium subscription required

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

Alex Martinez, Intrinsic Medicine CEO

They with­drew their IPO. Then, they broke off their SPAC merg­er. Now what?

If at first an IPO doesn’t succeed, try, try a SPAC. But what happens when that fails too?

Intrinsic Medicine and its blank-check partner Phoenix Biotech Acquisition Corp. called off their reverse merger Tuesday night, citing “current market conditions” as the reason it went kaput. The pair decoupled just weeks after agreeing to combine in late October as investors’ appetite for new IPOs and SPACs has been limited, at best.

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 154,100+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

Jay Lichter, Arialys Therapeutics CEO (Avalon Ventures)

Scoop: Aval­on, MPM back new CNS biotech with sci­en­tif­ic chops from Astel­las

A preclinical central nervous system biotech is in the works in La Jolla, CA, and the drug developer has reeled in capital from a syndicate of investors, Endpoints News has learned.

Arialys Therapeutics filed incorporation documents in the Golden State last December and applied its name for trademark protection with the US Patent and Trademark Office the week prior to that. Paperwork with the SEC also outlines plans to offer up equity in exchange for $55 million.

Endpoints Premium

Premium subscription required

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

Piper Trelstad, head of CMC, Bill & Melinda Gates Medical Research Institute

Q&A with Gates leader: Women tak­ing on more roles in phar­ma man­u­fac­tur­ing, but still work to do

More and more women are driving innovation and taking leadership roles in biotech – as evidenced today in the release of Endpoints News’ list of the top 20 women in the R&D world – but those gains are beginning to extend across pharma sectors.

In pharma manufacturing in the US today, around 46% of all roles are occupied by women, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics for 2021. And according to a Bloomberg report, women’s roles across manufacturing roles had a massive boost after the start of the pandemic.

Phar­ma rep­u­ta­tion re­tains 'halo' even as pan­dem­ic me­dia cov­er­age re­cedes — sur­vey

The Covid-19 halo effect on the pharma industry is continuing, according to a new global study from Ipsos. The annual survey for the International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers and Associations (IFPMA) finds considerable goodwill from consumers across measures of trust, cooperation with governments, and advancing research and drug development.

“Despite the pandemic in many countries no longer being the top of mind concern generally – although it does remain the top concern as a health issue – the industry’s reputation has remained positive,” said Ipsos research director Thomas Fife-Schaw.

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 154,100+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.