Juergen Horn

An­i­mal health vet Juer­gen Horn makes new an­ti­body play for pets, rak­ing $15M in Se­ries A haul

Zoetis forked over $85 mil­lion in 2017 to ac­quire Nexvet Bio­phar­ma and its pipeline of mon­o­clon­al an­ti­bod­ies. Juer­gen Horn, Nexvet’s for­mer chief prod­uct de­vel­op­ment of­fi­cer, has now se­cured $15 mil­lion for his own bi­o­log­ic com­pa­ny for an­i­mals: In­vetx.

Buoyed by emerg­ing ad­vances in gene ther­a­pies for hu­mans, sci­en­tists have start­ed look­ing at har­ness­ing the tech­nol­o­gy for an­i­mals set­ting up com­pa­nies such as Penn-part­nered Scout Bio and George Church-found­ed Re­ju­ve­nate Bio. But akin to Nexvet, In­vetx is work­ing on lever­ag­ing the time-test­ed sci­ence of mon­o­clon­al an­ti­bod­ies to treat chron­ic dis­eases that af­flict man’s best friend.

“(T)his is proven tech­nol­o­gy and has the high­est chance of suc­cess — the dis­cov­ery plat­forms are val­i­dat­ed, the man­u­fac­tur­ing and de­vel­op­ment is rel­a­tive­ly ex­plored and there is a clear path to bring these prod­ucts to mar­ket, and then we can make them af­ford­able,” Horn not­ed in an in­ter­view with End­points News.

The an­i­mal health field can be lu­cra­tive, with 67% of US house­holds, or about 85 mil­lion fam­i­lies, own­ing a pet, ac­cord­ing to the 2019-2020 sur­vey con­duct­ed by the Amer­i­can Pet Prod­ucts As­so­ci­a­tion.

So far there is on­ly one re­com­bi­nant pro­tein drug, an an­ti­body, avail­able for vet­eri­nary use in the Unit­ed States and Eu­rope. The glob­al an­i­mal health med­i­cines and vac­cines mar­ket was es­ti­mat­ed to be worth $34 bil­lion in 2019, ac­cord­ing to In­vetx.

The prices of the species-spe­cif­ic prod­ucts In­vetx is de­vel­op­ing should re­flect the price tags of ex­ist­ing ther­a­pies for an­i­mals — which typ­i­cal­ly range from some­where be­tween $50 and $120 for a month­ly in­jectable, ex­clud­ing the vet’s fees, Horn said.

He did not dis­close Boston-based In­vetx’s pipeline, ex­cept to say that the com­pa­ny’s lead prod­uct would en­ter clin­i­cal de­vel­op­ment in 2020 and that In­vetx is fo­cus­ing on fields such as al­ler­gy, pain and can­cer.

“We do not have our own labs, we do not plan to bring tech­nolo­gies in house and try to copy and re­peat what has been es­tab­lished on the hu­man side. We feel that it’s much more ef­fi­cient to have the ex­perts do the ac­tu­al re­search,” he added.

Horn, a vet­eri­nary sur­geon by train­ing, has pre­vi­ous­ly al­so worked with Elan­co and No­var­tis An­i­mal Health.

Along with the $15 mil­lion round, led by found­ing in­vestor, An­ter­ra Cap­i­tal, In­vetx al­so re­vealed col­lab­o­ra­tions with WuXi Bi­o­log­ics to help with man­u­fac­tur­ing as well as Ab­Cellera to ac­cel­er­ate its pre­clin­i­cal ac­tiv­i­ties us­ing the Van­cou­ver-based com­pa­ny’s plat­form for an­ti­body dis­cov­ery.

“I don’t think we can ever reach the same qual­i­ty and ca­pa­bil­i­ties that for ex­am­ple, our part­ner Ab­cellera, can achieve in their plat­form. They ob­vi­ous­ly work for Big Phar­ma com­pa­nies that do that every day,” he said.

“With WuXi, it’s even clear­er there. We could nev­er set up our own man­u­fac­tur­ing at the same scale in the same ex­per­tise lev­el that a glob­al CMO can do that. And that leads to bet­ter prod­ucts and al­so re­duced costs. That’s at least the plan.”

And con­sol­i­da­tion is ripe in the space, as in­dus­try play­ers look to ex­pand their mar­ket share across ge­o­gra­phies and in tan­gen­tial busi­ness­es to low­er ex­po­sure to any one re­gion, prod­uct line or species. In Au­gust, Eli Lil­ly spin­off Elan­co dis­closed it was pur­chas­ing Bay­er’s vet­eri­nary unit in a deal worth $7.6 bil­lion cre­at­ing the sec­ond-largest an­i­mal health com­pa­ny in the field.

In 2018, Elan­co gen­er­at­ed sales of about $3.1 bil­lion, while Bay­er’s AH unit raked in about $1.6 bil­lion. The lead­ing firm in the sec­tor — Zoetis — brought in rough­ly $5.8 bil­lion in sales.

Vac­cine doc­u­ments, young lead­ers and mar­ket tur­moil: End­points' 10 biggest sto­ries of 2022

It’s been a volatile year in the world of biopharma. Market declines reset M&A valuations, and may be beginning to tempt bigger buyers back into dealmaking. Russia’s war in Ukraine disrupted drug sales and clinical trials. A new generation of young biotech leaders emerged in the Endpoints 20(+1) Under 40. And as capital runs dry in a tough environment for raising new funds, companies big and small are taking a look at their headcounts and operations for ways to make it through lean times.

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Tom Riga, Spectrum Pharmaceuticals CEO

Spec­trum im­plodes af­ter a harsh pub­lic slap­down and now a CRL from Richard Paz­dur

The FDA has gone out of its way several times to flatten any expectations for Spectrum’s lung cancer drug poziotinib, including slamming the regulatory door in the biotech’s face four years ago when the their executive crew came calling for a breakthrough drug designation and encouragement from the oncology wing of the FDA.

That stinging early rebuke pointed straight down the path to a corrosive in-house agency review of Spectrum’s attempt to land an accelerated approval for the oral EGFR TKI and a public whipping that included a classic takedown by none other than Richard Pazdur, who slammed the company for “poor drug development” that led to confusion over the dose needed for a slice of NSCLC patients harboring HER2 exon 20 insertion mutations.

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Big Phar­ma's Twit­ter ex­o­dus; Mer­ck wa­gers $1.35B on buy­out; $3.5M gene ther­a­py; and more

Welcome back to Endpoints Weekly, your review of the week’s top biopharma headlines. Want this in your inbox every Saturday morning? Current Endpoints readers can visit their reader profile to add Endpoints Weekly. New to Endpoints? Sign up here.

As you start planning for #JPM23, we hope you will consider joining Endpoints News for our live and virtual events. For those who are celebrating Thanksgiving, we hope you are enjoying the long weekend with loved ones. And if you’re not — we’ll see you next week!

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Albert Bourla, Pfizer CEO (John Thys/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

Pfiz­er CEO un­der fire from UK watch­dog over vac­cine com­ments — re­port

Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla told the BBC last December that he had “no doubt in my mind that the benefits, completely, are in favor” of vaccinating 5- to 11-year-olds for Covid-19. Almost a year later, those comments have reportedly landed him in trouble with a UK pharma watchdog.

Children’s advocacy group UsForThem filed a complaint with the UK’s Prescription Medicines Code of Practice Authority (PMCPA) last year accusing Bourla of making “disgracefully misleading” statements during the BBC interview, including one that “Covid in schools is thriving.” At the time, UK regulators had not yet cleared the vaccine for the 5 to 11 age group, though the vaccine did have a positive opinion from the EMA’s human medicines committee.

Sanofi's new headquarters, La Maison Sanofi, in Paris (Credit: Luc Boegly)

Sanofi wel­comes 500 staffers to new Paris HQ af­ter €30M ren­o­va­tion

When Paul Hudson took the helm at Sanofi back in 2019, he promised to reinvent the pharma giant — including its Paris headquarters. This week, the company set up shop in new “state-of-the-art” digs.

La Maison Sanofi, as the new HQ is called, is officially open for business, Hudson announced on Monday. The 9,000-square-meter (just under 97,000-square-foot) space accommodates 500 employees across the company’s government and global support functions teams, including finance, HR, legal and corporate affairs — and it was built with environmental sustainability and hybrid work in mind.

Sta­da to place $50M+ in­vest­ment in a new fa­cil­i­ty in Ro­ma­nia

While Romania may conjure up images of vast mountain ranges and tales of medieval kings, one generic manufacturer has broken ground on a new facility there.

German pharma company Stada said Monday that it has placed a €50 million ($51.9 million) investment into a 100,000 square-meter (1.08 million square-foot) site in Turda, Romania, a city in the Southeast of the country. According to a Stada spokesperson in an email to Endpoints News, the company has developed only 281,500 square feet of the site so far.

Rachael Rollins (Charles Krupa/AP Images)

US seeks jail time for co-CEO of New Eng­land com­pound­ing cen­ter af­ter dead­ly 2012 fun­gal out­break

The US attorney for the district of Massachusetts late last week called on the state’s district court to sentence the former co-owner of the now-defunct New England Compounding Center to 18 months of jail time for his role in the center’s quality deviations that led to more than 100 people dead from a fungal meningitis outbreak.

Gregory Conigliaro was convicted of conspiring with more than a dozen others at NECC to deceive the FDA and misrepresent the fact that the center was only dispensing drugs pursuant to patient-specific prescriptions.

FDA tells Catal­ent to fix is­sues at two man­u­fac­tur­ing sites on its own

The CDMO Catalent will have to fix issues at two manufacturing plants in the US and Europe that were subject to inspections by the FDA this summer, giving the company room to correct the issues without facing further regulatory action.

The FDA gave Catalent a “voluntary action indicated” response to two inspections at the contract manufacturer’s site in Bloomington, IN, and Brussels, Belgium. Fixing the issues on its own is a preferable outcome to facing an “official action indicated” response, meaning that an official warning would be sent out or a sit-down with the FDA would be required.

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Merck targets vaccine-hesitant parents in its latest 'Why Vaccines' campaign. (Image: Shutterstock)

Mer­ck­'s lat­est 'Why Vac­ci­nes' cam­paign seeks to bet­ter in­form vac­cine-hes­i­tant moms

From Hollywood couple endorsements to targeted equity efforts, Merck has been pushing the value of vaccinations, especially since the Covid-19 pandemic disruption. Now the pharma is turning to a new target — vaccine-hesitant parents, and moms in particular.

Merck’s “Why Vaccines” latest social media and digital campaign spotlights real-life new moms who have questions about vaccinating their children.

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