Adendra CEO Raj Mehta and scientific co-founder Caetano Reis e Sousa

Ap­ple Tree Part­ners leaps across the pond to launch a UK biotech look­ing to crack the se­crets of den­drit­ic cells

Once large­ly a mys­tery to re­searchers, the far-flung realm of cells in the im­mune sys­tem has emerged as a fruit­ful sand­box for drug de­vel­op­ers. A new UK biotech is lean­ing on re­search in­to the grow­ing role of den­drit­ic cells in spurring im­mune re­spons­es, and US ven­ture firm Ap­ple Tree Part­ners is bankrolling its ear­ly ef­forts.

Lon­don-based Aden­dra Ther­a­peu­tics launched Tues­day with $53 mil­lion from found­ing in­vestor ATP and re­search out of the Fran­cis Crick In­sti­tute look­ing to lever­age new in­sights in­to how den­drit­ic cells sic preda­to­ry T cells on­to tu­mors — and their role in dri­ving au­toim­mune dis­ease.

Lever­ag­ing re­search out of the lab of Cae­tano Reis e Sousa, Aden­dra starts life with cut­ting-edge re­search in­to den­drit­ic cells un­der its belt and a hefty pay­check to boot.

Reis e Sousa, who helped kick­start the com­pa­ny as sci­en­tif­ic co-founder, point­ed to den­drit­ic cells’ dual role in both tak­ing pieces of for­eign bod­ies and pre­sent­ing them to T cells for iden­ti­fi­ca­tion but al­so act­ing as T cells’ “on-off” switch. New­er re­search has al­so point­ed to those cells’ role in “goad­ing” pro­longed T cell ac­ti­va­tion, which means den­drit­ic cells not on­ly turn T cells on or off but al­so tell them how long to en­gage their tar­get.

“It’s not just about trig­ger­ing it but al­so about con­tin­u­ing to push the re­sponse for­ward,” he told End­points News. “That is im­por­tant par­tic­u­lar­ly in the con­text of au­toim­mu­ni­ty when you ac­tu­al­ly want to in­ter­rupt that cy­cle. You can think of it as a ther­a­peu­tic tar­get where you can ef­fec­tive­ly try and block these pos­i­tive sig­nals com­ing from the den­drit­ic cells, there­by break­ing the cy­cle that is lead­ing to con­tin­u­al ac­ti­va­tion of those T cells.”

With that po­ten­tial in mind, ATP and en­tre­pre­neur-in-res­i­dence Raj Mehta, now in­ter­im CEO, ap­proached Reis e Sousa about the po­ten­tial for a biotech start­up, with Mehta say­ing the wide-rang­ing po­ten­tial for the plat­form caught the ven­ture firm’s eye.

“We sat down to­geth­er about a year ago and said, this is an in­ter­est­ing area of bi­ol­o­gy, we want to learn more about how we can trans­late the re­search and work to­geth­er to set up the com­pa­ny,” Mehta said.

Aden­dra, of course, isn’t the on­ly biotech pur­su­ing break­throughs in den­drit­ic cell bi­ol­o­gy, a hot area for drug de­vel­op­ment giv­en those cells’ key reg­u­la­to­ry role in the im­mune sys­tem. BioN­Tech, for in­stance, is work­ing on us­ing mR­NA to help present tar­get­ed anti­gens in den­drit­ic cells — sim­i­lar to the way its Pfiz­er-part­nered Covid-19 vac­cine works.

Now emerged from stealth, Aden­dra is work­ing on build­ing out a pipeline with eyes on a range of ther­a­peu­tic modal­i­ties a pos­si­bil­i­ty, Mehta said. The one thing Mehta de­fin­i­tive­ly said Aden­dra would not pur­sue is cell ther­a­py.

In an un­usu­al work­ing arrange­ment, Aden­dra’s ac­tu­al cor­po­rate team will be a bare-bones op­er­a­tion in the short term, with re­search han­dled by sci­en­tists un­der Reis e Sousa at Fran­cis Crick. Mehta will look to bring on a full-time CEO to head the com­pa­ny’s next phase with­in the next two years as well as hire ex­pe­ri­enced ex­ec­u­tives to take the com­pa­ny for­ward.

Raymond Stevens, Structure Therapeutics CEO

Be­hind Fri­day's $161M IPO: A star sci­en­tist, GPCR drug dis­cov­ery and a plan to chal­lenge phar­ma in di­a­betes

What does it take to pull off a $161 million biotech IPO these days?

In Structure Therapeutics’ case, it means having a star scientist co-founder paired with the computational drug discovery company Schrödinger, $198 million in private funding from blue-chip investors, almost six years of research work on G protein-coupled receptors and a slate of oral, small-molecule drugs, with an eye on the huge and growing diabetes and weight-loss market.

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 158,500+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) (Francis Chung/E&E News/Politico via AP Images)

In­fla­tion re­bates in­com­ing: Wyden calls on CMS to move quick­ly as No­var­tis CEO pledges re­ver­sal

Senate Finance Chair Ron Wyden (D-OR) this week sent a letter to the head of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services seeking an update on how and when new inflation-linked rebates will take effect for drugs that see major price spikes.

The newly signed Inflation Reduction Act requires manufacturers to pay a rebate to Medicare when they increase drug prices faster than the rate of inflation.

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 158,500+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

Uğur Şahin, BioNTech CEO (Andreas Arnold/picture-alliance/dpa/AP Images)

BioN­Tech opens new plas­mid DNA man­u­fac­tur­ing fa­cil­i­ty in Ger­many

German mRNA player BioNTech opened the doors to a new manufacturing facility on Thursday, this one just about 75 miles north of its headquarters in Mainz, Germany.

BioNTech announced on Thursday that it has completed the construction of its first plasmid DNA manufacturing facility in Marburg, Germany. The facility will produce materials for mRNA-based vaccines and therapies along with cell therapies.

Teresa Graham, incoming Roche Pharmaceuticals CEO

In­com­ing Roche CEO builds out his top team, tap­ping Genen­tech vet to lead phar­ma di­vi­sion

Roche announced another leadership shuffle Thursday morning – the head of global product strategy, Teresa Graham, will take over as CEO of Roche Pharmaceuticals in March while the company’s corporate executive committee will make a spot for Levi Garraway, CMO and executive VP of global product development.

Thomas Schinecker will take over the top spot as Roche group CEO in March, leaving his spot as head of diagnostics.

David Kirn, 4D Molecular Therapeutics CEO (via website)

FDA places hold on 4D Mol­e­c­u­lar’s Fab­ry gene ther­a­py

4D Molecular Therapeutics quietly tucked an FDA clinical hold on its Fabry gene therapy into an SEC filing.

Meanwhile, the biotech issued a press release the same day after the closing bell on Thursday touting an IND for another asset, in diabetic macular edema.

The California biotech had paused enrollment of patients in its two trials of the Fabry gene therapy (4D-310) last month after three patients experienced kidney issues, all of which were resolved within four weeks. At the time, 4DMT said it would wait until the second half of this year to look at 12-month clinical data on six patients in the Phase I/II trials, one in the US and one in Taiwan and Australia.

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 158,500+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

Trodelvy notch­es a win in most com­mon form of breast can­cer

Following a promise last year to go “big and fast in breast cancer,” Gilead has secured a win for Trodelvy in the most common form.

The drug was approved to treat HR-positive, HER2-negative breast cancer patients who’ve already received endocrine-based therapy and at least two other systemic therapies for metastatic cancer, Gilead announced on Friday.

Trodelvy won its first indication in metastatic triple-negative breast cancer back in 2020, and has since added urothelial cancer to the list. HR-positive HER2-negative breast cancer accounts for roughly 70% of new breast cancer cases worldwide per year, according to senior VP of oncology clinical development Bill Grossman, and many patients develop resistance to endocrine-based therapies or worsen on chemotherapy.

Af­ter 13 years, Ramy Mah­moud steps in­to CEO seat at Opti­nose; Ru­pert Vessey set to ex­it Bris­tol My­ers in Ju­ly

After 13 years as president and COO at Optinose, Ramy Mahmoud has stepped into a new role as its CEO. He is taking the place of Peter Miller, who stepped down earlier this week, though Miller is still staying with the company as a consultant.

In 2010, the two business partners joined Optinose to take it in a new direction, transforming it from a delivery platform to product company. They previously worked together at Johnson & Johnson, when Miller was president at Janssen and Mahmoud headed medical affairs. Miller said after he learned about Optinose, “I did what I always do, which is find people smarter than me to talk with about the idea. And the first person I called was Ramy … and I said, ‘Hey, Ramy, what do you think of this technology?’”

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 158,500+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

Te­va drops out of in­dus­try trade group PhRMA

Following in AbbVie’s footsteps, Teva confirmed on Friday that it’s dropping out of the industry trade group Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA).

Teva didn’t give a reason for its decision to leave, saying only in a statement to Endpoints News that it annually reviews “effectiveness and value of engagements, consultants and memberships to ensure our investments are properly seated.”

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 158,500+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

Sanofi CFO Jean-Baptiste de Chatillon (L) and CEO Paul Hudson (Romuald Meigneux/Sipa via AP Images)

Sanofi sees downtick in flu sales as it preps for launch of RSV an­ti­body

Sanofi expects its RSV antibody jointly developed with AstraZeneca will be available next season, executive VP of vaccines Thomas Triomphe announced on the company’s quarterly call.

Beyfortus, also known as nirsevimab, was approved in the EU back in November and is currently under FDA review with an expected decision coming in the third quarter of this year. The news comes as the FDA plans to hold advisory committee meetings over the next couple months to review RSV vaccines from Pfizer and GSK.