Matthew Roden, Aktis Oncology CEO (MPM Capital)

Are ra­dio­phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals ready for the main­stream? No­var­tis, Bris­tol My­ers Squibb bet yes on MP­M's plat­form take

Bri­an Good­man, Patrick Baeuer­le and Todd Fo­ley weren’t ex­act­ly look­ing to start a ra­dio­phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals com­pa­ny.

Rather, the team at MPM Cap­i­tal — which had been known for its will­ing­ness to seed and in­cu­bate new ideas for bat­tling can­cer — was search­ing for tech­nolo­gies that could con­fer “CAR-T like ef­fi­ca­cy” in sol­id tu­mors. They went through an­ti­body-drug con­ju­gates, cell ther­a­pies and T cell en­gagers but very quick­ly got hooked on some­thing else: al­pha emit­ting par­ti­cles.

It was 2019, and in­ter­est in the space was bub­bling as No­var­tis claimed a lead with the ac­qui­si­tion of both Ad­vanced Ac­cel­er­a­tor Ap­pli­ca­tions and En­do­cyte while small­er play­ers like Fu­sion Phar­ma and Clo­vis were an­gling for en­try. Specif­i­cal­ly, the MPM VCs had their eyes on al­pha emit­ting par­ti­cles: a pay­load that’s 1,000 times as po­tent as the be­ta emit­ters used in cur­rent­ly ap­proved ra­dio­ther­a­pies.

The time seemed ripe for ra­dio­phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals to be­come more main­stream, they de­cid­ed, with mon­ey be­ing poured in­to all steps of the val­ue chain, in­clud­ing sup­pli­ers of ra­dioiso­topes and con­tract man­u­fac­tur­ers. But there is a need for a new kind of phar­ma­col­o­gy — find­ing the right mol­e­cules that would take the ra­dioiso­topes where they need to be and keep them there. And that’s pre­cise­ly their goal with Ak­tis On­col­o­gy, which was for­mal­ized in 2020 and is now tak­ing the wraps off a $72 mil­lion launch round.

“We’re not alone,” said Matthew Ro­den, CEO of Ak­tis and ex­ec­u­tive part­ner at MPM. “There’s an ecosys­tem be­ing built at the mo­ment that’s go­ing to en­able the suc­cess of this field go­ing for­ward.”

Like Rayze­Bio — the Ver­sant- and ven­Bio-backed start­up that’s sim­i­lar­ly promis­ing a new breed of ra­dio­phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals — Ak­tis (the Greek root for ac­tini­um, the el­e­ment they’d be turn­ing to for the al­pha-emit­ting par­ti­cles) is keen about be­com­ing a plat­form play. Ro­den, an alum­nus of Bris­tol My­ers Squibb’s strat­e­gy unit who took up the post at the biotech soon af­ter join­ing MPM last sum­mer, is care­ful not to spill too many beans. But he is more ready to di­vulge what drew him to the project among oth­er port­fo­lio com­pa­nies he could’ve cho­sen from.

“There’s re­al­ly no good re­sis­tance mech­a­nism to al­pha emis­sions,” he told End­points News. “Al­pha par­ti­cles are ba­si­cal­ly a he­li­um atom that is dis­charged that cre­ates dou­ble strand breaks in DNA.”

Com­bined with the po­ten­cy, that means ra­dio­ther­a­pies can work with few­er con­straints and po­ten­tial­ly ad­dress tar­gets that es­cape oth­er modal­i­ties: You don’t need a thresh­old of anti­gen ex­pres­sion, or in­ter­nal­iza­tion, or im­mune cell ac­tiv­i­ty.

Plus, since you can the­o­ret­i­cal­ly swap out imag­ing iso­topes with ther­a­peu­tic iso­topes with ease, Ak­tis en­vi­sions a straight­for­ward path to the clin­ic once they can show — with the help of those imag­ing agents — dense ac­cu­mu­la­tion of the drug around the tu­mor but nowhere else.

Hav­ing looked at “count­less class­es of mol­e­cules,” Ro­den not­ed that Ak­tis’ in­ter­nal crew of 10 has worked with col­lab­o­ra­tors, ad­vi­sors and con­sul­tants (we’re go­ing to have to wait to find out who they are) to build a cou­ple of screen­ing plat­forms in par­al­lel to iden­ti­fy com­pounds to hit their se­lect­ed tar­gets. The com­pa­ny is head­quar­tered in Cam­bridge, MA with labs in Re­search Tri­an­gle Park, NC.

No­var­tis and Bris­tol My­ers Squibb are both back­ing the hunt, join­ing EcoR1 Cap­i­tal, Vi­da Ven­tures, Oc­ta­gon Cap­i­tal and TCG Crossover on the Se­ries A syn­di­cate.

Paul Feld­man, a Glax­o­SmithK­line vet who pre­vi­ous­ly co-found­ed a pep­tide-fo­cused com­pa­ny, is com­ing on board as CSO while Good­man from MPM is dou­bling as head of op­er­a­tions and cor­po­rate de­vel­op­ment.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

No stranger to gene ther­a­py woes, Astel­las runs in­to an­oth­er safe­ty-re­lat­ed clin­i­cal hold

Astellas Pharma, which has been at the forefront of uncovering the risks associated with gene therapies delivered by adeno-associated viruses, must take another safety alarm head-on.

The FDA has slapped a clinical hold on Astellas’ Phase I/II trial of a gene therapy candidate for late-onset Pompe disease, after investigators flagged a serious case of peripheral sensory neuropathy.

It marks the latest in a streak of setbacks Astellas has encountered since making a splashy entry into the gene therapy space with its $3 billion buyout of Audentes. But the lead program, AT132 for the treatment of X-linked myotubular myopathy (XLMTM), had to be halted more than once after a total of four patients died in the trial — and the scientific community still doesn’t have all the answers of what caused the deaths.

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.