Armed with $55M in Third Rock cash, Goldfinch Bio sets out to build a kid­ney dis­ease pipeline

Three years ago, Pe­ter Mundel at Har­vard Med­ical School pub­lished an in­trigu­ing study in the New Eng­land Jour­nal of Med­i­cine that high­light­ed the promise of abat­a­cept in treat­ing a threat­en­ing kid­ney dis­ease. Like many in the field, he was look­ing for ways to adapt ex­ist­ing drugs to fight kid­ney dis­ease.

Now, though, Mundel has shut down his lab at Har­vard and joined a Third Rock start­up that is com­ing out of stealth mode to­day. But in­stead of adapt­ing old drugs for kid­ney dis­ease, the goal is to de­vel­op a pipeline of nov­el ther­a­pies, armed with new in­sights in­to the ge­net­ics of what trig­gers these ail­ments, and how they can be treat­ed.

It’s a clas­sic Third Rock mod­el. The com­pa­ny was seed­ed for months as ven­ture in­vestors drew to­geth­er a kind of who’s who in kid­ney dis­ease to ad­vise it. There’s a start­up staff of 10, which will soon grow to about 25, and some key po­si­tions are be­ing filled by Third Rock play­ers who will grad­u­al­ly hand over their jobs as the start­up builds its team. And there’s an A round of $55 mil­lion from Third Rock to get the team to some proof-of-con­cept da­ta af­ter they get in­to the clin­ic.

“Our first tar­get we think is in­volved in the main path­way dri­ving FS­GS (fo­cal seg­men­tal glomeru­loscle­ro­sis, char­ac­ter­ized by scar­ring of the kid­ney’s fil­ter­ing units),” says Third Rock part­ner Ab­bie Cel­niker, who will be tak­ing the helm on an in­ter­im ba­sis for her first CEO role as a new part­ner at Third Rock. That’s a fa­mil­iar tar­get for Mundel. And the com­pa­ny will be ex­plor­ing the broad­er set of dis­eases that FS­GS is in­volved in as it ramps up new pro­grams.

“I think its im­por­tant to rec­og­nize there has nev­er been a re­al kid­ney spe­cif­ic med­i­cine,” Mundel tells me. Kid­ney drugs are typ­i­cal­ly de­vel­oped for oth­er con­di­tions and then tried in the kid­ney. “We are re­al­ly go­ing at the root; kid­ney spe­cif­ic tar­gets com­ing out of our ge­nom­ic in­for­ma­tion.”

Mundel has joined Goldfinch as the se­nior vice pres­i­dent of bi­ol­o­gy. Jean-Christophe Har­mange is the se­nior vice pres­i­dent of drug dis­cov­ery. Clin­i­cal ge­neti­cist and Third Rock ven­ture part­ner Phil Reil­ly will serve as the com­pa­ny’s in­ter­im chief med­ical of­fi­cer. Third Rock part­ner Neil Ex­ter will serve as in­ter­im chief op­er­at­ing of­fi­cer.

“I think this is a great time to ful­fill the dream of mak­ing kid­ney spe­cif­ic drugs,” says Mundel. “And it’s great to be in this Third Rock en­vi­ron­ment.”

Paul Hudson, Sanofi CEO (Getty Images)

Sanofi CEO Paul Hud­son has $23B burn­ing a hole in his pock­et. And here are some hints on how he plans to spend that

Sanofi has reaped $11.1 billion after selling off a big chunk of its Regeneron stock at $515 a share. And now everyone on the M&A side of the business is focused on how CEO Paul Hudson plans to spend it.

After getting stung in France for some awkward politicking — suggesting the US was in the front of the line for Sanofi’s vaccines given American financial support for their work, versus little help from European powers — Hudson now has the much more popular task of managing a major cash cache to pull off something in the order of a big bolt-on. Or two.

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The Avance Clinical leadership team: CEO Yvonne Lungershausen, Sandrien Louwaars - Director Business Development Operations, Gabriel Kremmidiotis - Chief Scientific Officer, Ben Edwards - Chief Strategy Officer

How Aus­tralia De­liv­ers Rapid Start-up and 43.5% Re­bate for Ear­ly Phase On­col­o­gy Tri­als

About Avance Clinical

Avance Clinical is an Australian owned Contract Research Organisation that has been providing high-quality clinical research services to the local and international drug development industry for 20 years. They specialise in working with biotech companies to execute Phase 1 and Phase 2 clinical trials to deliver high-quality outcomes fit for global regulatory standards.

As oncology sponsors look internationally to speed-up trials after unprecedented COVID-19 suspensions and delays, Australia, which has led the world in minimizing the pandemic’s impact, stands out as an attractive destination for early phase trials. This in combination with the streamlined regulatory system and the financial benefits including a very favourable exchange rate and the R & D cash rebate makes Australia the perfect location for accelerating biotech clinical programs.

As­traZeneca trum­pets the good da­ta they found for Tagris­so in an ad­ju­vant set­ting for NSCLC — but many of the ex­perts aren’t cheer­ing along

AstraZeneca is rolling out the big guns this evening to provide a salute to their ADAURA data on Tagrisso at ASCO.

Cancer R&D chief José Baselga calls the disease-free survival data for their drug in an adjuvant setting of early stage, epidermal growth factor receptor-mutated NSCLC patients following surgery “momentous.” Roy Herbst, the principal investigator out of Yale, calls it “transformative.”

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Pablo Legorreta, founder and CEO of Royalty Pharma AG, speaks at the annual Milken Institute Global Conference in Beverly Hills, California (Patrick T. Fallon/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Cap­i­tal­iz­ing Pablo: The world’s biggest drug roy­al­ty buy­er is go­ing pub­lic. And the low-key CEO di­vulges a few se­crets along the way

Pablo Legorreta is one of the most influential players in biopharma you likely never heard of.

Over the last 24 years, Legorreta’s Royalty Pharma group has become, by its own reckoning, the biggest buyer of drug royalties in the world. The CEO and founder has bought up a stake in a lengthy list of the world’s biggest drug franchises, spending $18 billion in the process — $2.2 billion last year alone. And he’s become one of the best-paid execs in the industry, reaping $28 million from the cash flow last year while reserving 20% of the cash flow, less expenses, for himself.

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Dan O'Day, Gilead CEO (Andrew Harnik, AP Images)

UP­DAT­ED: Gilead leas­es part­ner rights to TIG­IT, PD-1 in a $2B deal with Ar­cus. Now comes the hard part

Gilead CEO Dan O’Day has brokered his way to a PD-1 and lined up a front row seat in the TIGIT arena, inking a deal worth close to $2 billion to align the big biotech closely with Terry Rosen’s Arcus. And $375 million of that comes upfront, with cash for the buy-in plus equity, along with $400 million for R&D and $1.22 billion in reserve to cover opt-in payments and milestones..

Hotly rumored for weeks, the 2 players have formalized a 10-year alliance that starts with rights to the PD-1, zimberelimab. O’Day also has first dibs on TIGIT and 2 other leading programs, agreeing to an opt-in fee ranging from $200 million to $275 million on each. There’s $500 million in potential TIGIT milestones on US regulatory events — likely capped by an approval — if Gilead partners on it and the stars align on the data. And there’s another $150 million opt-in payments for the rest of the Arcus pipeline.

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No­var­tis jumps in­to Covid-19 vac­cine hunt, as Big Phar­ma and big biotech com­mit to bil­lions of dos­es

After spending most of the pandemic on the sidelines, Novartis is offering its aid in the race to develop a Covid-19 vaccine.

AveXis, the Swiss pharma’s gene therapy subsidiary, has agreed to manufacture the vaccine being developed by Massachusetts Eye and Ear and Massachusetts General Hospital. The biotech will begin manufacturing this month, while the vaccine undergoes further preclinical testing. They’ve agreed to provide the vaccine for free for clinical trials beginning in the second half of 2020, but have not disclosed financials for after.

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Bryan Roberts, Venrock

Ven­rock sur­vey shows grow­ing recog­ni­tion of coro­n­avirus toll, wan­ing con­fi­dence in ar­rival of vac­cines and treat­ments

When Venrock partner Bryan Roberts went to check the results from their annual survey of healthcare leaders, what he found was an imprint of the pandemic’s slow arrival in America.

The venture firm had sent their form out to hundreds of insurance and health tech executives, investors, officials and academics on February 24 and gave them two weeks to fill it out. No Americans had died at that point but the coronavirus had become enough of a global crisis that they included two questions about the virus, including “Total U.S. deaths in 2020 from the novel coronavirus will be:”.

Roger Perlmutter, Merck R&D chief (YouTube)

UP­DAT­ED: Backed by BAR­DA, Mer­ck jumps in­to Covid-19: buy­ing out a vac­cine, part­ner­ing on an­oth­er and adding an­tivi­ral to the mix

Merck execs are making a triple play in a sudden leap into the R&D campaign against Covid-19. And they have more BARDA cash backing them up on the move.

Tuesday morning the pharma giant simultaneously announced plans to buy an Austrian biotech that has been working on a preclinical vaccine candidate, added a collaboration on another vaccine with the nonprofit IAVI and inked a deal with Ridgeback Biotherapeutics on an early-stage antiviral.

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Stymied by the pan­dem­ic, Im­munomedic­s' new CEO bows out, tak­ing a mil­lion bucks plus perks as he heads out the vir­tu­al ex­it

Just a little more than a month since taking over as the latest CEO to helm Immunomedics, $IMMU Harout Semerjian is exiting the company after being confronted by “logistical” obstacles thrown up by the pandemic that made it impossible for him to move from London to carry out the job. And he’s getting a little over a million dollars in cash plus perks to grease the skids on the way out.

Word of the changeup arrived right after the market closed Wednesday.

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