Ar­ti­zan com­pletes mi­cro­bio­me starter pack­age with Brii deal, CSO hire and some mon­ey to dash for the clin­ic

Three years af­ter giv­ing a syn­op­sis of its mi­cro­bio­me play with some seed fund­ing from Ma­lin and Hat­teras Ven­ture Part­ners, Ar­ti­zan is rais­ing the cur­tain on their first act in in­flam­ma­to­ry bow­el dis­ease.

James Rosen Ar­ti­zan

Armed with $12 mil­lion in to­tal Se­ries A cash, a part­ner­ship with Chi­na’ Brii Bio and a new CSO hire, the New Haven, CT-based biotech is ready to hun­ker down for some pre­clin­i­cal work. Mean­while, CEO James Rosen tells me he will be get­ting to work rais­ing a Se­ries B in­tend­ed to fund clin­i­cal op­er­a­tions.

Yale im­muno­bi­ol­o­gy pro­fes­sor Richard Flavell and two col­lab­o­ra­tors pi­o­neered a new way to iden­ti­fy dis­ease-caus­ing bac­te­ria by scan­ning for an an­ti­body coat­ing called im­muno­glo­bin A (IgA). That was 2014.

“The coat­ing is our body’s at­tempt to neu­tral­ize the bac­te­ria,” Flavell said in 2014. “It binds to the bad bac­te­ria. We on­ly make these IgA re­spons­es to a lim­it­ed num­ber of or­gan­isms.”

It’s a more ef­fi­cient ap­proach than the tra­di­tion­al method of screen­ing for harm­ful bac­te­ria, which typ­i­cal­ly in­volves com­par­ing vast amounts of se­quenc­ing da­ta be­tween healthy and sick in­di­vid­u­als.

Richard Flavell Ar­ti­zan

Ze­ro­ing on the mi­crobes to tar­get, though, is on­ly the first step. Ar­ti­zan is look­ing in­to a num­ber of ways to get rid of them, from small mol­e­cules and an­ti­bod­ies to a ther­a­peu­tic vac­cine that could help the im­mune sys­tem mount a more po­tent at­tack.

Un­like some well-known play­ers in the mi­cro­bio­me field such as Seres and Finch, “we’re very specif­i­cal­ly not bugs as drugs,” Rosen said.

That opens up a broad range of po­ten­tial ap­pli­ca­tions for Ar­ti­zan’s plat­form, he said, as man­i­fest­ed in Brii’s de­ci­sion to col­lab­o­rate on up to three pro­grams. Brii — a $260 mil­lion pow­er biotech play spear­head­ed by GSK vet Zhi Hong — will pick up Chi­na de­vel­op­ment and com­mer­cial­iza­tion once Ar­ti­zan pro­duces proof-of-con­cept in the next cou­ple of years.

The deal comes with an undis­closed set of up­front, mile­stone and roy­al­ty pay­ments in ad­di­tion to a ven­ture in­vest­ment, plac­ing Brii in a syn­di­cate that in­cludes John­son & John­son De­vel­op­ment In­no­va­tion – JJDC, Os­age Uni­ver­si­ty Part­ners and Elm Street Ven­tures.

Paul Miller Syn­log­ic

Co­or­di­nat­ing the whole re­search ef­fort from dis­cov­ery to drug de­vel­op­ment and join­ing the 11-per­son team would be Paul Miller, the new chief sci­en­tif­ic of­fi­cer. Miller, a sea­soned ex­ec groomed in As­traZeneca and Pfiz­er, jumps from Syn­log­ic, which spe­cial­izes in reengi­neer­ing bac­te­ria in­to ther­a­peu­tics.

“It’s an ex­cit­ing time to join Ar­ti­zan’s ef­forts to ad­dress the un­met treat­ment need in IBD, a dis­ease that af­fects more than 1.6 mil­lion Amer­i­cans,” Miller said in a state­ment.

Novartis CEO Vas Narasimhan [via Bloomberg/Getty]

I’m not per­fect: No­var­tis chief Vas Narasimhan al­most apol­o­gizes in the wake of a new cri­sis

Vas Narasimhan has warily stepped up with what might pass as something close to a borderline apology for the latest scandal to engulf Novartis.

But he couldn’t quite get there.

Endpoints News

Basic subscription required

Unlock this story instantly and join 57,500+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

Levi Garraway. Broad Institute via Youtube

Roche raids Eli Lil­ly for its next chief med­ical of­fi­cer as San­dra Horn­ing plans to step down

We found out Monday morning where Levi Garraway was headed after he left Eli Lilly as head of oncology R&D a few days ago. Roche named Garraway as their new chief medical officer, replacing Sandra Horning, who they say is retiring from the company.

Endpoints News

Basic subscription required

Unlock this story instantly and join 57,500+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

Af­ter a posse of Wall Street an­a­lysts pre­dict a like­ly new win for Sarep­ta, we're down to the wire on a crit­i­cal FDA de­ci­sion

As Bloomberg notes, most of the Wall Street analysts that cover Sarepta $SRPT are an upbeat bunch, ready to cheer on the team when it comes to their Duchenne MD drugs, or offer explanations when an odd setback occurs — as happened recently with a safety signal that was ‘erroneously’ reported last week.

Ritu Baral Cowen
Endpoints News

Basic subscription required

Unlock this story instantly and join 57,500+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

Saqib Islam. CheckRare via YouTube

Spring­Works seeks $115M to push Pfiz­er drugs across fin­ish line while Sat­suma sells mi­graine play in $86M IPO

SpringWorks and Satsuma — both biotech spinouts that have closed B rounds in April — are loading up with IPO cash to boost their respective late-stage plans.
SpringWorks

Bain-backed SpringWorks is the better-known company of the two, and it’s gunning for a larger windfall of $115 million to add to $228 million from previous financings. In the process, the Stamford, CT-based team is also drawing the curtains on the partnerships it has in mind for the pair of assets it had initially licensed from Pfizer.

Mi­nor­i­ty racial groups con­tin­ue to be dis­mal­ly rep­re­sent­ed in can­cer tri­als — study

Data reveal that different racial and ethnic groups — by nature and/or nurture — can respond differently in terms of pharmacokinetics, efficacy, or safety to therapeutics, but this disparity is not necessarily accounted for in clinical trials. A fresh analysis of the last decade of US cancer drug approvals suggests the trend continues, cementing previous research that suggests oncology trials are woefully under-representative of the racial makeup of the real world.

Van­da shares slide af­ter FDA spurns their big end­point and re­jects a pitch on jet lag re­lief

Back in the spring of last year, Vanda Pharmaceuticals $VNDA served up a hot stew of mixed data for a slate of endpoints related to what they called clear evidence that their melatonin sleep drug Hetlioz (tasimelteon) could help millions of travelers suffering from jet lag.

Never mind that they couldn’t get a planned 90 people in the study, settling for 25 instead; Vanda CEO Mihael H. Polymeropoulos said they were building on a body of data to prove it would help jet-lagged patients looking for added sleep benefits. And that, they added, would be worth a major upgrade from the agency as they sought to tackle a big market.

Jim Mellon [via YouTube]

Health­i­er, longer lifes­pans will be a re­al­i­ty soon­er than you think, Ju­ve­nes­cence promis­es as it clos­es $100M round

Earlier this year, an executive from Juvenescence-backed AgeX predicted the field of longevity will eventually “dwarf the dotcom boom.” Greg Bailey, the UK-based anti-aging biotech’s CEO, certainly hopes so.

On Monday, Juvenescence completed its $100 million Series B round of financing. The company is backed by British billionaire Jim Mellon — who wrote his 400-page guide to investing in the field of longevity shortly after launching the company in 2017. Bailey, who served as a board director for seven years at Medivation before Pfizer swallowed the biotech for $14 billion, is joined by Declan Doogan, an industry veteran with stints at Pfizer $PFE and Amarin $AMRN.

AveX­is sci­en­tif­ic founder was axed — and No­var­tis names a new CSO in wake of an ethics scan­dal

Now at the center of a storm of controversy over its decision to keep its knowledge of manipulated data hidden from regulators during an FDA review, Novartis CEO Vas Narasimhan has found a longtime veteran in the ranks to head the scientific work underway at AveXis, where the incident occurred. And the scientific founder has hit the exit.

Endpoints News

Basic subscription required

Unlock this story instantly and join 57,500+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

Ab­b­Vie gets its FDA OK for JAK in­hibitor upadac­i­tinib, but don’t look for this one to hit ex­ecs’ lofty ex­pec­ta­tions

Another big drug approval came through on Friday afternoon as the FDA OK’d AbbVie’s upadacitinib — an oral JAK1 inhibitor that is hitting the rheumatoid arthritis market with a black box warning of serious malignancies, infections and thrombosis reflecting fears associated with the class.

It will be sold as Rinvoq — at a wholesale price of $59,000 a year — and will likely soon face competition from a drug that AbbVie once controlled, and spurned. Reuters reports that a 4-week supply of Humira, by comparison, is $5,174, adding up to about $67,000 a year.