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.

Ugur Sahin, BioNTech CEO (Bernd von Jutrczenka/dpa via AP Images)

BioN­Tech is spear­head­ing an mR­NA vac­cine de­vel­op­ment pro­gram for malar­ia, with a tech trans­fer planned for Africa

Flush with the success of its mRNA Covid-19 vaccine, BioNTech is now gearing up for one of the biggest challenges in vaccine development — which comes without potential profit.

The German mRNA pioneer says it plans to work on a jab for malaria, then transfer the tech to the African continent, where it will work with partners on developing the manufacturing ops needed to make this and other vaccines.

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How one start­up fore­told the neu­ro­science re­nais­sance af­ter '50 years of shit­show'

In the past couple of years, something curious has happened: Pharma and VC dollars started gushing into neuroscience research.

Biogen’s controversial new Alzheimer’s drug Aduhelm has been approved on the basis of removing amyloid plaque from the brain, but the new neuro-focused pharma and biotechs have much loftier aims. Significantly curbing or even curing the most notorious disorders would prove the Holy Grail for a complex system that has tied the world’s best drug developers in knots for decades.

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Why is On­col­o­gy Drug De­vel­op­ment Re­search Late to the Dig­i­tal Bio­mark­ers Game?

During the recent Annual ASCO Meeting, thousands of cancer researchers and clinicians from across the globe joined together virtually to present and discuss the latest findings and breakthroughs in cancer research and care. There were more than 5000+ scientific abstracts presented during this event, yet only a handful involved the use of motion-tracking wearables to collect digital measures relating to activity, sleep, mobility, functional status, and/or quality of life. Although these results were a bit disappointing, they should come as no surprise to those of us in the wearable technology field.

Bob Bradway, Amgen CEO (Scott Eisen/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Am­gen bel­lies back up to the M&A ta­ble for an­oth­er biotech buy­out, this time with a $2.5B deal for an an­ti­body play­er fo­cused on PS­MA

Five months after Amgen CEO Bob Bradway stepped up to the M&A table and acquired Five Prime for $1.9 billion, following up with the smaller Rodeo acquisition, he’s gone back in for another biotech buyout.

This time around, Amgen is paying $900 million cash while committing up to $1.6 billion in milestones to bag the privately held Teneobio, an antibody drug developer that has expertise in developing new bispecifics and multispecifics. In addition, Amgen cited Teneobio’s “T-cell engager platform, which expands on Amgen’s existing leadership position in bispecific T-cell engagers by providing a differentiated, but complementary, approach to Amgen’s current BiTE platform.”

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Art Levinson (Calico)

Google-backed Cal­i­co dou­bles down on an­ti-ag­ing R&D pact with Ab­b­Vie as part­ners ante up $1B, start to de­tail drug tar­gets

Seven years after striking up a major R&D alliance, AbbVie and Google-backed anti-aging specialist Calico are doubling down on their work with a joint, $1 billion commitment to continuing their work together. And they’re also beginning to offer some details on where this project is taking them in the clinic.

According to their statement, each of the two players is putting up $500 million more to keep the labs humming.

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Andrea Pfeifer, AC Immune CEO (AC Immune)

Look­ing to repli­cate Covid-19 suc­cess in neu­ro, BioN­Tech back­ers bet on AC Im­mune and its new­ly-ac­quired Parkin­son's vac­cine

The German billionaires behind BioNTech have found a new vaccine project to back.

Through their family office Athos Service, twin brothers Thomas and Andreas Strüngmann are leading a $25 million private placement into Switzerland’s AC Immune — which concurrently announced that it’s shelling out $58.7 million worth of stock to acquire Affiris’ portfolio of therapies targeting alpha-synuclein, including a vaccine candidate, for Parkinson’s disease.

Rajiv Shukla, Constellation Alpha Holdings

Can­del gets busy IPO week mov­ing with down­sized raise as Ra­jiv Shuk­la's third SPAC goes pub­lic

Editor’s note: Interested in following biopharma’s fast-paced IPO market? You can bookmark our IPO Tracker here.

In a week that’s expected to see several biotechs price their IPOs, Candel Therapeutics got things kicked off Tuesday with a muted opener.

The company helmed by former GlaxoSmithKline vet Paul Peter Tak made its way to Nasdaq thanks to a $72 million raise, which was downsized by about 15% than originally anticipated, according to Renaissance Capital. Candel priced at $8 per share after initially seeking to launch in the $13 to $15 range.

Busi­ness­es and schools can man­date the use of Covid-19 vac­cines un­der EUAs, DOJ says

As public and private companies stare down the reality of the Delta variant, many are now requiring that their employees or students be vaccinated against Covid-19 prior to attending school or to returning or starting a new job. Claims that such mandates are illegal or cannot be used for vaccines under emergency use authorizations have now been dismissed.

Setting the record straight, the Department of Justice on Monday called the mandates legal in a new memo, even when used for people with vaccines that remain subject to EUAs.

Gerry Brunk (Lumira)

What will Lu­mi­ra Ven­tures do with $220M? Stay out of the com­fort zone and off the beat­en biotech path

Lumira Ventures closed its largest fund on Monday, raking in $220 million to pump into the life sciences — but instead of targeting biotech hubs like San Francisco and Boston, the company is rolling the dice on “underserved geographies” in the US and Canada.

“We find oftentimes companies located in places like Montreal, or Fort Lauderdale, FL, or Kansas City or Phoenix, AZ just have more capital efficiency and better valuations, without having to compromise anything at all in the quality of the innovation and the management talent,” co-founder and managing partner Gerry Brunk told Endpoints News.