At­las Ven­ture vows to keep do­ing well by do­ing good with its new, $350M biotech fund

One of the most promi­nent biotech in­cu­ba­tors in the ven­ture busi­ness has launched a new $350 mil­lion fund to help fu­el a new wave of star­tups. At­las Ven­ture part­ners say that they plan to con­tin­ue to be guid­ed by their mot­to and mis­sion: do­ing well by do­ing good.

Bruce Booth

Based in Kendall Square, the group in­cludes some well-known vet­er­ans. They in­clude Jean-François Formela, Ja­son Rhodes, Bruce Booth, and David Grayzel. Kevin Bit­ter­man was re­cent­ly wooed in from Po­laris, an­oth­er start­up spe­cial­ist. And with the de­but of Fund XI, Pe­ter Bar­rett will tran­si­tion to a ven­ture part­ner role.

Do­ing good:

Some­times, At­las likes to join in with a syn­di­cate to match a big play, like the high-fly­ing launch of Ma­gen­ta, run by GSK vet Ja­son Gard­ner. The part­ners are known for groom­ing tal­ent. But they love noth­ing bet­ter than go­ing with the pros that have made them mon­ey, as Michael Gilman knows af­ter two ear­li­er com­pa­nies were bought up. Gilman told me re­cent­ly that he’s been work­ing with the At­las crowd on an­oth­er start­up af­ter launch­ing Ar­rakis with a ven­ture round led by Canaan.

Jean-Fran­cois Formela

Do­ing well:

More than any­thing, the crew at At­las love a big score with a great mul­ti­ple. So when Cel­gene came along ear­li­er in the year with a $775 mil­lion buy­out deal for Delinia just months af­ter its de­but (with $300 mil­lion in cash on the ta­ble), they were ready to sign off.

Said At­las part­ner Jean-François Formela:

The deep sup­port shown by lim­it­ed part­ners who have in­vest­ed along­side us for mul­ti­ple funds, as well as by those that are join­ing us for the first time, is a strong val­i­da­tion of our mod­el.

Paul Hudson, Getty Images

UP­DAT­ED: Sanofi CEO Hud­son lays out new R&D fo­cus — chop­ping di­a­betes, car­dio and slash­ing $2B-plus costs in sur­gi­cal dis­sec­tion

Earlier on Monday, new Sanofi CEO Paul Hudson baited the hook on his upcoming strategy presentation Tuesday with a tell-tale deal to buy Synthorx for $2.5 billion. That fits squarely with hints that he’s pointing the company to a bigger future in oncology, which also squares with a major industry tilt.

In a big reveal later in the day, though, Hudson offered a slate of stunners on his plans to surgically dissect and reassemble the portfoloio, saying that the company is dropping cardio and diabetes research — which covers two of its biggest franchise arenas. Sanofi missed the boat on developing new diabetes drugs, and now it’s pulling out entirely. As part of the pullback, it’s dropping efpeglenatide, their once-weekly GLP-1 injection for diabetes.

“To be out of cardiovascular and diabetes is not easy for a company like ours with an incredibly proud history,” Hudson said on a call with reporters, according to the Wall Street Journal. “As tough a choice as that is, we’re making that choice.”

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De­vel­op­ment of the Next Gen­er­a­tion NKG2D CAR T-cell Man­u­fac­tur­ing Process

Celyad’s view on developing and delivering a CAR T-cell therapy with multi-tumor specificity combined with cell manufacturing success
Transitioning potential therapeutic assets from academia into the commercial environment is an exercise that is largely underappreciated by stakeholders, except for drug developers themselves. The promise of preclinical or early clinical results drives enthusiasm, but the pragmatic delivery of a therapy outside of small, local testing is most often a major challenge for drug developers especially, including among other things, the manufacturing challenges that surround the production of just-in-time and personalized autologous cell therapy products.

What does $6.9B buy these days in on­col­o­gy R&D? As­traZeneca has a land­mark an­swer

Given the way the FDA has been whisking through new drug approvals months ahead of their PDUFA date, AstraZeneca and their partners Daiichi Sankyo may not have to wait until Q2 of next year to get a green light on trastuzumab deruxtecan (DS-8201).

The pharma giant this morning played their ace in the hole, showing off why they were willing to commit to a $6.9 billion deal — with $1.35 billion in a cash upfront — to partner on the drug.

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Seat­tle Ge­net­ics de­tails pos­i­tive OS and PFS da­ta for tu­ca­tinib in breast can­cer

Seattle Genetics $SGEN is showing off more positive data around tucatinib, its pivotal-stage drug for HER2 positive breast cancer.

A month after hearing about solidly upbeat hazard ratios, we learned today that the estimated progression-free survival rate at one year was 33% in the tucatinib arm compared to 12% for patients taking trastuzumab and capecitabine alone.

Median PFS was 7.8 months (95% CI: 7.5, 9.6) in the tucatinib arm, compared to 5.6 months (95% CI: 4.2, 7.1) in the control arm.

Bat­tered, cash hun­gry In­tec feels the burn of No­var­tis re­jec­tion

It’s a case of some bad timing for Intec.

Just when a key trial testing the company’s Accordion drug delivery tech imploded in Parkinson’s disease, they handed Novartis data from a successful PK study of a custom Accordion pill engineered to deliver a Novartis compound to entice the Swiss drugmaker into signing a licensing agreement.

Novartis said thanks, but no thanks.

For the cash-strapped Israeli drug developer, the failure to clinch the deal marks a big blow. As of the third quarter, the company has $15.7 million in cash and equivalents, which HC Wainwright analysts estimate will keep the lights on into mid-2020.

Bris­tol-My­ers shows off a low-pro­file AML con­tender it gained from Cel­gene buy­out — and they’re tak­ing it straight to the FDA

Bristol-Myers Squibb reaped an enormous pipeline with its much-criticized $64 billion megadeal to buy Celgene. And it got a few hidden gems in the deal.

One of those gems was brought out for display on Tuesday, with a late-breaker at ASH on CC-486, which is now being prepped for regulatory filings at the FDA and elsewhere.

Celgene top-lined the positive results in a maintenance setting for acute myeloid leukemia a few months ago, but at ASH investigators pulled back the curtains on the all-important data they believe will give them an advantage in the commercial wars to come.

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De­sert­ed by Astel­las and Mer­ck, lit­tle Cor­re­vio still can't win over FDA pan­el con­cerned with its AFib drug's safe­ty

When the FDA spurned Astellas’ pitch for atrial fibrillation drug vernakalant in 2008, regulators made it abundantly clear that it wasn’t the efficacy they had a problem with — two Phase III trials had shown the drug successfully restored 52% of patients’ heartbeat from irregular to normal — but the cardio safety issues for a drug that was to compete with well established, low-risk options. One licensing deal, one clinical hold and several studies later, the chances of approval aren’t looking any better.

Ste­fan Fraenkel takes over as chief of In­cep­tua Group; Christi Shaw has a plan to make Yescar­ta safer

→ After its subsidiary Inceptua Medicines Access inked a deal with Onconova Therapeutics to make available intravenous rigosertib via a pre-approval access program in selected countries across the world, Inceptua Group has tapped Stefan Fraenkel to head the company’s operations as CEO. Fraenkel, currently EVP of the company’s business unit Inceptua Pharma, will succeed Alan Raffensperger — who is moving to the position of executive vice-chairman of the group. Fraenkel joined the company in 2017 and holds experience from his previous roles at Wyeth Pharmaceuticals and Sobi.

New trade deal knocks out long-sought patent pro­tec­tions for drug­mak­ers

House Democrats negotiating with the Trump Administration on a new North American trade deal settled early on four issues: enforcement, labor and environmental standards and drug pricing.

On drug pricing, Politico reports, Trump crumbled within weeks of heightened negotiations.

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