Backed by Or­biMed and J&J to build pre­ci­sion bac­te­ria-killing tool, Bio­mX adds a slate of in­vestors in $32M Se­ries B

When it comes to tin­ker­ing with the mul­ti­tude of bac­te­ria re­sid­ing in our bod­ies for dis­ease treat­ment, an­tibi­otics has been the go-to for elim­i­nat­ing bad ones while the bur­geon­ing crop of mi­cro­bio­me biotechs aim to add “good” mi­crobes to the mix. But a Weiz­mann In­sti­tute spin­out work­ing out of the Kendall Square of Is­rael is chart­ing a path be­tween those two ap­proach­es with the clin­i­cal stop in sight.

Jonathan Solomon

Bio­mX’s pre­ci­sion tool, which uti­lizes a cus­tomized con­coc­tion of phages to kill spe­cif­ic bac­te­ria as­so­ci­at­ed with dis­ease, has won the back­ing of Or­biMed, J&J and Take­da Ven­tures, among oth­ers, since its ear­ly days. Two years lat­er, the syn­di­cate is com­ing back for more, with a siz­able group of new in­vestors tag­ging along for a $32 mil­lion round as the biotech be­gins test­ing its phage cock­tails in ac­ne and in­flam­ma­to­ry bow­el dis­ease.

Hav­ing nailed down the phage ther­a­py — a top­i­cal gel — for ac­ne and cross-checked the tar­gets with sam­ples from hun­dreds of pa­tients, Bio­mX’s 60-per­son team is look­ing to gath­er some proof-of-mech­a­nism da­ta by the end of the year, CEO Jonathan Solomon tells me.

Ad­di­tion­al­ly, they are cook­ing up treat­ments for can­cer and liv­er dis­ease that should fol­low in the clin­ic soon af­ter the IBD pro­gram al­so be­gins hu­man test­ing in 2020. The grow­ing body of sci­en­tif­ic work elu­ci­dat­ing links of bac­te­ria like He­li­cobac­ter py­lori and Fu­sobac­teri­um nu­clea­tum to gas­tric and col­orec­tal can­cers has dri­ven in­vestors’ in­ter­est in Bio­mX, he says.

“We’re bet­ting that there’s more and more cas­es like that,” he adds, where they could find spe­cif­ic bac­te­ria dri­ving dis­ease and have a pre­ci­sion tool ready “just to take out what we think is the cul­prit.”

As­saf Oron

Down the line, their ap­proach might lend it­self to com­bi­na­tion reg­i­mens where they can team up with oth­er mi­cro­bio­me drugs to add good, pro­tec­tive bac­te­ria af­ter tak­ing out the bad ones. But they would pre­fer to prove one thing at a time.

Bio­mX is al­so work­ing with key in­vestor J&J on bio­mark­er de­vel­op­ment, us­ing the gut mi­cro­bio­me to iden­ti­fy re­spon­ders for one of the phar­ma gi­ant’s key IBD drugs, chief busi­ness of­fi­cer As­saf Oron says.

New back­ers for the round — many of which have been look­ing at the com­pa­ny for a while, ac­cord­ing to Solomon — in­clude RM Glob­al Part­ners, Chong Kun Dang Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal, Han­dok, KB In­vest­ment and Con­sen­sus Busi­ness Group. Ex­ist­ing in­vestors 8VC, Mi­rae­As­set, Sev­en­ture Part­ners and SBI Japan-Is­rael In­no­va­tion Fund al­so joined in.

A fa­vorite in Alex­ion’s C-suite is leav­ing, and some mighty sur­prised an­a­lysts aren’t the least bit hap­py about it

Analysts hate to lose a biotech CFO they’ve come to trust and admire — especially if they’re being blindsided by a surprise exit.

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David Grainger [file photo]

'Dis­con­nect the bas­tard­s' — one biotech's plan to break can­cer cell­s' uni­fied de­fens­es

Chemotherapy and radiotherapy are the current gladiators of cancer treatment, but they come with well-known limitations and side-effects. The emergence of immunotherapy — a ferocious new titan in oncologist’s toolbox — takes the brakes off the immune system to kill cancer cells with remarkable success in some cases, but the approach is not always effective. What makes certain forms of cancer so resilient? Scientists may have finally pieced together a tantalizing piece of the puzzle, and a new biotech is banking on a new approach to fill the gap.

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While No­var­tis ban­ish­es Zol­gens­ma scan­dal scars — Bio­gen goes on a Spin­raza 'of­fen­sive'

While Novartis painstakingly works to mop up the stench of the data manipulation scandal associated with its expensive gene therapy for spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) Zolgensma— rival Biogen is attempting to expand the use of its SMA therapy, Spinraza. 

The US drugmaker $BIIB secured US approval for Spinraza for use in the often fatal genetic disease in 2016. The approval covered a broad range of patients with infantile-onset (most likely to develop Type 1) SMA. 

Jason Kelly. Mike Blake/Reuters via Adobe

Eye­ing big ther­a­peu­tic push, Gink­go bags $290M to build a cell pro­gram­ming em­pire

Ginkgo Bioworks is on a roll. Days after publicizing a plan to nurture new startups via partnerships with accelerators Y Combinator and Petri, the Boston biotech says it has raised another $290 million for its cell programming platform to reach further and wider.

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UP­DAT­ED: Speak­er Nan­cy Pelosi to un­veil bill for fed­er­al­ly ne­go­ti­at­ed drug prices

After months of buzz from both sides of the aisle, Speaker Nancy Pelosi will today introduce her plan to allow the federal government to negotiate prices for 250 prescription drugs, setting up a showdown with a pharmaceutical industry working overtime to prevent it.

The need to limit drug prices is a rare point of agreement between President Trump and Democrats, although the president has yet to comment on the proposal and will likely face pressure to back a more conservative option or no bill at all. Republican Senator Chuck Grassley is reportedly lobbying his fellow party members on a more modest proposal he negotiated with Democratic Senator Ron Wyden in July.

Jeff Kindler's Cen­trex­ion re­news bid to make pub­lic de­but

Jeffrey Kindler’s plan to take his biotech — which is developing a slate of non-opioid painkillers — public, is back on.

The Boston based company, led by former Pfizer $PFE chief Kindler, originally contemplated a $70 million to $80 million IPO last year— but eventually postponed that strategy. On Wednesday, the company revived its bid to make a public debut in a filing with the SEC — although no pricing details were disclosed.

Zachary Hornby. Boundless

'A fourth rev­o­lu­tion in can­cer ther­a­pies': ARCH-backed Bound­less Bio flash­es big check, makes big­ger promis­es in de­but

It was the cellular equivalent of opening your car door and finding an active, roaring engine in the driver seat.

Scientists learned strands of DNA could occasionally appear outside of its traditional home in the nucleus in the 1970s, when they appeared as little, innocuous circles on microscopes; inexplicable but apparently innate. But not until UC San Diego’s Paul Mischel published his first study in Science in 2014 did researchers realize these circles were not only active but potentially overactive and driving some cancer tumors’ superhuman growth.

It’s fi­nal­ly over: Bio­gen, Ei­sai scrap big Alzheimer’s PhI­I­Is af­ter a pre­dictable BACE cat­a­stro­phe rais­es safe­ty fears

Months after analysts and investors called on Biogen and Eisai to scrap their BACE drug for Alzheimer’s and move on in the wake of a string of late-stage failures and rising safety fears, the partners have called it quits. And they said they were dropping the drug — elenbecestat — after the independent monitoring board raised concerns about…safety.

We don’t know exactly what researchers found in this latest catastrophe, but the companies noted in their release that investigators had determined that the drug was flunking the risk/benefit analysis.

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Mer­ck helps bankroll new part­ner Themis' game plan to fin­ish the chikun­gun­ya race and be­gin on­colyt­ic virus quest

As Themis gears up for a Phase III trial of its chikungunya vaccine, the Vienna-based biotech has closed out €40 million ($44 million) to foot the clinical and manufacturing bills.

Its heavyweight partners at Merck — which signed a pact around a mysterious “blockbuster indication” last month — jumped into the Series D, led by new investors Farallon Capital and Hadean Ventures. Adjuvant Capital also joined, as did current investors Global Health Investment Fund, aws Gruenderfonds, Omnes Capital, Ventech and Wellington Partners Life Sciences.