Bain leads big $70M round as Aptinyx plunges deep­er in­to NM­DA work

Two years af­ter Aptinyx spun out of Nau­rex in the wake of Al­ler­gan’s $560 mil­lion buy­out, the biotech is much fur­ther along in the pipeline than your av­er­age fledg­ling. It just tacked on a hefty $70 mil­lion B round to beef up the work and dri­ve deep­er to­ward a piv­otal phase of de­vel­op­ment. And the new kid on the VC block, Bain Cap­i­tal Life Sci­ences, jumped out to lead the round, with man­ag­ing di­rec­tor Adam Kop­pel join­ing the board.

Nor­bert Riedel

The biotech didn’t ex­act­ly have to have that kind of mon­ey right now, says CEO Nor­bert Riedel, but when you’re look­ing to keep your op­tions open for every even­tu­al­i­ty — in­clud­ing a po­ten­tial IPO — a mez­za­nine round like this can make a lot of sense.

“We de­cid­ed to do this round to re­main in a re­al­ly, re­al­ly strong po­si­tion,” says Riedel, who’s stayed in touch pe­ri­od­i­cal­ly as he ex­plores find­ing just the right way to mod­u­late NM­DA re­cep­tors for a va­ri­ety of dis­eases.

Al­ler­gan bagged the group’s work on de­pres­sion, avid to leap in­to a late-stage study with an NM­DA drug that’s promi­nent in their Phase III pipeline. And Al­ler­gan was fine with leav­ing the rest of Nau­rex’s ex­per­i­men­tal work in the hands of the team that had brought it along. The break­away biotech is still fo­cused on NM­DA, but the lead pro­gram for NYX-2925 is in a Phase II for neu­ropa­thy pain with some ex­plorato­ry work un­der­way in fi­bromyal­gia. Next there’s a Phase I for NYX-783 in PTSD and a pre­clin­i­cal pro­gram mov­ing to­ward its first hu­man study.

“Now we can con­tin­ue to de­vel­op our pipeline un­til the end of 2019, about 2 years,” says the CEO. And that should give them time to col­lect Phase II da­ta on the two lead drugs and make some key de­ci­sions about when to launch Phase III, if all goes ac­cord­ing to plan.

Adam Kop­pel

Bain was a good fit for the lead on this round, which at­tract­ed a big group of in­vestors fol­low­ing the $65 mil­lion launch round. Ricky Sun played a big part in this, right along with Kop­pel. Both are Bio­gen vets, notes Riedel, and no strangers to CNS re­search.

Why not do an IPO now, with the win­dow open?

Riedel isn’t ex­clud­ing that op­tion for 2018, but he felt now was the right time to make sure the com­pa­ny was well fi­nanced. Part­ner­ships, IPOs and fur­ther fi­nanc­ings can all be stud­ied at a mea­sured pace.

“I think we’re in no rush,” Kop­pel tells me. “This is one we’re go­ing to be pa­tient with.”

What does Kop­pel see as his main role?

Play­ing a key role in com­mu­ni­cat­ing with the crossovers and pub­lic in­vestors dur­ing a tran­si­tion to fo­cus on the “longterm in­vestor with fun­da­men­tal val­ue cre­ation, not just the next step.”

If the time is right for an IPO in late 2018 or ear­ly 2019, they may go for it, he says. In the mean­time, he counts him­self as a big fan of Riedel and the whole team at Aptinyx.

Here’s the rest of the syn­di­cate:

New in­vestors with Bain in­clude Adage Cap­i­tal, Agent Cap­i­tal, HBM Health­care In­vest­ments, Nan Fung Life Sci­ences, Part­ner Fund Man­age­ment, and Rock Springs Cap­i­tal. Ex­ist­ing in­vestors al­so par­tic­i­pat­ed in the Se­ries B round, in­clud­ing New Leaf Ven­ture Part­ners, Fra­zier Health­care Part­ners, Lon­gi­tude Cap­i­tal, Os­age Uni­ver­si­ty Part­ners, Adams Street Part­ners, LVP Life Sci­ence Ven­tures, Patho­Cap­i­tal, Goudy Park Cap­i­tal, Beeck­en Pet­ty O’Keefe & Com­pa­ny, and North­west­ern Uni­ver­si­ty.


Vas Narasimhan (Photographer: Jason Alden/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

No­var­tis de­tails plans to axe 8,000 staffers as Narasimhan be­gins sec­ond phase of a glob­al re­org

We now know the number of jobs coming under the axe at Novartis, and it isn’t small.

The pharma giant is confirming a report from Swiss newspaper Tages-Anzeiger that it is chopping 8,000 jobs out of its 108,000 global staffers. A large segment will hit right at company headquarters in Basel, as CEO Vas Narasimhan axes some 1,400 of a little more than 11,000  jobs in Switzerland.

The first phase of the work is almost done, the company says in a statement to Endpoints News. Now it’s on to phase two. In the statement, Novartis says:

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Bob Nelsen (Lyell)

As bear mar­ket con­tin­ues to beat down biotech, ARCH clos­es a $3B ear­ly-stage fund

One of the biggest names in biotech investing has a whole lot of new money to spend.

ARCH Venture Partners closed its 12th venture fund early Wednesday morning, the firm said, bringing in almost $3 billion to invest in early-stage biotechs. The move comes about a year and a half after ARCH announced its previous fund, for almost $2 billion back in January 2021.

In a statement, ARCH managing director and co-founder Bob Nelsen appeared to brush off concerns about the broader market troubles, alluding to the downturn that’s seen several biotechs downsize and the XBI fall back to almost pre-pandemic levels.

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Sanofi to cut in­sulin prices for unin­sured from $99 to $35, match­ing the in­sulin cap com­ing through Con­gress

As the House-passed bill to cap the monthly price of insulin at $35 nationwide makes its way for a Senate vote soon, Sanofi announced Wednesday morning that beginning next month it will cut the monthly price of its insulins for uninsured Americans to $35, down from $99 previously.

The announcement from Sanofi, which allows the uninsured to buy one or multiple Sanofi insulins (Lantus, Insulin Glargine U-100, Toujeo, Admelog, and Apidra) at $35 for a 30-day supply effective July 1, follows House passage (232-193) of the monthly cap in March, with just 12 Republicans voting in favor of the measure.

Shehnaaz Suliman, ReCode Therapeutics CEO (Photo by Jennifer Leahy)

Pfiz­er, Sanofi-backed LNP out­fit goes back to the well and draws $120M for its trek to the clin­ic

A preclinical biotech touting a five-lipid drug delivery platform is looking to break out of its preclinical mold, and it just secured a sizable raise to do just that.

ReCode Therapeutics reported Wednesday morning that Leaps by Bayer and Matrix Capital Management affiliate AyurMaya co-led a Series B extension round, adding $120 million to the biotech’s previous Series B haul of $80 million. The biotech has been backed by several players in Big Pharma, notably Pfizer and Sanofi from its original Series B close last fall. And in this extension — featuring all new investors, CEO Shehnaaz Suliman tells Endpoints News — Amgen’s VC arm jumped on board.

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Lina Gugucheva, NewAmsterdam Pharma CBO

Phar­ma group bets up to $1B-plus on the PhI­II res­ur­rec­tion of a once dead-and-buried LDL drug

Close to 5 years after then-Amgen R&D chief Sean Harper tamped the last spade of dirt on the last broadly focused CETP cholesterol drug — burying their $300 million upfront and the few remaining hopes for the class with it — the therapy has been fully resurrected. And today, the NewAmsterdam Pharma crew that did the Lazarus treatment on obicetrapib is taking another big step on the comeback trail with a €1 billion-plus regional licensing deal, complete with close to $150 million in upfront cash.

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How pre­pared is bio­phar­ma for the cy­ber dooms­day?

One of the largest cyberattacks in history happened on a Friday, Eric Perakslis distinctly remembers.

Perakslis, who was head of Takeda’s R&D Data Sciences Institute and visiting faculty at Harvard Medical School at the time, had spent that morning completing a review on cybersecurity for the British Medical Journal. Moments after he turned it in, he heard back from the editor: “Have you heard what’s going on right now?”

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Hank Safferstein, Generian CEO

Astel­las sub­sidiary to part­ner with Pitts­burgh up­start in search for 'un­drug­gable' pro­teins

As Astellas continues its drive to build out its gene therapy portfolio and capabilities, a subsidiary of the Japanese pharma company has entered into a collaboration with a little-known Pittsburgh biotech.

Astellas-owned Mitobridge and Generian Pharmaceuticals announced on Wednesday that they will work together in a new deal for “undruggable” protein targets. Generian will net an undisclosed upfront payment and could get up to $180 million in milestones, should anything from its platform prove successful, as well as single-digit royalties on global net sales.

Adam Simpson, Icosavax CEO

Reel­ing from Covid flop, Icosavax says its RSV can­di­date passed ear­ly test. But in­vestors need some more con­vinc­ing

Three months separated from a disappointing readout of its Covid-19 vaccine, Icosavax is back with what it calls positive topline data for a different VLP vaccine candidate — although investors aren’t impressed.

IVX-121, a vaccine candidate for respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), appeared to generate “robust” immune responses among both young and older adults, as measured by neutralizing antibodies, and appeared generally well-tolerated, Icosavax reported.

Eliot Charles, MiroBio executive chairman

Ox­ford spin­out nabs al­most $100M in new cash to test PD-1 in au­toim­mune dis­eases and hunt for a CEO

After about 15 years in an Oxford lab and three more years in the upstart world following a 2019 spinout, MiroBio is ready to enter UK clinical trials and, en route to the clinic, the biotech has picked up $97 million in Series B funds.

The £80 million financing round kicked off in earnest last September and includes a transatlantic consortium — led by Medicxi — ready to bankroll that first clinical trial, beginning “imminently,” as well as the debut study of a second program thereafter, executive chair Eliot Charles, an SR One venture partner, told Endpoints News.