Ken Song (RayzeBio)

Bare­ly two months af­ter un­veil­ing a new breed of ra­dio­phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals, Rayze­Bio brings to­tal haul to $150M

Just be­fore Ver­sant and ven­Bio of­fi­cial­ly took the wraps off Rayze­Bio with $45 mil­lion in launch mon­ey, Ken Song reached out to a few oth­er in­vestors “just to give them an overview.”

He wasn’t nec­es­sar­i­ly look­ing to raise mon­ey im­me­di­ate­ly, the CEO said. Where­as the Se­ries A came to­geth­er most­ly around the con­cept of a new ra­dio­phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal com­pa­ny, Rayze­Bio now had more de­tails and progress around its pipeline to il­lus­trate just what its plat­form can do. But the group — com­pris­ing some firms that were known for their crossover and pub­lic port­fo­lios — be­came so en­thused that, bare­ly two months lat­er, he has $105 mil­lion more to work with.

The plan is still to have at least one de­vel­op­ment can­di­date by the sec­ond half of 2021 and start the first clin­i­cal tri­als with­in a year of that.

“We can now def­i­nite­ly pros­e­cute in par­al­lel all of our pro­grams with­out need­ing to make re­source al­lo­ca­tion de­ci­sions due to lack of cap­i­tal,” he told End­points News.

Deb­o­rah Charych

With 13 now on the pay­roll and more set to join, Song al­so wooed Er­ic Bischoff, a col­league from his Metacrine days, to join as SVP of de­vel­op­ment and op­er­a­tions. Gary Li, the new­ly ap­point­ed head of bi­ol­o­gy and trans­la­tion­al med­i­cine, is tasked with get­ting the com­pounds ready for IND-en­abling stud­ies. Both join Song and Deb­o­rah Charych, co-founder and chief tech­nol­o­gy of­fi­cer, on the se­nior team.

RayzBio’s pro­grams, in­clud­ing the most ad­vanced one in mid-stage lead op­ti­miza­tion, have two parts: There are the pep­tide binders for a host of sol­id tu­mor tar­gets, iden­ti­fied in screen­ing by its Japan­ese part­ners at Pep­tiDream. These are then ra­di­o­la­beled with Ac­tini­um-225 with the in­tent of send­ing the pow­er­ful ra­dioiso­tope straight, and on­ly, to can­cer cells.

The biotech’s de­ci­sion to make be­spoke binders rather than re­pur­pose mol­e­cules off-the-shelf proved ap­peal­ing to in­vestors, Song said. The VCs al­so liked that it had 7 pro­grams, some of which would be first-in-class ra­dio­phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal prod­ucts if they make it.

“Be­cause if you look at most oth­er ra­dio­phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal com­pa­nies that are out there — I’m ex­clud­ing No­var­tis, which is a large phar­ma — but if you look at pret­ty much every­one out there, most com­pa­nies are pur­su­ing maybe 1 or 2 pro­grams at most. And many of those pro­grams tend to be sort of the same tried and true tar­gets that have al­ready been pur­sued in ra­dio­phar­ma.”

A Ven­rock fund fo­cused on pub­licly held and late-stage pri­vate plays led the round, with Or­biMed, Red­mile Group, Viking Glob­al In­vestors, Lo­gos Cap­i­tal, Cor­morant As­set Man­age­ment, LifeSci Ven­ture Part­ners, Alexan­dria Ven­ture In­vest­ments and oth­ers join­ing as new in­vestors. Ver­sant and ven­Bio re­turned for more, along­side Sam­sara Bio­Cap­i­tal.

Bong Koh

Bong Koh from Ven­rock Health­care Cap­i­tal Part­ners is join­ing the board.

The new cash in­fu­sion will al­so fund an ex­pan­sion of the San Diego head­quar­ters as well as stud­ies in­to Rayze­Bio’s man­u­fac­tur­ing op­tions. Mak­ing ra­dioiso­tope-drug con­ju­gates, af­ter all, is a much dif­fer­ent process than typ­i­cal ther­a­pies, de­spite dra­mat­ic ad­vances in the abil­i­ty for ear­ly-stage de­vel­op­ers to se­cure ther­a­peu­tic ra­dioiso­topes.

For now, it’s go­ing with a cen­tral­ized mod­el re­ly­ing on key part­ners. But it could bring more of it in-house in the fu­ture — or try some­thing else.

“I would say every­thing is still on the ta­ble in terms of de­ter­min­ing what is the best man­u­fac­tur­ing strat­e­gy to take for­ward,” Song said.

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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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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Ryan Watts, Denali CEO

De­nali slips as a snap­shot of ear­ly da­ta rais­es some trou­bling ques­tions on its pi­o­neer­ing blood-brain bar­ri­er neu­ro work

Denali Therapeutics had drummed up considerable hype for their blood-brain barrier technology since launching over six years ago, hype that’s only intensified in the last 14 months following the publications of a pair of papers last spring and proof of concept data earlier this year. On Sunday, the South San Francisco-based biotech gave the biopharma world the next look at in-human data for its lead candidate in Hunter syndrome.

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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.

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.

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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