Sajith Wickramasekara, Benchling CEO

Bench­ling adds an­oth­er megaround in­to the fold, look­ing even more uni­corn-y as a pos­si­ble IPO ap­proach­es

Tout­ing its mis­sion to rev­o­lu­tion­ize R&D by bring­ing drug de­vel­op­ment in­to the cloud, Bench­ling has earned its uni­corn horn from in­vestors hun­gry for some­thing new. A new round of fi­nanc­ing will now dri­ve that eye-pop­ping val­u­a­tion even high­er.

Just sev­en months af­ter rais­ing $200 mil­lion from in­vestors in a Se­ries E, valu­ing the R&D cloud soft­ware de­vel­op­er at just over $4 bil­lion in April, Bench­ling raised $100 mil­lion in a Se­ries F round, valu­ing the com­pa­ny at a tidy $6.1 bil­lion. And this doesn’t take in­to con­sid­er­a­tion that Bench­ling was worth un­der $1 bil­lion last April, ac­cord­ing to Forbes — just af­ter the Covid-19 pan­dem­ic hit the world stage.

The round was co-led by US in­vest­ment firm Franklin Tem­ple­ton — a new in­vestor in­to Bench­ling along­side ex­ist­ing in­vestor Al­time­ter Cap­i­tal. New in­vestors Tiger Glob­al and Lone Pine Cap­i­tal joined in on the ac­tion, as well as ex­ist­ing in­vestors.

Bench­ling will use the fund­ing to con­tin­ue in­vest­ing in prod­uct de­vel­op­ment and glob­al ex­pan­sion, the com­pa­ny said in a state­ment yes­ter­day, and specif­i­cal­ly fo­cus on ex­pand­ing its pres­ence in Eu­rope, the Mid­dle East and Africa af­ter an­nounc­ing in Jan­u­ary that it opened its EMEA head­quar­ters in Zurich.

Her’e a brief re­cap of the com­pa­ny’s fi­nanc­ing rounds:

  • $7 mil­lion Se­ries A in 2016
  •  $14.5 mil­lion Se­ries B in 2018
  •  $34.5 mil­lion Se­ries C in 2019
  •  $50 mil­lion Se­ries D in May 2020
  •  $200 mil­lion Se­ries E in April

Since an­nounc­ing the Se­ries E raise, Bench­ling has ex­pand­ed — now in­clud­ing sup­port for ear­ly-stage drug de­vel­op­ment and RNA ther­a­peu­tics, adding new peo­ple to its C-suite and adding Eu­ro­pean busi­ness­es to its clien­tele, in­clud­ing Cutiss AG, Sanofi, Se­lex­is SA, and Syn­gen­ta.

Some of Bench­ling’s oth­er high-pro­file clients in­clude Gilead, Re­gen­eron and Eli Lil­ly, ac­cord­ing to Bloomberg.

And ac­cord­ing to Bench­ling’s co-founder and CEO Sajith Wick­ra­masekara, Bench­ling plans to ex­pand even more.

“With this new in­vest­ment, we’ll con­tin­ue grow­ing our teams and cus­tomer base in the US and Eu­rope,” Wick­ra­masekara said in a state­ment. “We’ll al­so keep broad­en­ing our plat­form’s ca­pa­bil­i­ties to sup­port our cus­tomers’ full prod­uct life­cy­cle, from re­search through to de­vel­op­ment and man­u­fac­tur­ing.”

At the In­flec­tion Point for the Next Gen­er­a­tion of Can­cer Im­munother­a­py

While oncology researchers have long pursued the potential of cellular immunotherapies for the treatment of cancer, it was unclear whether these therapies would ever reach patients due to the complexity of manufacturing and costs of development. Fortunately, the recent successful development and regulatory approval of chimeric antigen receptor-engineered T (CAR-T) cells have demonstrated the significant benefit of these therapies to patients.

All about Omi­cron; We need more Covid an­tivi­rals; GSK snags Pfiz­er’s vac­cine ex­ec; Janet Wood­cock’s fu­ture at FDA; and more

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Usama Malik

Ex-Im­munomedics CFO charged with in­sid­er trad­ing, faces up to 20 years in prison af­ter al­leged­ly tip­ping off girl­friend and rel­a­tives of a PhI­II suc­cess

The former CFO of Immunomedics, who helped steer the company to its $21 billion buyout by Gilead last year, has been charged with insider trading, the Department of Justice announced Thursday.

Usama Malik tipped off his then-girlfriend and four others that a Phase III study for Trodelvy would be stopped early four days before Immunomedics publicly announced the result in April 2020, DoJ alleged in its complaint. The individuals then purchased Immunomedics shares, selling them after the news broke and Immunomedics’ stock price doubled.

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Merck's new antiviral molnupiravir (Quality Stock Arts / Shutterstock)

As Omi­cron spread looms, oral an­tivi­rals ap­pear to be one of the best de­fens­es — now we just need more

After South African scientists reported a new Covid-19 variant — dubbed Omicron by the WHO — scientists became concerned about how effective vaccines and monoclonal antibodies might be against it, which has more than 30 mutations in the spike protein.

“I think it is super worrisome,” Dartmouth professor and Adagio co-founder and CEO Tillman Gerngross told Endpoints News this weekend. Moderna CEO Stéphane Bancel echoed similar concerns, telling the Financial Times that experts warned him, “This is not going to be good.”

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Radek Spisek, Sotio CEO (Cellestia)

A qui­et Czech biotech bags $315M to dri­ve its blos­som­ing can­cer pipeline through the clin­ic

In the rather insular world of biotech, most innovation inevitably comes from a cluster of R&D hubs — Cambridge, San Francisco, etc. But sometimes success stories sprout from rocky soil, which is most certainly the case with Prague-based Sotio Biotech and its suddenly jam-packed pipeline of cancer drugs.

After years in quiet development, Sotio now has $315 million in new funds to play with from parent company PPF Group, an investment group founded in the Czech Republic, as the biotech looks to advance its growing pipeline through early- and mid-stage trials.

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In­cor­po­rat­ing Ex­ter­nal Da­ta in­to Clin­i­cal Tri­als: Com­par­ing Dig­i­tal Twins to Ex­ter­nal Con­trol Arms

Most drug development professionals are familiar with the nerve-racking wait for the read-out of a large trial. If it’s negative, is the investigational therapy ineffective? Or could the failure result from an unforeseen flaw in the design or execution of the protocol, rather than a lack of efficacy? The team could spend weeks analyzing data, but a definitive answer may be elusive due to insufficient power for such analyses in the already completed trial. These problems are only made worse if the trial had lower enrollment, or higher dropout than expected due to an unanticipated event like COVID-19. And if a trial is negative, the next one is likely to be larger and more costly — if it happens at all.

Ab­b­Vie tacks on a new warn­ing to Rin­voq la­bel as safe­ty frets crimp JAK class

The safety problems that continue to plague the JAK class as new data highlight some severe side effects are casting a large shadow over AbbVie’s Rinvoq.

As a result of a recent readout highlighting major adverse cardiac events (MACE), malignancy, mortality and thrombosis with Xeljanz a couple of months ago, AbbVie put out a notice late Friday afternoon that it is adding the new class risks to its label for their rival drug.

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Biospec­i­men M&A: Dis­cov­ery ac­quires Al­bert Li's he­pa­to­cyte project; PhI­II tri­al on Bay­er's Nube­qa reached pri­ma­ry end­point

Discovery Life Sciences has acquired what claims to be the Maryland-based host of the world’s largest hepatocyte inventory, known as IVAL, to help researchers select more effective and safer drug candidates in the future.

The combined companies will now serve a wider range of drug research and development scientists, according to Albert Li, who founded IVAL in 2004 and is set to join the Discovery leadership team as the CSO of pharmacology and toxicology.

Pfiz­er, Am­gen and Janssen seek fur­ther clar­i­ty on FDA's new ben­e­fit-risk guid­ance

Three top biopharma companies are seeking more details from the FDA on how the agency conducts its benefit-risk assessments for new drugs and biologics.

While Pfizer, Amgen and Janssen praised the agency for further spelling out its thinking on the subject in a new draft guidance, including a discussion of patient experience data as part of the assessment, the companies said the FDA could’ve included more specifics in the 20-page draft document.

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