Cel­gene, Google dou­ble down on Ar­mo’s PhI­II im­muno-on­col­o­gy drug with $67M round

Pe­ter Van Vlas­se­laer

Ar­mo Bio­Sciences has lined up a big $67 mil­lion C round to pay for the late-stage de­vel­op­ment of some of its im­muno-on­col­o­gy as­sets.

Launched and built with the help of some mar­quee in­vestors like Cel­gene, Klein­er Perkins, GV (Google) and Or­biMed, Ar­mo has now at­tract­ed some ma­jor league Chi­nese VCs to its pipeline work. Qim­ing Ven­ture Part­ners led the round with help from new in­vestors Decheng Cap­i­tal, Se­quoia Cap­i­tal, Quan Cap­i­tal and RTW In­vest­ments. All the orig­i­nal back­ers came back in for the C round.

Ar­mo, based in Red­wood City, CA, has been work­ing on new ther­a­pies that prime can­cer cells for an im­mune as­sault. And it’s fol­low­ing up on its lead pro­gram with PD-1 and LAG-3 check­point ther­a­pies of their own, part of a ma­jor sec­ond wave of check­points that is now build­ing be­hind the lead ther­a­pies to hit the mar­ket.

Ar­mo post­ed Phase Ib da­ta at AS­CO and is now in a Phase III piv­otal study for pan­cre­at­ic can­cer with AM0010, with a Phase II/III set to launch for non-small cell lung can­cer and re­nal cell can­cer.

The last time I spoke with ex­ecs at the biotech in ear­ly 2016, they were con­sid­er­ing the pos­si­bil­i­ties of an IPO, but re­mained wary of mar­ket con­di­tions. Now they’ll have late-stage da­ta to of­fer in­vestors if they do piv­ot to an ini­tial of­fer­ing.

“In this ever-chang­ing field of im­muno-on­col­o­gy, the com­bi­na­tion of AM0010 with stan­dard-of-care chemother­a­py or with check­point in­hibitors may of­fer nov­el and com­pet­i­tive treat­ment op­tions to pa­tients with sev­er­al types of dif­fi­cult-to-treat ad­vanced sol­id tu­mors,” said Ar­mo CEO Pe­ter Van Vlas­se­laer. “AM0010’s ther­a­peu­tic po­ten­tial, ob­served in our ex­ten­sive phase 1/1b study with more than 350 ad­vanced can­cer pa­tients, gar­nered strong sup­port from our ex­ist­ing and sev­er­al new in­vestors. This was an over-sub­scribed fi­nanc­ing that al­lows us to fur­ther de­vel­op AR­MO’s pipeline of im­muno-on­col­o­gy agents and to con­tin­ue our mis­sion to make a last­ing change in the lives of can­cer pa­tients.”

How Pa­tients with Epilep­sy Ben­e­fit from Re­al-World Da­ta

Amanda Shields, Principal Data Scientist, Scientific Data Steward

Keith Wenzel, Senior Business Operations Director

Andy Wilson, Scientific Lead

Real-world data (RWD) has the potential to transform the drug development industry’s efforts to predict and treat seizures for patients with epilepsy. Anticipating or controlling an impending seizure can significantly increase quality of life for patients with epilepsy. However, because RWD is secondary data originally collected for other purposes, the challenge is selecting, harmonizing, and analyzing the data from multiple sources in a way that helps support patients.

$DNA is once again on NYSE; FDA clears Soliris chal­lenger for the mar­ket; Flag­ship’s think­ing big again with eR­NA; and more

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I still remember the uncertainty in the air last year when nobody was sure whether ASCO would cancel their in-person meeting. But it’s now back again for the second virtual conference, and Endpoints News is here for it. Check out our 2-day event reviewing the landscape of cancer R&D and send news our way.

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Michael Dell (Richard Drew, AP Images)

'Dude, you're get­ting a Del­l' — as a new deep-pock­et biotech in­vestor

What happens when you marry longtime insiders in the global biotech VC game with the family fund of tech billionaire Michael Dell, a synthetic biology legend out of MIT and Harvard and the former director of the NCI?

Today, the answer is a newly financed, $200 million biotech SPAC now cruising the industry for a top player interested in finding a short cut to Nasdaq.

Orion Biotech Opportunities priced their blank check company today, raising $200 million with Dell’s multibillion-dollar MSD group’s commitment on investing another $20 million in a forward-purchase agreement.

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Re­gen­eron's Evkeeza shows promise in curb­ing high triglyc­erides, but will ge­net­ic dis­par­i­ties lim­it use?

When Regeneron scored an early approval for lipid lowering antibody Evkeeza back in February, the drugmaker cracked open a new pathway to lower abnormally high cholesterol levels. Now, Regeneron is chasing high triglycerides as well with some promising mid-stage data — but will genetic restrictions limit the drug’s use?

Regeneron’s Evkeeza (evinacumab) cut median triglyceride levels by more than 800 mg/dL (57%) in patients with a rare disorder causing abnormally high triglyceride levels compared with an overall increase of 50 mg/dL (1.8%) in participants on placebo, according to Phase II data presented Sunday at the virtual American College of Cardiology meeting.

As­traZeneca's Farx­i­ga missed big on Covid-19 study, but it's tak­ing SGLT2 safe­ty da­ta as a sil­ver lin­ing

AstraZeneca hasn’t seen many setbacks in recent months for SGLT2 inhibitor Farxiga, which broke ground in heart failure and kidney disease regardless of diabetes diagnosis. But the British drugmaker had to admit defeat in taking Farxiga into Covid-19, but follow-up results add a bit of a silver lining to that trial’s safety data.

Of hospitalized Covid-19 patients dosed with AstraZeneca’s Farxiga, 11.2% experienced an organ failure or died after 30 days of therapy compared with 13.8% of those given placebo, according to follow-up data from the DARE-19 study revealed Sunday at the virtual American College of Cardiology meeting.

Vas Narasimhan (Photographer: Simon Dawson/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

No­var­tis whiffs on En­tresto study af­ter heart at­tacks — but that does­n't mean it's go­ing down qui­et­ly

If Novartis learned one thing from its interaction with the FDA over its latest heart failure approval for Entresto, it was that missing a primary endpoint may not be the nail in the coffin. Now, Entresto has missed again on a late-stage study in high-risk heart patients, and it’s already sowing the seeds for a path forward regardless.

Novartis’ Entresto couldn’t best standard-of-care ramipril in staving off a composite of deaths and heart failure events in patients with left ventricular systolic dysfunction and/or pulmonary congestion who have had a prior heart attack, according to topline data from the Phase III PARADISE-MI study revealed Saturday at the virtual American College of Cardiology meeting.

Pfiz­er, Bris­tol My­er­s' Eliquis flops in post-heart surgery pa­tients, spurring an 'un­ex­plained sig­nal' in cer­tain deaths

Pfizer and Bristol Myers Squibb’s non-warfarin blood thinner Eliquis has raced out to become the most prescribed drug of its class on the market — even overtaking warfarin’s long-time lead. But in tricky-to-treat patients after a valve replacement, an investigator-sponsored study couldn’t turn up benefit and raised a troubling safety signal.

Eliquis failed to show benefit over standard of care in preventing serious clinical outcomes after a transaortic valve replacement (TAVR) and was linked to an “unexplained signal” in a subset of populations with a higher rate of non-CV deaths who did not need blood thinners apart from the surgery, according to data presented Saturday at the virtual American College of Cardiology meeting.

Gene ther­a­py from Bio­gen's $800M buy­out flops in mid-stage study, deal­ing blow to new am­bi­tions

The #2 candidate from Biogen’s $800 million ocular gene therapy buyout has failed in a mid-stage trial, dealing an early blow to the big biotech’s plans to revitalize its pipeline with new technologies.

Biogen announced that the candidate, an experimental treatment for a rare and progressive form of blindness called X-linked retinitis pigmentosa (XLRP), failed to sufficiently improve vision in patients’ treated eye — patients only received an injection in one eye — after a year, on a standard scale, compared to their untreated eye. The company said they saw “positive trends” on several secondary endpoints, including visual acuity, but declined to say whether the trial actually hit any of those endpoints.

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Abbie Celniker (L) and Rob Sims (Flare)

A Third Rock-backed play­er charts a new course against tran­scrip­tion fac­tors. Do 'switch sites' hold the mag­ic sauce?

Long known for their role in guiding gene expression but considered “undruggable,” DNA binding transcription factors have long been a Holy Grail for drug developers. Now, a new startup from Third Rock Ventures thinks it could have the juice to get after transcription factors once and for all — and it all started with a “flare” of inspiration from an article out of an Oxford lab.

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