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Jim Momtazee, Patient Square Capital managing partner

KKR health­care vet Jim Mom­tazee’s in­vest­ment firm clos­es $3.9B in­au­gur­al fund

Patient Square Capital, launched in 2020 by Jim Momtazee, has closed its first fund at $3.9 billion, it announced Wednesday morning.

According to Patient Square, it is the largest fund closed by a healthcare-focused firm. Momtazee, who founded and led the healthcare group for private equity giant KKR, left in 2019 to start Patient Square as a healthcare-specific firm, investing in biopharma, devices and diagnostics, providers, and tech services.

Simba Gill, Evelo Biosciences CEO

Sim­ba Gill stay­ing on at Evelo to weath­er lay­offs and a PhII fail

Simba Gill will be staying put as CEO of Evelo Biosciences for now.

Gill announced last year that he would be leaving the head position at Evelo to take on the role of executive partner at Flagship Pioneering. He was aiming to stay on until a successor was selected, but there’s a new course of action in the wake of a Phase II miss and a reduced headcount.

“I want to emphasize that I remain personally committed to Evelo and staying on to lead the organization. I continue to believe that Evelo is a remarkable opportunity in terms of the science, the platform, the type of products that we’re able to produce, and most importantly, the potential of millions of patients suffering from all stages of inflammatory disease,” Gill said on a conference call.

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Emma Walmsley, GSK CEO (GSK Investor)

GSK drops celi­ac drug, an­ti-bac­te­r­i­al vac­cine in lat­est pipeline sweep

On a continued mission to set a high bar for its R&D group — which now gears heavily toward vaccines and specialty medicines — GSK has swept two programs out of its early- to mid-stage pipeline.

GSK reported in its latest quarterly update that it’d deleted a compound dubbed GSK3915393 from its pipeline. The compound inhibits an enzyme known as transglutaminase 2, or TG2, and the company was previously looking into its application in celiac disease.

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Up­dat­ed: No­var­tis re­jigs late-stage plans for Cosen­tyx, next-gen CAR-T, TIG­IT an­ti­body and more

Novartis has cleaned up its Phase III slate, shelving late-stage plans for programs across inflammatory diseases and cancer, the Swiss pharma giant disclosed in its quarterly update — while also putting a mid-stage Huntington’s drug to bed and switching things up for a key rare disease candidate.

The biggest change came in the decision to abandon a Phase III trial for Cosentyx, Novartis’ blockbuster IL-17A antibody, in active peripheral spondyloarthritis. It didn’t end up recruiting any of the 324 patients planned before terminating the trial earlier this month due to a “strategic decision of senior management,” according to records on clinicaltrials.gov.

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Cell ther­a­py biotech shifts fo­cus to UK, makes deep cuts to US head­count

It’s been less than two months since Instil Bio revealed it would cut 60% of its US-based staff as the biotech scrapped its lead cell therapy to focus on next-gen efforts — but execs are already going for the next round of layoffs.

In an extension of its workforce reduction, Instil Bio is shrinking its US-based team to around 15 employees who will lead global business operations. It marks a stark move for a company that’s headquartered in Dallas and previously reported leasing offices in Greater Los Angeles as well as other parts of the US, and that counted more than 450 employees around the world just over a year ago.

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No­var­tis' Xo­lair suc­ces­sor hit by an­oth­er PhI­II axe, but food al­ler­gy study con­tin­ues

Once thought to be a near shoe-in successor to Xolair, Novartis’ biologic ligelizumab hit another roadblock, with an additional Phase III scrapped, the Swiss Big Pharma confirmed to Endpoints News.

After ligelizumab failed to beat Xolair in two Phase III trials in the fall of 2021, Novartis is back with another late-stage wind-down. The drug developer terminated the 39-patient study PEARL-PROVOKE, which investigated the antibody in patients with chronic inducible urticaria (CIndU), an inflammatory skin condition in which itchy welts and/or swelling goes on for more than six weeks.

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Albert Bourla, Pfizer CEO (Markus Schreiber/AP Images)

Pfiz­er cuts eight pro­grams, in­clud­ing dwarfism drug at cen­ter of Ther­a­chon buy­out

Pfizer is culling a number of programs in its pipeline, it disclosed in an update linked to its fourth quarter earnings call Tuesday.

Among those is recifercept, a drug for a form of dwarfism called achondroplasia that was the centerpiece of Pfizer’s buyout of rare disease outfit Therachon in 2019. At the time, Pfizer paid $340 million upfront, with an additional $470 million in milestones. In its earnings presentation, Pfizer said that the drug had failed a Phase II study.

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Small Ne­bras­ka start­up hopes to chal­lenge Pfiz­er, Mer­ck in pneu­mo­coc­cal vac­cine race

A new biotech out of Lincoln, NE, launched Monday aiming to tackle what it says is an unaddressed need in the pneumococcal vaccine space.

Aeolian Biotech debuted with a promise to fill the gaps left by currently approved pneumococcal vaccines using its own shot. The company aims to accomplish this with its sole candidate, iPCV22, which was developed by former Wyeth/Pfizer researchers Jack Love and Bruce Forrest, who worked on the Prevnar project and are now Aeolian co-founders.

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Jacqueline Shea, Inovio CEO

In­ovio’s decades of shift­ing ex­tends to way­ward win­ter in pipeline, work­force thin­ning 

For more than four decades, Inovio has attempted to create medicines and vaccines for cancer and infectious disease. It’s been a long-standing battle yet to come to fruition, with another round of pipeline refining and layoffs in 2023.

The Pennsylvania biotech put out word Tuesday morning it will let go of 11% of its workers, or about two dozen people, and focus its DNA medicines development on HPV-associated diseases, with two trial readouts expected this quarter.

Credit: Shutterstock

New York City in­vests $20M in­to biotech 'in­no­va­tion space' at the Brook­lyn Navy Yard

New York City is investing $20 million in biotech this year in the form of a 50,000-square-foot “innovation space” at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, complete with offices, research laboratories and events and programming space to grow biotech startups and companies.

Mayor Eric Adams said during his State of The City Address last Thursday that there will be an “emphasis” on making more opportunities for women and people of color to further diversify the industry. The City first reported the news.