Startups channel feed

All of the news, delivered with full-text to your inbox. For professionals discovering, developing, and marketing biopharmaceutical drugs.

Subscribe to Endpoints News

The hu­man el­e­ment: A biotech up­start hopes to carve a path around faulty an­i­mal mod­els

It’s been a rough few years for lab mice in the literature. Report after report scapegoated science’s furry subjects for the piling number of drugs that fail the clinic. A Science study proposed building a new “wildling” lab mouse. A well-covered Nature paper indicated the differences between mice and human brains were responsible for billions of dead-ended Alzheimer research dollars. One Translational Medicine review cited the success rate of translating cancer drugs at 8% and another concluded that “even if the next several decades were spent improving the internal and external validity of animal models, the clinical relevance of those models would, in the end, only improve to some extent.” [italics theirs]

Al­lievex launch­es with Pap­pas cash and rare dis­ease drug from Bio­Marin

In July 2015, BioMarin began a series of trials for a drug targeting a rare and fatal childhood disease that had remained virtually unchanged since its 1963 discovery. Now, with their lead candidate entering Phase II, they’re handing it off to a new company out of Pappas Capital: Allievex.

Backed by Pappas and Novo Holdings, Allievex will tackle Sanfilippo Syndrome type B, a lysosomal neurological condition for which no treatment exists. Allievex CEO Thomas Mathers indicated to Endpoints News that the new company would broadly focus on childhood conditions but begin with Sanfilippo and the BioMarin treatment:

Christine Bunt, Robert Langer. Verseau

Armed with Langer tech and $50M, Verseau hails new check­point drugs un­leash­ing macrophages against can­cer

The rising popularity of CD47 has propelled the “don’t-eat-me” signal to household name status in the immuno-oncology world: By blocking that protein, the theory goes, one can stop cancer cells from fooling macrophages. But just as PD-(L)1 merely represents the most fruitful of all checkpoints regulating T cells, Verseau Therapeutics is convinced that CD47 is one of many regulators one can modulate to stir up or tame the immune system.

Sean Parker, AP

Sean Park­er helps cre­ate a CRISPRed cell ther­a­py 2.0 play — and he’s got a high-pro­file set of lead­ers on the team

You can rack up one more high-profile debut effort in the wave of activity forming around cell therapy 2.0. It’s another appealing Bay Area group that’s attracted some of the top hands in the business to a multi-year effort to create a breakthrough. And they have $85 million in hand to make that first big step to the clinic.

Today it’s Ken Drazan and the team at South San Francisco-based ArsenalBio that are coming from behind the curtain for a public bow, backed by billionaire Sean Parker and a collection of investors that includes Beth Seidenberg’s new venture investment operation based in LA.
Drazan — a J&J Innovation vet with a long record of entrepreneurial endeavors — exited the stage in 2018 when his last mission ended as he stepped aside as president of Grail. It wasn’t long, though, before he was helping out with a business plan for ArsenalBio that revolved around the work of a large group of interconnected scientists supported by the Parker Institute for Cancer Immunology.

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 65,800+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

Swamy Vijayan. Plexium

San Diego up­start de­buts dis­cov­ery en­gine that puts a twist to pro­tein degra­da­tion

For years, the idea of protein degradation — utilizing the cell’s natural garbage disposal system to mark problematic proteins for destruction — remained an elegant but technically difficult concept. But now established as a promising clinical strategy, with major biopharma players such as Bayer, Gilead and Vertex trying to grab a foothold via partnership deals, a San Diego startup is looking to exploit it and push its limits.

Cyteir nets $40M for rad syn­thet­ic lethal­i­ty plat­form — throw­ing an­oth­er mon­key wrench at cell re­pair

A cell is like a speedboat, says Cyteir Therapeutics founder Markus Renschler. When all parts are sound — the hull fortified, the engine steady — it’s smooth sailing. But you could go faster. You could drill a hole in the front, and sure you’d be in greater danger but you’d be gliding. At that point, though, a hole in the back would be deadly.

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 65,800+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

Boehringer In­gel­heim-backed Aba­los toss­es hat in­to packed on­colyt­ic virus ring

Arenaviruses. They’re small, they’re packed with tiny stolen ribosomes that resemble grains of sand, they’re responsible for 300,000 to 500,000 human infections in West Africa each year, and, if a new German biotech has their way, they are going to one day treat tumors.

Abalos Therapeutics launched today with $12 million in funding to develop arenaviruses it hopes can be used in immunotherapy for cancer. The funding was co-led by Boehringer Ingelheim Venture Fund (BIVF) and Gruenderfonds Ruhr, with participation from NRW.BANK and High-Tech Gruenderfonds (HTGF).

Pearl Huang. Cygnal

'We're ripe': Cyg­nal draws the cur­tain on Flag­ship's lat­est bet on ex­oneur­al bi­ol­o­gy — and $65M in cash

No matter how many times one’s heard Flagship Pioneering’s ideation process described, there always seems to be an element of evolutionary wonder: bold, new concepts that are “several standard deviations away from what is known,” put through a rigorous vetting process first aimed at trying to kill the idea, and only the fittest survive.

That’s perhaps why Pearl Huang found its latest creation, Cygnal Therapeutics, and its focus on the peripheral nervous system “irresistibly attractive.” While Huang’s appointment as CEO back in January was well-publicized, Cygnal is just spelling out the details on its platform today, with $65 million — mostly from Flagship — to boast.

Ness Bermingham. Korro Bio

Ness Berming­ham looks to lead the wave of RNA edit­ing at new At­las up­start Ko­r­ro Bio

By the time Ness Bermingham left Intellia in late 2017, the gene-editing biotech had secured its footing as one of the pioneers in the CRISPR/Cas9 space with a highly anticipated first-in-human trial in the works. Returning to his VC post at Atlas Venture, he signaled that he was looking to do it all over again with the next big startup idea.

And now he’s ready to talk about that venture, which represents the latest evolution of his longstanding interest in tinkering with the genome — RNA editing.

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 65,800+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

Richard Cornall, Eliot Charles, Simon Davis. MiroBio

An­ti­body re­search grad­u­ates from a top Ox­ford lab in­to the biotech world — with $34M to fund R&D work

For the past 15 years the University of Oxford’s Simon Davis has been mapping the surface of T cells, exploring and examining the structures of surface proteins while determining what it takes to manage specific immune cell signaling. And now a group of UK investors says its ready to advance that research toward the clinic, inside a new biotech vehicle they’re setting up to take the tech into the commercial sphere.