Startups channel feed

Kate Yen, Auron Therapeutics founder and CEO

Armed with a $48M Se­ries A, Au­ron is look­ing to ap­ply ma­chine learn­ing in can­cer treat­ment

The hype of machine learning has managed to bag serious cash from investors over the past year, and the latest biotech to enter the foray is looking to apply it to cancer.

Massachusetts-based Auron Therapeutics focuses on therapies that target dysregulated cells that can lead to tumors and cancer.

According to Auron CEO and founder Kate Yen, the biotech is developing therapies that target disrupted cellular differentiation. To do that it has built a proprietary machine learning and computational platform dubbed AURigin. The platform allows it to integrate multi omics data sets from both normal human tissue and tumor samples to help identify pathways that are critical for both normal cellular differentiation and then how those pathways have been hijacked by tumor cells.

BigHat Biosciences CSO Peyton Greenside and CEO Mark DePristo

'Not in to­day's mar­ket': As Am­gen, Bris­tol My­ers back an­ti­body start­up BigHat, bear mar­ket keeps IPO win­dow shut tight

A private antibody startup is pulling in some new cash to continue advancing its discovery-stage programs, recruiting some big backers in the process. But in contrast to the IPO bonanza from mid-2020 to late-2021, the company won’t be jumping to Nasdaq anytime soon, emphatically rejecting the idea of going public during the current bear market.

BigHat Biosciences put together a $75 million Series B to push forward five pre-IND drug candidates, the company announced Wednesday morning. The raise extends the company’s runway by about two and a half years, CEO Mark DePristo tells Endpoints News, but the challenges the bear market presents will likely preclude an IPO in that timeframe.

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Mark Pruzanski, Versanis Bio CEO

Ex­clu­sive: Mark Pruzan­s­ki is once again reach­ing for the brass ring in biotech

Mark Pruzanski spent more than 18 years growing Intercept from a startup to a commercial player looking for a landmark approval treating NASH. But 19 months after he stepped aside from his wounded biotech — after a CRL crushed its initial game plan for NASH — the longtime vet is getting up off the biotech board bench and getting back in the game, once again quarterbacking a startup that has some very familiar grand ambitions.

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Kevin Parker, Cartography Biosciences co-founder and CEO

In bid to avoid im­munother­a­py tox­i­c­i­ties, Car­tog­ra­phy charts a course to­ward modal­i­ty-ag­nos­tic drugs

In the early days of the Covid-19 pandemic, Kevin Parker was wrapping up his PhD work on regenerative medicine and stem cell biology at Stanford. By the end of 2020, he was setting up a new biotech to squash toxicity issues with immunotherapies by charting an atlas of antigens that might point to more precise targets.

Parker and his co-founders — Stanford professors Howard Chang and Ansu Satpathy, a faculty fellow at Carolyn Bertozzi’s ChEM-H institute  — secured seed financing in 2020 from Andreessen Horowitz and have now lined up a $57 million Series A, marking the unveiling of the Foster City, CA-based biotech. Parker tells Endpoints News the Series A was raised at the end of 2021 and will likely bring the startup toward the clinic, with a Series B needed to translate preclinical work into human studies.

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Rob Lin, Avista Therapeutics CEO

Fol­low­ing Lux­tur­na and slate of eye dis­ease ap­provals, Roche adds an­oth­er oph­thal­mol­o­gy part­ner for AAV gene ther­a­pies

Roche’s ophthalmology ambitions have grown steadily in recent years with two eye disease approvals in the past year and the acquisition of Spark and its Luxturna gene therapy in 2019, and the Big Pharma is doubling down in the space with another gene therapy tie-up.

Instead of Philadelphia, Roche has headed to Pittsburgh for this deal, linking arms with a University of Pittsburgh Medical Center spinout developing new AAV gene therapy vectors that the biotech’s CEO hopes will address limitations of existing treatments, including Luxturna. The deal also adds to Roche’s deep ophthalmology pipeline, which includes late-stage work attempting to secure more indications for recently approved Susvimo and Vabysmo.

YourChoice Therapeutics CEO Akash Bakshi (left) and CSO Nadja Mannowetz

Ex­clu­sive: Af­ter Covid piv­ot, biotech nabs funds to be first in the clin­ic with a non-hor­mon­al con­tra­cep­tive for men

The goal was to create a non-hormonal contraceptive that women could take to prevent pregnancy and potentially STIs, but the Covid-19 pandemic caused YourChoice Therapeutics to change course and eventually focus most efforts on a non-hormonal pill for men.

With Series A funding and a pre-IND meeting with the FDA under its belt, the biotech expects to be the first company to enter the clinic with an investigational non-hormonal contraceptive for sperm-producers, with the goal of limiting sperm counts to infertile levels. A healthy volunteer study in the US, if greenlit by the agency, will begin in the first half of next year, CEO Akash Bakshi tells Endpoints News.

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From L to R: Manifold Bio co-founders Gleb Kuznetsov (CEO), Shane Lofgren (head of BD) and Pierce Ogden (CSO)

Pro­tein ther­a­peu­tics biotech us­ing 'pro­tein bar­codes' in drug de­vel­op­ment se­cures new fi­nanc­ing — led by Jeff Hu­ber

Two years after kicking things off with $5.4 million, a George Church spinout is refilling its coffers to fuel its efforts tackling protein therapeutics R&D.

Boston biotech Manifold Bio announced the new Series A Thursday, led by new VC Triatomic Capital, raising $40 million to advance its internal pipeline and expand its platform capabilities. CEO and co-founder Gleb Kuznetsov tells Endpoints News that the financing should last the biotech close to 2.5 years, depending on how fast the company spends it.

Tim Knotnerus, Agomab CEO

Pfiz­er dips its toe in­to fi­bro­sis and or­gan re­gen­er­a­tion, lead­ing raise ex­ten­sion for Bel­gium's Agomab

In early 2021, Belgian biotech Agomab Therapeutics unveiled a $74 million Series B round to fund proof-of-concept studies for its lead candidate. Over a year later, the biotech has cultivated an additional $40.5 million to add to its Series B — and bring a big name on board.

Pharma giant Pfizer leads the extension with an investment through its Breakthrough Growth Initiative, which funds biotechs and lends them scientific know-how, Agomab announced Wednesday morning. The new cash brings the total round to $114 million.

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Lovisa Afzelius, Apriori Bio CEO

Flag­ship un­wraps new AI biotech that looks to pre­dict vari­ants be­fore they’re here

While Moderna is testing Omicron-specific boosters for this fall, its investor Flagship Pioneering is building a biotech that says it uses AI to predict virus variants prior to outbreaks.

Apriori Bio, derived from the Latin phrase a priori that translates to “from the previous,” emerged from stealth Monday with $50 million. The Cambridge, MA-based biotech was founded in 2020 in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic, though Apriori CEO Lovisa Afzelius says the biotech will tackle multiple “ultra-dynamic” viruses outside of SARS-CoV-2, including the flu virus and HIV.

Amber Salzman and Dan Hart (Epic Bio)

Big Phar­ma vet teams with for­mer Doud­na pupil to launch new epigenome start­up

A former doctoral candidate in CRISPR pioneer Jennifer Doudna’s lab founded a new biotech seeking to wade into “epigenetics-level gene editing,” and has now secured enough capital to do just that.

The new San Francisco startup, Epic Bio, put out word early Tuesday that it had officially launched, securing a Series A worth $55 million. That should be enough to fund the biotech’s dash towards the clinic, and CEO Amber Salzman tells Endpoints News the goal is to reach it by the end of next year.

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