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New cell ther­a­py play­er launch­es with $57M from mar­quee in­vestors to go af­ter 'de­fin­i­tive' tu­mor tar­gets

A crew of Amgen and Kite vets is publicly throwing their new startup into the cell therapy hat — though they are saying little outside of the basics and $57 million in Series A cash.

The Column Group, Vida Ventures, Samsara BioCapital and Nextech Invest are backing A2 Biotherapeutics’ quest to find new ways of engaging immune cells in selectively attacking cancer. To do so, the biotech is working with two target classes: peptide MHC targets and targets that are “irreversibly lost in tumor cells.” The former builds on an increasingly popular strategy of locating neoantigens for T cells to home in on, while the latter is inspired by a mechanism used by natural killer cells.

New UK start­up pur­sues off-the-shelf CAR-T, can­cer vac­cines through 'dark anti­gen­s'

Scientists unfurling the human genome at the turn of the century came across many surprises but perhaps nothing as shocking as the percentage of the genome that didn’t appear to code for anything. Around 2% wrote proteins and the rest appeared to be “junk,” “dark,” or, as the New York Times then put it, “the apparent product of a typing pool of drunken baboons. ”

Some bat­tle test­ed neu­ro­science vets are go­ing all out on ear­ly on­set de­men­tia — with a $44M launch round to build the team

Gerhard Koenig

Anyone who specializes in neurosciences R&D has to prepare themselves for some frustration along the way. And the team at Arkuda Therapeutics can tell you all about it.

The CEO and co-founder is Gerhard Koenig, who you may recall headed up the team at Quartet Medicines, which worked on neuronal and inflammatory cells, until they folded the shop after running into a blind alley. Before that, he was CSO at Forum, which Deborah Dunsire — now CEO at Lundbeck — had helmed as it tried to break new ground in Alzheimer’s and schizophrenia.

It didn’t work out either.

But even though Atlas closed the checkbook on Quartet, Bruce Booth never blamed the crew. You want to try something cutting edge here, you pay your money and you take your chances. And sometimes you write off your losses.

That’s biotech.

So now Koenig and some of the execs he’s known along the way are back, knocking the door on a new approach to neurodegeneration, another high-risk, high-reward play where they are looking to break new ground. And Booth has been bankrolling the incubator work in hopes of seeing a new venture fly.

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As CRISPR hori­zons cloud, a start­up fo­cus­es on the next big thing with pow­er­house po­ten­tial — the RNA edit­ing plat­form

Over the last few years, as CRISPR/Cas9 gene editing tech became the AK47 of academic labs — a handy, powerful weapon that could be pointed at multiple targets — there has been a growing chorus of skeptics pointing to what they see as severe limitations to the technology. And gradually, some of the leaders in the field began to move to refinements aimed at whisking away the fretful doubts that had begun to nag at the pioneers.

But while superstar scientists like Feng Zhang were working on CRISPR 2.0, a small band of scientists has been hatching their own plans around creating a whole new branch of the disease editing field — RNA editing. And the second startup in 3 months is now popping up to take its place in what it hopes will be a vanguard platform tech that can go places in vivo where CRISPR may be off limits.

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Vik Bajaj. Foresite Labs

Vik Ba­jaj un­veils Fore­site's new in­cu­ba­tor, look­ing to hatch fu­ture gi­ants cross­ing tech and health­care

When it comes to harnessing data for healthcare and the life sciences, a rich infrastructure of expansive data collected and measured with the right tools are essential to uncover new insights and advance new products. And to build that, you need access to diverse talents backed by a patient investor.

Just ask Vik Bajaj. The former UC Berkeley researcher first left academia for Verily, Google’s foray into life sciences, where he saw the methods of marrying computation and biology were nearing maturity. After a few years as CSO there he moved on to Grail working towards the early detection of cancer — another data intensive endeavor — before landing his current role as managing director of Foresite Capital.

SinoMab Bio­Science, Al­pham­ab On­col­o­gy make their way to the Hong Kong Stock Ex­change

While protests in Hong Kong are stretching the limits of the region’s economy, biotechnology companies don’t appear to be daunted to list on the region’s bourse.

Hong Kong-based SinoMab BioScience is looking to raise HK$1.75 billion ($223 million) in a public offering — while Souzou-based Alphamab Oncology is gunning to raise up to $350 million in an IPO next month, according to a Reuters report.

Neu­ro­science biotech led by for­mer Pfiz­er crew wins $17M to tar­get tox­ic tau

With big pharma players marching out of the disaster-prone field of neurosciences one-by-one, small biotechs are picking up the tab.

Cambridge, Massachusetts-based Pinteon Therapeutics is the latest initiative. The company, founded in 2014, is developing a tau antibody to address an array of neurodegenerative disorders. On Thursday, it unveiled $17 million in series A funding from Morningside Ventures.

David Hung

David Hung is back, launch­ing a new on­col­o­gy start­up with $275M and big am­bi­tions to make news in can­cer drug de­vel­op­ment

After a brief and embarrassing side trip into Alzheimer’s research, biotech high flyer David Hung is back, and he’s jumping into oncology R&D once again with a brand new upstart and a whopping $275 million in backing.

Teaming back up with some of his former crew members at Medivation, which broke new ground in cancer drug development before the sale of the company to Pfizer for $14.3 billion, Hung says the stealth operation has a pipeline with 7 programs, each of which has multiple drug candidates.

Here’s the team at Nuvation Bio:

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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: