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Chris Garabedian (Forge Biologics)

Chris Garabe­di­an's in­cu­ba­tor leads Se­ries A fund­ing for gene ther­a­py man­u­fac­tur­er/de­vel­op­er com­bo

Back in December, longtime industry investor Chris Garabedian helped launch a $210 million VC fund for early-stage biotechs. On Tuesday, Garabedian and the Perceptive Xontogeny Venture Fund introduced its latest startup.

The ex-Sarepta CEO has teamed with former Abeona chief Tim Miller to create Forge Biologics, a gene therapy company focusing on both manufacturing and development of GMP adeno-associated viruses, with $40 million in Series A funding. Forge is the eighth biotech in which the PXV Fund has invested — but only the sixth announced — and the first in the gene therapy area, Garabedian told Endpoints News.

Tillman Gerngross, Adagio Therapeutics CEO

An­ti­body leg­end Till­man Gern­gross is el­bow­ing his way in­to the Covid-19 R&D cru­sade: 'I don’t see this end­ing any­time soon'

One of the most influential — and outspoken — scientists at work in the field of antibody discovery is jumping into the frenzied race to create new therapeutics to treat and prevent Covid-19. And he’s operating with the conviction that the current outbreak now once again spreading like wildfire will create plenty of demand for what he has in mind.

Dartmouth professor and Adimab CEO Tillman Gerngross tells me he’s raised $50 million from a group of close VCs to spin out a new company — Adagio Therapeutics — with a full C-suite team assembled to hire up a staff and keep rolling toward the clinic.

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New biotech Exalys, seek­ing to pre­vent post­op­er­a­tive delir­i­um, launch­es with $15 mil­lion in Se­ries A

An old group of former colleagues will be reuniting to lead a new biotech venture aimed at cultivating a portfolio to treat neuroinflammatory disorders.

Led by Rick Orr, who ran the biotech Adynxx, the group is launching the startup Exalys on Thursday with $15 million in Series A funding from venture firms Catalys Pacific and Domain Associates. The nascent company’s first project will focus on preventing postoperative delirium, licensing a platform of EP4 receptors from Japanese pharma Eisai.

Andrew Kruegel, Kures president and co-founder (Columbia Tech Ventures via Vimeo)

Af­ter psilo­cy­bin and ke­t­a­mine, a new biotech comes along de­vel­op­ing a drug Scott Got­tlieb fought

Andrew Kruegel was six years into his chemistry work at Columbia University, when, one day in August 2016, he learned he might have only 30 days before the government made him destroy his research.

Kruegel had been studying kratom, a leaf long used in Southeast Asia as a stimulant or for pain. It had opioid-like properties, he found, but seemed to offer pain relief without the addictive potential or respiratory side effects of traditional opioids — a riddle that might help illuminate how human opioid receptors work.

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Ed Engleman (Stanford Blood Center)

Stan­ford star on­col­o­gy sci­en­tist Ed En­gle­man helped cre­ate the im­munother­a­py field. Now he wants to shake up neu­rode­gen­er­a­tion R&D

Over the last generation of drug R&D, Ed Engleman has been a standout scientist.

The Stanford professor co-founded Dendreon and provided the scientific insights needed to develop Provenge into a pioneering — though not particularly marketable — immunotherapy. He’s spurred a slate of startups, assisted by his well-connected perch as a co-founder of Vivo Capital, and took the dendritic cell story into its next chapter at a startup called Bolt.

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Noubar Afeyan, Flagship CEO and Tessera chairman (Victor Boyko/Getty Images)

Flag­ship ex­ecs take a les­son from na­ture to mas­ter ‘gene writ­ing,’ launch­ing a star-stud­ded biotech with big am­bi­tions to cure dis­ease

Flagship Pioneering has opened up its deep pockets to fund a biotech upstart out to revolutionize the whole gene therapy/gene editing field — before gene editing has even made it to the market. And they’ve surrounded themselves with some marquee scientists and execs who have crowded around to help shepherd the technology ahead.

The lead player here is Flagship general partner Geoff von Maltzahn, an MIT-trained synthetic biologist who set out in 2018 to do CRISPR — a widely used gene editing tool — and other rival technologies one or two better. Von Maltzahn has been working with Sana co-founder Jake Rubens, another synthetic biology player out of MIT who he describes as his “superstar,” who’s taken the CSO role.

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Out of jobs, a pair of ear­ly cell ther­a­py ex­ec­u­tives went to Seoul, came back with a new com­pa­ny, $70M and a plan to leapfrog nat­ur­al killer com­peti­tors

Tom Farrell didn’t have much to do after Bellicum announced in January 2017 that they were bringing in a new CEO. He had led the CAR-T company for over a decade, since before Carl June’s New England Journal of Medicine paper had made cell therapy the hottest thing in cancer research. Now he was facing an 18-month non-compete.

So he worked quickly when, not long after that clock expired in 2018, a banker who helped take Bellicum public told him about a South Korean company called Green Cross LabCell that had built a natural killer cell factory and was looking to develop therapies off it. Farrell hopped a plane to Seoul.

Yale spin­out re-en­gi­neers an im­munother­a­py GSK, oth­ers once aban­doned

Beginning in 2004, GlaxoSmithKline ran 5 different trials to see if giving patients a molecule called IL-18 could treat their cancers. An early form of immunotherapy, it was supposed to boost the body’s natural ability to fight tumors.

It didn’t. The largest of the studies was terminated early; the tumors progressed after around 7 months no matter how much IL-18 you gave them. The field eventually moved on both from IL-18 and, to a degree, from the class of immune modulators, called cytokines, in general.

A vir­tu­al biotech in­cu­ba­tor is launch­ing with the help of Evotec and Sam­sara, look­ing for a few good sci­en­tists in need of seed cash for spin­outs

By any measure, money has been pouring into the biopharma R&D field for more than 5 years now, with every stage of development crowded with investors looking for the next big thing in therapeutics.

Value inflection points are the guiding star of that multibillion-dollar business.

But a busy Samsara BioCapital, the family fund KCK and the big European CRO Evotec are backing the play of a pair of investors who have staked out a field where there doesn’t seem to be quite so much density.

Theresa Heah, Kevin Slawin, Chris Garabedian (AsclepiX)

Bet­ter than Eylea, as durable as gene ther­a­py? Per­cep­tive, Xon­toge­ny boost oph­thalmic star­tup's shot for best of all worlds

What’s the biggest breakthrough in the ophthalmology space since Lucentis and Eylea?

Novartis’ Beovu, launched last November for wet age-related macular degeneration, has been hampered by safety issues. Kodiak Sciences sports $2.74 billion on the promise of an antibody biopolymer conjugate that can be dosed every 16 weeks — reducing the treatment burden. Then there’s the line of gene therapy players from regenxbio to Adverum, following in the footsteps of Spark Therapeutics.