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Ver­sant-backed pre­ci­sion on­col­o­gy start­up Re­pare Ther­a­peu­tics scores $82M+ in lat­est round

More than two years after emerging out of stealth mode with $68 million and Versant as a founding investor, precision oncology drug developer Repare Therapeutics has scored another $82.5 million to take its lead product — carved out of the biotech’s synthetic lethality platform — into the clinic.

Synthetic lethality is a concept that relies on the idea that while tumors can tolerate individual defects in DNA, combinations of defects create distinct vulnerabilities in cancer cells which, when isolated, present opportunities for precision therapeutics. For instance, PARP inhibitors — such as Clovis’ Rubraca, AstraZeneca’s $AZN Lynparza and GSK’s $GSK Zejula — were developed to treat cancers with mutations in BRCA1 or BRCA2 genes.

Paul Hastings. Nkarta

Nkar­ta maps out clin­i­cal, man­u­fac­tur­ing plans for CAR-NK fol­low­ing $114M round led by Sam­sara

Back in 2015 NEA Ventures, SR One and Novo Holdings pulled together $11 million to kickstart the latest venture to come out of Dario Campana’s lab — which has also birthed Unum and MediSix — focused on natural killer (NK) cells. Four stealthy years later, Nkarta is poised for the clinic with a $114 million Series B to fuel the big leap.

While the current buzz on cell therapies for cancer has generally centered around some variation of T cells from the approved CAR-T to TCR, Nkarta believes NK cells offer advantages that T cells lack. Since they are part of the innate immune system, NK cells can identify and hit a broader range of targets presented on tumor cells.

RA Cap­i­tal-backed cell ther­a­py play­er in the neoanti­gen game grabs a $121M megaround to fund first hu­man stud­ies

There’s more than 1 way to skin a mouse. And anyone who figures out the best way in oncology can open the door to a valuable new platform technology.

Undaunted by the pioneers who have gone ahead in personalized neoantigen R&D work, the team at Achilles Therapeutics operating out of Stevenage in the UK believe they have found a better therapeutic approach  — starting with non-small cell lung cancer and in melanoma.

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Ver­sant-backed Chi­nook gets a $65M launch round for its dis­cov­ery quest in a resur­gent kid­ney field

Versant is once again stepping off the beaten track in biotech to see if they can blaze a trail of their own in a field that has looked too thorny to many investors for years.

The venture group and their partners at Apple Tree are bringing their latest creation out of stealth mode today. Born in Versant’s Inception Sciences’ Chinook Therapeutics is betting that its preclinical take on kidney disease can get an early lead among the companies starting up in the field.

Finch grabs a $53M round de­signed to take their ‘break­through’ mi­cro­bio­me treat­ment through a po­ten­tial­ly piv­otal tri­al

With a breakthrough designation in one hand and a fresh $53 million in venture backing in the other, Somerville, MA-based Finch Therapeutics is taking a shot at a one-trial pathway to a possible FDA OK for their new treatment for preventing recurrent C. difficile infections.

The funding brings their total raise for the microbiome company to $130 million, CEO Mark Smith tells me — enough money to pave a runway past the FDA approval they’ve sketched into the most optimistic version for their near-term future. 

Johns Hop­kins sci­en­tists raise $137M megaround for a trio of spin­outs look­ing to tack­le Alzheimer’s, Parkin­son’s and fi­bro­sis

A US/Korean hybrid biotech run by a group of scientists out of Johns Hopkins just scored a megaround of $137.1 million, with plans to advance a slate of experimental drugs held at its 3 subsidiary operations.

D&D Pharmatech has a lead drug going into Phase II at Neuraly. The GLP-1R agonist NLY01 is being studied for Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s, looking to tamp down on neuroinflammation. Johns Hopkins’ Ted Dawson — a professor of neurodegenerative diseases — runs that operation.

Maggie Cook, Renovacor

Biotech tar­get­ing rare heart mu­ta­tion with gene ther­a­py scores $11M in Se­ries A haul

While cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death globally — it is cancer that has benefited most from strides in precision medicine. Now that cardiovascular-specific genetic mutations are being discovered — they are prime targets for genetic therapy. A biotechnology company carved out of research conducted at Temple University is focusing on a mutant gene that is understood to cause a rare heart condition, which can eventually lead to a heart transplant or the use of implanted cardiac assist devices.

Chris Garabedian. Perceptive

IBD start­up Lan­dos lands $60M Se­ries B in first test case of Chris Garabe­di­an's lean and mean mod­el at Xon­toge­ny

When Chris Garabedian teamed up with Virginia Tech professor Josep Bassaganya-Riera to launch Landos, their team of 13 was ready to test their lead drug for inflammatory bowel disease in the clinic. But they also set out to prove another, almost existential, hypothesis: If you find the right partners, you can build a proper early-stage biotech with just $10 million instead of following the more splashy model that’s become standard in the industry.

South Lake Union. Shutterstock

Alexan­dria seals $143M deal in Seat­tle's 'heart of the heart,' grab­bing cov­et­ed land to build its biotech clus­ter

In the latest push to become the premier landlord in Seattle’s growing biotech hub, Alexandria has secured rights to a new plot surrounded by tech giants.

The life sciences real estate developer — renowned in part for its startup incubators and venture investments — has agreed to pay the city government $138.5 million for a 2.86-acre site in the booming South Lake Union neighborhood. Pending council approval, construction will begin as early as next year.

Part pro­ce­dure, part drug: Robert Ang joins Sid­dhartha Mukher­jee in pi­o­neer­ing a new type of cell en­gi­neer­ing

In a recent chronicle on the promise and price of cell therapies, Siddhartha Mukherjee — author, oncologist and Columbia professor among his other titles — mused about how engineered T cells had blurred the traditional boundaries separating a procedure and a drug. “Procedures come alive in the tinkering, fussing hands of their operators,” he observed, while a “drug, in contrast, is a depersonalized entity.” For the new generation of meticulously manufactured CAR-T to reach the masses, innovators must marry the iterative nature of a procedure with the production efficiency of a drug — and add a ruthless pursuit of the leanest, cheapest process possible.