Startups channel feed

Luciano Rossetti (file photo)

A phar­ma R&D chief jumps to a bud­ding new start­up fac­to­ry — and this time he’s found 'some­thing com­plete­ly dif­fer­ent’

Over the course of a tumultuous year, Paul Biondi has been quietly building a new operation inside Flagship Pioneering, one of the most ambitious biotech builders in the VC world. Looking to draw together new drug programs out of the Flagship armada, the Bristol Myers BD vet is setting up a slate of single-asset companies built around new therapeutics that can be spun out of the portfolio of platform companies they specialize in.

Endpoints Premium

Premium subscription required

Unlock this article along with other benefits by subscribing to one of our paid plans.

Chas­ing a 'mas­ter mod­u­la­tor' in the en­do­cannabi­noid sys­tem, biotech up­start promis­es to shake up neu­ropsy­chi­atric treat­ments

For two years in the early 2000s, new discoveries and budding enthusiasm around the endogenous cannabinoid system — so named because it’s responsible for the effects of cannabis in the human body — culminated in a marketed drug: Sanofi’s Acomplia.

The first drug to specifically target the cannabinoid receptor CB1, it was ultimately withdrawn from the EU and Brazil due to findings that it may cause suicidal thoughts despite being effective in treating obesity. The FDA never approved it.

CEO Frederick Beddingfield (Kira)

Ki­ra Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals emerges from stealth with $46M and new CEO to lead com­ple­ment ther­a­py mis­sion

Frederick Beddingfield left Sienna Biopharmaceuticals last December, a few months after the struggling biotech filed for bankruptcy. The former CEO was planning to take some time off, until he received a call from the University of Pennsylvania professor Wenchao Song.

Song was looking for someone to helm Kira Pharmaceuticals, a startup he co-founded to develop a “new generation” of complement-targeted therapies for immune-mediated diseases. The two got talking, one thing led to another, and “it just turned out to be a great fit,” Beddingfield said.

Laurence Reid (Third Rock)

Deci­bel Ther­a­peu­tics rais­es $82M as Lau­rence Reid looks to steer gene ther­a­py piv­ot

Laurence Reid could have picked a better time to take his latest CEO job.

It was January 29 when Decibel Therapeutics announced they were bringing in the former Alnylam and Millennium exec, and the coronavirus was still a distant threat, not even yet named. The job would have been tall enough without a pandemic; after five years and $100 million, Decibel was preparing to pivot its platform in a new direction, working to expand on gene therapy and regeneration. Reid would need to raise the cash to do so.

What do the top 10 biotech M&A deals of 2020 tell us? Pre­mi­ums are in, bolt-ons rule and the ADC come­back is on

Last year the M&A spotlight in biopharma centered on big money and some large appetites for pipeline and portfolio restructuring. This year is all about bolt-ons and the careful devouring of new pipeline assets.

A few weeks ago we asked the incomparable Chris Dokomajilar, who heads DealForma, to run a cut of the numbers on all the biotech M&A deals of any consequence for 2020. Below, you’ll find everything above the $50 million low-water mark.

Endpoints Premium

Premium subscription required

Unlock this article along with other benefits by subscribing to one of our paid plans.

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

Flag­ship launch­es Sen­da Bio­sciences with $88M in back­ing, look­ing to pi­o­neer the field of 'In­ter­sys­tems Bi­ol­o­gy'

Flagship Pioneering has a fresh company out this week, one that aims to lay the groundwork for a whole new discipline.

Senda Biosciences launched Wednesday with $88 million in Flagship cash. The goal? Gain insights into the molecular connections between people and coevolved nonhuman species like plants and bacteria, paving the way for “Intersystems Biology.”

Guillaume Pfefer has been tapped to run the show, a 25-year biotech veteran who comes from GSK after leading the development of the company’s shingles vaccine.

Kevin Lind (L) and Amit Munshi

Are­na's Amit Mun­shi spins out his neu­ro sub in­to a biotech start­up, with $56M for the bap­tism

Back in January, Arena Pharma $ARNA CEO Amit Munshi turned up at JP Morgan with ambitious plans for 2020. Near the top of the to-do list was news that he was creating a new neuro subsidiary that would focus on microglial neuroinflammation.

Now, he’s taking the sub and spinning it out into a new biotech with $56 million in funding and a syndicate of its own to back up their work. And Munshi — who’s been successful running the market cap up to the $5 billion mark — will take his value from the 33% equity stake that Arena retains in the spinout.

Can B cells break the bound­aries of cell ther­a­py? Long­wood start­up has $52M to prove a new en­gi­neer­ing tech

Back in December 2017, as the cell therapy world was still basking in the virtually back-to-back approvals of two pioneering CAR-Ts, researchers at Seattle Children’s Research Institute reported a scientific first in a different corner of the field: engineer B cells to treat disease.

The team, led by David Rawlings and Richard James, eventually worked with Longwood Fund to start a biotech around those findings. And now Atlas Venture and RA Capital Management are coming on board to lead a $52 million launch round, joined by Alta Partners, for Be Biopharma.

Pfiz­er scoops up an an­tibi­ot­ic in rare M&A deal, bag­ging a vir­tu­al start­up op­er­at­ing on a shoe­string bud­get

Pfizer is stepping up with a rare antibiotics buyout deal today, grabbing Palo Alto, CA-based Arixa Pharmaceuticals in a bid to add a new oral version of avibactam, a beta lactamase inhibitor — or BLI — approved back in 2015 as part of the IV treatment Avycaz.

The Arixa acquisition follows some encouraging Phase I responses demonstrating that 60% to 80% of the oral drug is absorbed into the bloodstream. Only 7% of the IV version is absorbed orally, far below the 30% threshold Arixa has pointed to as a therapeutic threshold. The buyout gives Pfizer’s hospital group a line on a new oral combo with antibiotics like ceftibuten to go after drug-resistant cases of urinary tract infections and other ailments.

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 94,100+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

Bo Cumbo, AavantiBio CEO (file photo)

Bo Cum­bo jumps from the top com­mer­cial post at Sarep­ta to the helm of a gene ther­a­py start­up with some in­flu­en­tial back­ers, big plans and $107M

After a 7-year stretch building the commercial team at Sarepta, longtime drug salesman Bo Cumbo is jumping to the entrepreneurial side of the business, taking the helm of a startup that’s got several deep-pocket investors. And he’s not just bringing his experience in selling drugs.

He tells me that when he told Sarepta CEO Doug Ingram about it, his boss got excited about the venture and opted to jump in with a $15 million investment from Sarepta to add to the launch money, alongside 3 of the busiest investors in biotech.

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 94,100+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.