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Rainer Strohmenger (Credit: UroMems)

Welling­ton Part­ners tanks up with $237M for its next life sci fund — same strat­e­gy, but with more cash on hand

A year ago, when Philadelphia-based Carisma Therapeutics was raising a $53 million A round to back their work on macrophages in immuno-oncology, Munich-based Wellington Partners stepped in with the new crowd to take a ringside seat.

That was a bit unusual for the life sciences crew at Wellington, which tends to stay closer to home with investments in the German-speaking region of European biotech — concentrating on startups like Immatics. But then after 22 years in the investing game, there’s also a sense that they don’t want to be completely tied down by too many self-imposed rules.

Ap­proval in sight, Per­cep­tive, Or­biMed dou­ble down on Foamix's an­tibi­ot­ic foam to the tune of $64M

In anticipation of a long-awaited — and somewhat delayed — date with the FDA on its topical dermatology drugs, Foamix has returned to its biggest shareholders to stack up resources for the commercial stretch ahead.

The $64 million financing investment from Perceptive Advisors and OrbiMed break down to two main parts. A credit agreement covers up to $50 million in term loans, $15 million of which would be provided at closing; the other $20 million and $15 million are contingent on regulatory and revenue milestones, respectively. Perceptive has also signed up to purchase $14 million worth of Foamix’s shares, which is listed on the Nasdaq currently at $2.14 a pop.

Gabe Otte. Freenome

Laser-fo­cused on col­orec­tal can­cer test, Freenome wins $160M from mar­quee VC pack led by RA, Po­laris

Days after closing RA Capital’s new $300 million fund dedicated to biotech startups, Peter Kochinsky is taking the wraps off a mega-round for cancer detection player Freenome.

RA Capital, where he is managing partner, has led the $160 million Series B with Polaris Partners, an investor from the prior $65 million round. Andreessen Horowitz, GV, Data Collective Venture Capital, Section 32 and Verily all came back for more, while new members were added to the well-heeled syndicate: Perceptive Advisors, Roche Venture Fund, Kaiser Permanente Ventures and the American Cancer Society’s BrightEdge Ventures, and T. Rowe Price Associates.

David Southwell. TScan

No­var­tis backs Har­vard spin­out's quest to build TCR repos­i­to­ry in $48M round

As T cell receptors emerged as a potent tool for the immune system to latch onto tumor antigens, Stephen Elledge wanted to screen antigen-TCR matches in a faster, more systematic way — one that would go beyond currently known targets but stop short of the new realms of neoantigens bioinformatic predictions.

So the Harvard professor spent the last 7 years consolidating new tech to come up with a platform that can run multiple TCRs against antigen epitopes and pinpoint the exact pairs that appear to interact. There’s also a built-in library of the human peptidome to flag any off-target effects and prevent safety scares down the road.

Fre­quen­cy fol­lows Astel­las pact with $62M round to bankroll PhII of lead re­gen­er­a­tive drug

A few days ago Frequency Therapeutics got some high profile endorsement on its small molecule strategy for regenerative medicine, when Astellas offered $80 million upfront to partner on their lead drug. As it turns out, the Japanese pharma wasn’t the only one intrigued by the platform and upcoming Phase II study of FX-322.

Perceptive Advisors has jumped in to lead a $62 million Series C, which also drew Deerfield Management, RTW Investments and Mizuho Securities Principal Investment. Polaris, Taiwania, Axil and CoBro also doubled down on their existing bet.

Francesco De Rubertis

Medicxi is rolling out its biggest fund ever to back Eu­rope's top 'sci­en­tists with strange ideas'

Francesco De Rubertis built Medicxi to be the kind of biotech venture player he would have liked to have known back when he was a full time scientist.

“When I was a scientist 20 years ago I would have loved Medicxi,’ the co-founder tells me. It’s the kind of place run by and for investigators, what the Medicxi partner calls “scientists with strange ideas — a platform for the drug hunter and scientific entrepreneur. That’s what I wanted when I was a scientist.”

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Neil Woodford. Woodford Investment Management via YouTube

Biotech uni­corns first to go as Neil Wood­ford auc­tions as­sets off sus­pend­ed fund — re­port

As Neil Woodford seeks much-needed cash to end what threatens to be a prolonged suspension of his flagship fund, his biotech holdings might be the first chunk on the chopping block.

Reuters is reporting that Woodford’s overseers at Link have brought in a boutique investment bank to handle the sale, which would follow a series of smaller auctions from the frozen Equity Income Fund that reaped £300 million ($379 million) in the first month after Woodford abruptly blocked investors from pulling out. But that was clearly not enough to reopen the flagship fund — Link announced on the same day, earlier this month, that the fund would stay closed for at least another 28 days.

Norbert Bischofberger. Kronos

Backed by some of the biggest names in biotech, Nor­bert Bischof­berg­er gets his megaround for plat­form tech out of MIT

A little over a year ago when I reported on Norbert Bischofberger’s jump from the CSO job at giant Gilead to a tiny upstart called Kronos, I noted that with his connections in biotech finance, that $18 million launch round he was starting off with could just as easily have been $100 million or more.

With his first anniversary now behind him, Bischofberger has that mega-round in the bank.

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Thomas Gajewski, David Steinberg. (CRI, Pyxis)

Bay­er, Long­wood back star re­searcher's deep dive in­to the tu­mor mi­croen­vi­ron­ment for new I/O tar­gets

From PD-1 targeting to the RAS pathway to the STING complex, Thomas Gajewski has spent the past two decades of his career decoding the various ways the immune system can be unleashed to defend against cancer. So when the University of Chicago professor comes around to putting all his findings into a new platform for finding new targets, VCs and pharma groups alike pay attention.

“He’s been studying T cells for 20 years, plus he’s one of the world’s leaders if not the world leader in the space,” David Steinberg, partner at Longwood Fund, said. “Furthermore, let me add he did a lot of the foundational research and also some of the seminal clinical trials in the existing set of I/O agents. He understands the space really well, he understands the current strengths, and I think he understood really well what was missing, so he knew where to look.”

Part club, part guide, part land­lord: Arie Bellde­grun is blue­print­ing a string of be­spoke biotech com­plex­es in glob­al boom­towns — start­ing with Boston

The biotech industry is getting a landlord, unlike anything it’s ever known before.

Inspired by his recent experiences scrounging for space in Boston and the Bay Area, master biotech builder, investor, and global dealmaker Arie Belldegrun has organized a new venture to build a new, 250,000 square foot biopharma building in Boston’s Seaport district — home to Vertex and a number of up-and-coming biotech players.

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