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Kally­ope lands $112 mil­lion Se­ries C to ride the gut-brain ax­is for an­oth­er 3 years

Five years after their launch, Kallyope and the gut-brain axis are headed to the clinic — and they’re getting a new fire hose of cash to do so.

The biotech announced a $112 million in Series C funding that will help bring their lead weight loss drug into the clinic later this year and a drug for inflammatory bowel disease not long after. The syndicate contains a long list of backers, most of whom had previously invested, including The Column Group, Lux Capital, Polaris Partners, Euclidean Capital, Two Sigma Ventures, Illumina Ventures, Alexandria Venture Investments and Bill Gates. Four new investors joined: Casdin, Greenspring and two unnamed institutional investors.

A key play­er be­hind 2 multi­bil­lion-dol­lar biotech M&A deals is back in the start­up busi­ness

Pratik Shah and Aseem Ansari have snared a $45 million launch round for Design Therapeutics, a San Diego-based outfit that is focused on degenerative diseases linked to nucleotide repeat expansions. The biotech has identified a lead program that zeroes in on Friedreich’s ataxia with discovery efforts underway for other diseases.

You might remember that Shah was CEO of Auspex for 2 years, before Teva scooped it up for $3.5 billion in 2015. The investor was also chairman at Synthorx, another San Diego company that Sanofi recently picked up for $2.5 billion.

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Randolf Kerschbaumer, Michael Thiele and Alexander Schinagl (OncoOne)

For­mer Shire ex­ecs set up shop to take a shot at 'un­der the radar' can­cer tar­get

In December 2016, Shire abandoned a cancer drug targeting oxMIF it had swallowed as part of its $32 billion buyout of Baxalta earlier that year. Now former executives of the two companies have set up their own shop in Austria — banking on that same target.

The company, christened OncoOne, has scored €13 million in a Series A round. With 8 employees, including its 3 founders, the company will use the injection to take its compounds — designed to address pancreatic, colorectal, lung and ovarian cancer — into the clinic by 2022.

The big C: The deal­mak­ers, dol­lars and dis­eases that have trans­formed the Chi­nese bio­phar­ma mar­ket

For many of China’s biotech pioneers, licensing Western drugs to develop and market specifically for Chinese patients revved up the country’s innovation engine after decades of being relegated to generic and API manufacturing. Even as new startups now pivot to boast about in-house discovery, partnerships with companies outside of China remained in style, culminating in a record number of deals in 2019.

Chris Dokomajilar

At DealForma, Chris Dokomajilar has been tracking the licensing territory as well as where the sellers and buyers are headquartered. Compound that with a breakdown of the top therapeutic areas and technologies of interest — in addition to M&A and venture activity — for Chinese players, and you get a comprehensive picture of the booming deal scene.

For a bird’s eye view, since 2008 we’ve seen:

  • 682 deals with a Chinese company
  • $28.2 billion in total deal value
  • $3.3 billion in upfront cash & equity
  • Plus additional M&A, asset purchases, and investments

Zoom in to the domestic market only, and you get 518 deals for rights solely in China, $19.7 billion in total deal value, and $2.9 billion in upfront cash & equity.

Remember, all figures — and there are plenty here — are based on what companies have disclosed in English sources. There are bound to be more deals not captured here, but this is the radar we’re sticking to. And finally, there’s no telling what kind of impact the current pandemic will play on these trends — but they’ve been building for more than a decade now.

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Flag­ship’s Sig­ilon grabs $80M to bring Robert Langer cell ther­a­py tech in­to the clin­ic

Rogerio Vivaldi had never given much thought to industry.

A newly minted MD, he was working at a hospital in Rio De Janeiro when one of his professors asked if he might take on a case that required consistent follow-up: A 14-year-old boy with Gaucher’s, a rare genetic disorder that meant he was missing a key enzyme often called the cell’s recycling system. He had come in with enlarged organs and stunted growth.

Hans van Houte (Nurix)

Part­nered with Gilead and Sanofi, pro­tein degra­da­tion spe­cial­ist Nurix bags $120M to chart its own clin­i­cal path

The race to steer the first protein degradation drugs to the clinic is on.

On the same day that Cambridge, MA-based Kymera Therapeutics unveiled a $102 million round to enter into development phase, Nurix said it has raised $120 million to do the same out of San Francisco’s Mission Bay.

Foresite Capital led the round. Redmile Group, a co-leader in Kymera’s Series C, participated alongside Bain Capital Life Sciences, Boxer Capital (Tavistock Group), EcoR1 Capital, Wellington Management Company and an undisclosed investor, as well as founding investors The Column Group and Third Rock Ventures.

Har­bour Bio­Med nets $75M in Se­ries B+ as first glob­al tri­al gets un­der­way

Nearly two years after drawing an $85 million Series B, Shanghai-based Harbour BioMed has announced a new large funding round.

In what they’re billing as a “Series B+,” Harbour has raised $75 million to help push the biotech’s antibodies further in the clinic and develop more in-house candidates. The round included new investors such as SK Holdings, Greater Bay Area Fund and Efung Capital, who joined returning funds Legend Capital, AdvanTech and GIC, also known as Singapore’s sovereign wealth fund.

Sil­ver­back Ther­a­peu­tics gets $78M boost to 'recon­cep­tu­al­ize' an­ti­body-drug con­ju­gates

The resurgence of antibody-drug conjugates (ADCs), in which a cancer-killing toxin is attached to a specific antibody using a biodegradable linker, has offered the thriving field of oncology another potent weapon in the fight against cancer. But what if this trojan horse technology could be tweaked to link immune-stimulatory agents — as opposed to cytotoxic payloads — to monoclonal antibodies?

Is­rael’s Arkin Hold­ings launch­es sec­ond biotech fund, worth $140 mil­lion

Four years after launching their first biotech fund, Arkin Holdings is scaling up.

The Israeli investment firm is teaming with Phoenix Group on a $140 million fund to fuel 10-12 companies building gene therapies, DNA and RNA-based treatments, or other targeted drugs for diseases that now leave patients with few other options. Along with Phoenix and Arkin, Israeli-based Migdal will also contribute capital.

Markus Enzelberger (Versant)

Ver­sant woos Mor­phoSys' ex-CSO to its boom­ing dis­cov­ery en­gine, with big plans for new star­tups

As MorphoSys celebrated the FDA’s acceptance of its first-ever BLA — complete with a priority review that could lead to a quick OK for its CD19-targeted CAR-T rival — last Monday, former CSO Markus Enzelberger was marking a different milestone of his own.

It was his first day at Versant Ventures’ discovery engine in Basel, a change of scenery after 18 years as the German biotech’s chief scientist. Newly named entrepreneur-in-residence of Ridgeline Therapeutics, Enzelberger expects to spend half of his time evaluating new opportunities for company creation and the other half helping biotech fledglings in the portfolio build the necessary infrastructure.