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Bio­phar­ma ends decade with near-record in­vest­ment — but is it go­ing to the right places?

In 2009, the mood at JP Morgan was somber. I wasn’t there —  your humble correspondent was learning algebra at the time — but that year, the financial crisis came to biotech and conversations at the often-audacious Westin centered around sheer survival. The traditional lavish opening-night gala was canceled.

Venture funding would indeed fall that year, but what followed was a decade of almost unimpeded growth. After the amount raised for healthcare venture crashed 65% to $1.8 billion in 2009, it doubled back in 2010 to $3.6 billion and, according to the annual report just released by SVB Leerink, grew until the amount raised in the last year of the decade was $10.7 billion, more than five times the first year.

“We’ve seen a really nice upcycle since 2013 in IPOs and investment,” report author Jonathan Norris told Endpoints News. “And a lot of people in 2016 thought the ride was over but now here we are in 2020, and we’ve had the best two years we’ve seen.”

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Todd Harris and Daniel Bensen. Tyra

RA Cap­i­tal, Canaan help in­fuse $50M in­to Al­ta-in­cu­bat­ed biotech bat­tling ac­quired re­sis­tance to TKIs

Since Gleevec was approved in 2001, over 40 other tyrosine kinase inhibitors have come onto the market to treat various types of cancer. But with the proliferation of the class also came a surge of acquired resistance, where patients’ tumors mutate around the drug target and stop responding to the therapies.

Tyra Bio, a Carlsbad, CA-based biotech “purpose built” to address that problem, has just raised $50 million from Alta Partners, RA Capital Management, Boxer Capital of Tavistock Group, and Canaan.

File photo

Alex­is Borisy has $200M to back a mar­ket-based plan aimed at cur­ing Amer­i­ca’s drug pric­ing ‘sick­ness’

SAN FRANCISCO — As a high-profile figure in the biotech boom that has transformed the industry over the last decade, Alexis Borisy co-founded a slew of startups. One of those companies is Blueprint Medicines, where he has been on the board since 2011.

A few days ago, Borisy’s biotech reached a milestone every upstart yearns for. The FDA approved their first precision cancer medicine — and the executive team immediately priced it in the US at a staggering $32,000 a month, almost twice what some analysts had expected. If it performs according to the US model, that’s far more than any other payer will cover in the rest of the world — even after any negotiated discount. And that’s just the latest in a long lineup of new drugs from companies big and small bidding up ever-higher price tags.

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Geoff McDonough, Generation Bio

With $110M to add to the bankroll, Gen­er­a­tion Bio sets its sights on en­gi­neer­ing a rev­o­lu­tion in the gene ther­a­py field

Whoever comes out on top of the current race to gain pioneering approvals for new AAV-delivered gene therapies will have to look over their shoulders to watch the next tech wave forming on the horizon for gene therapy 2.0.

One of those next-gen players, Generation Bio, just brought in $110 million of venture cash to cover the cost of the rest of their preclinical journey toward something completely new in the field. The latest round brings the biotech — which now has about 80 staffers — up to $235 million in total since its inception about 3 years ago. That will fuel the rest of its preclinical stage of development as it looks to break into human studies in the back half of 2021.

Black­stone plots $4.5B+ life sci­ences fund — and they've al­ready se­cured the bulk of it

More than a year ago Blackstone jumped into the deep end of life sciences investing by buying Clarus, a storied investor in the field with a reputation for gambling on late-stage drug development. A couple of high-profile bets later, we’ve just had a glimpse of Blackstone Life Sciences’ appetite.

The private equity giant has raised $3.44 billion for Blackstone Life Sciences Fund V, for which it’s targeting $4.58 billion in total, according to an SEC filing.

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DCVC Bio, 5AM back col­o­niz­ing army of ge­net­i­cal­ly en­gi­neered gut bac­te­ria with $33M

A few years back, researchers studying gastric bypass noticed something: The famous gut-shrinking weight-loss surgery might work, but not because it changed how the body absorbs nutrients, as doctors believed. Rather, the surgery changed the microbes in the gut and thus the molecules they secreted, which in turn set off processes that made patients feel full faster.

Researchers then made a simple logical jump: Why not just give the patients new bacteria, and cut out the invasive surgery (bypass the bypass, if you will)? It was hardly a solitary conclusion. Other researchers found engineered bacteria could get patients the molecules needed to boost insulin production, clear out arteries, and help prevent colon cancer.

Primed for at­tack: Vac­cine tech mak­er gets $11M shot to bat­tle in­fec­tious dis­ease

Traditional antibody-based vaccines, as a basic principle, prevent infection. UK-based Emergex’s technology doesn’t care if you do contract the infection — it is engineered to ensure you don’t fall sick.

Founded in 2016 by University College London (UCL) professor emeritus of molecular medicine and serial entrepreneur Tom Rademacher, the company Emergex on Thursday secured $11 million in Series A funding, led by Vickers Venture Partners.

Shreds of Tregs: French biotech wins Medicxi back­ing to kill the rogue im­muno­sup­pres­sive agent to fight can­cer

Existing CD25 drugs tend to thwart IL-2 signaling, which is imperative to shaping the body’s immune response. But a French drug developer thinks it has found a way to snuff out regulatory T cells (known to contribute to the early establishment and progression of tumors) by targeting CD25 without disturbing IL-2, and now has €18.5 million in its coffers to prove it.

The Parisian company, Alderaan Biotechnology, is still very early in its journey. The Series A round of funding from Advent France Biotechnology (AFB) and Medicxi will be used to complete the preclinical development of its regulatory T cell (Tregs) depleting CD25-specific antibody and take it into the clinic by 2022.

Peter Luo. Adagene

WuXi-backed Ada­gene scores $69M round led by Gen­er­al At­lantic to push an­ti­bod­ies where Bris­tol-My­ers strug­gled

Back when Peter Luo founded Adagene in 2012, much of China was still focused on biosimilars and contract services as the industry struggled to bring manufacturing quality up to global standards. But the Stanford-trained scientist and battle-tested entrepreneur — together with longtime friend and WuXi founder Ge Li — saw an opportunity to begin building a platform play centered around engineering better antibodies.

Aim for the brain: RA Cap­i­tal bets on Col­orado biotech to re­for­mu­late epilep­sy drug for re­frac­to­ry pa­tients

A decades-old anti-epileptic drug, linked to deformities in unborn children, is being reformulated for injection straight into the brain of patients whose epilepsy has persisted despite therapy.

On Tuesday, the company behind the effort — Aurora, Colorado-based Cerebral Therapeutics — scored $35 million in Series B financing led by RA Capital Management to fund a Phase IIb trial of its drug-device combo.