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Christoph Westphal, Longwood Fund general partner

Christoph West­phal bags a $170M Fund V, slat­ed to help breed some new biotechs at Long­wood

Christoph Westphal has closed the fifth in a series of funds for Longwood with $170 million to play with. That’s not a blockbuster by any means in this day and age, but it will keep him in the high-profile position he’s enjoyed for years now in biotech.

The Boston-based fund counts itself as one of the biotech breeders in the business, specializing in startups. And Westphal’s involvement in some of the hub’s biggest successes, including the early days at Alnylam, has helped secure his rep in the community.

The out­lier: 2020 may go down as one of the biggest eco­nom­ic melt­downs in US his­to­ry — but bio­phar­ma is boom­ing

Over the first half of the year, we saw scores of drug trials roiled by the pandemic, with early stage studies derailing as sites shuttered and patients hunkered down. Public biopharma companies saw some of that turmoil reflected in their earnings, particularly now that the Q2 numbers are coming in.

So maybe this isn’t such a great sector to invest in right now?

The sophisticated money says that’s absolutely wrong.

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'Miss­ing link': Bay­er, Morn­ing­side help cat­a­pult a new kind of de­liv­ery tech to cell and gene ther­a­py

Robert Millman co-founded and led Semma Therapeutics as CEO while also a managing director of MPM Capital. By the time he left the stem cell therapy pioneer — two years before it would be sold to Vertex — he had left VC life behind.

Instead, he went around scouting new technologies, visiting with tech transfer offices and academics in the Boston/Cambridge area to find worthy ideas that could benefit from his IP expertise.

Omid Farokhzad, Seer CEO

Seer rais­es an­oth­er $55M and fi­nal­ly re­veals pro­teom­ic tech — can it hold up?

Two years ago, Omid Farokhzad left his prominent nano-medicine lab at Boston’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital and moved across the country to found a startup off technology that, he said, could change the field of proteomics — and, with it, parts of medicine, agriculture and a range of fields.

Today, Farokhzad has finally revealed what that technology is. In a Nature Communications paper, he showed how his company, Seer, and their lead product, called the Proteograph, can use nanoparticles to analyze the protein compositions in a single blood sample, like a fishing net webbing the contents of a particular swath of sea. Or — to use the company’s preferred metaphor — like a sequencing machine reading out the base pairs on a particular strand of DNA.

Cyrus Harmon

Can ful­ly shut­ting down the es­tro­gen re­cep­tor make a dif­fer­ence in breast can­cer? Ole­ma scores $54M to find out in the clin­ic

From tamoxifen to aromatase inhibitors to fulvestrant, there’s been no lack of endocrine treatments targeted at estrogen receptor-positive breast cancer. But Olema Oncology believes there’s room for more.

The San Francisco-based biotech has convinced investors to pour in $54 million to prove it.

“We saw the need for a drug that could more fully shut down the estrogen receptor,” Cyrus Harmon told Endpoints News. “We call it a complete estrogen antagonist to distinguish from other compounds.”

David Schenkein (GV)

GV's David Schenkein comes in to help men­tor — and bankroll — a gene ther­a­py 2.0 play­er, in­trigued by their ‘sci­ence heavy’ ap­proach to con­quer­ing se­vere dis­ease

A year ago, Encoded Therapeutics burst on the scene with a $104 million mega-raise that spotlighted their work on gene therapy 2.0 — focused on breaking through the boundaries of AAV gene therapy in beating Dravet syndrome.

And now they’re back with an even bigger raise that includes financial backing from GV’s David Schenkein after rounding out an impressive executive team with some of the top experts in the field, including some old allies of ex-AveXis CEO Sean Nolan, an investor and chairman/godfather who would like to be in on the birth of newer and better gene therapies that can trample down some of the tech hurdles that limit gen-one.

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Shawn Leland, Elevation Oncology founder

El­e­va­tion On­col­o­gy launch­es with $32.5 mil­lion Se­ries A, gives new life to for­mer Mer­ri­mack pro­gram

Almost two years ago, Merrimack’s high-profile seribantumab program flopped in a trial that attempted to treat non-small cell lung cancer in combination with another drug. Now, that program is getting a second chance.

Elevation Oncology announced its launch Tuesday with $32.5 million in Series A funding and seribantumab as its lead candidate. Rather than focusing on NSCLCs like Merrimack, Elevation will aim to use the compound to treat solid tumors with the rare NRG1 genomic fusion.

Peter Altmaier (l), Federal Minister of Economics and Technology, and Ulrich Nu'baum (r), State Secretary in the Federal Ministry of Economics, take part in a press conference with Franz-Werner Haas (on screen), CEO of the biotech company Curevac, and the investor Hopp.

GSK, Ger­many push coro­n­avirus-fo­cused mR­NA play­er Cure­Vac's lat­est round to $640M

After courting some high-profile investors, CureVac has closed a whopping $640 million (€560 million) in its latest round.

The biotech announced the financing in a brief press release, noting that previously disclosed investments from the German federal government and GlaxoSmithKline accounted for $514 million of the total. Qatar Investment Authority and other existing as well as new investors contributed the rest.

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Jean-François Pariseau (left) and Dion Madsen (Amplitude)

Am­pli­tude rais­es $50M to fu­el ‘emerg­ing’ Cana­di­an biotech field

Nine months and an IPO since they spun out the Business Development Bank of Canada’s healthcare arm into its own VC, the investors behind Amplitude have raised another $50 million to pour into Canada’s nascent biotech sector.

The new round, part of the CAD $200 million the firm is trying to raise for its first fund, will go primarily toward two areas: what founders Jean-François Pariseau and Dion Madsen see as an “emerging” targeted and cell therapy field in Vancouver and an emerging artificial intelligence field in Montreal. Similar to some of the bigger name VCs to their south, the partners will try to find promising science out of academic and innovation centers in the two metro areas, package them with some complementary and de-risking intellectual property and some new talent, and spin out biotechs.

Chris Garabedian (Forge Biologics)

Chris Garabe­di­an's in­cu­ba­tor leads Se­ries A fund­ing for gene ther­a­py man­u­fac­tur­er/de­vel­op­er com­bo

Back in December, longtime industry investor Chris Garabedian helped launch a $210 million VC fund for early-stage biotechs. On Tuesday, Garabedian and the Perceptive Xontogeny Venture Fund introduced its latest startup.

The ex-Sarepta CEO has teamed with former Abeona chief Tim Miller to create Forge Biologics, a gene therapy company focusing on both manufacturing and development of GMP adeno-associated viruses, with $40 million in Series A funding. Forge is the eighth biotech in which the PXV Fund has invested — but only the sixth announced — and the first in the gene therapy area, Garabedian told Endpoints News.