Chris Car­pen­ter joins the R&D ex­o­dus out of phar­ma; George Church's eGe­n­e­sis se­lects Jodie Mor­ri­son as new CEO

⇨ Af­ter spend­ing the last decade in Big Phar­ma R&D, Chris Car­pen­ter is mak­ing the leap to biotech, join­ing the ris­ing star Ru­bius as chief med­ical of­fi­cer. Car­pen­ter — a for­mer as­so­ciate pro­fes­sor at Har­vard Med, where he ran a lab for years — spent the last six years at GSK, where he wrapped up his stint as a se­nior VP and head of can­cer epi­ge­net­ics. He jumped from Har­vard to Mer­ck to GSK, where he was cred­it­ed with lead­ing the de­vel­op­ment of Votri­ent. And at Mer­ck he worked on MK-4827, which went on to be­come Tesaro’s PARP drug Ze­ju­la. He’s go­ing to one of the best fi­nanced up­starts in biotech. Just a few months ago, Cam­bridge, MA-based Ru­bius lined up a $120 mil­lion round, with plans to de­vel­op a full pipeline of new drugs.

 


⇨  Jodie Mor­ri­son has been named the new CEO at eGe­n­e­sis, which is work­ing in xeno­trans­plan­ta­tion. Mor­ri­son is the for­mer CEO at Tokai. The start­up was spun out of the lab of Har­vard’s George Church, shoot­ing at har­vest­ing or­gans for hu­man trans­plan­ta­tion from an­i­mals.

⇨ Spark Ther­a­peu­tics $ONCE has re­cruit­ed Fed­eri­co Min­gozzi, a not­ed gene ther­a­py ex­pert at IN­SERM and Genethon in France, as chief sci­en­tif­ic of­fi­cer. Min­gozzi picked up his PhD at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Fer­rara, Italy and an MBA from Drex­el Uni­ver­si­ty in Philadel­phia.

⇨ The for­mer SVP for di­a­betes mar­ket­ing at No­vo Nordisk has been poached by Bio­gen to take the same lead on their Alzheimer’s fran­chise. Camille Lee will be in charge of mar­ket­ing strat­e­gy on Alzheimer’s, pro­vid­ed Bio­gen gets any through the reg­u­la­to­ry ap­proval process. She re­ports now to Al San­drock.

⇨ The Cal­i­for­nia In­sti­tute for Re­gen­er­a­tive Med­i­cine (CIRM) is mak­ing in­ter­im chief Maria Mil­lan the per­ma­nent re­place­ment to Ran­dal Mills, who left in June. CIRM has fu­eled bil­lions of dol­lars in re­search work, with lit­tle to show for it in terms of ac­tu­al new drugs.

Gilead COO Kevin Young is re­tir­ing — for the sec­ond time.

Sarep­ta Ther­a­peu­tics named Guriqbal S. Basi, an Elan vet­er­an, as its new chief sci­en­tif­ic of­fi­cer.

Zio­pharm On­col­o­gy ap­point­ed David Mauney as its new ex­ec­u­tive vice pres­i­dent and CBO. Mauney had been man­ag­ing di­rec­tor of Har­vest Cap­i­tal Strate­gies.

⇨  Pa­lo Al­to, CA-based Sci­ence Ex­change named Jim Emerich as its CFO. Most re­cent­ly, Emerich was the CFO of Bright­Edge Tech­nolo­gies.

Al­ler­gan says that Tes­sa Hi­la­do is leav­ing her post as EVP and chief fi­nan­cial of­fi­cer.

Lau­ra Sepp-Loren­zi­no is jump­ing in­to a new gig at Ver­tex:

Regeneron CEO Leonard Schleifer speaks at a meeting with President Donald Trump, members of the Coronavirus Task Force, and pharmaceutical executives in the Cabinet Room of the White House (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

OWS shifts spot­light to drugs to fight Covid-19, hand­ing Re­gen­eron $450M to be­gin large scale man­u­fac­tur­ing in the US

The US government is on a spending spree. And after committing billions to vaccines defense operations are now doling out more of the big bucks through Operation Warp Speed to back a rapid flip of a drug into the market to stop Covid-19 from ravaging patients — possibly inside of 2 months.

The beneficiary this morning is Regeneron, the big biotech engaged in a frenzied race to develop an antibody cocktail called REGN-COV2 that just started a late-stage program to prove its worth in fighting the virus. BARDA and the Department of Defense are awarding Regeneron a $450 million contract to cover bulk delivery of the cocktail starting as early as late summer, with money added for fill/finish and storage activities.

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The home run count: The $100M+ mega-round boom in biotech in­spired a $6.7B feed­ing fren­zy — so far this year

Over the last 6 months there’s been a blizzard of money piling up drifts of the green stuff through the biotech landscape. And the forecast calls for more cash windfalls ahead.

Even as a global pandemic has killed more than half a million people, blighted economies and divided nations over the proper response, it’s also helped ignite an unprecedented burst of big-time investing. And not just in Covid-19 deals, as we’ve looked at before.

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For­bion spot­lights late-stage plays, carves out new €250M growth fund

Having staked its rep on picking out a mix of biotech investment opportunities across the “build,” “enable,” “growth” continuum, Forbion is launching its first fund dedicated to late-stage opportunities.

Forbion Growth Opportunities Fund’s first close brought in €185 million ($208 million). Existing investors Pantheon, KfW Capital and the European Investment Fund came on board, joined by new backers Eli Lilly, Horizon Therapeutics, Belgian Growth Fund and New Waves Investments.

UP­DAT­ED: Bio­gen shares spike as ex­ecs com­plete a de­layed pitch for their con­tro­ver­sial Alzheimer's drug — the next move be­longs to the FDA

Biogen is stepping out onto the high wire today, reporting that the team working on the controversial Alzheimer’s drug aducanumab has now completed their submission to the FDA. And they want the agency to bless it with a priority review that would cut the agency’s decision-making time to a mere 6 months.

The news drove a 10% spike in Biogen’s stock $BIIB ahead of the bell.

Part of that spike can be attributed to a relief rally. Biogen execs rattled backers and a host of analysts earlier in the year when they unexpectedly delayed their filing to the third quarter. That delay provoked all manner of speculation after CEO Michel Vounatsos and R&D chief Al Sandrock failed to persuade influential observers that the pandemic and other factors had slowed the timeline for filing. Actually making the pitch at least satisfies skeptics that the FDA was not likely pushing back as Biogen was pushing in. From the start, Biogen execs claimed that they were doing everything in cooperation with the FDA, saying that regulators had signaled their interest in reviewing the submission.

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Mer­ck ex­pands scope of Zymeworks an­ti­body al­liance, adding close to $900M in mile­stones

Nearly a decade after first partnering with Merck, Vancouver-based biotech Zymeworks has expanded its collaboration with the pharma giant once again.

Zymeworks re-upped with Merck in a new licensing agreement, granting the New Jersey pharma giant the right to develop up to 3 additional multispecific antibody candidates. In exchange, the biotech will receive an undisclosed upfront payment — Merck is always loath to discuss cash terms — and nearly $900 million in combined regulatory ($411 million) and commercial ($480 million) milestones.

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Nello Mainolfi (Kymera via YouTube)

Out to re­vive R&D, a resur­gent Sanofi pays $150M cash to part­ner up with a pi­o­neer­ing pro­tein degra­da­tion play­er

Frank Nestle was appointed Sanofi’s global head of immunology and inflammation research therapeutic area just days before dupilumab, the blockbuster-to-be IL-4 antibody, would be accepted for priority review. After four years of consolidating immunology expertise from multiple corners of the Sanofi family and recruiting new talents to build the discovery engine, he’s set eyes on a Phase I-ready program that he believes can grow into a Dupixent-sized franchise.

Atul Deshpande, Harbour BioMed chief strategy officer & head, US operations (Harbour BioMed)

An­oth­er biotech IPO set-up? Multi­na­tion­al biotech leaps from round to round, scoop­ing up cash at a blis­ter­ing pace

A short four months after announcing a $75 million haul in Series B+ fundraising, the multinational biotech Harbour BioMed pulled in another round of investments and eclipsed the nine-digit mark in the process.

Harbour completed its Series C financing, the company announced Thursday morning, raising $102.8 million and bringing its total investment sum to over $300 million since its founding in late 2016. The biotech plans to use the money to transition early-stage candidates from the discovery phase, fund candidates already in the clinic, and prep late-stage candidates for commercialization.

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Covid-19 roundup: CDC de­bat­ing who should get first avail­able vac­cines; EU in Gilead talks af­ter US gob­bled first remde­sivir dos­es

The federal government has now spent billions of dollars accelerating the development of a Covid-19 vaccine, and yet they’ve remained hush-hush on who, precisely, would actually get inoculated once the first doses are approved and available. Internally, though, they have been debating it.

The CDC and an advisory committee of outside health experts have been working since April to devise a ranking system that would determine who receives a vaccine and when, The New York Times reported. The question of who is first in line for inoculation is important because no matter how many doses developers can make or how quickly they can make them, doses will still come out in batches; 300 million inoculations will not appear overnight.

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Bio­phar­ma com­pa­nies pledge $1B to fund an­tibi­otics R&D as field shriv­els; Four biotechs hunt $797M+

→ As promised, a group of some 20 biopharma companies have pooled close to $1 billion to fund new research in antibiotics — a field that has been dying of late. Small margins and tiny markets have killed off a slate of players in the field and drove out most of the big organizations. Now Eli Lilly, Pfizer and others hope to foot the bill for a group of 2 to 4 new antibiotics in the next 10 years. Pfizer alone pledged $100 million for the industry effort. “With the AMR Action Fund, the pharmaceutical industry is investing nearly $1 billion to sustain an antibiotic pipeline that is on the verge of collapse, a potentially devastating situation that could affect millions of people around the world,” said David Ricks, Eli Lilly CEO and president of IFPMA.