Clin­i­cal tri­al dis­rup­tor Sci­ence 37 in talks with Soft­Bank on a $150M in­vest­ment — Re­code

Just a few months af­ter phar­ma gi­ant No­var­tis part­nered up with Sci­ence 37 on its vir­tu­al ap­proach to clin­i­cal tri­al work, Re­code re­ports that the would-be CRO dis­rup­tor is in talks with Soft­Bank ex­ecs on a $150 mil­lion in­vest­ment.

Noah Craft, Sci­ence 37 CEO

Soft­Bank, which pro­vid­ed Roivant chief Vivek Ra­maswamy with more than a bil­lion dol­lars to in­vest in biotech, ev­i­dent­ly has been drawn to Sci­ence 37’s promise that it can ef­fi­cient­ly and ef­fec­tive­ly re­cruit pa­tients for clin­i­cal tri­als with­out forc­ing them in­to a tri­al site. Us­ing new telemed­i­cine tech, they say they can ac­cu­mu­late clean datasets to show whether or not new drugs are work­ing — hop­ing to dis­rupt the big play­ers who now dom­i­nate the CRO world.

Quot­ing sources, Re­code notes that Sci­ence 37 is plan­ning to val­ue it­self at $300 mil­lion for this deal, up about $100 mil­lion since Lux Cap­i­tal and Google’s GV helped back the com­pa­ny a lit­tle more than a year ago. 

Soft­Bank’s big, $98 bil­lion Vi­sion Fund has made re­peat­ed for­ays in­to the world of drug de­vel­op­ment and tech­nol­o­gy. Aside from Roivant, the group par­tic­i­pat­ed in the mas­sive $500 mil­lion round to back George Scan­gos’ Vir, which is work­ing on an in­fec­tious dis­ease drug pipeline.

The CRO busi­ness has un­der­gone a decade of shak­ing out as pri­vate eq­ui­ty groups moved in to buy up the out­sourc­ing com­pa­nies and meld them in­to a set of large and ag­gres­sive glob­al play­ers, of­ten with big staffs. Shak­ing them up with a new tech ap­proach won’t come eas­i­ly in an R&D world where safe and de­pend­able are key watch­words in the high-risk world of drug de­vel­op­ment.

But Sci­ence 37 con­tin­ues to build up a head of steam to give it a try.

As Nas­daq en­rolls the fi­nal batch of 2019 IPOs, how have the num­bers com­pared to past years?

IGM Biosciences’ upsized IPO haul, coming after SpringWorks’ sizable public debut, has revved up some momentum for the last rush of biotech IPOs in 2019.

With 39 new listings on the books and roughly two more months to go before winding down, Nasdaq’s head of healthcare listings Jordan Saxe sees the exchange marking 50 to 60 biopharma IPOs for the year.

“December 15 is usually the last possible day that companies will price,” he said, as companies get ready for business talks at the annual JP Morgan Healthcare Conference in January.

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A fa­vorite in Alex­ion’s C-suite is leav­ing, and some mighty sur­prised an­a­lysts aren’t the least bit hap­py about it

Analysts hate to lose a biotech CFO they’ve come to trust and admire — especially if they’re being blindsided by a surprise exit.

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David Grainger [file photo]

'Dis­con­nect the bas­tard­s' — one biotech's plan to break can­cer cell­s' uni­fied de­fens­es

Chemotherapy and radiotherapy are the current gladiators of cancer treatment, but they come with well-known limitations and side-effects. The emergence of immunotherapy — a ferocious new titan in oncologist’s toolbox — takes the brakes off the immune system to kill cancer cells with remarkable success in some cases, but the approach is not always effective. What makes certain forms of cancer so resilient? Scientists may have finally pieced together a tantalizing piece of the puzzle, and a new biotech is banking on a new approach to fill the gap.

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While No­var­tis ban­ish­es Zol­gens­ma scan­dal scars — Bio­gen goes on a Spin­raza 'of­fen­sive'

While Novartis painstakingly works to mop up the stench of the data manipulation scandal associated with its expensive gene therapy for spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) Zolgensma— rival Biogen is attempting to expand the use of its SMA therapy, Spinraza. 

The US drugmaker $BIIB secured US approval for Spinraza for use in the often fatal genetic disease in 2016. The approval covered a broad range of patients with infantile-onset (most likely to develop Type 1) SMA. 

Jason Kelly. Mike Blake/Reuters via Adobe

Eye­ing big ther­a­peu­tic push, Gink­go bags $290M to build a cell pro­gram­ming em­pire

Ginkgo Bioworks is on a roll. Days after publicizing a plan to nurture new startups via partnerships with accelerators Y Combinator and Petri, the Boston biotech says it has raised another $290 million for its cell programming platform to reach further and wider.

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UP­DAT­ED: Speak­er Nan­cy Pelosi to un­veil bill for fed­er­al­ly ne­go­ti­at­ed drug prices

After months of buzz from both sides of the aisle, Speaker Nancy Pelosi will today introduce her plan to allow the federal government to negotiate prices for 250 prescription drugs, setting up a showdown with a pharmaceutical industry working overtime to prevent it.

The need to limit drug prices is a rare point of agreement between President Trump and Democrats, although the president has yet to comment on the proposal and will likely face pressure to back a more conservative option or no bill at all. Republican Senator Chuck Grassley is reportedly lobbying his fellow party members on a more modest proposal he negotiated with Democratic Senator Ron Wyden in July.

Jeff Kindler's Cen­trex­ion re­news bid to make pub­lic de­but

Jeffrey Kindler’s plan to take his biotech — which is developing a slate of non-opioid painkillers — public, is back on.

The Boston based company, led by former Pfizer $PFE chief Kindler, originally contemplated a $70 million to $80 million IPO last year— but eventually postponed that strategy. On Wednesday, the company revived its bid to make a public debut in a filing with the SEC — although no pricing details were disclosed.

Zachary Hornby. Boundless

'A fourth rev­o­lu­tion in can­cer ther­a­pies': ARCH-backed Bound­less Bio flash­es big check, makes big­ger promis­es in de­but

It was the cellular equivalent of opening your car door and finding an active, roaring engine in the driver seat.

Scientists learned strands of DNA could occasionally appear outside of its traditional home in the nucleus in the 1970s, when they appeared as little, innocuous circles on microscopes; inexplicable but apparently innate. But not until UC San Diego’s Paul Mischel published his first study in Science in 2014 did researchers realize these circles were not only active but potentially overactive and driving some cancer tumors’ superhuman growth.

Scott Gottlieb, AP Images

Scott Got­tlieb is once again join­ing a team that en­joyed good times at the FDA un­der his high-en­er­gy stint at the helm

Right after jumping on Michael Milken’s FasterCures board on Monday, the newly departed FDA commissioner is back today with news about another life sciences board post that gives him a ringside chair to cheer on a lead player in the real-world evidence movement — one with very close ties to the FDA.

Aetion is reporting this morning that Gottlieb is joining their board, a group that includes Mohamad Makhzoumi, a general partner at New Enterprise Associates, where Gottlieb returned after stepping out of his role at the FDA 2 years after he started.

Gottlieb — one of the best connected execs in biopharma — knows this company well. As head of FDA he championed the use of real-world evidence to help guide drug developers and the agency in gaining greater efficiencies, which helped set up Aetion as a high-profile player in the game.

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