Confo Therapeutics raises €30 million; Waylivra receives approval from EU; endpoint met for Merck’s Belsomra in PhIII trial

Cedric Ververken

→ In an investment led by BioGeneration Ventures and co-led by Wellington Partners, with Fund+ and Perceptive Advisors stepping in, Confo Therapeutics announced today that it has raised €30 million ($33.4 million) in Series A financing. The company said that the funds will be allocated to use towards accelerating its ConfoBody-enabled drug discovery activities and to develop its pipeline of GPCR modulating compounds to produce drug candidates for clinical trials.

“We appreciate the strong and continued support from our existing investors, who have enabled the Company to progress to this point. We are proud to welcome BGV, Wellington Partners, Fund+ and Perceptive Advisors as new investors, completing a high-quality international syndicate. We look forward to boosting the company’s drug discovery engine and advancing our portfolio of GPCR-modulating compounds,” commented CEO Cedric Ververken.

Merck $MRK announced today that its drug Belsomra (suvorexant) C-IV met the primary efficacy endpoint in its Phase III trial for the treatment of insomnia in people with mild-to-moderate Alzheimer’s disease dementia. 

The company said that “this is the first dedicated Phase III polysomnography study of an insomnia medication in people with mild-to-moderate Alzheimer’s disease dementia, and in the trial, Belsomra met its primary and secondary efficacy endpoints. For the primary endpoint, 4-weeks of treatment with Belsomra improved mean total sleep time (TST) by 28.2 minutes versus placebo (n=135 vs. n=139, respectively; [95% CI:11.1,45.2], p<0.005). This corresponded to a mean increase from baseline of 73.4 minutes with Belsomra [95% CI: 61.3, 85.5] and a mean increase from baseline of 45.2 minutes with placebo [95% CI: 33.3, 57.2]. Adverse events were reported in 22.5% of patients receiving Belsomra compared to 16.1% of those receiving placebo.”

MIT Solve announced today the launch of Solve Innovation Fund — a philanthropic venture fund that will raise $30 million over time from donors contributing through tax-deductible gifts to MIT, to create debt and equity investments for early-stage entrepreneurs looking to solve global challenges. The company said that the fund will be set up as a donor-advised fund (DAF), independent to and external to MIT, with MIT Solve acting as a donor-advisor.

Noubar Afeyan

MIT graduate, founder and CEO of Flagship Pioneering Noubar Afeyan is committing up to $3 million to the fund.

“Solve’s mission is to tackle global challenges by helping early-stage innovators from all around the world connect with each other, tap the strength of MIT’s innovation ecosystem and, crucially, gain the resources to transform their ideas into impactful solutions. The Solve Innovation Fund is an inspiring step to providing Solver teams with the capital to deliver their solutions at scale,” said MIT president L. Rafael Reif.

→ The European Union has approved Akcea and Ionis’ drug, Waylivra (volanesorsen) — a therapy used towards Familial Chylomicronemia Syndrome (FCS). The company said that the therapy will be used as an adjunct diet in adult patients with genetically confirmed FCS and at high risk for pancreatitis, who’ve had an inadequate response to diet and triglyceride-lowering therapy.

Paula Soteropoulos

“Waylivra is the only approved treatment for people with FCS and is a major milestone for the global FCS community. This also marks Akcea’s second drug approval in the last year,” said Paula Soteropoulos, CEO of Akcea Therapeutics. “We plan to launch Waylivra in Germany this year followed by additional European countries in 2020. Our team is ready to deliver this treatment option to patients with FCS.”

→ On Tuesday, Denver voters will decide whether to decriminalize possession of psilocybin, a hallucinogenic drug used in “magic mushrooms,” reported Reuters. Denver will be the first US city to stop such prosecutions and if passed, individuals at least 21 years old who use or possess the drug will not receive criminal penalties. 

The drug will remain illegal under both Colorado and federal law and has been deemed by the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) to have a high potential for abuse and currently has no accepted medical use.

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Skyhawk Therapeutics Waltham, MA
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Elektroki Boston, MA
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Recursion Pharmaceuticals Salt Lake City, UT

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