Sriram Subramaniam, Gandeeva Therapeutics founder and CEO

Cryo-EM fo­cused biotech from long­time NIH vet­er­an se­cures $40M back­ing from Bay­er in Se­ries A

“It’s al­ways nice to get mon­ey in the bank.”

That’s what Gan­dee­va Ther­a­peu­tics’ founder and CEO Sri­ram Sub­ra­ma­ni­am said af­ter re­veal­ing that his com­pa­ny land­ed $40 mil­lion in Se­ries A fund­ing. Gan­dee­va will use the mon­ey for its ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence-en­abled plat­form to iden­ti­fy small mol­e­cules and bi­o­log­ics at a faster pace.

The com­pa­ny is on a mis­sion to show that it can lever­age cryo-EM and AI to make a mean­ing­ful im­pact on drug dis­cov­ery, and it plans to do so with speed, us­ing AI for ex­per­i­ment pre­dic­tion.

Lux Cap­i­tal and Leaps by Bay­er led the round, with Ob­vi­ous Ven­tures, Am­gen Ven­tures, Am­pli­tude Ven­tures and Air Street Cap­i­tal al­so par­tic­i­pat­ing.

It’s a jour­ney that start­ed more than 20 years ago for Sub­ra­ma­ni­am, who spent 15 years as an in­ves­ti­ga­tor for the Na­tion­al In­sti­tute of Health’s in­tra­mur­al re­search pro­gram be­fore branch­ing out on his own.

“Walk­ing in­to cells and tis­sues was sci­ence fic­tion at that time,” he said in a call with End­points News Fri­day,

Over time, though, new tools emerged, most no­tably cryo-EM, a method by which sci­en­tists can im­age pro­teins and oth­er bi­o­log­i­cal en­ti­ties by freez­ing them and as­sault­ing them with elec­trons.

“It was clear to me that this ap­proach would be a turn­ing point for struc­tur­al bi­ol­o­gy, and it has been,” he said. “There’s no doubt that it’s been rev­o­lu­tion­ary. “

Jür­gen Eck­hardt

Speed is the foun­da­tion up­on which the plat­form is built, and for­tu­nate tim­ing is what has shaped the com­pa­ny’s work so far. Sub­ra­ma­ni­am said that his aca­d­e­m­ic lab was on­ly per­mit­ted to con­tin­ue its worth through the start of the Covid-19 pan­dem­ic if they of­fered to work on so­lu­tions for the virus. Most re­cent­ly, the com­pa­ny pub­lished a pa­per about the struc­tur­al analy­sis of the Omi­cron vari­ant in Sci­ence.

“I had nev­er worked on coro­n­avirus­es be­fore, but overnight, we switched to work­ing on coro­n­avirus­es and pret­ty much have looked at the struc­tures of every vari­ant, and pret­ty much every mu­tant,” he said. “From the be­gin­ning, I knew that’s where it would be head­ed, that there would be mu­ta­tions.”

In a state­ment, Jür­gen Eck­hardt, head of Leaps by Bay­er, said:

We be­lieve Gan­dee­va’s plat­form will al­low us to com­bine pre­dic­tion and ex­per­i­men­ta­tion to vi­su­al­ize and op­ti­mize drug de­sign at atom­ic scale and with un­prece­dent­ed speed. Gan­dee­va’s re­lent­less fo­cus on us­ing their pow­er­ful imag­ing tech­nolo­gies to cast a spot­light on the im­por­tance of pro­tein con­for­ma­tion in drug de­sign is aligned with our am­bi­tion to use nov­el da­ta-dri­ven meth­ods to bring pre­ci­sion med­i­cines and break­through cures to pa­tients.

This is the sec­ond time Leaps has led a fi­nanc­ing round for a start­up in just three weeks, as it led the $80 mil­lion Se­ries A for Celli­no, a Boston-based biotech fo­cused on cell ther­a­py man­u­fac­tur­ing. Sub­ra­ma­ni­am said that hav­ing the bal­ance of in­vestors, from the tech-fo­cused minds of Lux Cap­i­tal to the in­no­va­tion-mind­ed Leaps is a “dream come true.”

“We sit at this re­al­ly in­ter­est­ing in­ter­face, so to have an in­vest­ment syn­di­cate that re­flects the vi­sion and mis­sion of the com­pa­ny, that’s very spe­cial to me,” he said.

Biotech in­vestors and CEOs see two paths to growth, but are they equal­ly vi­able?

The dynamic in the biotech market has been highly volatile in the last few years, from the high peaks immediately after the COVID vaccine in 2021, to the lowest downturns of the last 20 years in 2022. This uncertainty makes calling the exact timing of the market’s turn something of a fool’s errand, according to Dr. Chen Yu, Founder and Managing Partner of TCG Crossover (TCG X). He speaks with RBC’s Noël Brown, Head of US Biotechnology Investment Banking, about the market’s road ahead and two possible paths for growth.

Casey McPherson shows his daughters Rose (left) and Weston around Everlum Bio, a lab that he co-founded to spark a treatment for Rose and others with ultra-rare conditions. (Ilana Panich-Linsman)

Fa­ther starts lab af­ter in­tel­lec­tu­al prop­er­ty is­sues stymie rare dis­ease drug de­vel­op­ment

Under bright lab lights, Casey McPherson holds his 6-year-old daughter, Rose. His free hand directs Rose’s gaze toward a computer screen with potential clues in treating her one-of-a kind genetic condition.

Gray specks on the screen show her cells that scientists reprogrammed with the goal of zeroing in on a custom medicine. McPherson co-founded the lab, Everlum Bio, to spark a treatment for Rose — and others like her. A regarded singer-songwriter, McPherson never imagined going into drug development.

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 150,500+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

Fireside chat between Hal Barron and John Carroll, UKBIO19

It’s time we talked about bio­phar­ma — live in Lon­don next week

Zoom can only go so far. And I think at this stage, we’ve all tested the limits of staying in touch — virtually. So I’m particularly happy now that we’ve revved up the travel machine to point myself to London for the first time in several years.

Whatever events we have lined up, we’ve always built in plenty of opportunities for all of us to get together and talk. For London, live, I plan to be right out front, meeting with and chatting with the small crowd of biopharma people we are hosting on October 12 at Silicon Valley Bank’s London headquarters. And there’s a lengthy mixer at the end I’m most looking forward to, with several networking openings between sessions.

Take­da to pull key hy­poparathy­roidism drug from the mar­ket af­ter years of man­u­fac­tur­ing woes

Takeda on Tuesday morning made an announcement that almost 3,000 people with the rare disease known as hypoparathyroidism were fearing.

Due to unresolved supply issues and manufacturing woes, Takeda said it will cut its losses and discontinue its hypoparathyroidism drug, known as Natpara (parathyroid hormone), halting all manufacturing of the drug by the end of 2024, but the entire inventory will be available until depleted or expired, a company spokesperson said via email.

Pfizer and BioNTech's original Marvel comic book links evolving Covid vaccine science to Avengers' evolving villain-fighting tools.(Source: Pfizer LinkedIn post)

Pfiz­er, BioN­Tech part­ner with Mar­vel for Avengers and Covid-fight­ing com­ic book

Pfizer and BioNTech are collaborating with Marvel to celebrate “everyday” people getting Covid-19 vaccines in a custom comic book.

In the “Everyday Heroes” digital comic book, an evolving Ultron, one of the Avengers’ leading villains, is defeated by Captain America, Ironman and others. The plotline and history of Ultron is explained by a grandfather who is waiting with his family at a clinic for Covid-19 vaccinations.

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 150,500+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

FDA+ roundup: Ad­comm date set for Cy­to­ki­net­ics heart drug; New gener­ic drug guid­ance to re­duce fa­cil­i­ty de­lays

The FDA on Wednesday set Dec. 13 as the day that its Cardiovascular and Renal Drugs Advisory Committee will review Cytokinetics’ potential heart drug, meaning regulators aren’t likely to meet the Nov. 30 PDUFA date that was previously set.

The drug, known as omecamtiv mecarbil, read out its first Phase III in November 2020, hitting the primary endpoint of reducing the odds of hospitalization or other urgent care for heart failure by 8%. But it also missed a key secondary endpoint analysts had pegged as the key to breaking into the market, failing to significantly differ in reducing cardiovascular death from placebo.

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 150,500+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

Af­ter Covid set­back, Val­ne­va lines up $100M for Pfiz­er-al­lied Ly­me dis­ease PhI­II

Valneva has secured €102.9 million (around $99.9 million USD) in a share offering to push forward its Pfizer-partnered Lyme disease vaccine and a jab for chikungunya that awaits an FDA decision.

The French vaccine maker largely snagged the near $100 million from Deep Track Capital and local state-owned Bpifrance, the company said Tuesday night. The capital injection is nearly equal to the amount Pfizer paid to nab equity in the company earlier this summer as part of the duo’s vaccine tie-up.

Valitor CEO Steven Lo (L) and president and CSO Wesley Jackson

A dozen years in the mak­ing, a UC Berke­ley spin­out nabs funds to take on the eye

Largely funded by government grants for the better part of its first decade, a UC Berkeley spinout has secured a new CEO and the funds to take its research into the clinic in early 2024.

The biotech, named by one of the co-founder’s daughters and originally scrapped together with NIH funds in the aftermath of the 2008-09 financial crisis, is also on a mission to upend the treatment of wet age-related macular degeneration, or AMD, with an injectable drug that it claims could be more durable than the “800-pound gorilla” in the room, Genentech’s Lucentis and Regeneron/Bayer’s Eylea.

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 150,500+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

Car­olyn Bertozzi (Illustration: Assistant editor Kathy Wong for Endpoints News)

Car­olyn Bertozzi, re­peat biotech founder and launch­er of a field, shares in chem­istry No­bel win

Carolyn Bertozzi, predicted by some to become a Nobel laureate, clinched one of the world’s top awards in the wee hours of Wednesday, winning the Nobel Prize in Chemistry alongside a repeat winner and a Copenhagen researcher.

The Stanford professor, Morten Meldal of University of Copenhagen and 2001-awardee K. Barry Sharpless of Scripps shared the prize equally. The Nobel is sometimes split in quarters and/or halves.