De­men­tia Dis­cov­ery Fund clos­es $350M, re­cruits Cel­gene ex­ec as CEO; Ex-Lazard banker Ian Woo joins C-Bridge and Ever­est

→ With a fresh $60 mil­lion in­vest­ment from US AARP, the De­men­tia Dis­cov­ery Fund has of­fi­cial­ly closed its $350 mil­lion fundrais­ing round. The to­tal sur­passed the group’s ini­tial tar­get of $200 mil­lion. The DDF says it’s the first and largest fund ded­i­cat­ed to de­men­tia, in­clud­ing Alzheimer’s dis­ease. The fund is man­aged by SV Health and was formed with col­lab­o­ra­tion from Bio­gen, Eli Lil­ly, GSK, J&J, Ot­su­ka (As­tex), Pfiz­er and Take­da, the UK De­part­ment of Health and So­cial Care and the char­i­ty Alzheimer’s Re­search UK. Since the group’s launch in 2015, its made 16 in­vest­ments.

With its fresh in­fu­sion of cash, the DDF al­so an­nounced a new CEO in An­gus Grant, the for­mer cor­po­rate vice pres­i­dent of busi­ness de­vel­op­ment at Cel­gene.

“An­gus has a huge amount of ex­pe­ri­ence in iden­ti­fy­ing, de­vel­op­ing, fund­ing, reg­u­lat­ing and deal mak­ing with nov­el ther­a­pies in­ter­na­tion­al­ly and we look for­ward to the sig­nif­i­cant guid­ance and ex­per­tise that he will bring,” said Kate Bing­ham, man­ag­ing part­ner at SV Health In­vestors, in a state­ment.

C-Bridge Cap­i­tal has re­cruit­ed Ian Woo, a man­ag­ing di­rec­tor of glob­al health­care group Lazard, to serve as the com­pa­ny’s man­ag­ing di­rec­tor. Woo will al­so serve as pres­i­dent and CEO of Ever­est Med­i­cines, one of C-Bridge’s port­fo­lio com­pa­nies. “Ian has a proven track record of man­ag­ing cross-bor­der trans­ac­tions,” said Fu Wei, CEO of C-Bridge Cap­i­tal, in a state­ment. “As part of our team, he will help lead the ac­cel­er­a­tion of Ever­est’s li­cens­ing and de­vel­op­ment ef­forts for bio­phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal as­sets from the U.S. and Eu­rope for com­mer­cial­iza­tion in Chi­na and neigh­bor­ing Asian mar­kets.”

Jar­diance, the SGLT2 drug ap­proved for Type 2 di­a­betes has now come through on two stud­ies in­volv­ing Type 1 pa­tients. Eli Lil­ly $LLY and Boehringer say they’ll now ex­plore their reg­u­la­to­ry op­tions, stop­ping short of say­ing they’ll file for an OK.

Ver­tex $VRTX has long had a hard time con­vinc­ing sin­gle pay­ers in Eu­rope to pay up for their cys­tic fi­bro­sis drug Orkam­bi. Now New York state of­fi­cials are get­ting in­to the act, say­ing the cost of this drug just doesn’t mea­sure up to the lim­it­ed ef­fi­ca­cy. 

How Pa­tients with Epilep­sy Ben­e­fit from Re­al-World Da­ta

Amanda Shields, Principal Data Scientist, Scientific Data Steward

Keith Wenzel, Senior Business Operations Director

Andy Wilson, Scientific Lead

Real-world data (RWD) has the potential to transform the drug development industry’s efforts to predict and treat seizures for patients with epilepsy. Anticipating or controlling an impending seizure can significantly increase quality of life for patients with epilepsy. However, because RWD is secondary data originally collected for other purposes, the challenge is selecting, harmonizing, and analyzing the data from multiple sources in a way that helps support patients.

$DNA is once again on NYSE; FDA clears Soliris chal­lenger for the mar­ket; Flag­ship’s think­ing big again with eR­NA; and more

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Re­gen­eron's Evkeeza shows promise in curb­ing high triglyc­erides, but will ge­net­ic dis­par­i­ties lim­it use?

When Regeneron scored an early approval for lipid lowering antibody Evkeeza back in February, the drugmaker cracked open a new pathway to lower abnormally high cholesterol levels. Now, Regeneron is chasing high triglycerides as well with some promising mid-stage data — but will genetic restrictions limit the drug’s use?

Regeneron’s Evkeeza (evinacumab) cut median triglyceride levels by more than 800 mg/dL (57%) in patients with a rare disorder causing abnormally high triglyceride levels compared with an overall increase of 50 mg/dL (1.8%) in participants on placebo, according to Phase II data presented Sunday at the virtual American College of Cardiology meeting.

Michael Dell (Richard Drew, AP Images)

'Dude, you're get­ting a Del­l' — as a new deep-pock­et biotech in­vestor

What happens when you marry longtime insiders in the global biotech VC game with the family fund of tech billionaire Michael Dell, a synthetic biology legend out of MIT and Harvard and the former director of the NCI?

Today, the answer is a newly financed, $200 million biotech SPAC now cruising the industry for a top player interested in finding a short cut to Nasdaq.

Orion Biotech Opportunities priced their blank check company today, raising $200 million with Dell’s multibillion-dollar MSD group’s commitment on investing another $20 million in a forward-purchase agreement.

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As­traZeneca's Farx­i­ga missed big on Covid-19 study, but it's tak­ing SGLT2 safe­ty da­ta as a sil­ver lin­ing

AstraZeneca hasn’t seen many setbacks in recent months for SGLT2 inhibitor Farxiga, which broke ground in heart failure and kidney disease regardless of diabetes diagnosis. But the British drugmaker had to admit defeat in taking Farxiga into Covid-19, but follow-up results add a bit of a silver lining to that trial’s safety data.

Of hospitalized Covid-19 patients dosed with AstraZeneca’s Farxiga, 11.2% experienced an organ failure or died after 30 days of therapy compared with 13.8% of those given placebo, according to follow-up data from the DARE-19 study revealed Sunday at the virtual American College of Cardiology meeting.

Vas Narasimhan (Photographer: Simon Dawson/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

No­var­tis whiffs on En­tresto study af­ter heart at­tacks — but that does­n't mean it's go­ing down qui­et­ly

If Novartis learned one thing from its interaction with the FDA over its latest heart failure approval for Entresto, it was that missing a primary endpoint may not be the nail in the coffin. Now, Entresto has missed again on a late-stage study in high-risk heart patients, and it’s already sowing the seeds for a path forward regardless.

Novartis’ Entresto couldn’t best standard-of-care ramipril in staving off a composite of deaths and heart failure events in patients with left ventricular systolic dysfunction and/or pulmonary congestion who have had a prior heart attack, according to topline data from the Phase III PARADISE-MI study revealed Saturday at the virtual American College of Cardiology meeting.

Pfiz­er, Bris­tol My­er­s' Eliquis flops in post-heart surgery pa­tients, spurring an 'un­ex­plained sig­nal' in cer­tain deaths

Pfizer and Bristol Myers Squibb’s non-warfarin blood thinner Eliquis has raced out to become the most prescribed drug of its class on the market — even overtaking warfarin’s long-time lead. But in tricky-to-treat patients after a valve replacement, an investigator-sponsored study couldn’t turn up benefit and raised a troubling safety signal.

Eliquis failed to show benefit over standard of care in preventing serious clinical outcomes after a transaortic valve replacement (TAVR) and was linked to an “unexplained signal” in a subset of populations with a higher rate of non-CV deaths who did not need blood thinners apart from the surgery, according to data presented Saturday at the virtual American College of Cardiology meeting.

Gene ther­a­py from Bio­gen's $800M buy­out flops in mid-stage study, deal­ing blow to new am­bi­tions

The #2 candidate from Biogen’s $800 million ocular gene therapy buyout has failed in a mid-stage trial, dealing an early blow to the big biotech’s plans to revitalize its pipeline with new technologies.

Biogen announced that the candidate, an experimental treatment for a rare and progressive form of blindness called X-linked retinitis pigmentosa (XLRP), failed to sufficiently improve vision in patients’ treated eye — patients only received an injection in one eye — after a year, on a standard scale, compared to their untreated eye. The company said they saw “positive trends” on several secondary endpoints, including visual acuity, but declined to say whether the trial actually hit any of those endpoints.

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Bris­tol My­ers backs up its case for heart drug mava­camten as FDA weighs app in car­diomy­opa­thy

When Bristol Myers Squibb signed off on its $13 billion acquisition of MyoKardia back in October, it was making a big bet that lead drug mavacamten could prove a game changer in cardiac myopathy. Now, with the drug up for FDA review, Bristol Myers is backing up its case with new quality of life data.

Patients dosed with myosin inhibitor mavacamten posted a clinically significant increase in scores on the Kansas City Cardiomyopathy Questionnaire, a catch-all summary of symptoms and quality of life markers, over placebo at 30 weeks, according to data from the Phase III EXPLORER-HCM study presented Saturday at the virtual American College of Cardiology meeting.