Rafaèle Tordjman (Jeito)

Dou­bling down on Sanofi's French roots, Paul Hud­son in­fus­es €50M in­to Jeito Cap­i­tal to boost home­grown biotechs

Paul Hud­son head­ed in­to the Élysée Palace, sum­moned by French Pres­i­dent Em­man­u­al Macron, in deep trou­ble with the coun­try’s gov­ern­ing elites who were of­fend­ed by his sug­ges­tion that the US would get first dibs on Sanofi’s Covid-19 vac­cines.

Paul Hud­son

The CEO emerged, as it would be an­nounced a month lat­er in June, with a plan to in­vest in vac­cine R&D in its home coun­try and a bold de­c­la­ra­tion that “Sanofi’s heart beats in France.”

In keep­ing with those promis­es, he’s in­ject­ing €50 mil­lion in­to France-based Jeito Cap­i­tal — an­oth­er first ac­cord­ing to the pri­vate VC firm.

Rafaèle Tord­j­man, the Sofinno­va vet who launched Jeito this Jan­u­ary with €200 mil­lion, be­lieves it’s not just the Eu­ro­pean fo­cus that at­tract­ed the phar­ma gi­ant. She is spe­cif­ic about back­ing star­tups that can beat an ac­cel­er­at­ed path to mar­ket (“you lose one year of patent, you lose one year of peak sales”), but not picky about the stage of the com­pa­ny.

“Our mod­el is to go faster for the pa­tient, fur­ther with the en­tre­pre­neur,” she told End­points News.

And she has as­sem­bled a “mul­ti-tal­ent­ed team that’s com­ing across the whole val­ue chain from trans­la­tion­al sci­ence to mar­ket ac­cess” to get biotech ex­ecs think­ing about tri­al de­sign, pric­ing and re­im­burse­ment, both in Eu­rope and the US, right away.

Tord­j­man leads the Paris of­fice along­side J&J vet Sabine Dandigu­ian, while Rachel Mears, who led busi­ness strat­e­gy and op­er­a­tions at For­est Labs be­fore it be­came Al­ler­gan, works in New York. The three op­er­a­tional in­vestors bring ex­pe­ri­ence as a re­pro­duc­tive health-fo­cused biotech vet, a re­searcher on G pro­tein cou­pled re­cep­tors, and a for­mer head of trans­ac­tions and al­liance man­age­ment at GSK, re­spec­tive­ly.

With the ex­cep­tion of ul­tra ear­ly-stage fund­ing, Tord­j­man said Jeito is open to fol­low­ing a com­pa­ny all the way to post-IPO, ded­i­cat­ing $80 mil­lion per deal over the years.

Amer­i­can in­vestors such as RA Cap­i­tal and Bain Life Sci­ences are em­brac­ing what she calls con­ti­nu­ity in­vest­ing, Tord­j­man said. That kind of evo­lu­tion from siloed bets, in her opin­ion, is much need­ed in Eu­rope.

An­oth­er change she wants to pro­mote at Jeito: as­sur­ing en­tre­pre­neurs they can dare to be more am­bi­tious.

“It’s why I was hap­py with Neo­gene, be­cause it is a Eu­ro­pean deal, but à la US, à la Amer­i­can way, to show oth­er Eu­ro­pean com­pa­nies: Let’s do that,” she said, re­fer­ring to the $110 mil­lion Se­ries A that Arie Bellde­grun and David Chang helped put to­geth­er for Ton Schu­mach­er’s cell ther­a­py start­up. “Al­ways a ques­tion I love to ask en­tre­pre­neurs [is] in an ide­al world, you have all the mon­ey you want, what you will do.”

Jeito — a play on a Brazil­ian word evok­ing the spir­it of “if there’s a will, there’s a way” — has seen a steady in­flow of deals, and both Neo­gene and Spar­ingVi­sion, a Paris-based oph­thal­mol­o­gy play­er, were se­lect­ed out of 250 or so they’ve re­viewed as of Oc­to­ber. Deals #3 and #4 are on their way, Tord­j­man sug­gest­ed.

For Hud­son, it all bodes well for giv­ing Sanofi ac­cess to the very best med­ical in­no­va­tion in the re­gion out­side of its BD ef­forts and ven­ture arm.

“We strong­ly be­lieve in the po­ten­tial of France and Eu­rope to be­come a world-class hub for in­no­va­tion in life sci­ences, which just needs the ap­pro­pri­ate con­di­tions and a stim­u­lat­ing en­vi­ron­ment in or­der to thrive,” he said in a state­ment.

Biotech and Big Phar­ma: A blue­print for a suc­cess­ful part­ner­ship

Strategic partnerships have long been an important contributor to how drugs are discovered and developed. For decades, big pharma companies have been forming alliances with biotech innovators to increase R&D productivity, expand geographical reach and better manage late-stage commercialization costs.

Noël Brown, Managing Director and Head of Biotechnology Investment Banking, and Greg Wiederrecht, Ph.D., Managing Director in the Global Healthcare Investment Banking Group at RBC Capital Markets, are no strangers to the importance of these tie-ups. Noël has over 20 years of investment banking experience in the industry. Before moving to the banking world in 2015, Greg was the Vice President and Head of External Scientific Affairs (ESA) at Merck, where he was responsible for the scientific assessment of strategic partnership opportunities worldwide.

No­var­tis' sec­ond at­tempt to repli­cate a stun­ning can­cer re­sult falls flat

Novartis’ hopes of turning one of the most surprising trial data points of the last decade into a lung cancer drug has taken another setback.

The Swiss pharma announced Monday that its IL-1 inhibitor canakinumab did not significantly extend the lives or slow the disease progression of patients with previously untreated locally advanced or metastatic non-small cell lung cancer when compared to standard of-care alone.

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How Chi­na turned the ta­bles on bio­phar­ma's glob­al deal­mak­ing

Fenlai Tan still gets chills thinking about the darkest day of his life.

Three out of eight lung cancer patients who received a tyrosine kinase inhibitor developed by his company, Betta Pharma, died in the span of a month. Tan, the chief medical officer, was summoned to Peking Union Medical College Hospital, where the head of the clinical trial department told him that the trial investigators would be conducting an autopsy to see if the patients had died of the disease — they were all very sick by the time they enrolled — or of interstitial lung disease, a deadly side effect tied to the TKI class that’s been reported in Japan.

James Peyer, Cambrian CEO

Brent Saun­ders joins $100M Se­ries C for a com­pa­ny out to be the Bridge­Bio of ag­ing

About a year ago, James Peyer, a CEO and co-founder of the little known longevity biotech Cambrian Biopharma, was trying to find some R&D talent last year when he met with more than a bit of experience in that department: David Nicholson, the former R&D chief of the erstwhile pharma giant Allergan.

It turned out Nicholson already had an interest in Peyer’s field. In their Allergan days, he and COO Brent Saunders held weekly meetups where they tried to figure out how to take the company’s dominance in aesthetics — which, until recently, was often what people meant by anti-aging science — and expertise with more traditional drug development, and use it to make drugs that extend people’s lifespan.

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As pres­sure to share tech­nol­o­gy mounts, BioN­Tech se­lects Rwan­da for lat­est vac­cine site

BioNTech’s first mRNA-based vaccine site in Africa will call Rwanda home, and construction is set to start in mid-2022, the company announced Tuesday at a public health forum.

The German company signed a memorandum of understanding, after a meeting between Rwanda’s Minister of Health, Daniel Ngamije, Senegal’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Aïssata Tall Sall, and senior BioNTech officials. Construction plans have been finalized, and assets have been ordered. The agreement will help bring end-to-end manufacturing to Africa, and as many as several hundred million doses of vaccines per year, though initial production will be more modest.

No­var­tis dumps AveX­is pro­gram for Rett syn­drome af­ter fail­ing re­peat round of pre­clin­i­cal test­ing

Say goodbye to AVXS-201.

The Rett syndrome gene therapy drug made by AveXis — the biotech that was bought, kept separate, then renamed and finally absorbed by Novartis into its R&D division — has been dropped by the biopharma.

In Novartis’ third quarter financial report, the pharma had found that preclinical data did not support development of the gene therapy into IND-enabling trials and beyond. The announcement comes a year after Novartis told the Rett Society how excited it was by the drug — and its potential benefits and uses.

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ARCH-backed SciNeu­ro kicks off search for CNS au­toan­ti­bod­ies with new deal; Mer­ck + Gilead an­nounce PhII tri­al for HIV com­bo

From the very beginning at SciNeuro, CEO Min Li has envisioned a mix of licensing deals and scientific efforts to replicate the breakout success of China’s oncology companies in neuroscience.

The GlaxoSmithKline vet has now inked a deal that somewhat straddles the line between the two strategies.

Teaming up with Mabylon out of Zurich, SciNeuro is now looking to test the hypothesis that the human immune system can play a role in fighting neurodegenerative diseases by discovering and developing human autoantibodies against neurological “targets of mutual interests.” The new partners offered TAR DNA binding protein-43 (TDP-43) and apolipoprotein E (APOE), which are linked to ALS and Alzheimer’s, as examples.

Katie Fanning, Mozart Therapeutics CEO

Mozart Ther­a­peu­tics makes its of­fi­cial de­but, jump­ing in­to the hot Treg R&D field with some big-name in­vestors back­ing it

Treg cells have been getting more and more attention recently among autoimmune specialists. There’s been Jeff Bluestone’s Sonoma, the $157 million launch of GentiBio this summer and Egle Therapeutics — which launched just last week — to name a few.

Now, there’s a new Treg player jumping in that wants to distinguish itself in the market: Mozart Therapeutics. Today, the biotech is emerging from stealth in its official debut with a $55 million Series A — with a bunch of A-list Big Pharma names on board a syndicate led by ARCH.

Vas Narasimhan, Novartis CEO (Simon Dawson/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

With San­doz con­tin­u­ing to drag on No­var­tis, Vas Narasimhan says he may fi­nal­ly be ready for a sale or spin­off

After years of rehab work aimed at getting Sandoz in fighting trim to compete in a market overshadowed by declining prices, CEO Vas Narasimhan took a big step toward possibly selling or spinning off the giant generic drug player.

The pharma giant flagged plans to launch a strategic review of the business in its Q3 update, noting that “options range from retaining the business to separation.”

Analysts have been poking and prodding Novartis execs for years now as Narasimhan attempted to remodel a business that has been a drag on its performance during most of his reign in the CEO suite. The former R&D chief has made it well known that he’s devoted to the innovative meds side of the business, where they see the greatest potential for growth.

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