Johan Kördel, Sound Bioventures founding partner

Eu­ro­pean biotech VC clos­es first fund with over $120M in the bank, thanks to big in­vestors

No­vo Hold­ings starts the new year off with a bang — right in­to a biotech VC’s first fund.

The firm an­nounced its undis­closed in­vest­ment — a “cor­ner­stone” in­vest­ment, ac­cord­ing to No­vo — this morn­ing in­to Sound Bioven­tures Fund I, a fund ap­pro­pri­ate­ly man­aged by Sound Bioven­tures. The ven­ture cap­i­tal firm aims to in­vest one-third of its fund in Scan­di­na­vian biotechs, an­oth­er third in US and UK biotechs, and the fi­nal third in oth­er Eu­ro­pean biotechs out­side Scan­di­navia and the UK.

No­vo Hold­ings was joined by Sam­in­vest, Væk­st­fonden, Rams­bury In­vest and the Eu­ro­pean In­vest­ment Fund, along­side oth­er pri­vate in­vestors.

With all in­vest­ments so far at first close, Sound’s first fund has net­ted the VC $124 mil­lion (or €110 mil­lion).

Found­ing part­ner Jo­han Kördel told End­points News that they hope to get to €150 mil­lion in the next 12 months, and have a hard cap of €200 mil­lion, or just un­der $250 mil­lion, if the fund is “ex­treme­ly suc­cess­ful.”

Sound has a three-man found­ing team. Casper Breum and Kördel, who spent 12 years to­geth­er at ma­jor VC Lund­beck­fonden be­fore go­ing off on their own to start Sound, are based in Eu­rope. And there’s a third man be­hind the cur­tain — Bib­hash Mukhopad­hyay.

Based out of Wash­ing­ton, DC, Mukhopad­hyay used to be a prin­ci­pal at NEA. He was brought on board with Sound at the rec­om­men­da­tion of Søren Møller, a man­ag­ing part­ner at No­vo Seeds, to bring on some­one in the US.

“Møller made it clear to us that it’s go­ing to be chal­leng­ing for you to be fi­nan­cial­ly suc­cess­ful, if you on­ly in­vest in Scan­di­navia,” Kördel said.

Kördel con­tin­ued:

And in the work we did with Lund­beck­fonden Ven­tures, we in­vest­ed half of our in­vest­ments in the US and half in Eu­rope — so we were al­ready very at­tuned to hav­ing an in­ter­na­tion­al view on where to in­vest in life sci­ence. And we were en­cour­aged by, okay, we re­al­ly shouldn’t be look­ing at this as an in­ter­na­tion­al fund, with some sim­i­lar­i­ties to what we had been do­ing be­fore. And then it be­came clear that we would ben­e­fit from hav­ing some­body in the US.

The VC’s fo­cus is on biotechs with can­di­dates in clin­i­cal or late pre-clin­i­cal stages — and pri­mar­i­ly with­in rare dis­eases. How­ev­er, Kördel not­ed that Sound is not a huge fund, so while the part­ners like gene ther­a­py and cell ther­a­py, the CMC costs would be way high­er com­pared to pro­teins and small mol­e­cules.

Søren Møller

Møller told End­points that No­vo en­gaged with Sound more di­rect­ly be­tween nine months and a year ago to get in­vest­ment un­der­way — but it was not the first time he had worked with the brains be­hind the op­er­a­tion at Sound. Kördel said that he had talked with Møller as far back as 2019 about strik­ing out on his own along­side Breum, and Møller had been coach­ing them since the ear­ly stage of the Covid-19 pan­dem­ic.

And while Møller would not dis­close the amount that No­vo in­vest­ed in­to Sound, he did say that the in­vest­ment was more sub­stan­tial than sym­bol­ic — and in­dica­tive of a po­ten­tial long-term re­la­tion­ship.

“When we launch or when we cor­ner­stone a new man­ag­er like this one, we def­i­nite­ly fore­see to par­tic­i­pate in the next fund and the next fund, so it’s a long term re­la­tion­ship,” Møller said.

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His­toric drug pric­ing re­forms pass; Pfiz­er ac­quires GBT; The long search for non-opi­oid pain drugs; and more

Welcome back to Endpoints Weekly, your review of the week’s top biopharma headlines. Want this in your inbox every Saturday morning? Current Endpoints readers can visit their reader profile to add Endpoints Weekly. New to Endpoints? Sign up here.

The Endpoints Weekly has officially crossed the 60,000 mark on subscribers — thanks to all of your support. As the editorial team grows, we’ve been able to do a lot more, with many of those on display this week. Be sure to check out Lei Lei Wu’s deep dive on pain R&D. If you missed it, you may also rewatch her companion panel here.

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Gold for adults, sil­ver for in­fants: Pfiz­er's Pre­vnar 2.0 head­ed to FDA months af­ter Mer­ck­'s green light

Pfizer was first to the finish line for the next-gen pneumococcal vaccine in adults, but Merck beat its rival with a jab for children in June.

Now, two months after Merck’s 15-valent Vaxneuvance won the FDA stamp of approval for kids, Pfizer is out with some late-stage data on its 20-valent shot for infants.

Known as Prevnar 20 for adults, Pfizer’s 20vPnC will head to the FDA by the end of this year for an approval request in infants, the Big Pharma said Friday morning. Discussions with the FDA will occur first and more late-stage pediatric trials are expected to read out soon, informing the regulatory pathway in other countries and regions.

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No­var­tis re­ports two pa­tient deaths af­ter treat­ment with Zol­gens­ma

Two children with spinal muscular atrophy have died after receiving Novartis’ Zolgensma, a gene therapy designed as a one-time treatment for the rare fatal disease.

The deaths, which resulted from acute liver failure, occurred in Russia and Kazakhstan, Novartis confirmed in a statement to Endpoints News. Having notified health authorities across all the markets where Zolgensma is available, it will update the drug label “to specify that fatal acute liver failure has been reported,” a spokesperson wrote.

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House pass­es his­toric drug pric­ing re­forms, lin­ing up decades-in-the-mak­ing win for Biden and De­moc­rats

The US House of Representatives today voted along party lines (all Dems voted for it), 220-207 to pass new, wide-ranging legislation that will allow Medicare drug price negotiations for the first time ever, and cap seniors’ drug expenses to $2,000 per year and seniors’ insulin costs at $35 per month.

Setting up a major victory for President Joe Biden, representatives returned from their summer recess to pass the Inflation Reduction Act, even as many noted the bill would only modestly reduce inflation.

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Senate Finance Committee Chair Ron Wyden (D-OR) (Francis Chung/E&E News/POLITICO via AP Images)

Sen­ate Fi­nance chair con­tin­ues his in­ves­ti­ga­tion in­to phar­ma tax­es with re­quests for Am­gen

Amgen is the latest pharma company to appear on the radar of Senate Finance Committee Chair Ron Wyden (D-OR), who is investigating the way pharma companies are using subsidiaries in low- or zero-tax countries to lower their tax bills.

Like its peers Merck, AbbVie and Bristol Myers Squibb, Wyden notes how Amgen uses its Puerto Rico operations to consistently pay tax rates that are substantially lower than the U.S. corporate tax rate of 21%, with an effective tax rate of 10.7% in 2020 and 12.1% in 2021.

FDA ap­proves sec­ond in­di­ca­tion for As­traZeneca and Dai­ichi's En­her­tu in less than a week

AstraZeneca and Daiichi Sankyo’s antibody-drug conjugate Enhertu scored its second approval in less than a week, this time for a subset of lung cancer patients.

Enhertu received accelerated approval on Thursday to treat adults with unresectable or metastatic non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) whose tumors have activating HER2 (ERBB2) mutations, and who have already received a prior systemic therapy.

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J&J to re­move talc prod­ucts from shelves world­wide, re­plac­ing with corn­starch-based port­fo­lio

After controversially spinning out its talc liabilities and filing for bankruptcy in an attempt to settle 38,000 lawsuits, Johnson & Johnson is now changing up the formula for its baby powder products.

J&J is beginning the transition to an all cornstarch-based baby powder portfolio, the pharma giant announced on Thursday — just months after a federal judge ruled in favor of its “Texas two-step” bankruptcy to settle allegations that its talc products contained asbestos and caused cancer. An appeals court has since agreed to revisit that case.

CSL is gathering its four business units under a unified brand identity strategy (Credit: CSL company site)

CSL brings Se­qirus, Vi­for un­der par­ent um­brel­la brand in iden­ti­ty re­vamp

CSL is gathering its brands under the family name umbrella, renaming its vaccine and newly acquired nephrology specialty businesses with the parent initials.

CSL Seqirus and CSL Vifor join CSL Plasma and CSL Behring as the four now uniformly branded business units of the global biopharma. The Seqirus vaccine division was formed in 2015 with the combination of bioCSL and its purchase of Novartis’ flu vaccine business. CSL picked up Vifor Pharma late last year in an $11.7 billion deal for the nephrology, iron deficiency and cardio-renal drug developer.

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