Rodolphe Besserve, eureKARE CEO

Eu­rope's new in­vest­ment firm says it's on a mis­sion to lift up the con­ti­nen­t's 'un­der­ex­ploit­ed' sci­ence

Like many, Alexan­dre Moura­di­an saw the Covid-19 pan­dem­ic as a wake-up call. More dis­ease emer­gen­cies are com­ing, he said, and he want­ed to do some­thing about it.

Alexan­dre Moura­di­an

On Mon­day, he launched eu­reKARE, a new Paris-based ven­ture firm aim­ing to bridge the gap be­tween acad­e­mia and in­dus­try. And he’s land­ed a $60 mil­lion Se­ries A round to get start­ed.

“Eu­ro­pean sci­ence re­mains un­der­ex­ploit­ed com­pared to coun­tries like the US, with the gap be­tween acad­e­mia and big phar­ma widen­ing over the years,” CEO Rodolphe Besserve said in a state­ment.

eu­reKARE’s main goal is to find and launch new star­tups in the mi­cro­bio­me and syn­thet­ic bi­ol­o­gy mar­kets, which the firm ex­pects to hit $1.6 bil­lion and $57 bil­lion, re­spec­tive­ly, by 2028. But it al­so plans on in­vest­ing in three to five al­ready ex­ist­ing com­pa­nies a year. The firm al­ready boasts three star­tups in its port­fo­lio, the most ad­vanced of which — Stel­late Ther­a­peu­tics — should reach the clin­ic in 2022.

Stel­late is on a mis­sion to de­ci­pher the gut-brain ax­is, or the bidi­rec­tion­al high­way be­tween the cen­tral ner­vous sys­tem and the en­teric ner­vous sys­tem. Its lead can­di­date is a syn­thet­ic form of queuine, a metabo­lite made by bac­te­ria that’s pro­duced in the gut, for the treat­ment of Parkin­son’s dis­ease and Alzheimer’s.

Novo­Bio­me, the com­pa­ny’s oth­er mi­cro­bio­me as­set, is work­ing on live bio­ther­a­peu­tics for the treat­ment of he­pat­ic con­di­tions like non­al­co­holic fat­ty liv­er dis­ease (NAFLD) and non­al­co­holic steato-he­pati­tis (NASH).

Then there’s Omne Pos­si­bile, which is re­search­ing xeno-nu­cle­ic acids (XNA) — syn­thet­ic ge­net­ic chains whose dou­ble he­lices con­tain dif­fer­ent sug­ars than DNA or RNA.

“Peo­ple think that the world is cen­tered around on­ly DNA and RNA,” Besserve told End­points News. “What we think is that we can fur­ther im­prove oligonu­cleotides, and we can im­prove or find new struc­tures … that would be much more ef­fi­cient than DNA or RNA.”

One ap­pli­ca­tion, he said, could be the de­vel­op­ment of vac­cines that can re­main sta­ble at nor­mal tem­per­a­tures, to re­place the cur­rent gen­er­a­tion of mR­NA shots.

“It sounds like sci­ence fic­tion, but in re­al­i­ty, I would say it al­ready ex­ists in the lab,” he added.

Moura­di­an is al­so the founder of Spin­oza Foun­da­tion, a Lon­don-based non­prof­it think tank aim­ing to in­flu­ence pub­lic pol­i­cy. Besserve was pre­vi­ous­ly man­ag­ing di­rec­tor at So­ciété Générale, a lead­ing French fi­nan­cial ser­vices com­pa­ny.

“Think­ing out­side the box is in our DNA. The rapid Covid-19 vac­cine de­vel­op­ment has shown the pow­er of hu­man in­ge­nu­ity and this mod­el will be a core in­spi­ra­tion for us as we progress,” Besserve said.

eu­reKARE ex­pects to an­nounce its next in­vest­ment by the end of June.

This ar­ti­cle has been cor­rect­ed to re­flect that Stel­late’s can­di­date for Parkin­son’s is al­so be­ing de­vel­oped for Alzheimer’s.

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In­no­v­a­tive MedTech De­mands Spe­cial­ist Clin­i­cal Tri­al Reg­u­la­to­ry Af­fairs and De­sign

Avance Clinical is the Australian CRO for international biotechs providing world-class clinical research services with FDA-accepted data across all phases. With Avance Clinical, biotech companies can leverage Australia’s supportive clinical trials environment which includes no IND requirement plus a 43.5% Government incentive rebate on clinical spend. The CRO has been delivering clinical drug development services for international biotechs for FDA and EMA regulatory approval for the past 24 years. The company has been recognized for the past two consecutive years with the prestigious Frost & Sullivan CRO Best Practices Award and a finalist in Informa Pharma’s Best CRO award for 2022.

Mathai Mammen (Rob Tannenbaum, Endpoints News at BIO 2018)

Math­ai Mam­men makes an abrupt ex­it as head of the big R&D group at J&J

In an after-the-bell shocker, J&J announced Monday evening that Mathai Mammen has abruptly exited J&J as head of its top-10 R&D group.

Recruited from Merck five years ago, where the soft-spoken Mammen was being groomed as the successor to Roger Perlmutter, he had been one of the top-paid R&D chiefs in biopharma. His group spent $12 billion last year on drug development, putting it in the top 5 in the industry.

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Amid mas­sive re­struc­tur­ing, Bio­gen looks to re­duce phys­i­cal pres­ence in Boston

Biogen is putting a sizable chunk of office and research space in Kendall Square and Weston, MA up for sublease, marking another big change as the biotech grapples with the aftershock of a disastrous and controversial rollout for its Alzheimer’s drug.

The company calls it “part of Biogen’s overall implementation of the ‘Future of Work,’ which is allowing us to optimize our footprint and reduce the amount of space we occupy, taking into consideration new elements such as the hybrid work model,” the Boston Globe reported, quoting a spokesperson.

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Robert Califf, FDA commissioner (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call via AP Images)

Hop­ing to ex­pand mon­key­pox vac­cine sup­ply, US paves the way for new route of ad­min­is­tra­tion

After making it clear that the US’ current monkeypox vaccine supply is insufficient, the FDA on Tuesday authorized a new route of administration that should increase the number of available doses by five-fold.

Regulators cleared Bavarian Nordic’s Jynneos vaccine for intradermal injection in adults older than 18. Unlike subcutaneous injection — the current method by which vaccine is delivered under the skin — an intradermal jab goes directly into the skin. It’s believed that this method requires less vaccine, since the dermis is rich in dendritic cells which specialize in taking up foreign antigens and presenting them to the immune system, according to Daniel Kuritzkes, chief of infectious diseases at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston.

Illustration: Kim Ryu for Endpoints News

Why non-opi­oid pain drugs keep fail­ing — and what's next for the field

In 1938, Rita Levi-Montalcini was forced to move her lab into her bedroom in Turin, as Mussolini’s facist government expelled Jewish people from studying or working in schools in Italy. Levi-Montalcini, then just a few years out of medical school and using sewing needles as scalpels in her makeshift lab, would soon discover nerve growth factor, or NGF, in chicken embryos.

Her discoveries formed the basis of our understanding of the peripheral nervous system and how cells talk to each other, and Levi-Montalcini went on to win the Nobel Prize in 1986. Much later, NGF was hailed as a promising target for new pain therapies, with some analysts quoting an $11 billion market. However, the latest anti-NGF candidate, Pfizer and Eli Lilly’s tanezumab, was rejected by the FDA last year because of a side effect that dissolved bone in some of its patients.

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Samantha Du, Zai Lab CEO

Any­one still look­ing for a CD47? Zai Lab shelves PhI pro­gram af­ter re­view­ing 'com­pet­i­tive land­scape'

Over the past few years, the promise of blocking CD47 — a “don’t eat me” signal co-opted by cancer cells — has sent drugmakers big and small into a frenzy. But one biotech is now bowing out.

Zai Lab is deprioritizing ZL-1201, its CD47 inhibitor, scrapping plans for a Phase II trial. It will now “pursue out-licensing opportunities,” the company said in its Q2 update. The decision was based on a review of the competitive landscape, it added, without going into further details.

HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra (Patrick Semansky/AP Images)

US weighs new route of ad­min­is­tra­tion for mon­key­pox vac­cine as cas­es climb — re­port

Less than a week after HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra declared monkeypox a national health emergency, reports have emerged that the US plans to extend its vaccine supply by opting for a different route of administration.

Officials are expected to call for intradermal injection of Bavarian Nordic’s Jynneos vaccine — the only shot approved specifically for monkeypox in the US — as opposed to subcutaneous injection, unnamed sources told both the New York Times and Washington Post on Tuesday.

'Messy at best': Is the US re­peat­ing the same Covid mis­steps with mon­key­pox mes­sag­ing?

When Kyle Planck first suspected he might have monkeypox in late June, he went to the CDC website and found six photos of different types of lesions. And that was about it for general public information.

Planck, who is a sixth-year PhD pharmacology researcher at Weill Cornell, kept looking though and found a separate part of the CDC website meant for healthcare professionals. There he found a medical slide deck with more pictures, professional journal articles and more details about symptoms and diagnosis.

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Andy Jassy, Amazon CEO (Isaac Brekken/AP Images for NFL, File)

Up­dat­ed: FDA slaps Ama­zon with a warn­ing let­ter for sell­ing OTC mole re­moval prod­ucts

The FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research on Tuesday released a warning letter sent last week to Amazon CEO Andy Jassy in Seattle for selling mole removal products over-the-counter, or, as the FDA explains, “introducing, delivering, or causing the introduction or delivery into interstate commerce of products that are unapproved new drugs.”

“There are no over-the-counter (OTC) drugs that can be legally sold for mole or skin tag removal, and FDA has safety concerns about drugs marketed OTC directly to consumers for these uses,” the agency said in its Aug. 4 warning.