Ex-Den­dreon chief Mitch Gold steers his way back to the pub­lic mar­kets, look­ing to jump­start a new clin­i­cal pro­gram

Mitch Gold is com­ing back to the helm of a pub­lic biotech com­pa­ny.

The for­mer Den­dreon CEO — and cur­rent ven­ture cap­i­tal­ist — who was forced out of that com­pa­ny as Provenge slow­ly de­railed, is get­ting back in­to the pub­lic eye with con­sid­er­ably less fan­fare this time around.

Af­ter Ni­valis’ drug failed in a dis­as­trous at­tempt to come up with an add-on to Ver­tex’s cys­tic fi­bro­sis com­bo, about the on­ly thing left af­ter the in­evitable slash and burn on staff and costs was a vir­tu­al­ly emp­ty pub­lic shell.

Mitch Gold

Ni­valis had man­aged to catch one of the last waves in the old IPO boom in cash­ing in on in­vestors’ in­ter­est in biotech. But by the time the mar­ket closed to­day the mar­ket cap had shrunk down to a mere $41.3 mil­lion. And now Gold’s Alpine Im­mune Sys­tem is tak­ing that over in a re­verse merg­er that will scoot it out in­to the pub­lic mar­ket.

One of the big ideas at Alpine is to of­fer cus­tom en­gi­neer­ing work for the cell ther­a­pies now in the pipeline. Kite, crosstown Seat­tle biotech Juno and oth­ers have been adapt­ing T cells in­to can­cer weapons. And Alpine’s top sci­en­tists — Ryan Swan­son and Michael Ko­r­nack­er, who both left Am­gen af­ter the big biotech opt­ed to shut­ter its Seat­tle cam­pus — have come up with some new tech that they be­lieve can make CAR-Ts and TCRs bet­ter equipped to hunt down and de­stroy can­cer cells.

The com­pa­ny has al­so been work­ing on pro­teins that can ei­ther amp up or tamp down on an im­mune re­sponse, and Alpine is plan­ning to get start­ed in the clin­ic with a Phase I study for a dual ICOS/CD28 an­tag­o­nist en­gi­neered for use in au­toim­mune and in­flam­ma­to­ry dis­eases in the sec­ond half of 2018.

To get the deal done, Fra­zier Health­care Part­ners, Gold’s Alpine BioVen­tures, and Or­biMed Ad­vi­sors will in­vest a com­bined ad­di­tion­al $17 mil­lion in­to Alpine Im­mune Sci­ences. The cash Alpine Im­mune brings to the ta­ble, com­bined with the $44 mil­lion that Ni­valis has left, will give the com­pa­ny $90 mil­lion in cash. And Ni­valis share­hold­ers will hang on to 26% of the merged op­er­a­tions.

Long­time biotech ob­servers will re­mem­ber — or can’t for­get — that Den­dreon was once one of the high fly­ers in the in­dus­try. Af­ter the FDA fi­nal­ly got around to ap­prov­ing Provenge, though, new ther­a­pies were lin­ing up to claim the bulk of the mar­ket it aimed for. But Gold made out well, cash­ing in $29 mil­lion in stock on the ap­proval news and stock spike.

“This merg­er pro­vides a unique op­por­tu­ni­ty to ac­cel­er­ate the de­vel­op­ment of our nov­el im­munother­a­py plat­form fo­cused on both in­flam­ma­tion and im­muno-on­col­o­gy,” said Gold in a state­ment. “We look for­ward to build­ing on our ear­ly suc­cess by tak­ing mul­ti­ple nov­el pro­grams in­to the clin­ic to help pa­tients with sig­nif­i­cant med­ical needs.”

Norbert Bischofberger. Kronos

Backed by some of the biggest names in biotech, Nor­bert Bischof­berg­er gets his megaround for plat­form tech out of MIT

A little over a year ago when I reported on Norbert Bischofberger’s jump from the CSO job at giant Gilead to a tiny upstart called Kronos, I noted that with his connections in biotech finance, that $18 million launch round he was starting off with could just as easily have been $100 million or more.

With his first anniversary now behind him, Bischofberger has that mega-round in the bank.

Endpoints News

Basic subscription required

Unlock this story instantly and join 55,100+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

Francesco De Rubertis

Medicxi is rolling out its biggest fund ever to back Eu­rope's top 'sci­en­tists with strange ideas'

Francesco De Rubertis built Medicxi to be the kind of biotech venture player he would have liked to have known back when he was a full time scientist.

“When I was a scientist 20 years ago I would have loved Medicxi,’ the co-founder tells me. It’s the kind of place run by and for investigators, what the Medicxi partner calls “scientists with strange ideas — a platform for the drug hunter and scientific entrepreneur. That’s what I wanted when I was a scientist.”

Endpoints News

Basic subscription required

Unlock this story instantly and join 55,100+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

Af­ter a decade, Vi­iV CSO John Pot­tage says it's time to step down — and he's hand­ing the job to long­time col­league Kim Smith

ViiV Healthcare has always been something unique in the global drug industry.

Owned by GlaxoSmithKline and Pfizer — with GSK in the lead as majority owner — it was created 10 years ago in a time of deep turmoil for the field as something independent of the pharma giants, but with access to lots of infrastructural support on demand. While R&D at the mother ship inside GSK was souring, a razor-focused ViiV provided a rare bright spot, challenging Gilead on a lucrative front in delivering new combinations that require fewer therapies with a more easily tolerated regimen.

They kept a massive number of people alive who would otherwise have been facing a death sentence. And they made money.

And throughout, John Pottage has been the chief scientific and chief medical officer.

Until now.

Endpoints News

Basic subscription required

Unlock this story instantly and join 55,100+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

Chas­ing Roche's ag­ing block­buster fran­chise, Am­gen/Al­ler­gan roll out Avastin, Her­ceptin knock­offs at dis­count

Let the long battle for biosimilars in the cancer space begin.

Amgen has launched its Avastin and Herceptin copycats — licensed from the predecessors of Allergan — almost two years after the FDA had stamped its approval on Mvasi (bevacizumab-awwb) and three months after the Kanjinti OK (trastuzumab-anns). While the biotech had been fielding biosimilars in Europe, this marks their first foray in the US — and the first oncology biosimilars in the country.

Seer adds ex-FDA chief Mark Mc­Clel­lan to the board; Her­cules Cap­i­tal makes it of­fi­cial for new CEO Scott Bluestein

→ On the same day it announced a $17.5 million Series C, life sciences and health data company Seer unveiled that it had lured former FDA commissioner and ex-CMS administrator Mark McClellan on to its board. “Mark’s deep understanding of the health care ecosystem and visionary insights on policy reform will be crucial in informing our thinking as we work to bring our liquid biopsy and life sciences products to market,” said Seer chief and founder Omid Farokhzad in a statement.

Daniel O'Day

No­var­tis hands off 3 pre­clin­i­cal pro­grams to the an­tivi­ral R&D mas­ters at Gilead

Gilead CEO Daniel O’Day’s new task hunting up a CSO for the company isn’t stopping the industry’s dominant antiviral player from doing pipeline deals.

The big biotech today snapped up 3 preclinical antiviral programs from pharma giant Novartis, with drugs promising to treat human rhinovirus, influenza and herpes viruses. We don’t know what the upfront is, but the back end has $291 million in milestones baked in.

Vas Narasimhan, AP Images

On a hot streak, No­var­tis ex­ecs run the odds on their two most im­por­tant PhI­II read­outs. Which is 0.01% more like­ly to suc­ceed?

Novartis CEO Vas Narasimhan is living in the sweet spot right now.

The numbers are running a bit better than expected, the pipeline — which he assembled as development chief — is performing and the stock popped more than 4% on Thursday as the executive team ran through their assessment of Q2 performance.

Year-to-date the stock is up 28%, so the investors will be beaming. Anyone looking for chinks in their armor — and there are plenty giving it a shot — right now focus on payer acceptance of their $2.1 million gene therapy Zolgensma, where it’s early days. And CAR-T continues to underperform, but Novartis doesn’t appear to be suffering from it.

So what could go wrong?

Actually, not much. But Tim Anderson at Wolfe pressed Narasimhan and his development chief John Tsai to pick which of two looming Phase III readouts with blockbuster implication had the better odds of success.

Endpoints News

Basic subscription required

Unlock this story instantly and join 55,100+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

On a glob­al romp, Boehringer BD team picks up its third R&D al­liance for Ju­ly — this time fo­cused on IPF with $50M up­front

Boehringer Ingelheim’s BD team is on a global deal spree. The German pharma company just wrapped its third deal in 3 weeks, going back to Korea for its latest pipeline pact — this time focused on idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis.

They’re handing over $50 million to get their hands on BBT-877, an ATX inhibitor from Korea’s Bridge Biotherapeutics that was on display at a science conference in Dallas recently. There’s not a whole lot of data to evaluate the prospects here.

Endpoints News

Basic subscription required

Unlock this story instantly and join 55,100+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

Servi­er scoots out of an­oth­er col­lab­o­ra­tion with Macro­Gen­ics, writ­ing off their $40M

Servier is walking out on a partnership with MacroGenics $MGNX — for the second time.

After the market closed on Wednesday MacroGenics put out word that Servier is severing a deal — inked close to 7 years ago — to collaborate on the development of flotetuzumab and other Dual-Affinity Re-Targeting (DART) drugs in its pipeline.

MacroGenics CEO Scott Koenig shrugged off the departure of Servier, which paid $20 million to kick off the alliance and $20 million to option flotetuzumab — putting a heavily back-ended $1 billion-plus in additional biobuck money on the table for the anti-CD123/CD3 bispecific and its companion therapies.