Fa­heem Has­nain and his ex-Re­cep­tos team launch a new biotech with $100M and a twist on the old biotech mod­el

Fa­heem Has­nain

And the mon­ey just keeps flow­ing.

Two for­mer Re­cep­tos ex­ec­u­tives, Fa­heem Has­nain and Sheila Gu­jrathi, stepped out late Thurs­day with news that they’ve launched a new com­pa­ny equipped with $100 mil­lion in seed cap­i­tal.

These two ex­ec­u­tives are best know for their roles at Re­cep­tos, a San Diego com­pa­ny ac­quired by Cel­gene for $7.2 bil­lion in 2015. Has­nain served as CEO, and Gu­jrathi as CMO. Since that ac­qui­si­tion, many in San Diego were left won­der­ing what Has­nain and the ex­ec­u­tive team would go on to do. And now they have their an­swer.

The new ven­ture is called Gos­samer Bio, and it’s com­ing out the gate with $100 mil­lion in fi­nanc­ing from a seed round pro­vid­ed by Omega Funds and a Se­ries A pre­ferred stock round co-led by ARCH Ven­ture Part­ners and Omega Funds.

You may not be fa­mil­iar with Omega Funds, and that’s be­cause the in­vest­ment group has laid low for the past 14 years, a com­pa­ny spokesman said. Equipped with a $300 mil­lion fund (their fifth since launch), Omega Funds holds com­pa­nies like Ed­i­tas and Juno in its port­fo­lio.

Sheila Gu­jrathi

Gos­samer Bio plans to use the new funds to quick­ly ramp up the com­pa­ny, tak­ing “a num­ber of ear­ly and late-stage drug can­di­dates” through clin­i­cal tri­als. They be­lieve the lead as­set is a “pipeline with­in a prod­uct,” with mul­ti­ple in­di­ca­tions to go af­ter.

Has­nain came away from the Re­cep­tos sale with enough cash to re­tire ear­ly, but he tells End­points News that he was back in the game with­in a cou­ple of weeks of the sale.

“The day that we an­nounced the sale of Re­cep­tos I was in my board room with my man­age­ment team,” he says. “And you weren’t see­ing a lot of high fives. It was a great deal, but it was a lit­tle glum.

“I ba­si­cal­ly broke that si­lence by say­ing, ‘You guys want to do this again?’”

“It was a re­sound­ing ‘yes!’. Mon­ey’s great, but I don’t think that’s the pri­ma­ry dri­ver for those peo­ple.”

Still, he adds, it’s go­ing to be dif­fer­ent this time. In­stead of be­ing put in a po­si­tion where he might have to sell the com­pa­ny on the ba­sis of the lead as­set alone, Gos­samer will cre­ate an in­de­pen­dent sub­sidiary for each pro­gram, and they can wheel and deal on each ac­cord­ing­ly.

“When you’re ac­quired, the team ei­ther goes with it or gets blown up,” says the new­ly re-coined CEO. And that won’t hap­pen again.

The biotech has com­plet­ed two deals and is close to wrap­ping up a full slate of two to three ad­di­tion­al pro­grams. The lead pro­gram is still be­ing kept un­der wraps, but Has­nain land­ed it from a biotech com­pa­ny and ex­pects to do more in-li­cens­ing deals with a range of big and lit­tle out­fits. The lead is slat­ed to head in­to a Phase II/III de­signed tri­al.

John Car­roll con­tributed to this re­port.

Com­mu­ni­cat­ing the val­ue of pre­ci­sion med­i­cine

By Natasha Cowan, Content Marketing Manager at Blue Latitude Health.
Many stakeholders are confused by novel precision medicines, including patients and healthcare professionals. So, how can industry help them to navigate this complexity?

Precision medicine represents a new paradigm in healthcare. It embodies the shift from treating many patients with the same therapy, to having the tools to identify the best treatment for every patient.

Mer­ck buys a fledg­ling neu­rode­gen­er­a­tive biotech spawned by an old GSK dis­cov­ery al­liance. What’s up with that?

Avalon Ventures chief Jay Lichter has a well-known yen for drug development programs picked up in academia. And what he found in Haoxing Xu’s lab at the University of Michigan pricked his interest enough to launch one of his umbrella biotechs in San Diego.
Xu’s work laid the foundation for Avalon to launch Calporta, which has been working on finding small molecule agonists of TRPML1 (transient receptor potential cation channel, mucolipin subfamily, member 1) for lysosomal storage disorders. And that pathway, they believe, points to new approaches on major market neurodegenerative diseases like Parkinson’s, ALS and Alzheimer’s.

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In­vestors could emerge from Neil Wood­ford de­ba­cle with £1B loss, in­ter­nal analy­sis re­veals

When Link Fund Solutions announced that it is closing Woodford Equity Income Fund permanently and kicking out Neil Woodford, it was implied that investors probably won’t get back everything they entrusted to the fund manager. But nobody knew just how much they would lose.

An internal analysis commissioned by Link suggested that the collective loss could amount to £1 billion — out of a fund last valued at £3.1 billion — Citywire has revealed.

GSK's asth­ma bi­o­log­ic Nu­cala scores in rare blood dis­or­der study

GlaxoSmithKline’s asthma drug Nucala, which received a resounding FDA rejection for use in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) last year, has shown promise in a rare blood disorder.

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Spe­cial re­port: Twen­ty ex­tra­or­di­nary women in bio­phar­ma R&D who worked their way to the top

What differentiates a woman leader in biopharma R&D from a man?

Not much, except there are fewer of them in senior posts. Data suggest women are not more risk-averse, family-oriented or less confident than their male counterparts — indeed the differences between the two sexes are negligible. But a glance at the top R&D positions in Big Pharma leaves little doubt that upward migration in the executive ranks of biopharma R&D is tough.

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FDA Vas­cepa re­view spot­lights new safe­ty sig­nals, pos­si­ble min­er­al oil spoil­er as Amarin hunts a block­buster ap­proval

An in-house FDA review of Amarin’s Vascepa raises a set of hurdles the biotech will have to clear if the biotech expects to get the long-awaited FDA approval that could set it on a path to superstar status. But it appears that Amarin has survived another potential setback without introducing a major new threat to its prospects.

The stakes don’t get much higher, with analysts saying a win this week for Amarin could lead to billions in new sales — provided the agency stamps it with an OK. And investors liked what they say in the FDA review this morning, bumping the stock $AMRN 17%.

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FDA puts Sol­id Bio’s lead gene ther­a­py pro­gram on hold — again — af­ter an­oth­er pa­tient is hurt by SGT-001

Solid Biosciences continues to be plagued by safety issues.

Close to 18 months after the gene therapy biotech was able to quickly shed an FDA hold on their lead Duchenne muscular dystrophy program for SGT-001, regulators have stepped back in to force another halt after another patient was hit hard by a set of serious adverse events remarkably similar to the first set.

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FDA slaps a hold on an AML tri­al as Mark­er scraps a fail­ing ovar­i­an can­cer pro­gram, sink­ing shares

The FDA has placed a hold on a Phase II AML trial from the small immuno-oncology biotech Marker Therapeutics. Marker disclosed the issue two weeks after responding to FDA concerns, adding it to the Q3 release Tuesday. The company also announced it was scrapping a Phase II ovarian cancer program it determined was unlikely to succeed.

The agency’s concern centers around two reagents used in manufacturing for their trial for acute myeloid leukemia patients who have received a stem cell transplant. The reagents are from third parties and not present in the final product, Marker said.

Eli Lil­ly-backed biotech grabs $100M to dis­patch an­ti­body-oligonu­cleotide con­ju­gates af­ter mus­cu­lar dy­s­tro­phy

Hold up your hand. Make a fist. Now open it. And again.

If you can do it fully and with ease, then the proteins in your hand are likely working properly. If you can’t then they may not be. In people with myotonic muscular dystrophy, something more atomic is going on.

In those folks, the problem is RNA. Certain base pairs repeat far beyond normal, up to 11,000 superfluous letters in some cases. The extended strands form “clumps.” Proteins misform and can’t function properly. They often allow one movement but not the reverse, a condition called myotonia that gives the dystrophy its name.