Eye­ing RNAi po­ten­tial in can­cer and fi­bro­sis, trans-Pa­cif­ic biotech Sir­naomics lines up $47M Se­ries C

With sup­port from a syn­di­cate that speaks to its ex­ten­sive Chi­na ties, Gaithers­burg, MD-based Sir­naomics has raised an ad­di­tion­al $22 mil­lion to close out its C round.

Patrick Lu

As its name sug­gests, the biotech is fo­cused on all things re­lat­ed to small in­ter­fer­ing RNA (siR­NA), the key mol­e­cule mR­NA si­lenc­ing. Pop­u­lar­ized by Al­ny­lam, which scored the field’s first FDA ap­proval, siR­NA kicks off ac­tion in the RNA-in­duced si­lenc­ing com­plex, which then goes on to cleave a spe­cif­ic mR­NA, there­by down­reg­u­lat­ing tar­get genes.

Sir­naomics’ big idea is to em­ploy a bet­ter ve­hi­cle to car­ry the siR­NA car­go to cells: a polypep­tide nano-par­ti­cle, or PNP, com­posed of a branched his­ti­dine ly­sine poly­mer. Ac­cord­ing to the com­pa­ny, the pep­tide is biodegrad­able, of­fers pro­tec­tion to the siR­NA while in the blood­stream, and can car­ry mul­ti­ple siR­NA se­quences, al­low­ing their prod­ucts to go af­ter mul­ti­ple genes at once. The last prop­er­ty, it em­pha­sizes, is es­pe­cial­ly cru­cial for tar­get­ing can­cer.

CR-CP Life Sci­ences Fund — a joint ven­ture of two con­glom­er­ates from Hong Kong and Thai­land re­spec­tive­ly — led the Se­ries C2. Rich Yield Cap­i­tal, Rolling Boul­der In­vest­ment and Leg­end Sky In­vest­ment all chipped in to bring Sir­naomics over the $47 mil­lion line in to­tal.

The pro­ceeds will help pro­pel the lead drug can­di­date, STP705, for­ward, in­clud­ing an on­go­ing Phase II for non-melanoma skin can­cer and an­oth­er in bile duct can­cer/liv­er can­cer slat­ed to be­gin lat­er this year. There’s al­so a Phase II tri­al for hy­per­trophic scar re­duc­tion in Chi­na as Sir­naomics’ ex­plores the lead drug’s po­ten­tial in fi­brot­ic dis­eases.

“Sir­naomics is the on­ly biotech­nol­o­gy com­pa­ny con­duct­ing clin­i­cal drug de­vel­op­ment in the field of RNAi ther­a­peu­tics both in USA and Chi­na, the two ma­jor mar­kets for on­col­o­gy and fi­bro­sis,” Da Liu, the man­ag­ing di­rec­tor of CR-CP Life Sci­ence Fund, said in a state­ment.

Liu added that the biotech has a “tru­ly in­ter­na­tion­al” man­age­ment team, with a siz­able C-suite com­pris­ing CEO Patrick Lu, CMO Michael Molyneaux, CSO David Evans, COO George Ji, chief tech­ni­cal of­fi­cer Dmit­ry Samarsky, and chief pro­duc­tion of­fi­cer Marc Lemaître.

Health­care Dis­par­i­ties and Sick­le Cell Dis­ease

In the complicated U.S. healthcare system, navigating a serious illness such as cancer or heart disease can be remarkably challenging for patients and caregivers. When that illness is classified as a rare disease, those challenges can become even more acute. And when that rare disease occurs in a population that experiences health disparities, such as people with sickle cell disease (SCD) who are primarily Black and Latino, challenges can become almost insurmountable.

Jacob Van Naarden (Eli Lilly)

Ex­clu­sives: Eli Lil­ly out to crash the megablock­buster PD-(L)1 par­ty with 'dis­rup­tive' pric­ing; re­veals can­cer biotech buy­out

It’s taken 7 years, but Eli Lilly is promising to finally start hammering the small and affluent PD-(L)1 club with a “disruptive” pricing strategy for their checkpoint therapy allied with China’s Innovent.

Lilly in-licensed global rights to sintilimab a year ago, building on the China alliance they have with Innovent. That cost the pharma giant $200 million in cash upfront, which they plan to capitalize on now with a long-awaited plan to bust up the high-price market in lung cancer and other cancers that have created a market worth tens of billions of dollars.

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David Meek, new Mirati CEO (Marlene Awaad/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Fresh off Fer­Gene's melt­down, David Meek takes over at Mi­rati with lead KRAS drug rac­ing to an ap­proval

In the insular world of biotech, a spectacular failure can sometimes stay on any executive’s record for a long time. But for David Meek, the man at the helm of FerGene’s recent implosion, two questionable exits made way for what could be an excellent rebound.

Meek, most recently FerGene’s CEO and a past head at Ipsen, has become CEO at Mirati Therapeutics, taking the reins from founding CEO Charles Baum, who will step over into the role of president and head of R&D, according to a release.

Rafaèle Tordjman (Jeito Capital)

Con­ti­nu­ity and di­ver­si­ty: Rafaèle Tord­j­man's women-led VC firm tops out first fund at $630M

For a first-time fund, Jeito Capital talks a lot about continuity.

Rafaèle Tordjman had spotlighted that concept ever since she started building the firm in 2018, promising to go the extra mile(s) with biotech entrepreneurs while pushing them to reach patients faster.

Coincidentally, the lack of continuity was one of the sore spots listed in a report about the European healthcare sector published that same year by the European Investment Bank — whose fund is one of the LPs, alongside the American pension fund Teacher Retirement System of Texas and Singapore’s Temasek, to help Jeito close its first fund at $630 million (€534 million). As previously reported, Sanofi had chimed in €50 million, marking its first investment in a French life sciences fund.

Dave Lennon, former president of Novartis Gene Therapies

Zol­gens­ma patent spat brews be­tween No­var­tis and Re­genxbio as top No­var­tis gene ther­a­py ex­ec de­parts

Regenxbio, a small licensor of gene therapy viral vectors spun out from the University of Pennsylvania, is now finding itself in the middle of some major league patent fights.

In addition to a patent suit with Sarepta Therapeutics from last September, Novartis, is now trying to push its smaller partner out of the way. The Swiss biopharma licensed Regenxbio’s AAV9 vector for its $2.1 million spinal muscular atrophy therapy Zolgensma.

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Time for round 2: Il­lu­mi­na-backed VC snags $325M for its next fund

Illumina Ventures closed off its second investment fund with a total commitment of $325 million, offering fresh fuel to back a slate of startups that have already included a smorgasbord of companies, covering everything from diagnostics to biotech drug development and genomics.

Fund II brings the total investment under Illumina Ventures’ oversight to $560 million, which has been focused on early-stage companies. And it has a transatlantic portfolio that includes SQZ, Twist and Encoded Therapeutics.

Ex­elix­is pulls a sur­prise win in thy­roid can­cer just days ahead of fi­nal Cabome­tyx read­out

Exelixis added a thyroid cancer indication to its super-seller Cabometyx’s label on Friday — months before the FDA was expected to make a decision, and days before the company was set to unveil the final data at #ESMO21.

At a median follow-up of 10.1 months, differentiated thyroid cancer patients treated with Cabometyx (cabozantinib) lived a median of 11 months without their disease worsening, compared to just 1.9 months for patients given a placebo, Exelixis said on Monday.

Volker Wagner (L) and Jeff Legos

As Bay­er, No­var­tis stack up their ra­dio­phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal da­ta at #ES­MO21, a key de­bate takes shape

Ten years ago, a small Norwegian biotech by the name of Algeta showed up at ESMO — then the European Multidisciplinary Cancer Conference 2011 — and declared that its Bayer-partnered targeted radionuclide therapy, radium-223 chloride, boosted the overall survival of castration-resistant prostate cancer patients with symptomatic bone metastases.

In a Phase III study dubbed ALSYMPCA, patients who were treated with radium-223 chloride lived a median of 14 months compared to 11.2 months. The FDA would stamp an approval on it based on those data two years later, after Bayer snapped up Algeta and christened the drug Xofigo.

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Raju Mohan, Ventyx Biosciences CEO

Months af­ter a mam­moth raise, Ven­tyx Bio­sciences dips back in­to ven­ture well

Several months after emerging from what CEO Raju Mohan called “quiet mode” with a mammoth $114 million raise, Ventyx Biosciences is now making its plans for the clinic loud and clear.

The California-based immune modulation player kicked the week off with a $51 million Series B, while also naming some key hires ahead of its big clinical push.

The CMO slot is going to Jörn Drappa, former CMO at Viela Bio before it was bought out by Horizon Therapeutics earlier this year. The AstraZeneca vet stayed on at Horizon for a while as executive VP of R&D before making the jump to Ventyx.