Fa­heem Has­nain ups cash haul to $330M for a fledg­ling biotech that is mov­ing ‘at light speed’

Just six months ago, Fa­heem Has­nain rolled out his lat­est biotech ven­ture with a $100 mil­lion mega-round for seed mon­ey. To­day, he’s adding $230 mil­lion more for Gos­samer Bio from a glob­al syn­di­cate of heavy­weight in­vestors that is bet­ting big that the ex-Re­cep­tos chief and his team can birth a ma­jor new com­pa­ny vir­tu­al­ly overnight by biotech stan­dards, with a pipeline that al­ready in­cludes 4 drugs, more ther­a­pies com­ing and an em­ploy­ee ros­ter slat­ed to hit 100 by the end of this year.

And yes, there’s an IPO out there some­where along the way, he says, when the stars align.

“We just start­ed in Jan­u­ary,” Has­nain told me over the week­end, “and we’ve been go­ing at light speed.”

Sheila Gu­jrathi

Start­ing with a hand­ful of key play­ers from his Re­cep­tos days, Has­nain’s Gos­samer has al­ready grown to 60 staffers, he adds, with plans to leap to about 100 by the end of the year. Next year he ex­pects the pipeline to swell to 5 to 6 mid-stage pro­grams, each en­sconced in its own sub­sidiary to al­low for one-on-one deal­mak­ing dis­cus­sions, as they might arise.

Has­nain has one of the most im­pres­sive re­sumes in biotech, hav­ing sold Re­cep­tos and its star drug ozan­i­mod — still a block­buster con­tender at Cel­gene, though one held up by a sna­fu with the NDA — for $7.2 bil­lion. And he has one of the best con­nect­ed syn­di­cates in the book ready to back his com­pa­ny-cre­ation plan. 

Chi­na’s in­flu­en­tial Hill­house Cap­i­tal led the round, with help from the Abu Dhabi In­vest­ment Au­thor­i­ty, In­vus, The Bau­post Group and Po­laris Part­ners. Gos­samer Bio’s ex­ist­ing in­vestors, Arch Ven­ture Part­ners and Omega Funds, stepped back up, with Arch’s Bob Nelsen demon­strat­ing once again his ap­petite for go­ing big, fast with oth­er in­vestors who have the same ap­proach.

This is not your typ­i­cal start­up. 

Has­nain joins a se­lect group of play­ers like Arie Bellde­grun or some of the new Chi­na ex­ecs who are by­pass­ing the slow and me­thod­i­cal art of com­pa­ny cre­ation around 1 or 2 key drugs. Backed with hun­dreds of mil­lions of dol­lars, they are look­ing for vir­tu­al overnight suc­cess in cre­at­ing in­flu­en­tial de­vel­op­ment ef­forts. And giv­en the fail­ure rate in drug de­vel­op­ment, they face a daunt­ing task with tough odds.

Bob Nelsen

It’s a new world for high­ly suc­cess­ful teams, though, adding Chi­nese in­vestors to syn­di­cates and go­ing big ear­ly. I asked Has­nain if he could have done some­thing like this 5 years ago.

“Five years ago was when we took Re­cep­tos pub­lic,” says Has­nain. “We were in the ear­ly wave of go­ing pub­lic. So sen­ti­ment is one (dif­fer­ence). Sen­ti­ment is def­i­nite­ly much more op­ti­mistic to­day.”

In­deed it is.

Has­nain is step­ping up to the ex­ec­u­tive chair­man’s spot with the B round, while his long­time col­league Sheila Gu­jrathi takes the CEO’s job. His job now is to do the broad strate­gic think­ing, while al­low­ing Gu­jrathi to move up and open a new chap­ter in her ca­reer.

It’s time, he says.

The two of them have been play­ing the lead role in snap­ping up new drugs for the pipeline. 

“I can’t dis­close all the tar­gets,” says Has­nain, who wants to re­tain some cov­er for the pipeline for a few months longer. “We do have 3 clin­i­cal-stage pro­grams in the com­pa­ny and one pre­clin­i­cal.”

One of those deals is pub­lic. Has­nain and his team in-li­censed a drug called KB-4924 (now GB004) from Aer­pio Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals. They paid $20 mil­lion in cash and put $400 mil­lion on the ta­ble in mile­stones for an in­ves­ti­ga­tion­al hy­pox­ia-in­ducible fac­tor-1 al­pha (HIF-1 al­pha) sta­bi­liz­er in de­vel­op­ment for IBD.

A few days ago Gos­samer bagged an­oth­er drug for a “large au­toim­mune in­di­ca­tion,” which is en­ter­ing Phase II with “some sub­stan­tial val­i­da­tion around the tar­get” which he thinks gives it the kind of pipeline-in-a-prod­uct po­ten­tial he saw in ozan­i­mod. That one is stay­ing un­der wraps for now.

Has­nain’s plans for this com­pa­ny stretch well past the first $330 mil­lion in. He’s al­ready talk­ing about fil­ing an IPO when the time is right.

“Go­ing pub­lic is def­i­nite­ly in our sights,” he says.


Fa­heem Has­nain. GOS­SAMER BIO

Qual­i­ty Con­trol in Cell and Gene Ther­a­py – What’s Re­al­ly at Stake?

In early 2021, Bluebird Bio was forced to suspend clinical trials of its gene therapy for sickle cell disease after two patients in the trial developed cancer. As company scientists rushed to assess whether there was any causal link between the therapy and the cancer cases, Bluebird’s stock value plummeted – as did those of multiple other biopharma companies developing similar therapies.

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Ver­sant pulls the wraps off of near­ly $1B in 3 new funds out to build the next fleet of biotech star­tups. And this new gen­er­a­tion is built for speed

Brad Bolzon has an apology to offer by way of introducing a set of 3 new funds that together pack a $950 million wallop in new biotech creation and growth.

“I want to apologize,” says the Versant chairman and managing partner, laughing a little in the intro, “that we don’t have anything fancy or flashy to tell you about our new fund. Same team, around the same amount of capital, same investment strategy. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

But then there’s the flip side, where everything has changed. Or at least speeded into a relative blur. Here’s Bolzon:

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Law pro­fes­sors call for FDA to dis­close all safe­ty and ef­fi­ca­cy da­ta for drugs

Back in early 2018 when Scott Gottlieb led the FDA, there was a moment when the agency seemed poised to release redacted complete response letters and other previously undisclosed data. But that initiative never gained steam.

Now, a growing chorus of researchers are finding that a dearth of public data on clinical trials and pharmaceuticals means industry and the FDA cannot be held accountable, two law professors from Yale and New York University write in an article published Wednesday in the California Law Review.

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Novavax CEO Stanley Erck at the White House in 2020 (Andrew Harnik, AP Images)

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Jenny Rooke (Genoa Ventures)

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When Jenny Rooke first heard of Zymergen back in 2014, she knew she was looking at something different and exciting. The Emeryville, CA biotech held the promise of blending biology and technology to solve a huge unmet need for cost-effective chemicals — of all things — and a stellar founding team to boot.

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Saurabh Saha at Endpoints News' #BIO19

On the heels of $250M launch, Centes­sa barges ahead with an IPO to fu­el its 10-in-1 Medicxi pipeline

Francesco De Rubertis made no secret of IPO plans for Centessa, his 10-in-1 legacy play. Barely two months later, the S-1 is in.

The hot-off-the-press filing depicts the same grand vision that the longtime VC touted when he did the rounds in February: Take the asset-centric mindset that he’s been preaching at Medicxi over the years, and roll up a bunch of biotech upstarts, with unrelated risk profiles, into 1 pharma company that can carry on the development at scale.

Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) (Graeme Sloan/Sipa USA/Sipa via AP Images)

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Although Thursday’s Senate health committee hearing was focused on how foreign countries and adversaries might be trying to steal or negatively influence biomedical research in the US, the only country mentioned by the senators and expert witnesses was China.

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The world of radiopharmaceuticals has been heating up over the last few years, and Thursday saw another company focused on the field pull in a new nine-figure raise.

Germany’s ITM, or Isotopen Technologien München, scored a $109 million round of loan financing to push forward its precision oncology pipeline and fund late-stage development for its lead program. As part of the agreement, the loan will convert to shares in the event of future financial or corporate transactions, ITM said.