Prakash Raman. Flagship

Flag­ship woos No­var­tis top deal­mak­er Prakash Ra­man in move to get the BD ball rolling ear­ly

Flag­ship Pi­o­neer­ing likes to be ahead of its times — so far ahead, per­haps, that it is of­ten chal­leng­ing to find part­ners for their star­tups while the sci­en­tif­ic scaf­fold­ing is un­der­way. But Prakash Ra­man is here to change that.

Ra­man, who most re­cent­ly head­ed up busi­ness de­vel­op­ment at the No­var­tis In­sti­tutes for Bio­Med­ical Re­search, be­came Flag­ship’s first chief busi­ness de­vel­op­ment of­fi­cer two weeks ago. By act­ing as a “cen­tral re­source” for the 100 com­pa­nies in the ven­ture fund’s port­fo­lio, he hopes to help en­tre­pre­neurs and man­age­ment teams strate­gize about deal­mak­ing to cap­ture val­ue be­yond the near-term val­i­da­tion of their plat­form tech­nolo­gies, Ra­man told End­points News.

“The idea now with me in this role is to help so­cial­ize these com­pa­nies ear­ly with po­ten­tial part­ners, get the dis­cus­sion and di­a­logue go­ing,” he said.

For now, Ra­man is a one-man-band di­vid­ing his time be­tween mul­ti­ple biotechs who are each ex­plor­ing the best way for­ward, though he is open to re­cruit­ing as­so­ciates as need­ed. Some of the more ma­ture ven­tures al­ready have their own BD units, while oth­ers would be work­ing on build­ing one with his help.

It’s ear­ly days and he’s still dis­cussing with Flag­ship CEO Noubar Afeyan which projects to pri­or­i­tize, but in gen­er­al, he en­vi­sions broad col­lab­o­ra­tive type deals where star­tups can pitch their plat­forms for a par­tic­u­lar ap­pli­ca­tion of in­ter­est to a big­ger part­ner.

Hav­ing worked his way from the bench (he was trained as a med­i­c­i­nal chemist) to the high­est lev­el of Big Phar­ma, Ra­man said for deals to work, re­la­tion­ships mat­ter.

“A lot of suc­cess­ful deals [hap­pen] when there is a cham­pi­on with­in the larg­er part­ner com­pa­ny and my goal is to sort of help our com­pa­nies to fig­ure out who that is, to nav­i­gate those more com­plex re­la­tion­ships in a high­ly ma­trixed large or­ga­ni­za­tion,” he said.

Ra­man is not in a hur­ry to put a nu­mer­i­cal goal on deals. Flag­ship has made sure its com­pa­nies have ac­cess to enough cash to spend a col­lec­tive $1.2 bil­lion on R&D, span­ning 40 clin­i­cal and over 120 pre­clin­i­cal pro­grams. Rather, ex­pect things like an an­nu­al CBO con­fer­ence for Flag­ship-backed biotechs to ex­change best prac­tices and ex­pe­ri­ence work­ing with part­ners.

It’s all part of Flag­ship’s evo­lu­tion from a typ­i­cal ven­ture fund — if it has ever been one — to an um­brel­la or­ga­ni­za­tion that of­fers help and sup­port on core func­tion­al ex­per­tise in sev­er­al ar­eas.

“BD is just one of them,” Ra­man not­ed.

Tillman Gerngross, Adagio Therapeutics CEO

An­ti­body leg­end Till­man Gern­gross is el­bow­ing his way in­to the Covid-19 R&D cru­sade: 'I don’t see this end­ing any­time soon'

One of the most influential — and outspoken — scientists at work in the field of antibody discovery is jumping into the frenzied race to create new therapeutics to treat and prevent Covid-19. And he’s operating with the conviction that the current outbreak now once again spreading like wildfire will create plenty of demand for what he has in mind.

Dartmouth professor and Adimab CEO Tillman Gerngross tells me he’s raised $50 million from a group of close VCs to spin out a new company — Adagio Therapeutics — with a full C-suite team assembled to hire up a staff and keep rolling toward the clinic.

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Tal Zaks, Moderna CMO (Moderna via YouTube)

UP­DAT­ED: NI­AID and Mod­er­na spell out a 'ro­bust' im­mune re­sponse in PhI coro­n­avirus vac­cine test — but big ques­tions re­main to be an­swered

The NIAID and Moderna have spelled out positive Phase I safety and efficacy data for their Covid-19 vaccine mRNA-1273 — highlighting the first full, clear sketch of evidence that back-to-back jabs at the dose selected for Phase III routinely produced a swarm of antibodies to the virus that exceeded levels seen in convalescent patients — typically in multiples indicating a protective response.

Moderna execs say plainly that this first stage of research produced exactly the kind of efficacy they hoped to see in humans, with a manageable safety profile.

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Trans­port Sim­u­la­tion Test­ing for Your Ther­a­py is the Best Way to As­sure FDA Ex­pe­dit­ed Pro­gram Ap­proval

Modality Solutions is an ISO:9001-registered biopharmaceutical cold chain engineering firm with unique transport simulation capabilities that support accelerated regulatory approval for biologics and advanced therapeutic medicinal products (ATMP). Our expertise combines traditional validation engineering approaches with regulatory knowledge into a methodology tailored for the life sciences industry. We provide insight and execution for the challenges faced in your cold chain logistics network.

GSK’s Shin­grix leader Guil­laume Pfe­fer has jumped on board Flag­ship to helm a biotech hy­brid as Afeyan’s lat­est CEO-part­ner

After spending 4 years in a senior post with GlaxoSmithKline’s star team positioning Shingrix for a blockbuster approval, Guillaume Pfefer is headed back to the biotech world — in style.

Pfefer has signed on to join Noubar Afeyan’s busy group of partners at Flagship, and he’s taking the helm of an upstart — which today is being merged with another Flagship startup — with some grand plans of its own. The announcement this morning notes that Pfefer will run Kintai Therapeutics, one of the grads of the Flagship labs.

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Who are the women blaz­ing trails in bio­phar­ma R&D and lead­ing the fight against Covid-19? Nom­i­nate them for End­points' spe­cial re­port

One of the many inequalities the pandemic has laid bare is the gender imbalance in biomedical research. A paper examining Covid-19 research authorship wondered out loud: Where are the women?

It’s a question that echoes beyond our current times. In the biopharma world, not only are women under-represented in R&D roles (particularly at higher levels), their achievements and talents could also be undermined by stereotypes and norms of leadership styles. The problem is even more dire for women of color.

John Furey, Imvax CEO

A neu­ro­sur­geon spent the past 30 years de­vel­op­ing a neoanti­gen tu­mor vac­cine. Now he has $112M for a piv­otal test

As a neurosurgeon, David Andrews knew there wasn’t much he could do for his glioma patients after resecting — rarely fully — their tumor. Even with the best treatment and care available, median overall survival is just somewhere between 14 and 16 months.

Then in the 1990s, his mentor at Thomas Jefferson University introduced him to Renato Baserga, a pathologist who had been studying the effect of using antisense oligonucleotide to knock out the insulin-like growth factor type 1 receptor in cancers. As IGF-R1 drives tumor growth and metastasis, the preclinical reasoning went, implanting a molecule targeting the receptor together with the tumor material near lymph nodes can slow down the spread of the cancer.

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Mer­ck KGaA takes its I/O op­tion on F-star Ther­a­peu­tics; Nephron spends $215M, eye­ing spot in Covid-19 vac­cine chain

→Merck KGaA has taken an early option on an immuno-oncology program developed at F-star Therapeutics. This is their second option in the collaboration. And they added a pair of preclinical discovery programs to the alliance as well.

Any biotech going public these days wouldn’t feel right if they didn’t upsize the offering. And that’s just what Phase I biotech Pandion Therapeutics did. The autoimmune company is now selling 7 million shares, a 1.5 million share bump, for $16 to $18 a share.

Full Bril­in­ta study re­sults show the blood thin­ner re­duces rate of sec­ondary stroke

AstraZeneca once projected its Brilinta drug to peak at $3.5 billion in sales, and though the blood thinner never reached that lofty goal, it received the latest positive signs in a string of recent good news.

The pharma released full details from its THALES study Thursday morning, which measured the effects of Brilinta and aspirin against aspirin alone in treating patients who had an acute ischemic stroke or transient ischemic attack. When taken twice daily with once-a-day aspirin for 30 days, the Brilinta combo reduced the risk of stroke and death by 17 percent, meeting the primary endpoint of the study.

New biotech Exalys, seek­ing to pre­vent post­op­er­a­tive delir­i­um, launch­es with $15 mil­lion in Se­ries A

An old group of former colleagues will be reuniting to lead a new biotech venture aimed at cultivating a portfolio to treat neuroinflammatory disorders.

Led by Rick Orr, who ran the biotech Adynxx, the group is launching the startup Exalys on Thursday with $15 million in Series A funding from venture firms Catalys Pacific and Domain Associates. The nascent company’s first project will focus on preventing postoperative delirium, licensing a platform of EP4 receptors from Japanese pharma Eisai.