Nenad Tomasevic, Dren Bio CEO

Fol­low­ing bis­pe­cif­ic deal with Pfiz­er, qui­et Cal­i­for­nia biotech rais­es $65M, heads to the clin­ic

At the be­gin­ning of the year, Dren Bio penned a deal with Pfiz­er for a po­ten­tial $1 bil­lion for its bis­pe­cif­ic an­ti­body plat­form. The de­tails sur­round­ing the deal were sparse, and the de­tails on Dren Bio’s plat­form spars­er.

Fol­low­ing that deal, the pri­vate, San Car­los, CA-based biotech has raised $65 mil­lion in its sec­ond round of fi­nanc­ing, Dren Bio an­nounced Tues­day. The mon­ey will go to­wards two pro­grams: a first clin­i­cal tri­al this year for an an­ti­body treat­ment for large gran­u­lar lym­pho­cyt­ic leukemia or cy­to­tox­ic lym­phomas, and the bis­pe­cif­ic plat­form that was the cen­ter­piece of the Pfiz­er deal, ac­cord­ing to Dren Bio CEO Ne­nad Toma­se­vic in a press re­lease.

End­points News has reached out to Dren Bio for com­ment and will up­date this sto­ry ac­cord­ing­ly.

The ther­a­py en­ter­ing clin­i­cal tri­als lat­er this year us­es an­ti­body-de­pen­dent cel­lu­lar cy­to­tox­i­c­i­ty, or AD­CC for short. The an­ti­bod­ies tar­get cer­tain cy­to­tox­ic cells that are re­spon­si­ble for blood can­cers or au­toim­mune dis­eases and link them with NK cells or CD8 T cells, caus­ing the tu­mor cells to lyse. In ad­di­tion, once linked by the an­ti­bod­ies, the cy­to­tox­ic tu­mor cells will rather dra­mat­i­cal­ly “ex­e­cute frat­ri­cide,” ac­cord­ing to Dren Bio’s web­site, and cause oth­er tu­mor cells to lyse as well.

Dren Bio’s oth­er pro­gram, its bis­pe­cif­ic an­ti­body dis­cov­ery plat­form, fo­cus­es on bone mar­row cells. In one arm, the bis­pe­cif­ic an­ti­bod­ies bind to a re­cep­tor found on many bone mar­row cells, and in the oth­er, a tu­mor cell. No­tably, the an­ti­bod­ies can tar­get tu­mor-as­so­ci­at­ed macrophages or TAMs, bone mar­row white blood cells that may dri­ve tu­mors to metas­ta­size.

From the plat­form, Dren Bio has put a num­ber of bis­pe­cif­ic can­di­dates in pre­clin­i­cal stud­ies, in­clud­ing one that tar­gets B cell lym­phomas and one for sol­id tu­mors that it is de­vel­op­ing along­side Pfiz­er. In­ter­est­ing­ly, the biotech is al­so work­ing on a bis­pe­cif­ic that binds to amy­loids for a “non-on­col­o­gy” in­di­ca­tion, sug­gest­ing in the press re­lease that it could treat forms of amy­loi­do­sis and Alzheimer’s dis­ease.

A num­ber of B cell-tar­get­ing bis­pecifics are al­ready head­ing to­wards ac­cel­er­at­ed ap­proval. Roche’s Genen­tech un­veiled Phase II da­ta on its CD20xCD3 bis­pe­cif­ic glofi­ta­m­ab at AS­CO ear­li­er this month, and Ab­b­vie and Gen­mab fol­lowed right be­hind them with a da­ta drop at EHA this past week­end.

So far, Dren Bio has raised $156 mil­lion. This most re­cent round of fi­nanc­ing was led by Ais­ling Cap­i­tal and HBM Health­care In­vest­ments. A num­ber of new in­vestors al­so joined, in­clud­ing Pfiz­er, Ar­row­Mark Part­ners and Rev­e­la­tion Part­ners.

Lina Gugucheva, NewAmsterdam Pharma CBO

Phar­ma group bets up to $1B-plus on the PhI­II res­ur­rec­tion of a once dead-and-buried LDL drug

Close to 5 years after then-Amgen R&D chief Sean Harper tamped the last spade of dirt on the last broadly focused CETP cholesterol drug — burying their $300 million upfront and the few remaining hopes for the class with it — the therapy has been fully resurrected. And today, the NewAmsterdam Pharma crew that did the Lazarus treatment on obicetrapib is taking another big step on the comeback trail with a €1 billion-plus regional licensing deal, complete with close to $150 million in upfront cash.

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How pre­pared is bio­phar­ma for the cy­ber dooms­day?

One of the largest cyberattacks in history happened on a Friday, Eric Perakslis distinctly remembers.

Perakslis, who was head of Takeda’s R&D Data Sciences Institute and visiting faculty at Harvard Medical School at the time, had spent that morning completing a review on cybersecurity for the British Medical Journal. Moments after he turned it in, he heard back from the editor: “Have you heard what’s going on right now?”

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Scoop: Boehringer qui­et­ly shut­ters a PhII for one of its top drugs — now un­der re­view

Boehringer Ingelheim has quietly shut down a small Phase II study for one of its lead drugs.

The private pharma player confirmed to Endpoints News that it had shuttered a study testing spesolimab as a therapy for Crohn’s patients suffering from bowel obstructions.

A spokesperson for the company tells Endpoints:

Taking into consideration the current therapeutic landscape and ongoing clinical development programs, Boehringer Ingelheim decided to discontinue our program in Crohn’s disease. It is important to note that this decision is not based on any safety findings in the clinical trials.

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Scoop: Roche scraps one of two schiz­o­phre­nia PhII tri­als af­ter fail­ing the pri­ma­ry end­point

Roche has terminated one of two Phase II trials testing its drug ralmitaront in patients with schizophrenia, the Big Pharma confirmed to Endpoints News.

The study was terminated last month, according to a June 22 update to the registry on clinicaltrials.gov. Begun in September 2020, the trial was looking at ralmitaront in patients with acute schizophrenia. The trial enrolled 286 patients out of an originally planned 308.

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Years af­ter link­ing arms with Bris­tol My­ers and both Mer­cks, Sutro finds its lat­est part­ner in Tokyo

Astellas and Sutro Biopharma are linking arms on a new field of antibody-drug conjugates that they hope will improve upon existing cancer immunotherapies.

The Tokyo pharma will dole out $90 million in cash for the collaboration, the companies said Monday afternoon. That upfront payment will extend the South San Francisco biotech’s runway from late 2023 into the first half of 2024, Cowen analysts noted.

Pearl Huang, Dunad Therapeutics CEO (Ken Richardson, PR Newswire)

Long­time biotech leader Pearl Huang takes the reins as CEO of No­var­tis-backed up­start

It has only been a few months since Pearl Huang exited the top seat at Cygnal Therapeutics, but now she’s back at the helm of another biotech.

After taking a few months off — passing an exam in that time to get her captain’s license from the US Coast Guard — she’s been named CEO of Dunad Therapeutics, a biotech focused on developing a small molecule covalent therapies that was founded in 2020. Huang told Endpoints News that two factors attracted her to going back to the c-suite: the company’s technology and its co-founders.

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Alex­ion puts €65M for­ward to strength­en its po­si­tion on the Emer­ald Isle

Ireland has been on a roll in 2022, with several large pharma companies announcing multimillion-euro projects. Now AstraZeneca’s rare disease outfit Alexion is looking to get in on the action.

Alexion on Friday announced a €65 million ($68.8 million) investment in new and enhanced capabilities across two sites in the country, including at College Park in the Dublin suburb of Blanchardstown and the Monksland Industrial Park in the central Irish town of Athlone, according to the Industrial Development Agency of Ireland.

Members of the G7 from left to right: Prime Minister of Italy Mario Draghi, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, President Joe Biden, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Japan Fumio Kishida, French President Emmanuel Macron and European Council President Charles Michel (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

Biden and G7 na­tions of­fer funds for vac­cine and med­ical prod­uct man­u­fac­tur­ing project in Sene­gal

Amidst recently broader vaccine manufacturing initiatives from the EU and European companies, the G7 summit in the mountains of Bavaria has brought about some positive news for closing vaccine and medical product manufacturing gaps around the globe.

According to a statement from the White House, the G7 leaders have formally launched the partnership for global infrastructure, PGII. The effort will aim to mobilize hundreds of billions of dollars to deliver infrastructure projects in several sectors including the medical and pharmaceutical manufacturing space.

Matt Gline, Roivant CEO (John Sciulli/Getty Images for GLG)

Roivant chops sick­le cell gene ther­a­py, der­ma­tol­ogy drugs to fo­cus on 'high­er val­ue pro­ject­s'

Roivant is sweeping a suite of drugs, including a gene therapy for sickle cell disease already in the clinic, out of its pipeline.

Six programs from four of its “vants” are being wound down as part of “a company-wide cost optimization and pipeline reprioritization initiative to reduce our expected operating expenses and prioritize our capital resources.”

When reached by Endpoints News, a spokesperson said, “We don’t anticipate a material reduction in headcount but we will likely reassign some folks to higher value projects as part of winding down specific programs.”

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