Nancy Whiting, Recludix CEO

For­mer Blue­print vets take their new biotech out of stealth, with STAT3 in their sights

A new biotech go­ing af­ter STAT mu­ta­tions through a pre­vi­ous­ly un­drug­gable tar­get emerged from stealth and se­cured its first fundraise Mon­day, in­tro­duc­ing its fresh­ly mint­ed CEO in the process.

Re­cludix Phar­ma, a San Diego biotech launched by a found­ing team of Blue­print Med­i­cines vets, pulled in a $60 mil­lion Se­ries A on Mon­day, promis­ing in­vestors a path to the holy grail STAT3 mu­ta­tion through what’s called the SH2 do­main. Tak­ing over as chief ex­ec­u­tive is Nan­cy Whit­ing, ar­riv­ing af­ter a 15-year run at Seagen that saw her run cor­po­rate strat­e­gy and late-stage de­vel­op­ment at var­i­ous points.

In­vestors in the round in­clud­ed NEA, West­lake Vil­lage BioPart­ners, and Ac­cess In­dus­tries.

Re­cludix’s founders had worked to­geth­er be­fore Blue­print, but came to­geth­er to de­vel­op the biotech’s “ki­nome scan” tech­nol­o­gy and ap­ply it to drug dis­cov­ery, Whit­ing told End­points News. Led by Blue­print sci­en­tif­ic founder Nick Ly­don, the group thought it could use a sim­i­lar tech­nol­o­gy while in­te­grat­ing a new se­lec­tiv­i­ty tool and en­cod­ed DNA li­braries, al­low­ing for much deep­er analy­ses.

Whit­ing said the process is an it­er­a­tive de­sign, al­low­ing the biotech to de­cide where and how ex­act­ly to mod­i­fy dif­fer­ent mol­e­cules. The team can screen any­where from one mil­lion to one bil­lion mol­e­cules at once, she said.

Thus Re­cludix was birthed, ini­tial­ly get­ting off the ground in De­cem­ber 2019. The com­pa­ny’s main fo­cus is de­vel­op­ing SH2 do­main in­hibitors, found in a group of about 120 dif­fer­ent hu­man pro­teins. Re­searchers have pre­vi­ous­ly pegged the do­main as a “re­al­ly good tar­get to drug,” Whit­ing said, but faced some chal­lenges along the way.

“It’s kind of a flat pro­tein, there’s not a lot of nooks and cran­nies for a drug to find in­side and hook in­to,” Whit­ing said in an in­ter­view.

Chief among the pro­teins im­pli­cat­ed by SH2 is the STAT fam­i­ly, which in­cludes the STAT3 can­cer mu­ta­tion long con­sid­ered a holy grail tar­get — Whit­ing said 70% of all can­cers have that STAT3 mu­ta­tion. But Re­cludix will al­so spend time look­ing at oth­er in­flam­ma­to­ry and au­toim­mune dis­eases where STAT might prove im­por­tant, she stressed.

Re­cludix is launch­ing with three dis­cov­ery pro­grams, two of which are planned to tar­get STAT3 and STAT6. The third can­di­date will be de­vel­oped for a non-STAT tar­get, but Whit­ing isn’t re­veal­ing much more at this point. While she not­ed the STAT can­di­dates are in the lead op­ti­miza­tion phase, they’re not quite ready for INDs.

The CEO al­so said the Se­ries A like­ly won’t be enough to get the pro­grams in­to the clin­ic and that Re­cludix isn’t dis­clos­ing how much run­way this raise will give.

Ini­tial­ly, though, the goal will be de­vel­op­ing oral­ly avail­able com­pounds for these tough-to-treat dis­eases. Re­cludix’s plan is to start in lat­er-line pa­tients whose can­cers have pro­gressed on the stan­dard of care, but it’s still too ear­ly to make any sweep­ing con­clu­sions.

Though it’s tack­ling STAT through SH2, Re­cludix will join a slate of biotechs try­ing to solve the holy grail puz­zle. The Hous­ton start­up Tvar­di nabbed a $74 mil­lion Se­ries B back in June to ad­vance its STAT3 ef­forts, and the Sanofi-part­nered Kymera and Medicxi’s Jan­pix, now part of Centes­sa, are un­der­tak­ing sim­i­lar projects.

Illustration: Assistant Editor Kathy Wong for Endpoints News

How Pur­due's $272M ad­dic­tion pay­out fund­ed a new home for its dis­card­ed non-opi­oid re­search

Don Kyle spent more than 20 years working for Purdue Pharma, right through the US opioid epidemic that led to the company’s rise and eventual infamy. But contrary to Purdue’s focus on OxyContin, Kyle was researching non-opioid painkillers — that is, until the company shelved his research.

As the company’s legal troubles mounted, Kyle found an unlikely way to reboot the project. In 2019, he took his work to an Oklahoma State University center that’s slated to receive more than two-thirds of the state’s $272 million settlement with Purdue over claims that the drugmaker’s behavior ignited the epidemic of opioid use and abuse.

Endpoints Premium

Premium subscription required

Unlock this article along with other benefits by subscribing to one of our paid plans.

President Joe Biden at the State of the Union address with Vice President Kamala Harris and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (Patrick Semansky/AP Images)

The drug pric­ing pres­i­dent: Biden warns of ve­to for any IRA re­peal at­tempts

President Joe Biden made clear in his “finish the job” State of the Union address last night that one of those jobs to be finished is insulin prices.

Biden’s push again to tackle insulin prices, after Republicans rebuffed the idea last summer and just after Biden won Medicare drug price negotiations/caps via the Inflation Reduction Act, shows how heavily he’s leaning into this work.

Rupert Vessey, Bristol Myers Squibb head of research and early development

Up­dat­ed: R&D tur­bu­lence at Bris­tol My­ers now in­cludes the end of a $650M al­liance and the de­par­ture of a top re­search cham­pi­on

This morning biotech Dragonfly put out word that Bristol Myers Squibb has handed back all rights to its IL-12 clinical-stage drug after spending $650 million to advance it into the clinic.

The news arrives amid a turbulent R&D stage for the pharma giant, which late last week highlighted Rupert Vessey’s decision to depart this summer as head of early-stage R&D following a crucial three-year stretch after he jumped to Bristol Myers in the big Celgene buyout. During that time he struck a series of deals for Bristol Myers, and also shepherded a number of Celgene programs down the pipeline, playing a major role for a lineup of biotechs which depended on him to champion their drugs.

Endpoints Premium

Premium subscription required

Unlock this article along with other benefits by subscribing to one of our paid plans.

Bill Haney, Dragonfly CEO (Dave Pedley/Getty Images for SXSW)

Drag­on­fly chief: Bris­tol My­ers shouldn’t blame IL-12’s clin­i­cal per­for­mance for de­ci­sion to scrap the deal — eco­nom­ics played a key role

Bristol Myers Squibb says the IL-12 drug they were developing out of Dragonfly Therapeutics was scrubbed from the pipeline for a simple reason: It didn’t measure up on clinical performance.

But Bill Haney, the CEO of Dragonfly, is taking issue with that.

The early-stage drug, still in Phase I development, has passed muster with Bristol Myers’ general clinical expectations, advancing successfully while still in Phase I, he says.

Endpoints Premium

Premium subscription required

Unlock this article along with other benefits by subscribing to one of our paid plans.

Utpal Koppikar, new Verily CFO

Ex­clu­sive: Ver­i­ly wel­comes Atara Bio­ther­a­peu­tics vet­er­an as new CFO

Verily, Alphabet’s life sciences outfit, has plucked a new CFO from the ranks of Atara Biotherapeutics, the company announced on Wednesday.

Utpal Koppikar joins Verily after a nearly five-year stint as CFO and senior VP at Atara, though his résumé also boasts roles at Gilead and Amgen.

The news follows a major reshuffling at Verily, including several senior departures earlier this year and a round of layoffs.

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 159,000+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

Singer Nick Jonas is back at work for Dexcom, this time for its new G7 glucose monitor.

Dex­com's spokescelebri­ty Nick Jonas re­turns to Su­per Bowl in new glu­cose mon­i­tor com­mer­cial

Dexcom is going back to the Super Bowl with its pop singer and patient spokesperson Nick Jonas. Jonas takes center stage as the lone figure in the 30-second commercial showcasing Dexcom’s next-generation G7 continuous glucose monitoring (CGM) device.

Jonas’ sleight-of-hand tricks populate the commercial — he pinches his empty fingers together and pops them open to reveal the small CGM — even as he ends the ad, saying, “It’s not magic. It just feels that way.” Jonas then disappears in a puff of smoke.

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 159,000+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

Richard Francis, newly-appointed Teva CEO (Novartis via Facebook)

New Te­va CEO Richard Fran­cis repri­or­i­tizes to 'get back to growth'

Six weeks into his new role at the helm of Teva Pharmaceutical, Richard Francis said it’s time to “get back to growth,” starting with a good look at the company’s priorities.

The chief executive has kicked off a strategic review, he announced during Teva’s quarterly call, which will continue over the next several months and produce results sometime in the middle of 2023. That means some pipeline cuts may be in store, he told Endpoints News, while declining to offer much more detail.

FDA Commissioner Robert Califf on Capitol Hill, Feb. 8, 2023 (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

FDA com­mis­sion­er floats ideas on how to bet­ter han­dle the pan­dem­ic

FDA Commissioner Rob Califf joined the heads of the CDC and NIH in the hot seat today before a key House subcommittee, explaining that there needs to be a much faster, more coordinated way to oversee vaccine safety, and that foreign biopharma inspections, halted for years due to the pandemic, are slowly ramping up again.

Califf, who stressed to the House Energy and Commerce’s Subcommittee on Health that the CDC also needs better data, made clear that the FDA’s ability to monitor the safety of vaccines “would also benefit greatly by a coordinated federal public health data reporting authority.”

Sanofi is renewing its #VaccinesForDreams campaign with more stories, such as Juan's in Argentina (Sanofi)

Sanofi re­news so­cial cam­paign to re­mind that vac­cines let peo­ple ‘Dream Big’

Sanofi is highlighting people’s dreams — both big and small — to make the point that vaccines make them possible.

The renewed “Dream Big” global social media campaign’s newest dreamer is Juan, a teacher in the Misiones rainforest in Argentina whose story is told through videos on Instagram and Sanofi’s website with the hashtag #VaccinesForDreams.

The campaign ties to Sanofi’s broader umbrella initiative “Vaccine Stories” to promote the value of vaccines and drive awareness of the need for improved vaccination coverage.

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 159,000+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.