Frédéric Desdouits, TreeFrog Therapeutics CEO

UP­DAT­ED: French biotech rais­es $75M for new cell ther­a­py man­u­fac­tur­ing tech, Parkin­son's treat­ment

A French cell ther­a­py start­up is get­ting two new of­fices in op­po­site parts of the world, and a new CEO to boot as it an­nounces a new round of fund­ing Mon­day.

Biotech TreeFrog Ther­a­peu­tics, which is fo­cused on stem cell ther­a­py, closed a $75 mil­lion Se­ries B, the com­pa­ny an­nounced. The round brings the com­pa­ny’s to­tal fund­ing to $83 mil­lion, and al­lows them to open up of­fices in Boston and Kobe, Japan, as it ad­vances its bio­mimet­ic C-Stem tech­nol­o­gy for clin­i­cal man­u­fac­tur­ing. The US of­fice will start with a staff of around 10 to 15 peo­ple, but if all goes well, that will change quick­ly.

Kévin Alessan­dri

As a part of the ex­pan­sion, board mem­ber Frédéric Des­douits has been hired as the com­pa­ny’s CEO, and ex­ec­u­tive vice pres­i­dent Kévin Alessan­dri will move to Boston to over­see the new of­fice. As far as the new of­fices are con­cerned, the move to Boston was at least par­tial­ly in­spired by the in­vest­ment from Bris­tol My­ers Squibb. As the ca­pa­bil­i­ties of the tech­nol­o­gy are dis­cov­ered, the team wants to be close to its part­ners, as it col­lab­o­rates with oth­er play­ers.

“They came in be­cause we are a very young com­pa­ny…and we are learn­ing about the po­ten­tial of the tech­nol­o­gy al­most every month,” Des­douits said in a phone call with End­points News Mon­day. “We know we have a dis­rup­tive tech­nol­o­gy…we know we bring some­thing new, and we know it’s go­ing to take time.”

Des­douits has been with Tree Frog as a part-time ad­vi­sor for near­ly two years. He’s served as a di­rec­tor for Gen­fit, a French ther­a­peu­tics com­pa­ny fo­cused on liv­er dis­ease, for more than 7 years be­fore that, and was the man­ag­ing di­rec­tor of French CD­MO Se­qens un­til Ju­ly 2020.

“In just two years and, with on­ly $7M in Se­ries A fund­ing, the TreeFrog Ther­a­peu­tics team tran­si­tioned C-StemTM from the bench to an in­dus­tri­al tech­nol­o­gy ap­plic­a­ble to any cell ther­a­py. We demon­strat­ed that C-StemTM out­per­forms all ex­ist­ing tech­nolo­gies for pluripo­tent stem cell ex­pan­sion in terms of scale and qual­i­ty,” he said in a state­ment. “We al­so con­firmed best-in-class pre­clin­i­cal da­ta for our cell ther­a­py pro­gram for Parkin­son’s dis­ease.”

The com­pa­ny was found­ed in 2018 in Bor­deaux, France. Its fi­nanc­ing was led by Bpifrance Large Ven­ture, a func­tion of the French Pub­lic In­vest­ment Bank that in­vests in life sci­ences and green tech­nol­o­gy, and Leonard Green & Part­ners, a Los An­ge­les-based pri­vate eq­ui­ty firm fo­cused on health­care. Eu­ro­pean ven­ture cap­i­tal group XAnge al­so led the round.

C-Stem al­lows for the mass pro­duc­tion of stem cells in in­dus­tri­al biore­ac­tors, which TreeFrog says can im­prove the qual­i­ty of cells and re­duce the cost over ex­ist­ing tech­nolo­gies. In June 2020, the team’s 50 em­ploy­ees moved in­to a 13,000 square-foot man­u­fac­tur­ing fa­cil­i­ty in France. This April, it pro­duced its first batch of stem cells in a 10-liter biore­ac­tor.

“In short, fund­ing, man­age­ment and gov­er­nance are now se­cured, as we em­bark on a very ex­cit­ing jour­ney, with the de­ploy­ment of tech­no­log­i­cal hubs in Kobe, Japan, and Boston, MA, and the prospect of treat­ing our first pa­tients in 2024,” Alessan­dri said in a press re­lease.

As a part of the fi­nanc­ing round, Lau­rent Higueret of Bpifrance Large Ven­ture and Pe­ter Zip­pelius of Leonard Green & Part­ners will join the board of di­rec­tors. Girish Pendse of Bris­tol My­ers Squibb will join as an ob­serv­er.

The Price of Re­lief: Ex­plor­ing So­lu­tions to the Ris­ing Costs of On­col­o­gy Drugs

In 2020, The National Cancer Institute estimated about 1.8 million new cases of cancer diagnosed in the United States, while the costs associated with treatment therapies continued to escalate. Given the current legislative climate on drug pricing, it’s never been more important to look at the evolution of drug pricing globally and control concerns of sustainable and affordable treatments in oncology.

Lat­est news on Pfiz­er's $3B+ JAK1 win; Pacts over M&A at #JPM22; 2021 by the num­bers; Bio­gen's Aduhelm reck­on­ing; The sto­ry of sotro­vimab; and more

Welcome back to Endpoints Weekly, your review of the week’s top biopharma headlines. Want this in your inbox every Saturday morning? Current Endpoints readers can visit their reader profile to add Endpoints Weekly. New to Endpoints? Sign up here.

For those of you who attended #JPM22 in any shape or form, we hope you had a fruitful time. Regardless of how you spent the past hectic week, may your weekend be just what you need it to be.

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 128,800+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

A $3B+ peak sales win? Pfiz­er thinks so, as FDA of­fers a tardy green light to its JAK1 drug abroc­i­tinib

Back in the fall of 2020, newly crowned Pfizer chief Albert Bourla confidently put their JAK1 inhibitor abrocitinib at the top of the list of blockbuster drugs in the late-stage pipeline with a $3 billion-plus peak sales estimate.

Since then it’s been subjected to serious criticism for the safety warnings associated with the class, held back by a cautious FDA and questioned when researchers rolled out a top-line boast that their heavyweight contender had beaten the champ in the field of atopic dermatitis — Dupixent — in a head-to-head study.

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 128,800+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

Robert Califf, FDA commissioner nominee (Graeme Sloan/Sipa USA/Sipa via AP Images)

Rob Califf ad­vances as Biden's FDA nom­i­nee, with a close com­mit­tee vote

Rob Califf’s second confirmation process as FDA commissioner is already much more difficult than his near unanimous confirmation under the Obama administration.

The Senate Health Committee on Thursday voted 13-8 in favor of advancing Califf’s nomination to a full Senate vote. Several Democrats voted against Califf, including Sen. Bernie Sanders and Sen. Maggie Hassan. Several other Democrats who aren’t on the committee, like West Virginia’s Joe Manchin and Ed Markey of Massachusetts, also said Thursday that they would not vote for Califf. Markey, Hassan and Manchin all previously expressed reservations about the prospect of Janet Woodcock as an FDA commissioner nominee too.

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 128,800+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

Michel Vounatsos, Biogen CEO (World Economic Forum/Ciaran McCrickard)

Bio­gen vows to fight CM­S' draft cov­er­age de­ci­sion for Aduhelm be­fore April fi­nal­iza­tion

Biogen executives made clear in an investor call Thursday they are not preparing to run a new CMS-approved clinical trial for their controversial Alzheimer’s drug anytime soon.

As requested in a draft national coverage decision from CMS earlier this week, Biogen and other anti-amyloid drugs will need to show “a meaningful improvement in health outcomes” for Alzheimer’s patients in a randomized, placebo-controlled trial to get paid for their drugs, rather than just the reduction in amyloid plaques that won Aduhelm its accelerated approval in June.

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 128,800+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

CRO own­er pleads guilty to ob­struct­ing FDA in­ves­ti­ga­tion in­to fal­si­fied clin­i­cal tri­al da­ta

The co-owner of a Florida-based clinical research site pleaded guilty to lying to an FDA investigator during a 2017 inspection, revealing that she falsely portrayed part of a GlaxoSmithKline pediatric asthma study as legitimate, when in fact she knew that certain data had been falsified, the Department of Justice said Wednesday.

Three other employees — Yvelice Villaman Bencosme, Lisett Raventos and Maytee Lledo — previously pleaded guilty and were sentenced in connection with falsifying data associated with the trial at the CRO Unlimited Medical Research.

Susan Galbraith, AstraZeneca EVP, Oncology R&D

Can­cer pow­er­house As­traZeneca rolls the dice on a $75M cash bet on a buzzy up­start in the on­col­o­gy field

After establishing itself in the front ranks of cancer drug developers and marketers, AstraZeneca is putting its scientific shoulder — and a significant amount of cash — behind the wheel of a brash new upstart in the biotech world.

The pharma giant trumpeted news this morning that it is handing over $75 million upfront to ally itself with Scorpion Therapeutics, one of those biotechs that was newly birthed by some top scientific, venture and executive talent and bequeathed with a fortune by way of a bankroll to advance an only hazily explained drug platform. And they are still very much in the discovery and preclinical phase.

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 128,800+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

‘Skin­ny la­bels’ on gener­ics can save pa­tients mon­ey, re­search shows, but re­cent court de­ci­sions cloud fu­ture

New research shows how generic drug companies can successfully market a limited number of approved indications for a brand name drug, prior to coming to market for all of the indications. But several recent court decisions have created a layer of uncertainty around these so-called “skinny” labels.

While courts have generally allowed generic manufacturers to use their statutorily permitted skinny-label approvals, last summer, a federal circuit court found that Teva Pharmaceuticals was liable for inducing prescribers and patients to infringe GlaxoSmithKline’s patents through advertising and marketing practices that suggested Teva’s generic, with its skinny label, could be employed for the patented uses.

A patient in Alaska receiving an antibody infusion to prevent Covid hospitalizations in September. All but one of these treatments has been rendered useless by Omicron (Rick Bowmer/AP Images)

How a tiny Swiss lab and two old blood sam­ples cre­at­ed one of the on­ly ef­fec­tive drugs against Omi­cron (and why we have so lit­tle of it)

Exactly a decade before a novel coronavirus broke out in Wuhan, Davide Corti — a newly-minted immunologist with frameless glasses and a quick laugh — walked into a cramped lab on the top floor of an office building two hours outside Zurich. He had only enough money for two technicians and the ceiling was so low in parts that short stature was a job requirement, but Corti believed it’d be enough to test an idea he thought could change medicine.

Endpoints Premium

Premium subscription required

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