French up­start Step Phar­ma rais­es €8.6M, tak­ing im­muno­sup­pres­sive drugs to the clin­ic

Paris start­up Step Phar­ma has scored €8.6 mil­lion in a deal led by a new in­vestor to help bring its small-mol­e­cule im­muno­sup­pres­sive drugs in­to clin­i­cal tri­als for au­toim­mune dis­ease.

The new cash comes in part from Pon­tif­ax Ven­ture Cap­i­tal, and is added to Step’s first tranche of €5.9 mil­lion led by Ku­ma Part­ners last year, bring­ing the start­up’s to­tal Se­ries A raise to €14.5 mil­lion.

The mon­ey will be used to bring Step’s nov­el class of oral im­munomod­u­laters in­to the clin­ic.

Ge­of­froy de Rib­ains

The com­pa­ny, found­ed in 2014, is pur­su­ing a nov­el tar­get called the cy­ti­dine triphos­phate syn­thase 1 (CTPS1), which was dis­cov­ered at the Imag­ine In­sti­tute in Paris in pa­tients with rare ge­net­ic dis­eases who had a de­fi­cien­cy in this en­zyme in­volved in CTP nu­cleotide pro­duc­tion.

“There is a long, es­tab­lished his­to­ry of us­ing nu­cleotide syn­the­sis in­hibitors to treat au­toim­mune dis­eases, such as rheuma­toid arthri­tis, mul­ti­ple scle­ro­sis or pso­ri­a­sis, but their clin­i­cal use is lim­it­ed due to lack of tis­sue se­lec­tiv­i­ty,” said Ge­of­froy de Rib­ains, CEO and co-founder of Step Phar­ma, in a state­ment. “Tar­get­ing CTPS1 should al­low se­lec­tive mod­u­la­tion of spe­cif­ic im­mune cell pop­u­la­tions, such as T and B cells, with­out af­fect­ing oth­er tis­sues, which should trans­late to bet­ter ef­fi­ca­cy and an im­proved ther­a­peu­tic in­dex.”

Vanes­sa Malier

Step Phar­ma is a spin-off of the Imag­ine In­sti­tute, stem­ming from Alain Fis­ch­er’s re­search on ge­net­ic im­mun­od­e­fi­cien­cies. The com­pa­ny is a joint ven­ture be­tween Imag­ine and Syg­na­ture Dis­cov­ery, a com­pa­ny that does in­te­grat­ed drug dis­cov­ery, and Kur­ma Part­ners, a biotech in­vestor in Eu­rope.

Step has come pret­ty far with a rel­a­tive­ly small amount of cap­i­tal. The com­pa­ny has built a pro­pri­etary as­say plat­form, dis­cov­ered its first se­ries of CTPS1 com­pounds, and showed ini­tial proof of con­cept in vi­vo.

“Step Phar­ma is ex­plor­ing a com­plete­ly new par­a­digm for the treat­ment of au­toim­mune dis­eases,” said Vanes­sa Malier of Kur­ma Part­ners in a state­ment. “The rare com­bi­na­tion of a clin­i­cal­ly val­i­dat­ed tar­get, a nov­el mech­a­nism of ac­tion, and a sig­nif­i­cant un­met med­ical need led us to cre­ate the com­pa­ny with the Imag­ine In­sti­tute and Syg­na­ture Dis­cov­ery, and we are ex­cit­ed to see the pro­gram progress. The abil­i­ty of Step Phar­ma to at­tract Pon­tif­ax con­firms the po­ten­tial of this ap­proach.”

A lab technician works during research on coronavirus at Johnson & Johnson subsidiary Janssen Pharmaceutical in Beerse, Belgium, Wednesday, June 17, 2020. (Virginia Mayo/AP Images)

End­points News ranks all 28 play­ers in the Covid-19 vac­cine race. Here's how it stacks up to­day

The 28 players now in or close to the clinical race to get a Covid-19 vaccine over the finish line are angling for a piece of a multibillion-dollar market. And being first — or among the leaders — will play a big role in determining just how big a piece.

Endpoints News writer Nicole DeFeudis has posted a snapshot of all the companies, universities and hospital-based groups now racing through the clinic, ranking them according to their place in the pipeline as well as the latest remarks available on timelines. And we’ll keep this lineup updated right through the end of the year, as the checkered flags start to fall, possibly as early as October.

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 87,300+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

Cell and Gene Con­tract Man­u­fac­tur­ers Must Em­brace Dig­i­ti­za­tion

The Cell and Gene Industry is growing at a staggering 30% CAGR and is estimated to reach $14B by 20251. A number of cell, gene and stem cell therapy sponsors currently have novel drug substances and products and many rely on Contract Development Manufacturing Organizations (CDMO) to produce them with adherence to stringent regulatory cGMP conditions. Cell and gene manufacturing for both autologous (one to one) and allogenic (one to many) treatments face difficult issues such as: a complex supply chain, variability on patient and cellular level, cell expansion count and a tight scheduling of lot disposition process. This complexity affects quality, compliance and accountability in the entire vein-to-vein process for critically ill patients.

Bayer's Marianne De Backer with Endpoints founder John Carroll, Endpoints@JPM20 (Jeff Rumans for Endpoints News)

UP­DAT­ED: Hunt­ing a block­buster, Bay­er forges an $875M-plus M&A deal to ac­quire women’s health biotech

Bayer has dropped $425 million in cash on its latest women’s health bet, bringing a UK biotech and its non-hormonal menopause treatment into the fold.

KaNDy Therapeutics had its roots in GlaxoSmithKline, which spun out several neuroscience drugs into NeRRe Therapeutics back in 2012. Five years later the team created a new biotech to focus solely on NT-814 — which they considered “one of the few true innovations in women’s health in more than two decades.”

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 87,300+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

Phase III read­outs spell dis­as­ter for Genen­tech’s lead IBD drug

Roche had big plans for etrolizumab. Eyeing a hyper-competitive IBD and Crohn’s market where they have not historically been a player, the company rolled out 8 different Phase III trials, testing the antibody for two different uses across a range of different patient groups.

On Monday, Roche released results for 4 of those studies, and they mark a decided setback for both the Swiss pharma and their biotech sub Genentech, potentially spelling an end to a drug they put over half-a-decade and millions of dollars behind.

Eisai moves to 200 Metro Blvd. by late 2021 (ON3)

Ei­sai is cre­at­ing a new US cor­po­rate, R&D HQ in Roche’s old Nut­ley, NJ cam­pus

Eight years after Roche pulled up stakes from Nutley, NJ in a major R&D reorganization, Japan’s Eisai is moving its US corporate and research hub into their old campus.

Now the ON3 property, Eisai — a longtime Biogen partner focused on neurodegenerative disorders like Alzheimer’s — will bring together a staff of up to 1,200 employees. And execs are pitching the move to the New Jersey campus as a cultural game-changer.

Atomwise co-founders Abe Heifets and Izhar Wallach (photo courtesy Atomwise)

Plot­ting to be the Bridge­Bio of AI, Atom­wise lands $123 mil­lion Se­ries B for hype-heavy plat­form

The PR-friendly, well-partnered AI biotech that’s provoked stern skepticism in some scientific corners is getting a boatload of new cash.

Atomwise has announced a $123 million Series B round led by Sanabil Investments — a subsidiary of the Saudi royal fund — and B Capital Group and joined by DCVC and Y Combinator, among others. The new round is nearly triple what Atomwise had raised prior and will go towards both scaling their molecule-hunting software and building the growing network of spinouts they’re launching to develop some of the molecules that software has turned up.

Ugur Sahin, BioNTech CEO

Covid-19 roundup: Pfiz­er-backed BioN­Tech plans to seek FDA OK for a new vac­cine 'as ear­ly as' Oc­to­ber — ahead of the elec­tion

BioNTech execs say they’re on track to get their late-stage data on a Covid-19 vaccine — partnered with Pfizer — into the hands of regulators as early as October.

In their Q2 release Tuesday morning, the biotech reported that investigators could have late-stage data as early as October, and they won’t be wasting any time in hustling that over to the FDA.

“I am incredibly proud of our team, who has worked tirelessly to initiate our BNT162 Phase 2b/3 trial in record time and put us in a position to seek regulatory review as early as October of this year, if our trials are successful,” said Ugur Sahin, BioNTech’s CEO and co-founder.

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 87,300+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

Vi­da Ven­tures co-leads Dyne's $115M megaround for next-gen oli­go ther­a­pies aimed square­ly at mus­cles

Dyne Therapeutics started out last April with a modest $50 million to mine targeted muscle disease therapies from its in-house conjugate technology. The biotech has now convinced more investors that it’s got gems on its hands, closing $115 million in fresh financing to push its next-gen oligonucleotide drugs into the clinic.

Vida Ventures and Surveyor Capital led the round, joined by a group of other new backers including Wellington Management Company, Logos Capital and Franklin Templeton.

DFC CEO Adam Boehler and Kodak CEO Jim Continenza (Kodak)

Covid-19 roundup: Cure­Vac beefs up its uni­corn IPO dreams as bil­lion­aire own­er takes this Covid-19 mR­NA play­er on a forced march to Nas­daq; Ko­dak's $765M deal is put on hold

When CureVac initially jotted down $100 million for its IPO raise a couple of weeks ago, it seemed small. The German mRNA player, after all, had jumped into a Covid-19 race that swelled the sails of Moderna and BioNTech by tens of billions. And after raising $640 million in a slate of deals, $100 million in a hot market like this seemed like a pittance in the bigger scheme of things.

Today, we got a look at a figure that probably comes closer to the game-changing number the top execs probably have in mind. Selling 15.3 million shares at the high end of their $14 to $16 range would net a $243 million bounty. Majority owner Dietmar Hopp is putting in another €100 million, bringing the total to around $350 million. And what are the chances they want to do even better than that?

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 87,300+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.