French VC Sev­en­ture fo­cus­es sec­ond fund on fer­tile mi­cro­bio­me field — tar­gets €200M-plus

A few years ago, the spec­tac­u­lar fail­ure of Seres Ther­a­peu­tics’ sem­i­nal ef­fort in­to de­vel­op­ing a “crap­sule” — a syn­thet­ic, fer­ment­ed mi­cro­bio­me ther­a­peu­tic de­rived by a man­u­fac­tur­ing process that does not re­quire hu­man donor ma­te­r­i­al — de­railed an emerg­ing field work­ing to har­ness the in­sights gained from gut mi­cro­bio­ta to de­vel­op drugs. But since then, the suc­cess of fe­cal trans­plant ther­a­pies to treat stub­born­ly re­cur­rent C. diff in­fec­tions has en­tered the bio­phar­ma zeit­geist, at­tract­ed a buck­et of biobucks and even in­spired the takeover of a key play­er, Re­bi­otix. The ther­a­peu­tic ef­fort has resurged along­side a bur­geon­ing in­ter­est in nu­tri­tion — think pro­bi­otics. French VC Sev­en­ture Part­ners has fin­gers in every mi­cro­bio­me pie — drugs, di­ag­nos­tics, dig­i­tal of­fer­ings and nu­tri­tion — and it has launched its sec­ond ded­i­cat­ed mi­cro­bio­me fund with a tar­get of more than €200 mil­lion.

Is­abelle de Cre­moux

Un­sur­pris­ing­ly, the biggest cap­i­tal in­jec­tion is re­served for ther­a­peu­tics com­pared to the re­main­ing three cat­e­gories, Is­abelle de Cre­moux, man­ag­ing part­ner of Sev­en­ture Part­ners, who led the fund rais­ing, told End­points News. The first two in­vest­ments from the fund, dubbed Health for Life Cap­i­tal (HFL) II, have al­ready been made in US-based Ax­i­al Bio­ther­a­peu­tics ($25 mil­lion round) and Den­mark-based Galec­to Biotech (€79 mil­lion round), she said, de­clin­ing to pro­vide de­tails on the val­ue of each in­vest­ment.

“When I raised HFL I more than four years ago, my client list was not very long, we would have to ex­plain what it (the mi­cro­bio­me field) was in the first parts of meet­ings — for HFL II it has com­plete­ly changed, most are aware of what it is,” she said.

HFL II was launched this Jan­u­ary, while the orig­i­nal fund was launched in 2014. Both funds have en­ticed in­vest­ments from glob­al play­ers such as Danone and No­var­tis, as well as en­tre­pre­neurs and fi­nan­cial in­sti­tu­tions.

“There were in­vestors in the first fund that are re-up­ping their in­vest­ment in the sec­ond fund — ap­prox­i­mate­ly 90% are com­ing back from the first fund,” de Cre­moux said.

The con­cept of fe­cal mi­cro­bio­ta trans­plan­ta­tion (FMT) — re­plen­ish­ing a pa­tient’s gut with bac­te­ria from a healthy fe­ces — was orig­i­nal­ly doc­u­ment­ed in Chi­na, and has been used in the Unit­ed States since the 1950s with lit­tle reg­u­la­to­ry scruti­ny. About six years ago, the FDA sanc­tioned the use of FMT as a last re­sort mea­sure for re­cur­rent C. diff, but the agency con­tin­ues to con­sid­er it an in­ves­ti­ga­tion­al treat­ment. Glob­al­ly, hun­dreds of tri­als are now un­der­way test­ing the po­ten­tial of FMT for pa­tients suf­fer­ing from var­i­ous ill­ness­es, from autism to obe­si­ty.

Mi­cro­bio­me-based ther­a­peu­tics to­day is a fer­tile field for drug de­vel­op­ers tar­get­ing a wide va­ri­ety of in­di­ca­tions us­ing dif­fer­ent ther­a­peu­tic modal­i­ties, some of which are de­signed to side­step the “ick” fac­tor as­so­ci­at­ed with tra­di­tion­al stool trans­fer.

Chrono­log­i­cal­ly many of the com­pa­nies are tar­get­ing C. diff as a first in­di­ca­tion to show proof of ef­fi­ca­cy be­fore ex­pand­ing to oth­er big­ger in­di­ca­tions. Af­ter C. diff, we’ve seen a wave of com­pounds tar­get­ing IBD and Crohn’s dis­eases, meta­bol­ic dis­eases (such as obe­si­ty and di­a­betes),  au­toim­mune dis­eases and fi­nal­ly can­cer, de Cre­moux not­ed: “Can­cer is cer­tain­ly big­ger in size in terms of mar­ket po­ten­tial for mi­cro­bio­me com­pounds. More re­cent­ly it’s been about gut-brain ac­cess: not on­ly Parkin­son’s like Ax­i­al is tar­get­ing, but al­so se­vere de­pres­sion and eat­ing dis­or­ders.”

She added:

The field all start­ed with FMTs, then it moved out of FMT to fo­cus on liv­ing bio­prod­ucts, phage-de­rived com­pounds and small mol­e­cules etc. Sur­pris­ing­ly the field is mov­ing back again on FMT be­cause even if it’s very com­plex from a reg­u­la­to­ry per­spec­tive…the cur­rent clin­i­cal tri­als test­ing FMT re­al­ly show spec­tac­u­lar re­sults, and from a time­frame per­spec­tive it will prob­a­bly be the ear­li­er prod­uct to be ap­proved in the mi­cro­bio­me sec­tor, al­though some of the oth­er com­pounds men­tioned will have a high­er mar­ket po­ten­tial.

In HFL I, Sev­en­ture in­vest­ed a to­tal €160 mil­lion in 20 com­pa­nies in­clud­ing En­terome, Vedan­ta Bio­sciences, MaaT Phar­ma, and Bio­mX. HLF II is ex­pect­ed to hit its goal (of €200 mil­lion) with 20 in­vest­ments — by this sum­mer.

Aerial view of Genentech's campus in South San Francisco [Credit: Getty]

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The city keeps the old sign, first erected in 1923, as a tourist site and a kind of civic memento to the days it packed meat, milled lumber and burned enough steel to earn the moniker “Smokestack of the Peninsula.” But the real indication of where you are and how much has changed both in San Francisco and in the global economy since a couple researchers and investors rented out an empty warehouse 40 years ago comes in a far smaller blue sign, resembling a Rotary Club post, off the highway: South San Francisco, The Birthplace of Biotech.

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Rybelsus will be the first GLP-1 pill to enter the type 2 diabetes market — a compelling offering that analysts have pegged as a blockbuster drug with sales estimates ranging from $2 billion to $5 billion.

Ozempic, the once-weekly injectable formulation of semaglutide, brought in around $552 million (DKK 3.75 billion) in the first half of 2019.

As Nas­daq en­rolls the fi­nal batch of 2019 IPOs, how have the num­bers com­pared to past years?

IGM Biosciences’ upsized IPO haul, coming after SpringWorks’ sizable public debut, has revved up some momentum for the last rush of biotech IPOs in 2019.

With 39 new listings on the books and roughly two more months to go before winding down, Nasdaq’s head of healthcare listings Jordan Saxe sees the exchange marking 50 to 60 biopharma IPOs for the year.

“December 15 is usually the last possible day that companies will price,” he said, as companies get ready for business talks at the annual JP Morgan Healthcare Conference in January.

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Oxitec biologist releases genetically modified mosquitoes in Piracicaba, Brazil in 2016 [credit: Getty Images]

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But when a group of independent scientists evaluated the impact of the release of these genetically-modified mosquitoes in a trial conducted by Oxitec in Brazil between 2013 and 2015, they found that some of the offspring had managed to survive — prompting them to speculate what impact the survivors could have on disease transmission and/or insecticide resistance.

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Pur­due threat­ens to walk away from set­tle­ment, asks to pay em­ploy­ees mil­lions in bonus­es

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Purdue filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy this week as part of its signed resolution to over 2,000 lawsuits. The deal would see the Sackler family that owns Purdue give $3 billion from their personal wealth and the company turned into a trust committed to curbing and reversing overdoses.

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A fa­vorite in Alex­ion’s C-suite is leav­ing, and some mighty sur­prised an­a­lysts aren’t the least bit hap­py about it

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Scott Gottlieb, AP Images

Scott Got­tlieb is once again join­ing a team that en­joyed good times at the FDA un­der his high-en­er­gy stint at the helm

Right after jumping on Michael Milken’s FasterCures board on Monday, the newly departed FDA commissioner is back today with news about another life sciences board post that gives him a ringside chair to cheer on a lead player in the real-world evidence movement — one with very close ties to the FDA.

Aetion is reporting this morning that Gottlieb is joining their board, a group that includes Mohamad Makhzoumi, a general partner at New Enterprise Associates, where Gottlieb returned after stepping out of his role at the FDA 2 years after he started.

Gottlieb — one of the best connected execs in biopharma — knows this company well. As head of FDA he championed the use of real-world evidence to help guide drug developers and the agency in gaining greater efficiencies, which helped set up Aetion as a high-profile player in the game.

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Tower Bridge in London [Shutterstock]

#UK­BIO19: Join GSK’s Hal Bar­ron and a group of top biotech ex­ecs for our 2nd an­nu­al biotech sum­mit in Lon­don

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