Gary Glick (Scorpion)

Gary Glick, Kei­th Fla­her­ty now have $270M to re­al­ize their vi­sion for Pre­ci­sion On­col­o­gy 2.0 — we'll just have to wait for the de­tails

What­ev­er in­vestors have peeped about Gary Glick and Kei­th Fla­her­ty’s game plan to bring about Pre­ci­sion On­col­o­gy 2.0, it’s good enough for a $162 mil­lion in­fu­sion in­to Scor­pi­on Ther­a­peu­tics just weeks af­ter its $108 mil­lion Se­ries A.

The an­nounce­ment means the rest of us al­so get a sec­ond glimpse — not much more — at the grand am­bi­tions that the co-founders sketched out aboard 12 hours of shared flights, which com­pris­es three tracks that can now pro­ceed in par­al­lel thanks to the new mon­ey.

Kei­th Fla­her­ty

If Loxo On­col­o­gy, a brain­child of Fla­her­ty whose phi­los­o­phy is now dri­ving the can­cer strat­e­gy at Eli Lil­ly, rep­re­sents the first gen­er­a­tion of drug­mak­ers go­ing af­ter ge­net­i­cal­ly de­fined can­cers, Scor­pi­on is all about one-up­ping what’s been done: greater speci­fici­ty, deep­er and more durable re­spons­es, smarter against re­sis­tance.

And big­ger groups of pa­tients.

“For us, we’re in­ter­est­ed in ex­pand­ing pre­ci­sion on­col­o­gy in­to large pa­tient seg­ments, not just the rare and or­phan in­di­ca­tions that you’re al­lud­ing to,” Glick, the CEO, told End­points News. “That is one of the un­der­ly­ing prin­ci­ples be­hind the foun­da­tion of the com­pa­ny — it’s the be­lief that there are tar­gets out there that al­lows one to ad­dress pa­tients pop­u­la­tions 10, 20, 30, 40, 50, 60, maybe even 1,000, maybe larg­er than that, and to try and make this a main­stay for large num­bers of can­cers.”

The tech­nolo­gies co­a­lesce around three dis­tinct ap­proach­es. Track 1 picks out “high-val­ue onco­genes for which there are yet to be ap­proved so­lu­tions”; Track 2 re­volves around tran­scrip­tion fac­tors and oth­er un­drug­gable tar­gets; Track 3 aims to blaze a new path with in­ter­nal­ly dis­cov­ered tar­gets.

With a fo­cus on sol­id tu­mors, the biotech is ex­pect­ing to name its first de­vel­op­ment can­di­date in 2021 and start its first tri­als in 2022.

Glick sees Scor­pi­on lean­ing heav­i­ly in­to new­ly avail­able da­ta, ad­vances in trans­la­tion­al med­i­cine as well as break­throughs in drug dis­cov­ery — an ev­i­dence-based ap­proach that has al­so de­fined his last ven­ture at IFM.

Then there’s the mon­ey to tie it all to­geth­er. Box­er Cap­i­tal of Tavi­s­tock Group, EcoR1 Cap­i­tal, Omega Funds and Vi­da Ven­tures led the Se­ries B, with par­tic­i­pa­tion from new in­vestors Sur­vey­or Cap­i­tal Man­age­ment, In­vus Pub­lic Eq­ui­ties, Welling­ton Man­age­ment Com­pa­ny, Nex­tech, Or­biMed, Cas­din Cap­i­tal, Wood­line Part­ners, Lo­gos Cap­i­tal, Janus Hen­der­son In­vestors and oth­er undis­closed in­sti­tu­tion­al in­vestors. Se­ries A back­ers At­las Ven­ture and Abing­worth al­so chipped in.

Hav­ing ac­cess to the well-heeled syn­di­cate has helped al­le­vi­ate some anx­i­eties of build­ing a com­pa­ny from scratch dur­ing the pan­dem­ic.

“It’s a lit­tle pe­cu­liar talk­ing to col­leagues I’ve nev­er met face to face,” Glick ad­mits, but it helps that many are used to work­ing with col­leagues and part­ners over video con­fer­ences. He’s al­so de­lib­er­ate­ly adopt­ed what he calls “nodal hir­ing,” bring­ing in groups of peo­ple who know each oth­er at a time.

Er­i­ca Jack­son

What won’t change even af­ter they can meet in re­al life again is that the team, which is now 33 strong, will still be spread across three lo­ca­tions. Genen­tech vet Er­i­ca Jack­son is lead­ing the tar­get iden­ti­fi­ca­tion and val­i­da­tion team out of South San Fran­cis­co; the Boston unit will be mov­ing in­to a per­ma­nent head­quar­ters in the com­ing months; and Scor­pi­on will keep a small of­fice in New York City for ad­min­is­tra­tive pur­pos­es.

“We’re try­ing to take ad­van­tage of cer­tain­ly the fi­nan­cial hub — there’s cer­tain­ly a hub in New York that large phar­ma still as­so­ciates with — and ob­vi­ous­ly the two main hubs in the Unit­ed States for biotech, Boston and San Fran­cis­co, for tal­ent,” Glick said.

Graphic: Alexander Lefterov for Endpoints News

Small biotechs with big drug am­bi­tions threat­en to up­end the tra­di­tion­al drug launch play­book

Of the countless decisions Vlad Coric had to make as Biohaven’s CEO over the past seven years, there was one that felt particularly nerve-wracking: Instead of selling to a Big Pharma, the company decided it would commercialize its migraine drug itself.

“I remember some investors yelling and pounding on the table like, you can’t do this. What are you thinking? You’re going to get crushed by AbbVie,” he recalled.

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Mar­ket­ingRx roundup: Pfiz­er de­buts Pre­vnar 20 TV ads; Lil­ly gets first FDA 2022 pro­mo slap down let­ter

Pfizer debuted its first TV ad for its Prevnar 20 next-generation pneumococcal pneumonia vaccine. In the 60-second spot, several people (actor portrayals) with their ages listed as 65 or older are shown walking into a clinic as they turn to say they’re getting vaccinated with Prevnar 20 because they’re at risk.

The update to Pfizer’s blockbuster Prevnar 13 vaccine was approved in June, and as its name suggests is a vaccine for 20 serotypes — the original 13 plus seven more that cause pneumococcal disease. Pfizer used to spend heavily on TV ads to promote Prevnar 13 in 2018 and 2019 but cut back its TV budgets in the past two fall and winter seasonal spending cycles. Prevnar had been Pfizer’s top-selling drug, notching sales of just under $6 billion in 2020, and was the world’s top-selling vaccine before the Covid-19 vaccines came to market last year.

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Albert Bourla (Photo by Steven Ferdman/Getty Images)

UP­DAT­ED: Pfiz­er fields a CRL for a $295M rare dis­ease play, giv­ing ri­val a big head start

Pfizer won’t be adding a new rare disease drug to the franchise club — for now, anyway.

The pharma giant put out word that their FDA application for the growth hormone therapy somatrogon got the regulatory heave-ho, though they didn’t even hint at a reason for the CRL. Following standard operating procedure, Pfizer said in a terse missive that they would be working with regulators on a followup.

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A new can­cer im­munother­a­py brings cau­tious hope for a field long await­ing the next big break­through

Bob Seibert sat silent across from his daughter at their favorite Spanish restaurant near his home in Charleston County, SC, their paella growing cold as he read through all the places in his body doctors found tumors.

He had texted his wife, a pediatric intensive care nurse, when he got the alert that his online chart was ready. Although he saw immediately it was bad, many of the terms — peritoneal, right iliac — were inscrutable. But she was five hours downstate, at a loud group dinner the night before another daughter’s cheer competition.

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Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee, File)

Opin­ion: Flori­da is so mAb crazy, Ron De­San­tis wants to use mAbs that don't work

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is trying so hard to politicize the FDA and demonize the federal government that he entered into an alternate universe on Monday evening in describing a recent FDA action to restrict the use of two monoclonal antibody, or mAb, treatments for Covid-19 that don’t work against Omicron.

Without further ado, let’s break down his statement from last night, line by line, adjective by adjective.

Brian Thomas, Metagenomi CEO

Gen 2: Berke­ley spin­out lands $175M megaround to keep it on the cut­ting edge of the boom­ing gene-edit­ing field

The big bucks keep pumping into the gene-editing field.

This morning Metagenomi, allied with one of the biggest names in the mRNA field with a company DNA that includes the ubiquitous Jennifer Doudna, is showing off a $175 million B round that will pay for a rapid swelling of its staff in pursuit of some of the cutting-edge tech that keeps this field in the spotlight. And they’re aligning themselves with some major industry players with an eye on the clinic while getting behind some startups to help expand the work into new fields.

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Not cheap­er by the dozen: Bris­tol My­ers be­comes the 12th phar­ma com­pa­ny to re­strict 340B sales

Bristol Myers Squibb recently joined 11 of its peer pharma companies in limiting how many contract pharmacies can access certain drugs discounted by a federal program known as 340B.

Bristol Myers is just the latest in a series of high-profile pharma companies moving in their own direction as the Biden administration’s Health Resources and Services Administration struggles to rein in the drug discount program for the neediest Americans.

Joaquin Duato, J&J CEO (Photo by Charles Sykes/Invision/AP)

New J&J CEO Joaquin Du­a­to promis­es an ag­gres­sive M&A hunt in quest to grow phar­ma sales

Joaquin Duato stepped away from the sideline and directly into the spotlight on Tuesday, delivering his first quarterly review for J&J as its newly-tapped CEO after an 11-year run in senior posts. And he had some mixed financial news to deliver today while laying claim to a string of blockbuster drugs in the making and outlining an appetite for small and medium-sized M&A deals.

Duato also didn’t exactly shun large buyouts when asked about the future of the company’s medtech business — where they look to be in either the top or number 2 position in every segment they’re in — even though the bar for getting those deals done is so much higher.

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Roy Baynes, Merck

FDA bats back Mer­ck’s ‘pipeline in a prod­uct,’ de­mands more ef­fi­ca­cy da­ta

Despite some heavy blowback from analysts, Merck execs maintained an upbeat attitude about the market potential of its chronic cough drug gefapixant. But the confidence may be fading somewhat today as Merck puts out news that the FDA is handing back its application with a CRL.

Dubbed by Merck’s development chief Roy Baynes as a “pipeline in a product” with a variety of potential uses, Merck had fielded positive late-stage data demonstrating the drug’s ability to combat chronic cough. The drug dramatically reduced chronic cough in Phase III, but so did placebo, leaving Merck’s research team with a marginal success on the p-value side of the equation.

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