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.

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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