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.

Scoop: Boehringer qui­et­ly shut­ters a PhII for one of its top drugs — now un­der re­view

Boehringer Ingelheim has quietly shut down a small Phase II study for one of its lead drugs.

The private pharma player confirmed to Endpoints News that it had shuttered a study testing spesolimab as a therapy for Crohn’s patients suffering from bowel obstructions.

A spokesperson for the company tells Endpoints:

Taking into consideration the current therapeutic landscape and ongoing clinical development programs, Boehringer Ingelheim decided to discontinue our program in Crohn’s disease. It is important to note that this decision is not based on any safety findings in the clinical trials.

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Vas Narasimhan (Photographer: Jason Alden/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

No­var­tis de­tails plans to axe 8,000 staffers as Narasimhan be­gins sec­ond phase of a glob­al re­org

We now know the number of jobs coming under the axe at Novartis, and it isn’t small.

The pharma giant is confirming a report from Swiss newspaper Tages-Anzeiger that it is chopping 8,000 jobs out of its 108,000 global staffers. A large segment will hit right at company headquarters in Basel, as CEO Vas Narasimhan axes some 1,400 of a little more than 11,000  jobs in Switzerland.

The first phase of the work is almost done, the company says in a statement to Endpoints News. Now it’s on to phase two. In the statement, Novartis says:

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Lina Gugucheva, NewAmsterdam Pharma CBO

Phar­ma group bets up to $1B-plus on the PhI­II res­ur­rec­tion of a once dead-and-buried LDL drug

Close to 5 years after then-Amgen R&D chief Sean Harper tamped the last spade of dirt on the last broadly focused CETP cholesterol drug — burying their $300 million upfront and the few remaining hopes for the class with it — the therapy has been fully resurrected. And today, the NewAmsterdam Pharma crew that did the Lazarus treatment on obicetrapib is taking another big step on the comeback trail with a €1 billion-plus regional licensing deal, complete with close to $150 million in upfront cash.

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How pre­pared is bio­phar­ma for the cy­ber dooms­day?

One of the largest cyberattacks in history happened on a Friday, Eric Perakslis distinctly remembers.

Perakslis, who was head of Takeda’s R&D Data Sciences Institute and visiting faculty at Harvard Medical School at the time, had spent that morning completing a review on cybersecurity for the British Medical Journal. Moments after he turned it in, he heard back from the editor: “Have you heard what’s going on right now?”

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Pearl Huang, Dunad Therapeutics CEO (Ken Richardson, PR Newswire)

Long­time biotech leader Pearl Huang takes the reins as CEO of No­var­tis-backed up­start

It has only been a few months since Pearl Huang exited the top seat at Cygnal Therapeutics, but now she’s back at the helm of another biotech.

After taking a few months off — passing an exam in that time to get her captain’s license from the US Coast Guard — she’s been named CEO of Dunad Therapeutics, a biotech focused on developing a small molecule covalent therapies that was founded in 2020. Huang told Endpoints News that two factors attracted her to going back to the c-suite: the company’s technology and its co-founders.

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(AP Photo/Gemunu Amarasinghe)

Some phar­ma com­pa­nies promise to cov­er abor­tion-re­lat­ed trav­el costs — while oth­ers won't go that far yet

As the US Department of Health and Human Services promises to support the millions of women who would now need to cross state lines to receive a legal abortion, a handful of pharma companies have said they will pick up employees’ travel expenses.

GSK, Sanofi, Johnson & Johnson, BeiGene, Alnylam and Gilead have all committed to covering abortion-related travel expenses just four days after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade and revoked women’s constitutional right to an abortion.

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Aurobindo Pharma co-founders P. V. Ram Prasad Reddy (L) and K. Nityananda Reddy

Au­robindo Phar­ma re­ceives warn­ing let­ter from In­di­a's SEC fol­low­ing more FDA ques­tion marks

Indian-based generics manufacturer Aurobindo Pharma has been in the crosshairs of the FDA for several years now, but the company is also attracting attention from regulators within the subcontinent.

According to the Indian business news site Business Standard, a warning letter was sent to the company from the Securities Exchange Board of India, or SEBI.

The letter is related to disclosures made by the company on an ongoing FDA audit of the company’s Unit-1 API facility in Hyderabad, India as well as observations made by the US regulator between 2019 and 2022.

New Charles River Laboratories High Quality (HQ) Plasmid DNA Centre of Excellence at Bruntwood SciTech’s Alderley Park in Cheshire, United Kingdom. (Charles River)

Charles Riv­er Lab­o­ra­to­ries to start cell and gene ther­a­py man­u­fac­tur­ing at UK site in Sep­tem­ber

While Massachusetts-based Charles River Laboratories has been on an acquisition spree, they are not against planting their flag. The latest move by the company sees them crossing the pond to establish a manufacturing site in the UK.

The company on Tuesday opened its cell and gene therapy manufacturing center at Bruntwood SciTech’s Alderley Park in Cheshire, United Kingdom. The expansion follows Charles River’s acquisition of Cognate BioServices and Cobra Biologics in 2021 for $875 million. Cognate is a plasmid DNA, viral vector and cell therapy CDMO.

Bristol Myers Squibb (Alamy)

CVS re­sumes cov­er­age of block­buster blood thin­ner af­ter price drop fol­lows Jan­u­ary ex­clu­sion

Following some backlash from the American College of Cardiology and patients, Bristol Myers Squibb and Pfizer lowered the price of their blockbuster blood thinner Eliquis, thus ensuring that CVS Caremark would cover the drug after 6 months of it being off the major PBM’s formulary.

“Because we secured lower net costs for patients from negotiations with the drug manufacturer, Eliquis will be added back to our template formularies for the commercial segment effective July 1, 2022, and patient choices will be expanded,” CVS Health said in an emailed statement. “Anti-coagulant therapies are among the non-specialty products where we are seeing the fastest cost increases from drug manufacturers and we will continue to push back on unwarranted price increases.”