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.

Image courtesy of The Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies of Johnson & Johnson.

Pro­tect­ing the glob­al phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal in­no­va­tion ecosys­tem – what’s at stake?

We are living in a new era of healthcare that is rapidly advancing progress impacting patient outcomes and experiences. We’ve seen a remarkable pace of transformational innovation, applied research, and advanced clinical development over the last decade.

Despite this tremendous progress, there is much more work to be done, and patients are counting on us – now more than ever – to continue that momentum. At the heart of our industry is a focus on developing and delivering medicines for some of the world’s most challenging diseases, including those that have few or no effective treatments today.

Roger Perlmutter, Eikon Therapeutics CEO

Roger Perl­mut­ter builds Eikon's pipeline with deal-mak­ing flur­ry, rais­ing $106M more

Eikon Therapeutics announced three business development deals on Thursday, effectively dropping in a pipeline of cancer drugs alongside more than $100 million in fresh funding.

The Hayward, CA-based company has become one of biotech’s richest startups since its 2019 founding, having raised nearly $775 million. It’s developing a massive, automated research approach built around Nobel Prize-winning microscope science to peer inside cells and watch proteins in action. After its Series B last year, PitchBook reported a $3.02 billion valuation. And while CEO Roger Perlmutter declined to comment on that figure, he said its first tranche of nearly $106 million in Series C funding is a “meaningful step-up to our Series B valuation.”

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The Modulo Bio team with CEO Michael Horowitz (fourth from right in semicircle)

Ex­clu­sive: With $8M, neu­ro start­up Mod­u­lo Bio emerges to test small mol­e­cules for ALS, de­men­tia in CEO’s per­son­al mis­sion

Embarking on a personal mission after his best friend’s mother was diagnosed with a mutation-driven case of frontotemporal dementia, Michael Horowitz has pulled together $8 million in venture funding at Modulo Bio to create small molecules for neurodegenerative diseases.

The San Diego and Bay Area biotech will select its lead development candidate and some backup options within six months and then raise a Series A to investigate therapeutics for C9orf72 mutation-driven cases of ALS and frontotemporal dementia, Horowitz told Endpoints News.

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Eu­ro­pean Par­lia­ment calls mem­ber states to ac­tion on an­timi­cro­bial re­sis­tance

Members of the European Parliament have called on EU countries to develop national action plans against antimicrobial resistance (AMR), calling it a top-three priority health threat.

Parliament on Thursday announced recommendations for the fight against AMR, including national action plans that must be updated at least every two years, an EU-level database tracking AMR and antimicrobial use and increased partnership between the pharma industry, patient groups and academia.

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Roche plans to di­vest from lega­cy Genen­tech man­u­fac­tur­ing fa­cil­i­ty in Cal­i­for­nia

Roche is planning to make some changes to its subsidiary’s manufacturing network in California.

The Swiss pharma announced Wednesday that it plans to divest from Genentech’s manufacturing facility in Vacaville, CA, around 58 miles northeast of San Francisco. According to a statement from Roche, the move is part of a “broader strategy” to bring its manufacturing capabilities in line with its future pipeline. Roche is starting the process of finding a buyer for the site but has not named any candidates yet.

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Peter van de Sande, Synaffix CEO

Lon­za shells out $107M cash to snap up Synaf­fix and its ADC plat­form

After lining up a string of partnerships over the years, Dutch antibody-drug conjugate specialist Synaffix has found a new home: Lonza, the contract development and manufacturing giant.

Lonza is paying about $107 million (€100 million) in cash to acquire Synaffix, with up to $64 million (€60 million) in “additional performance-based consideration” on the table. Synaffix’s ADC tech platform will now become part of Lonza’s offering for biopharma clients, lending its bioconjugate technologies to not just ADCs but also targeted gene therapy, immune cell engagers and other applications.

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Who's con­fi­dent­ly in­vest­ing in biotech star­tups dur­ing these tense days? We've got some an­swers

We’ve got a changeup to our event schedule in Boston next week, where we’ll be doing a mix of live/streaming events at our base at The Seaport Hotel as part of a two-day lineup of webinars, virtual firesides and a cocktail hour Q&A with a veteran of the biotech financing scene.

The 9:30-10:30 am ET live slot on Tuesday, June 6, will now feature a panel conversation on the current state of affairs for VC investing in biotech, focusing on what startups are getting cash — and how. Alaa Halawa, head of US ventures at Mubadala, is confirmed, along with Brian Goodman at MPM and Geoff von Maltzahn, a general partner at Moderna-buoyed Flagship. I have a couple of other invites out and will let you know how that plays out.

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Albert Bourla, Pfizer CEO (Michel Euler/AP Images, Pool)

FDA ap­proves Pfiz­er’s RSV shot for old­er adults, tee­ing up a com­pet­i­tive $17B vac­cine mar­ket

The FDA approved Pfizer’s RSV vaccine called Abrysvo for older adults on Wednesday, placing another Big Pharma onto the commercial stage ahead of the next RSV season.

Pfizer’s approval comes weeks after GSK won approval for its rival shot, Arexvy. Those two vaccines are both approved for use in adults 60 years and older and will be reviewed by a CDC panel in June before they’re expected to commercially launch this fall. Wall Street analysts see RSV as the next multibillion-dollar vaccine market, with Jefferies analysts recently forecasting the RSV market will grow to $17 billion over the next decade.

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Richard Pazdur, FDA's OCE director (Flatiron Health via YouTube)

FDA's can­cer chief weighs in on com­mon chemo short­ages — re­port

Richard Pazdur, director of the FDA’s Oncology Center of Excellence, attributes the current shortage of two cancer drugs to drug companies that haven’t invested in building out their production capacity.

In an interview with The Cancer Letter, a weekly cancer publication, Pazdur said that the current shortages of cisplatin and carboplatin, a pair of drugs used to treat a wide range of cancer patients, are the result of two problems: manufacturers not investing in enhancing production capacity, and drug companies being dependent on one supplier of raw ingredients. The cisplatin shortage followed an inspection that revealed quality issues at a manufacturing facility, which then led to the shutdown of production. This led to a surge in carboplatin demand, creating a secondary shortage.

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