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.

Pi­o­neer­ing Click Chem­istry in Hu­mans

Reimagining cancer treatments

Cancer is a leading cause of death worldwide, accounting for nearly 10 million deaths in 2020, which is nearly one in six deaths. Recently, we have seen incredible advances in novel cancer therapies such as immune checkpoint inhibitors, cell therapies, and antibody-drug conjugates that have revamped cancer care and improved survival rates for patients.

Despite this significant progress in therapeutic targeting, why are we still seeing such a high mortality rate? The reason is that promising therapies are often limited by their therapeutic index, which is a measure of the effective dose of a drug, relative to its safety. If we could broaden the therapeutic indices of currently available medicines, it would revolutionize cancer treatments. We are still on the quest to find the ultimate cancer medicine – highly effective in several cancer types, safe, and precisely targeted to the tumor site.

Joshua Cohen (L) and Justin Klee, Amylyx co-CEOs

Up­dat­ed: Af­ter long and wind­ing road, FDA ap­proves Amy­lyx's ALS drug in vic­to­ry for pa­tients and ad­vo­ca­cy groups

For just the third time in its 116-year history, the FDA has approved a new treatment for Lou Gehrig’s disease, or ALS.

US regulators gave the thumbs-up to the drug, known as Relyvrio, in a massive win for patients and their families. The approval, given to Boston-area biotech Amylyx Pharmaceuticals, comes after two years of long and contentious debates over the drug’s effectiveness between advocacy groups and FDA scientists, following the readout of a mid-stage clinical trial in September 2020.

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Ivan Cheung, Eisai US chairman and CEO

Bio­gen, Ei­sai re­fresh amy­loid hy­poth­e­sis with PhI­II show­ing Alzheimer's med slows cog­ni­tive de­cline

In the first look at Phase III data for lecanemab, Eisai and Biogen’s follow-up Alzheimer’s drug to the embattled Aduhelm launch, results show the drug passed with flying colors on a test looking at memory, problem solving and other dementia metrics.

One of the most-watched Alzheimer’s therapies in the clinic, lecanemab met the study’s primary goal on the CDR-SB — Clinical Dementia Rating-Sum of Boxes — giving the biotech the confidence to ask for full approval in the US, EU and Japan by next March 31. The experimental drug reduced clinical decline on the scale by 27% compared to placebo at 18 months, the companies said Tuesday night Eastern time and Wednesday morning in Japan.

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Nooman Haque, head of life sciences and healthcare at Silicon Valley Bank, and John Carroll

I’m head­ed to Lon­don soon for #EU­BIO22. Care to join me?

It was great getting back to a live ESMO conference/webinar in Paris followed by a live pop-up event for the Endpoints 11 in Boston. We’re staying on the road in October with our return for a live/streaming EUBIO22 in London.

Silicon Valley Bank’s Nooman Haque and I are once again jumping back into the thick of it with a slate of virtual and live events on October 12. I’ll get the ball rolling with a virtual fireside chat with Novo Nordisk R&D chief Marcus Schindler, covering their pipeline plans and BD work.

Some­one old, some­one new: Mod­er­na pro­motes CTO, raids No­var­tis for re­place­ment amid pipeline push

Moderna CEO Stéphane Bancel made clear on the last quarterly call that “now is not the time to slow down.” On Thursday, he made a bit more room in the cockpit.

The company unveiled a new executive role on Thursday, promoting former chief technical operations and quality officer Juan Andres to president of strategic partnerships and enterprise expansion, and poaching a former Novartis exec to take his place.

Gilead names 'k­ing­pin­s' in coun­ter­feit HIV med law­suit

Gilead is mounting its counterfeit drug lawsuit, naming two “kingpins” and a complex network of conspirators who allegedly sold imitation bottles of its HIV meds, some of which ended up in US pharmacies.

The pharma giant on Wednesday provided an update on what it called a “large-scale, sophisticated counterfeiting conspiracy,” accusing two new defendants of “leading and orchestrating” a scheme to sell hundreds of millions of dollars in illegitimate drugs posing as meds such as Biktarvy and Descovy.

Vlad Coric, Biohaven CEO (Photo Credit: Andrew Venditti)

As Amy­lyx de­ci­sion waits in the wings, Bio­haven’s ALS drug sinks (again) in plat­form tri­al

The FDA’s decision on Amylyx’s ALS drug is set to come out sometime Thursday. In a space with few drugs, any approval would be a major landmark.

But elsewhere in the ALS field, things are a bit more tepid.

Thursday morning, Biohaven announced that its drug verdiperstat failed its arm of an ALS platform trial led by Massachusetts General Hospital. According to a press release, the drug did not meet its primary endpoint — improvement on an ALS functional status test — or any key secondary endpoints at 24 weeks. The trial had enrolled 167 patients, giving them either verdiperstat or placebo twice a day.

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Tar­sus looks to raise aware­ness of eye­lid mite dis­ease in cam­paign aimed at eye­care spe­cial­ists

Eyelid mite disease may be “gross” but it’s also fairly common, affecting about 25 million people in the US.

Called demodex blepharitis, it’s a well-known condition among eyecare professionals, but they often don’t always realize how common it is. Tarsus Pharmaceuticals wants to change that with a new awareness campaign called “Look at the Lids.”

The campaign and website debut Thursday — just three weeks after Tarsus filed for FDA approval for a drug that treats the disease.

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Marcelo Bigal, Ventus Therapeutics CEO

No­vo Nordisk joins No­var­tis, Roche in NL­RP3 are­na, bet­ting $70M cash on NASH, car­diometa­bol­ic us­es

As a drug target, the NLRP3 inflammasome has drawn serious interest from Big Pharma, inspiring a series of M&A deals from Novartis and Roche on top of venture investments by others. Now Novo Nordisk is jumping on the bandwagon — and the Danish pharma giant is taking the target where it knows best.

Novo Nordisk is getting its NLRP3 inhibitors from Ventus Therapeutics, a Versant-backed startup that set out to make some of the best NLRP3 drugs out there by incorporating new insights into the structure of the target complex.

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