Gary Glick

Gary Glick puts Odyssey's $218M cash stack to use, ac­quir­ing ma­chine learn­ing out­fit

Around the same time se­r­i­al en­tre­pre­neur Gary Glick was putting to­geth­er his lat­est (and biggest yet) ven­ture, Odyssey Ther­a­peu­tics this past March, a mentee in­tro­duced him to a young Lon­don-based com­pa­ny work­ing on ap­ply­ing ma­chine learn­ing to drug dis­cov­ery.

Rahko, found­ed just three years ago by a few ma­chine learn­ing ex­perts, was de­vel­op­ing a plat­form right up Glick’s al­ley: Odyssey, as he’s con­ceived it, would ex­e­cute on drug dis­cov­ery at top speed just like IFM and Scor­pi­on, his pre­vi­ous star­tups, but do it with a heavy dose of da­ta sci­ence.

The ini­tial idea was to team up and lever­age Rahko’s mol­e­c­u­lar sim­u­la­tion and ma­chine learn­ing ca­pa­bil­i­ties to de­sign com­pounds for Odyssey.

But it turned in­to some­thing much deep­er.

Odyssey, flush with $218 mil­lion in ven­ture dol­lars, re­vealed Thurs­day morn­ing that it will ac­quire Rahko, in­te­grat­ing its 13 staffers in­to a 100-plus team — while adding more peo­ple to the team, which will re­main in Lon­don.

With some of the “lead­ing minds” in the area of gen­er­a­tive mod­el­ing, Glick not­ed that Rahko could tur­bocharge Odyssey’s R&D ef­forts in one of two ways: ap­proach­ing tar­gets it oth­er­wise couldn’t, and al­so com­ing up with bet­ter mol­e­cules than it oth­er­wise could cre­ate.

“If you don’t have a hit, there’s no pro­gram,” Glick said. “That’s a big bot­tle­neck. And that’s not in­signif­i­cant. There are many, many ex­am­ples in phar­ma where peo­ple run high through­put screens for a tar­get of in­ter­est that just don’t get any­thing.”

As for what those R&D ef­forts are about ex­act­ly, Odyssey is re­main­ing se­cre­tive, di­vulging on­ly that it’s work­ing on in­flam­ma­tion and on­col­o­gy — and build­ing on “past ap­proach­es” of an­ti-TNF an­ti­bod­ies, JAK in­hibitors and tar­get­ed can­cer im­munother­a­pies.

Glick much pre­ferred talk­ing about how Odyssey’s in­ter­nal process­es set it apart from tra­di­tion­al drug­mak­ers — which he be­lieves has been cru­cial to re­cruit­ing peo­ple like Heather Carl­son, an ex­pert in com­pu­ta­tion­al drug dis­cov­ery who’s leav­ing the Uni­ver­si­ty of Michi­gan to join the biotech.

Typ­i­cal­ly, in the in­dus­try, com­pu­ta­tion­al chem­istry is seen as a sup­port ser­vice. And so, some pro­gram or groups of pro­grams may send struc­tures to a com­pu­ta­tion­al chemist, and they’ll say, just tell me the best one. And, you know, they do what they do, and they ship them back. And a lot of them find that kind of un­re­ward­ing […] What we have done dif­fer­ent­ly, cer­tain­ly to many large phar­ma, is that you know, whether you’re a syn­thet­ic or­gan­ic chemist that’s been prac­tic­ing med­i­c­i­nal chem­istry, or whether you’re a com­pu­ta­tion­al chemist, or a da­ta sci­en­tist that’s been prac­tic­ing drug hunt­ing, they are both part of a team, they both get to de­sign com­pounds, those com­pounds are made. Pro­ject teams are re­sourced with ap­pro­pri­ate — ap­pro­pri­ate­ly sized with chem­istry re­sources that all the com­pounds can be made. That’s how you get the best de­ci­sions.

MedTech clinical trials require a unique regulatory and study design approach and so engaging a highly experienced CRO to ensure compliance and accurate data across all stages is critical to development milestones.

In­no­v­a­tive MedTech De­mands Spe­cial­ist Clin­i­cal Tri­al Reg­u­la­to­ry Af­fairs and De­sign

Avance Clinical is the Australian CRO for international biotechs providing world-class clinical research services with FDA-accepted data across all phases. With Avance Clinical, biotech companies can leverage Australia’s supportive clinical trials environment which includes no IND requirement plus a 43.5% Government incentive rebate on clinical spend. The CRO has been delivering clinical drug development services for international biotechs for FDA and EMA regulatory approval for the past 24 years. The company has been recognized for the past two consecutive years with the prestigious Frost & Sullivan CRO Best Practices Award and a finalist in Informa Pharma’s Best CRO award for 2022.

Who are the women blaz­ing trails in bio­phar­ma R&D? Nom­i­nate them for End­points' 2022 spe­cial re­port

Over the past three years, Endpoints News has spotlighted 60 women who have blazed trails and supercharged R&D across the biopharma world. And judging from the response we’ve received, to both our special reports and live events, telling their stories — including any obstacles they may have had to overcome — has inspired our readers in many different ways.

But change takes time, and the fact remains that women are still underrepresented at the upper ranks of the drug-making world.

Up­dat­ed: Amid mas­sive re­struc­tur­ing, Bio­gen looks to re­duce phys­i­cal pres­ence in Boston

Biogen is putting a sizable chunk of office and research space in Kendall Square and Weston, MA up for sublease, marking another big change as the biotech grapples with the aftershock of a disastrous and controversial rollout for its Alzheimer’s drug.

The subbleases are “part of Biogen’s overall implementation of the ‘Future of Work,’ which is allowing us to optimize our footprint and reduce the amount of space we occupy, taking into consideration new elements such as the hybrid work model,” Biogen spokesperson Ashleigh Koss wrote in a statement to Endpoints News, adding that the company has had subleases across several buildings for years.

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Illustration: Kim Ryu for Endpoints News

Why non-opi­oid pain drugs keep fail­ing — and what's next for the field

In 1938, Rita Levi-Montalcini was forced to move her lab into her bedroom in Turin, as Mussolini’s facist government expelled Jewish people from studying or working in schools in Italy. Levi-Montalcini, then just a few years out of medical school and using sewing needles as scalpels in her makeshift lab, would soon discover nerve growth factor, or NGF, in chicken embryos.

Her discoveries formed the basis of our understanding of the peripheral nervous system and how cells talk to each other, and Levi-Montalcini went on to win the Nobel Prize in 1986. Much later, NGF was hailed as a promising target for new pain therapies, with some analysts quoting an $11 billion market. However, the latest anti-NGF candidate, Pfizer and Eli Lilly’s tanezumab, was rejected by the FDA last year because of a side effect that dissolved bone in some of its patients.

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Alessandro Maselli, Catalent CEO

Catal­ent ac­quires North Car­oli­na CD­MO for $475M, boost­ing oral solids work

As Catalent has been expanding its reach in the US this year, as well as recently completing a C-suite shuffle, the company announced last night that it has acquired the CDMO Metrics Contract Services for $475 million from Mayne Pharma Group.

The acquisition will increase Catalent’s capabilities in oral solid formulation development, manufacturing and packaging as well as expand its capacity to handle more highly potent compounds.

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Craig Thompson, Cerevance CEO

UP­DAT­ED: Mer­ck makes first big splash for Alzheimer’s drug R&D since 2017 fail, ink­ing re­search pact with Cere­vance

For the first time since discontinuing its late-stage Alzheimer’s program, Merck has found promise on the path forward in the memory-robbing disease.

After a Phase III flop of its drug verubecestat, the New Jersey Big Pharma axed the study in early 2018. More than four years later, the company is ready to sign up for another pact to test the waters of the befuddling disease.

This time, there’s $1.1 billion in biobucks on the line and a target that its partner says no other biopharma is looking at en route to finding the next treatment for Alzheimer’s, a neuroscience field that has hit hurdle after hurdle for decades.

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Pfiz­er launch­es re­bate pro­gram for rare dis­ease pa­tients who have to stop tak­ing Panzy­ga

Pfizer is launching its second-ever rebate program, this time for Panzyga, its treatment for a rare neurological disease of the peripheral nerves.

The program began last month, according to STAT which first reported the news, and offers a refund of out-of-pocket costs for patients who must discontinue their course before the fifth treatment for “clinical reasons.”

Panzyga was approved back in 2018 to treat primary immunodeficiency (PI) in patients two years and older and chronic immune thrombocytopenia (cITP) in adults. It has since picked up an indication in chronic inflammatory demyelinating polyneuropathy (CIDP), a condition that’s characterized by weakness of the arms or legs, tingling or numbness, and a loss of deep tendon reflexes, according to the NIH.

Horizon's back-to-school campaign for children with cystinosis includes an all about me poster as part of a care package box.

Hori­zon read­ies kids and fam­i­lies for back to school with week­long ac­tiv­i­ties around rare dis­ease cysti­nosis

Going back to school is usually a bumpy readjustment from summer freedom for all kids, but especially for kids with chronic health conditions. Horizon Therapeutics is hoping to help smooth the way for some who have the rare disease cystinosis. Cystinosis is a genetic disease that causes the amino acid cystine to build up in different tissues and organs.

The “Gear Up” for school campaign is running all week with different online and at-home events and activities for families and children with cystinosis. Each family who signed up receives a care package mailed to their home including an activity coloring book “Michael’s Show-and-Tell.” The book tells Michael’s story about living with cystinosis while offering kids matching, coloring and finding object games along with information.

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Phar­mas spend mil­lions on di­a­betes ad­ver­tis­ing, but few pa­tients can re­call brand names — sur­vey

While many Big Pharma diabetes brands spend millions of dollars on TV ads every year, most people with type 2 diabetes don’t recognize specific drug brand names, according to a new study.

No brand garnered more than 30% recognition in Phreesia Life Science’s latest in-office patient survey of more than 4,000 adults with type 2 diabetes. Eli Lilly’s Trulicity topped the list as the most recognized brand with 29% of those surveyed recalling it, followed by Boehringer Ingelheim and Lilly’s Jardiance at 27% and Merck’s Januvia and Novo Nordisk tying for the third spot with 24%. Meanwhile, 76% of the patients surveyed were familiar with the generic treatment metformin.

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