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.

Alexander Lefterov/Endpoints News

A new can­cer im­munother­a­py brings cau­tious hope for a field long await­ing the next big break­through

Bob Seibert sat silent across from his daughter at their favorite Spanish restaurant near his home in Charleston County, SC, their paella growing cold as he read through all the places in his body doctors found tumors.

He had texted his wife, a pediatric intensive care nurse, when he got the alert that his online chart was ready. Although he saw immediately it was bad, many of the terms — peritoneal, right iliac — were inscrutable. But she was five hours downstate, at a loud group dinner the night before another daughter’s cheer competition.

Endpoints Premium

Premium subscription required

Unlock this article along with other benefits by subscribing to one of our paid plans.

In a set­back, FDA or­ders Gilead to hit the brakes on their late-stage, $5B can­cer play

Gilead’s $5 billion drug magrolimab has run into a serious setback.

The FDA ordered Gilead to halt enrollment on their studies of the drug in combination with azacitidine after investigators reports revealed an “apparent imbalance” in the suspected unexpected serious adverse reactions between study arms.

“While no clear trend in the adverse reactions or new safety signal has been identified by Gilead at this time, the partial clinical hold is being implemented by Gilead across all ongoing magrolimab and azacitidine (Vidaza) combination studies worldwide in the best interests of patients as additional data is gathered and analyzed to address the concerns raised by FDA,” the big biotech said in a statement.

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 129,700+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

Graphic: Alexander Lefterov for Endpoints News

Small biotechs with big drug am­bi­tions threat­en to up­end the tra­di­tion­al drug launch play­book

Of the countless decisions Vlad Coric had to make as Biohaven’s CEO over the past seven years, there was one that felt particularly nerve-wracking: Instead of selling to a Big Pharma, the company decided it would commercialize its migraine drug itself.

“I remember some investors yelling and pounding on the table like, you can’t do this. What are you thinking? You’re going to get crushed by AbbVie,” he recalled.

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 129,700+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

Mar­ket­ingRx roundup: Pfiz­er de­buts Pre­vnar 20 TV ads; Lil­ly gets first FDA 2022 pro­mo slap down let­ter

Pfizer debuted its first TV ad for its Prevnar 20 next-generation pneumococcal pneumonia vaccine. In the 60-second spot, several people (actor portrayals) with their ages listed as 65 or older are shown walking into a clinic as they turn to say they’re getting vaccinated with Prevnar 20 because they’re at risk.

The update to Pfizer’s blockbuster Prevnar 13 vaccine was approved in June, and as its name suggests is a vaccine for 20 serotypes — the original 13 plus seven more that cause pneumococcal disease. Pfizer used to spend heavily on TV ads to promote Prevnar 13 in 2018 and 2019 but cut back its TV budgets in the past two fall and winter seasonal spending cycles. Prevnar had been Pfizer’s top-selling drug, notching sales of just under $6 billion in 2020, and was the world’s top-selling vaccine before the Covid-19 vaccines came to market last year.

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 129,700+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

Roy Baynes, Merck

FDA bats back Mer­ck’s ‘pipeline in a prod­uct,’ de­mands more ef­fi­ca­cy da­ta

Despite some heavy blowback from analysts, Merck execs maintained an upbeat attitude about the market potential of its chronic cough drug gefapixant. But the confidence may be fading somewhat today as Merck puts out news that the FDA is handing back its application with a CRL.

Dubbed by Merck’s development chief Roy Baynes as a “pipeline in a product” with a variety of potential uses, Merck had fielded positive late-stage data demonstrating the drug’s ability to combat chronic cough. The drug dramatically reduced chronic cough in Phase III, but so did placebo, leaving Merck’s research team with a marginal success on the p-value side of the equation.

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 129,700+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

Albert Bourla (Photo by Steven Ferdman/Getty Images)

UP­DAT­ED: Pfiz­er fields a CRL for a $295M rare dis­ease play, giv­ing ri­val a big head start

Pfizer won’t be adding a new rare disease drug to the franchise club — for now, anyway.

The pharma giant put out word that their FDA application for the growth hormone therapy somatrogon got the regulatory heave-ho, though they didn’t even hint at a reason for the CRL. Following standard operating procedure, Pfizer said in a terse missive that they would be working with regulators on a followup.

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 129,700+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

Michael Egholm, Standard BioTools president and CEO (IsoPlexis)

Eli Cas­din co-leads $250M in­fu­sion in­to mi­croflu­idics play­er that land­ed NIH fund­ing for Covid-19 test­ing

In about 17 months, Fluidigm has gone from working with sharks to Vikings.

The South San Francisco-based company, which landed NIH money in a Shark Tank-style program for Covid-19 testing, announced that it will take on an investment worth $250 million from Casdin Capital and Viking Global Investors. It will also rebrand, and call itself Standard BioTools. The investment will help the company focus on the highest growth areas of discovery and development and expand its CRO and CMO service providers. Right now, the company’s customer reach is limited to basic research, it said.

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 129,700+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee, File)

Opin­ion: Flori­da is so mAb crazy, Ron De­San­tis wants to use mAbs that don't work

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is trying so hard to politicize the FDA and demonize the federal government that he entered into an alternate universe on Monday evening in describing a recent FDA action to restrict the use of two monoclonal antibody, or mAb, treatments for Covid-19 that don’t work against Omicron.

Without further ado, let’s break down his statement from last night, line by line, adjective by adjective.

Not cheap­er by the dozen: Bris­tol My­ers be­comes the 12th phar­ma com­pa­ny to re­strict 340B sales

Bristol Myers Squibb recently joined 11 of its peer pharma companies in limiting how many contract pharmacies can access certain drugs discounted by a federal program known as 340B.

Bristol Myers is just the latest in a series of high-profile pharma companies moving in their own direction as the Biden administration’s Health Resources and Services Administration struggles to rein in the drug discount program for the neediest Americans.