Genoa Phar­ma grabs a $62M A round to back its oral IPF drug Aerodone

Bruce Mont­gomery has added $62 mil­lion to the $250 mil­lion tal­ly of ven­ture cash he’s helped raise for the biotechs he’s worked with over the years.

Bruce Mont­gomery

The Se­ries A round goes to Genoa Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals, a start­up in Seat­tle that now has the cash on hand to score Phase II ef­fi­ca­cy and safe­ty da­ta on an in­haled for­mu­la­tion of pir­fenidone (Es­bri­et) for id­io­path­ic pul­monary fi­bro­sis.

Es­bri­et was ap­proved back in 2014 along­side nintedanib (Ofev), help­ing change the way IPF is treat­ed in the US. But the ad­vances still leave plen­ty of room for im­prove­ment, Mont­gomery be­lieves, and that’s where the in­haled for­mu­la­tion comes in­to play.

An in­haled dose of the ther­a­py — dubbed Aerodone — can con­cen­trate a dose in the lungs, where it’s need­ed, avoid­ing the sys­temic ef­fects of the oral ther­a­py.

Mont­gomery has a 25-year track record in biotech. He was CEO of Cardeas, an SVP Gilead Sci­ences, founder and CEO of Corus Phar­ma (ac­quired by Gilead in 2006).  Mont­gomery al­so served as EVP of R&D at Patho­Gen­e­sis Cor­po­ra­tion un­til its ac­qui­si­tion by Ch­i­ron.  He’s once again work­ing with co-founder Mark Surber, the CSO who did the dis­cov­ery work on Aerodone.

“Re­for­mu­lat­ing sys­temic drugs for tar­get­ed in­haled lung de­liv­ery has suc­cess­ful­ly im­proved the ef­fi­ca­cy and de­creased sys­temic ad­verse ef­fects for cor­ti­cos­teroids and bron­chodila­tors in both asth­ma and COPD, and an­tibi­otics in cys­tic fi­bro­sis,” Mont­gomery says. “We hope to ac­com­plish the same ben­e­fits with pir­fenidone.”

They have the cash to find out a lot more.

F-Prime Cap­i­tal Part­ners and Ed­mond de Roth­schild In­vest­ment Part­ners led the round, with No­vo AS, River­Vest Ven­ture Part­ners, and TPG Biotech jump­ing in. F-Prime is the old Fi­deli­ty group, while Roth­schild ap­pears ready to jump out of its old stomp­ing grounds in Eu­rope to take a big piece of the ac­tion. The VCs brought in many of the board mem­bers — Ke­tan Pa­tel, Naveed Sid­diqi, Ti­ba Aynechi, Niall O’Don­nell and Heather Pre­ston — with Jonathan Leff, for­mer EVP of R&D at In­ter­Mune who led the oral pir­fenidone ap­proval process, named an in­de­pen­dent di­rec­tor.

BiTE® Plat­form and the Evo­lu­tion To­ward Off-The-Shelf Im­muno-On­col­o­gy Ap­proach­es

Despite rapid advances in the field of immuno-oncology that have transformed the cancer treatment landscape, many cancer patients are still left behind.1,2 Not every person has access to innovative therapies designed specifically to treat his or her disease. Many currently available immuno-oncology-based approaches and chemotherapies have brought long-term benefits to some patients — but many patients still need other therapeutic options.3

Pfiz­er’s Doug Gior­dano has $500M — and some ad­vice — to of­fer a cer­tain breed of 'break­through' biotech

So let’s say you’re running a cutting-edge, clinical-stage biotech, probably public, but not necessarily so, which could see some big advantages teaming up with some marquee researchers, picking up say $50 million to $75 million dollars in a non-threatening minority equity investment that could take you to the next level.

Doug Giordano might have some thoughts on how that could work out.

The SVP of business development at the pharma giant has helped forge a new fund called the Pfizer Breakthrough Growth Initiative. And he has $500 million of Pfizer’s money to put behind 7 to 10 — or so — biotech stocks that fit that general description.

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Hill­house re­casts spot­light on Chi­na's biotech scene with $160M round for Shang­hai-based an­ti­body mak­er

Almost two years after first buying into Genor Biopharma’s pipeline of cancer and autoimmune therapies, Hillhouse Capital has led a $160 million cash injection to push the late-stage assets over the finish line while continuing to fund both internal R&D and dealmaking.

The Series B has landed right around the time Genor would have listed on the Hong Kong stock exchange, according to plans reported by Bloomberg late last year. Insiders had said that the company was looking to raise about $200 million.

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Gilead re­leas­es an­oth­er round of murky remde­sivir re­sults

A month after the NIH declared the first trial on remdesivir in Covid-19 a success, Gilead is out with new results on their antiviral. But although the study met one of its primary endpoints, the data are likely to only add to a growing debate over how effective the drug actually is.

In a Phase III trial, patients given a 5-day dose of remdesivir were 65% more likely to show “clinical improvement” compared to an arm given standard-of-care. The trial, though, gave little indication for whether the drug had an impact on key endpoints such as survival or time-to-recovery. And in a surprising twist, a 10-day dosing arm of remdesivir didn’t lead to a statistically significant improvement over standard of care.

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Why Mer­ck wait­ed, and what they now bring to the Covid-19 fight

Nicholas Kartsonis had been running clinical infectious disease research at Merck for almost 2 years when, in mid-January, he got a new assignment: searching the pharma giant’s vast libraries for something that could treat the novel coronavirus.

The outbreak was barely two weeks old when Kartsonis and a few dozen others got to work, first in small teams and then in a larger task force that sucked in more and more parts of the sprawling company as Covid-19 infected more and more of the globe. By late February, the group began formally searching for vaccine and antiviral candidates to license. Still, while other companies jumped out to announce their programs and, eventually and sometimes controversially, early glimpses at human data, Merck remained silent. They made only a brief announcement about a data collection partnership in April and mentioned vaguely a vaccine and antiviral search in their April 28 earnings call.

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Mark Genovese (Stanford via Twitter)

Gilead woos fil­go­tinib clin­i­cal in­ves­ti­ga­tor from Stan­ford to lead the charge on NASH, in­flam­ma­to­ry dis­eases

With an FDA OK for the use of filgotinib in rheumatoid arthritis expected to drop any day now, Gilead has recruited a new leader from academia to lead its foray into inflammatory diseases.

Mark Genovese — a longtime Stanford professor and most recently the clinical chief in the division of immunology and rheumatology — was the principal investigator in FINCH 2, one of three studies that supported Gilead’s NDA filing. In his new role as SVP, inflammation, he will oversee the clinical development of the entire portfolio.

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Stephen Isaacs, Aduro president and CEO (Aduro)

Once a high fly­er, a stag­ger­ing Aduro is auc­tion­ing off most of the pipeline as CEO Stephen Isaacs hands off the shell to new own­ers

After a drumbeat of failure, setbacks and reorganizations over the last few years, Aduro CEO Stephen Isaacs is handing over his largely gutted-out shell of a public company to another biotech company and putting up some questionable assets in a going-out-of-business sale.

Isaacs —who forged a string of high-profile Big Pharma deals along the way — has wrapped a 13-year run at the biotech with one program for kidney disease going to the new owners at Chinook Therapeutics. A host of once-heralded assets like their STING agonist program partnered with Novartis (which dumped their work on ADU-S100 after looking over weak clinical results), the Lilly-allied cGAS-STING inhibitor program and the anti-CD27 program out-licensed to Merck will all be posted for auction under a strategic review process.

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Fangliang Zhang (Imaginechina via AP Images)

The big mon­ey: Poised to make drug R&D his­to­ry, a Chi­na biotech un­veils uni­corn rac­ing am­bi­tions in a bid to raise $350M-plus on Nas­daq

Almost exactly three years after Shanghai-based Legend came out of nowhere to steal the show at ASCO with jaw-dropping data on their BCMA-targeted CAR-T for multiple myeloma, the little player with Big Pharma connections is taking a giant step toward making it big on Wall Street. And this time they want to seal the deal on a global rep after staking out a unicorn valuation in what’s turned out to be a bull market for biotech IPOs — in the middle of a pandemic.

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No­var­tis chips in $10M for IPO-bound part­ner Pli­ant; Tenax shares soar on heart drug da­ta

Novartis is coming in with $10 million to help support the looming IPO of a partner. Pliant Therapeutics posted a new filing with the SEC showing that Novartis is buying the shares at $15, the mid-point of the range. It’s adding several million shares to the offering, bringing the total to around $135 million. Biotech companies have been enjoying quite a run on virtual Wall Street, with investors boosting new offerings to some big hauls.