Glad­stone spin­out Tenaya tack­les new cures for heart fail­ure with $50M A round

Tenaya sci­en­tif­ic co-founders (L-R) Deep­ak Sri­vas­ta­va, Bruce Con­klin, Benoit Bruneau, and Sap­tar­si Hal­dar [Cred­it: Chris Good­fel­low]

The idea that a fresh source of re­gen­er­a­tive cells could re­pair a dam­aged heart has dri­ven a va­ri­ety of large­ly un­suc­cess­ful re­search ef­forts aimed at help­ing pa­tients who have suf­fered from heart at­tacks and strokes. But now The Col­umn Group is bankrolling a $50 mil­lion Se­ries A for an up­start biotech that hopes to do just that.

The biotech is called Tenaya Ther­a­peu­tics, the brain­child in part of Deep­ak Sri­vas­ta­va, MD, di­rec­tor of the San Fran­cis­co-based Glad­stone In­sti­tute of Car­dio­vas­cu­lar Dis­ease and a co-founder of the new com­pa­ny.

Sri­vas­ta­va plans to build on Glad­stone’s work in the field of cel­lu­lar re­pro­gram­ming to hone in on pos­si­ble cures for heart fail­ure. The Tenaya team will look at re­gen­er­at­ing heart mus­cle cells and al­so ex­plore stem cell tech­nol­o­gy — which has been dis­ap­point­ing to date.

“Right now, the on­ly pos­si­ble cure for heart fail­ure is a heart trans­plant,” says Sri­vas­ta­va. “We hope that this new ven­ture will bring us clos­er to a more scal­able cure.”

It won’t come easy and it won’t come cheap. Car­dio drugs tend to be few and far be­tween be­cause of the ex­tra­or­di­nar­i­ly high on safe­ty and ef­fi­ca­cy that ex­ists for any ther­a­pies in­tend­ed for huge pa­tient pop­u­la­tions like this.

David Goed­del, the man­ag­ing part­ner at The Col­umn Group, is step­ping in as chair­man to help keep watch over his in­vest­ment. Goed­del is al­so on the board of Bio­Ful­crum, which Glad­stone set up to help fos­ter spin­outs like Tenaya.

Aside from Sri­vas­ta­va, the new com­pa­ny has a long line­up of sci­en­tif­ic men­tors: Glad­stone In­ves­ti­ga­tors Benoit Bruneau, PhD, Bruce Con­klin, MD, Sheng Ding, PhD, and Sap­tar­si Hal­dar, MD, as well as Er­ic Ol­son, PhD, from the Uni­ver­si­ty of Texas South­west­ern Med­ical Cen­ter. Oth­er Glad­stone sci­en­tists will serve as sci­en­tif­ic part­ners (Kather­ine Pol­lard, PhD, Todd McDe­vitt, PhD, Nevan Kro­gan, PhD) or found­ing em­ploy­ees of the com­pa­ny, in­clud­ing Kathy Ivey, PhD, for­mer di­rec­tor of the Glad­stone Stem Cell Core and the new di­rec­tor of re­search op­er­a­tions at Tenaya.

Tillman Gerngross, Adagio Therapeutics CEO

An­ti­body leg­end Till­man Gern­gross is el­bow­ing his way in­to the Covid-19 R&D cru­sade: 'I don’t see this end­ing any­time soon'

One of the most influential — and outspoken — scientists at work in the field of antibody discovery is jumping into the frenzied race to create new therapeutics to treat and prevent Covid-19. And he’s operating with the conviction that the current outbreak now once again spreading like wildfire will create plenty of demand for what he has in mind.

Dartmouth professor and Adimab CEO Tillman Gerngross tells me he’s raised $50 million from a group of close VCs to spin out a new company — Adagio Therapeutics — with a full C-suite team assembled to hire up a staff and keep rolling toward the clinic.

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Tal Zaks, Moderna CMO (Moderna via YouTube)

UP­DAT­ED: NI­AID and Mod­er­na spell out a 'ro­bust' im­mune re­sponse in PhI coro­n­avirus vac­cine test — but big ques­tions re­main to be an­swered

The NIAID and Moderna have spelled out positive Phase I safety and efficacy data for their Covid-19 vaccine mRNA-1273 — highlighting the first full, clear sketch of evidence that back-to-back jabs at the dose selected for Phase III routinely produced a swarm of antibodies to the virus that exceeded levels seen in convalescent patients — typically in multiples indicating a protective response.

Moderna execs say plainly that this first stage of research produced exactly the kind of efficacy they hoped to see in humans, with a manageable safety profile.

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Trans­port Sim­u­la­tion Test­ing for Your Ther­a­py is the Best Way to As­sure FDA Ex­pe­dit­ed Pro­gram Ap­proval

Modality Solutions is an ISO:9001-registered biopharmaceutical cold chain engineering firm with unique transport simulation capabilities that support accelerated regulatory approval for biologics and advanced therapeutic medicinal products (ATMP). Our expertise combines traditional validation engineering approaches with regulatory knowledge into a methodology tailored for the life sciences industry. We provide insight and execution for the challenges faced in your cold chain logistics network.

GSK’s Shin­grix leader Guil­laume Pfe­fer has jumped on board Flag­ship to helm a biotech hy­brid as Afeyan’s lat­est CEO-part­ner

After spending 4 years in a senior post with GlaxoSmithKline’s star team positioning Shingrix for a blockbuster approval, Guillaume Pfefer is headed back to the biotech world — in style.

Pfefer has signed on to join Noubar Afeyan’s busy group of partners at Flagship, and he’s taking the helm of an upstart — which today is being merged with another Flagship startup — with some grand plans of its own. The announcement this morning notes that Pfefer will run Kintai Therapeutics, one of the grads of the Flagship labs.

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Who are the women blaz­ing trails in bio­phar­ma R&D and lead­ing the fight against Covid-19? Nom­i­nate them for End­points' spe­cial re­port

One of the many inequalities the pandemic has laid bare is the gender imbalance in biomedical research. A paper examining Covid-19 research authorship wondered out loud: Where are the women?

It’s a question that echoes beyond our current times. In the biopharma world, not only are women under-represented in R&D roles (particularly at higher levels), their achievements and talents could also be undermined by stereotypes and norms of leadership styles. The problem is even more dire for women of color.

New biotech Exalys, seek­ing to pre­vent post­op­er­a­tive delir­i­um, launch­es with $15 mil­lion in Se­ries A

An old group of former colleagues will be reuniting to lead a new biotech venture aimed at cultivating a portfolio to treat neuroinflammatory disorders.

Led by Rick Orr, who ran the biotech Adynxx, the group is launching the startup Exalys on Thursday with $15 million in Series A funding from venture firms Catalys Pacific and Domain Associates. The nascent company’s first project will focus on preventing postoperative delirium, licensing a platform of EP4 receptors from Japanese pharma Eisai.

Donald Trump and Anthony Fauci (AP Images)

Covid-19 roundup: Fau­ci fires back at White House cam­paign to un­der­mine him

Anthony Fauci has called the White House campaign to discredit him “a bit bizarre” and said he stands by his previous statements, even if he has since changed his views.

The NIAID chief — who has received an outpouring of support following reports that the Trump administration has sent a document akin to opposition research to multiple news outlets — spoke with his usual candor in interviews with The Atlantic.

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The $1B Mer­ck-Bay­er drug that di­vid­ed car­di­ol­o­gists in March gets pri­or­i­ty re­view

Three months after Merck published in the New England Journal of Medicine data that left doctors and investors divided over just how well its experimental heart drug worked, the FDA has handed that drug priority review. A decision is now due by January 20, 2021.

Merck first announced the drug, known as vericiguat, as a Phase III success last November. In 2016, Merck had paid $1 billion upfront for US rights to the Bayer-developed drug. Early projections foresaw a few hundred million a year in sales, but the unspecified late-stage success raised the possibility for far more. After all, Novartis’s flagship heart drug, Entresto, was earning $1.7 billion per year and was expected to reach up to $4 billion in annual sales.

John Furey, Imvax CEO

A neu­ro­sur­geon spent the past 30 years de­vel­op­ing a neoanti­gen tu­mor vac­cine. Now he has $112M for a piv­otal test

As a neurosurgeon, David Andrews knew there wasn’t much he could do for his glioma patients after resecting — rarely fully — their tumor. Even with the best treatment and care available, median overall survival is just somewhere between 14 and 16 months.

Then in the 1990s, his mentor at Thomas Jefferson University introduced him to Renato Baserga, a pathologist who had been studying the effect of using antisense oligonucleotide to knock out the insulin-like growth factor type 1 receptor in cancers. As IGF-R1 drives tumor growth and metastasis, the preclinical reasoning went, implanting a molecule targeting the receptor together with the tumor material near lymph nodes can slow down the spread of the cancer.

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