Google backs I/O start­up Ar­cus in $107M deal

Ar­cus Bio­sciences, with its in­trigu­ing can­cer pipeline and big shot CEO, has been a VC fa­vorite since its in­cep­tion in 2015. Now, Google’s ven­ture arm is back­ing the Bay Area start­up in a new $107 mil­lion round, bring­ing the com­pa­ny’s to­tal haul to a quar­ter bil­lion in start­up cap­i­tal in two years.

The lat­est in­fu­sion of cash was led by GV (for­mer­ly Google Ven­tures), with top-tier VC funds lin­ing up to join, in­clud­ing Welling­ton Man­age­ment Com­pa­ny, EcoR1 Cap­i­tal and oth­ers.

It’s not hard to see why, as Ar­cus has all the things in­vestors like to see: drugs in a hot area of de­vel­op­ment, a chief ex­ec­u­tive with a stel­lar rep­u­ta­tion, and a pipeline stacked with sev­er­al im­muno-on­col­o­gy hope­fuls.

Ter­ry Rosen

Ar­cus’ CEO Ter­ry Rosen is best known as the guy who took Flexus Bio from in­cep­tion to a $1.25 bil­lion sale in less than two years. He joined Ar­cus short­ly af­ter the sale, where he and the ex­ec­u­tive team built the start­up in stealth un­til its com­ing out par­ty last Au­gust.

Now, Rosen is busy gear­ing up the start­up’s pipeline to en­ter the clin­ic.

“We have been as­sem­bling a team of staff, in­vestors, lead­er­ship and ad­vi­sors with a high­ly aligned long-term vi­sion to cre­ate, de­vel­op and com­mer­cial­ize in­no­v­a­tive can­cer im­munother­a­pies that may of­fer a mean­ing­ful ben­e­fit to pa­tients over ex­ist­ing treat­ments,” Rosen said in a state­ment.

Ar­cus is de­vel­op­ing small mol­e­cule and an­ti­body pro­grams with plans to build its own ar­se­nal of drug com­bos.

The new cash will be used to move for­ward AB928, a dual adeno­sine re­cep­tor an­tag­o­nist, and AB122, a PD-1 an­ti­body. Ar­cus start­ed a Phase I tri­al of AB928 in ear­ly No­vem­ber, and has a Phase I/II tri­al sched­uled for the first half of 2018 to test a AB928/AB122 com­bo in can­cer pa­tients.

The fresh cap­i­tal will al­so al­low Ar­cus to ac­cel­er­ate a cou­ple ex­tra ex­per­i­men­tal drugs in­to the clin­ic, in­clud­ing AB680 (small mol­e­cule CD73 in­hibitor) and AB154 (TIG­IT an­ti­body).

The in­vest­ment round comes a few months af­ter Ar­cus scored a deal (worth up to $816 mil­lion) to li­cense an an­ti-PD-1 an­ti­body de­vel­oped at Chi­na’s Glo­ria Phar­ma and WuXi Bi­o­log­ics.

'Chang­ing the whole game of drug dis­cov­ery': Leg­endary R&D vet Roger Perl­mut­ter leaps back in­to work as a biotech CEO

Roger Perlmutter needs no introduction to anyone remotely involved in biopharma. As the R&D chief first at Amgen and then Merck, he’s built a stellar reputation and a prolific career steering new drugs toward the market for everything from cancer to infectious diseases.

But for years, he’s also held a less known title: science partner at The Column Group, where he’s regularly consulted about the various ideas the VCs had for new startups.

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The DCT-OS: A Tech­nol­o­gy-first Op­er­at­ing Sys­tem - En­abling Clin­i­cal Tri­als

As technology-enabled clinical research becomes the new normal, an integrated decentralized clinical trial operating system can ensure quality, deliver consistency and improve the patient experience.

The increasing availability of COVID-19 vaccines has many of us looking forward to a time when everyday things return to a state of normal. Schools and teachers are returning to classrooms, offices and small businesses are reopening, and there’s a palpable sense of optimism that the often-awkward adjustments we’ve all made personally and professionally in the last year are behind us, never to return. In the world of clinical research, however, some pandemic-necessitated adjustments are proving to be more than emergency stopgap measures to ensure trial continuity — and numerous decentralized clinical trial (DCT) tools and methodologies employed within the last year are likely here to stay as part of biopharma’s new normal.

UP­DAT­ED: Pfiz­er hits the brakes on their piv­otal tri­al for a BC­MA/CD3 bis­pe­cif­ic on safe­ty con­cerns while FDA road­block is hold­ing up Duchenne MD PhI­II

Pfizer’s ambitious plan to take a Phase II study of its BCMA CD3-targeted bispecific antibody elranatamab (PF-06863135) and run it through to an accelerated approval has derailed.

The pharma giant said in a release this morning that they have halted enrollment for their MagnetisMM-3 study after researchers tracked three cases of peripheral neuropathy in the ongoing Phase I. They are now sharing info with the FDA as they explore the red safety flag.

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Matt Gline (L) and Vivek Ramaswamy

Vivek Ra­maswamy and Matt Gline swoop in­to Nas­daq on the wings of Jim Mom­tazee's SPAC with a $7B-plus Roivant de­but ready to do some deals

Seven years after founding Roivant Sciences as an upstart contender in the world of biotech creation, Vivek Ramaswamy and his recently anointed CEO Matt Gline are gliding into Nasdaq on the gilded wings of a cash-heavy SPAC.

In a carefully crafted SPAC pact aimed at wedding new investors at Montes Archimedes Acquisition Corp. with a syndicate of investors coming back to re-up for the next round of company building, they’ve assembled a fresh $611 million in financing for Roivant — $411 million held in trust from the investors in MAAC with a fresh $200 million from the syndicate.

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FDA ex­tends re­search agree­ment with MIT-li­censed or­gan-on-chip sys­tems

The FDA on Wednesday extended its four-year agreement with CN Bio, a developer of single- and multi-organ-on-chip systems used for drug discovery, for another three years.

CN Bio said the scope of the research performed by the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research has expanded to include the exploration of the company’s lung-on-a-chip system to help with the agency’s evaluation of inhaled drugs, in addition to the agency’s work on its liver model.

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In quest to meet user fee goals, FDA’s per­for­mance con­tin­ues down­ward trend

A recent update to the FDA’s running tally of how it’s meeting its user fee-related performance goals during the pandemic shows an agency that is not out of the woods yet.

The latest numbers reveal that for a second straight quarter in 2021, the FDA has met its user fee goal dates for 93% of original new drug applications, which compares with 94% and 98% for the previous two quarters in 2020, respectively.

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Kelli Luginbuhl and Ashutosh Chilkoti

Start­up sets out to tack­le the gene ther­a­py man­u­fac­tur­ing cri­sis

After Kelli Luginbuhl finished her PhD, her advisor, Duke bioengineer and PhaseBio co-founder Ashutosh Chilkoti, sat her down and asked if she wanted to launch and then run a company. Chilkoti had a once-obscure technology he and the venture capitalist Joe McMahon thought could form the basis of his second company and finally pay huge dividends. Luginbuhl knew the tech from years in his lab and was already looking for biotech jobs. It all added up.

June Lee, Esker CEO

Vik Ba­ja­j's start­up in­cu­ba­tor at Fore­site un­cloaks an im­munol­o­gy play­er with a lead TYK2 in­hibitor in tow

Looking at a healthcare system made more unequal by Covid-19, Foresite Capital managing director Vik Bajaj recently launched an expansive plan to launch five innovative startups to address unmet need. Just weeks after the first of those biotechs emerged from stealth, a second has now uncloaked, and it’s got immunology in its sights.

Esker Therapeutics launched Wednesday with a $70 million Series A to pursue precision immunology targets backed by Foresite Labs’ analytics engine kickstarted by Bajaj’s team, the biotech said. Foresite footed the entire round for Esker as it continues to develop its pipeline and advance its lead compound.

Josh Bilenker, Endpoints JPM 2020

Josh Bilenker and Jeff En­gel­man bun­dle a moth­er lode of cash for their stealthy start­up, at­tract­ing a who's who of biotech in­vestors

Josh Bilenker and Jeff Engelman won’t be worrying about money for their stealthy startup anytime soon.

Late last week the pair filed a Form D for their new biotech Treeline Biosciences outlining a $212 million raise for their new company — which Bilenker founded around the time he ejected from his top position at Eli Lilly’s oncology group.

Their plan is to top out the raise at $220 million, but with Bilenker’s list of marquee investors on board for his latest creation, that won’t be much of a stretch.

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