Google’s GV and al­lies dou­ble down on Forty Sev­en with their sec­ond $75M round

One of the most ad­vanced, well-fi­nanced biotechs in the Bay Area just land­ed a $75 mil­lion B round to con­tin­ue its clin­i­cal work.

Forty Sev­en, a start­up that was spun out of Irv Weiss­man’s lab at Stan­ford, dou­bled down on the sim­i­lar-sized A round from last year, with Google’s ven­ture arm GV com­ing back along­side new in­vestor Welling­ton Man­age­ment Com­pa­ny LLP, with par­tic­i­pa­tion from ex­ist­ing in­vestors Clarus, Light­speed Ven­ture Part­ners and Sut­ter Hill Ven­tures.

Their mon­ey will be used to fund a slate of ear­ly-stage stud­ies for its lead drug, Hu5F9-G4, an an­ti­body tar­get­ing CD47. And Forty Sev­en ex­ecs are al­ready set­ting the stage for reg­is­tra­tion stud­ies.

Irv Weiss­man

Weiss­man was able to move in­to the clin­ic with this ther­a­py be­fore spin­ning it out in­to a new and high­ly promis­ing com­pa­ny. That’s an un­usu­al twist in the aca­d­e­m­ic world, but Weiss­man was able to cap­i­tal­ize on close re­la­tions with the then head of the Cal­i­for­nia In­sti­tute for Re­gen­er­a­tive Med­i­cine.

Back in 2009, Weiss­man scored a $20 mil­lion grant for his work on CD47 with four years of fund­ing for his pre­clin­i­cal re­search on AML. An­oth­er $12.7 mil­lion ar­rived in 2013, her­ald­ed by CIRM’s Alan Troun­son — who took over the agency in 2007 — as “the sharp end of the CIRM pro­gram – we need to get ther­a­pies in­to clin­i­cal tri­als.”

A week af­ter Troun­son left the helm of CIRM in 2014 — af­ter CIRM had pro­vid­ed more than $30 mil­lion in sup­port to Weiss­man’s CD47 work — he wound up side by side with Weiss­man on the board of Stem­Cells, which the Stan­ford pro­fes­sor had al­so found­ed, and to which CIRM had pro­vid­ed mil­lions in grants.

CD47 scram­bles a key im­mune re­sponse that helps guard a range of tu­mor types by pre­vent­ing a process called phago­cy­to­sis, in which the can­cer cells are de­voured by a phago­cyte. That’s what the re­searchers call a “don’t eat me” ef­fect. And Forty Sev­en be­lieves it can in­flu­ence both the adap­tive as well as the in­nate im­mune sys­tems, two big tar­gets in im­muno-on­col­o­gy.

Mark Mc­Camish

The treat­ment al­so promis­es to whip up a T-cell at­tack on can­cer “through cross-pre­sen­ta­tion of can­cer cell anti­gens by macrophages, pre­vent­ing en­graft­ment of tu­mors ex­press­ing a cross-pre­sent­ed anti­gen in­to an­i­mals.”

“Forty Sev­en con­tin­ues to make tremen­dous progress across mul­ti­ple clin­i­cal tri­als,” said CEO Mark Mc­Camish. “The fi­nanc­ing al­lows us to rig­or­ous­ly ex­plore the clin­i­cal re­sponse of dif­fer­ent tu­mors to Hu5F9-G4 mono- and com­bi­na­tion ther­a­py and de­ter­mine the op­ti­mal path­way to rapid­ly bring this new treat­ment op­tion to pa­tients.”

Paul Hudson, Sanofi CEO (Getty Images)

Sanofi CEO Paul Hud­son has $23B burn­ing a hole in his pock­et. And here are some hints on how he plans to spend that

Sanofi has reaped $11.1 billion after selling off a big chunk of its Regeneron stock at $515 a share. And now everyone on the M&A side of the business is focused on how CEO Paul Hudson plans to spend it.

After getting stung in France for some awkward politicking — suggesting the US was in the front of the line for Sanofi’s vaccines given American financial support for their work, versus little help from European powers — Hudson now has the much more popular task of managing a major cash cache to pull off something in the order of a big bolt-on. Or two.

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The Advance Clinical leadership team: CEO Yvonne Lungershausen, Sandrien Louwaars - Director Business Development Operations, Gabriel Kremmidiotis - Chief Scientific Officer, Ben Edwards - Chief Strategy Officer

How Aus­tralia De­liv­ers Rapid Start-up and 43.5% Re­bate for Ear­ly Phase On­col­o­gy Tri­als

About Avance Clinical

Avance Clinical is an Australian owned Contract Research Organisation that has been providing high-quality clinical research services to the local and international drug development industry for 20 years. They specialise in working with biotech companies to execute Phase 1 and Phase 2 clinical trials to deliver high-quality outcomes fit for global regulatory standards.

As oncology sponsors look internationally to speed-up trials after unprecedented COVID-19 suspensions and delays, Australia, which has led the world in minimizing the pandemic’s impact, stands out as an attractive destination for early phase trials. This in combination with the streamlined regulatory system and the financial benefits including a very favourable exchange rate and the R & D cash rebate makes Australia the perfect location for accelerating biotech clinical programs.

De­nali un­veils new way of cross­ing blood brain bar­ri­er as the big neu­ro­science bets en­ter its clin­i­cal years

Five years ago, as much of pharma began leaving neuroscience, three big-name scientists from Genentech and some A-list investors, including ARCH and Flagship, made a $217 million bet that new genetic insights and a reliance on biomarkers could bring them success. They called it Denali Therapeutics.

Still, Denali faced the problem that neuroscience developers have faced for decades: How do you get a large molecule across the blood-brain barrier, a natural defense evolved precisely to keep them out? Enzyme replacement therapy, for instance, would be a great candidate to treat several neurological disorders, but enzymes can’t cross the barrier.

Dan O'Day, Gilead CEO (Andrew Harnik, AP Images)

UP­DAT­ED: Gilead leas­es part­ner rights to TIG­IT, PD-1 in a $2B deal with Ar­cus. Now comes the hard part

Gilead CEO Dan O’Day has brokered his way to a PD-1 and lined up a front row seat in the TIGIT arena, inking a deal worth close to $2 billion to align the big biotech closely with Terry Rosen’s Arcus. And $375 million of that comes upfront, with cash for the buy-in plus equity, along with $400 million for R&D and $1.22 billion in reserve to cover opt-in payments and milestones..

Hotly rumored for weeks, the 2 players have formalized a 10-year alliance that starts with rights to the PD-1, zimberelimab. O’Day also has first dibs on TIGIT and 2 other leading programs, agreeing to an opt-in fee ranging from $200 million to $275 million on each. There’s $500 million in potential TIGIT milestones on US regulatory events — likely capped by an approval — if Gilead partners on it and the stars align on the data. And there’s another $150 million opt-in payments for the rest of the Arcus pipeline.

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Covid-19 roundup: Roche pairs Actem­ra with remde­sivir in new PhI­II; GSK makes its own 1B vac­cine man­u­fac­tur­ing plan

A month after a small study in France suggested that Roche’s IL-6 inhibitor Actemra helped Covid-19 patients do better — even as Sanofi and Regeneron found somewhat disappointing results with their rival drug — Roche is doubling down on the strategy.

The Swiss pharma giant is kicking off a second Phase III global placebo-controlled study involving Actemra. But rather than testing it as a monotherapy, they will add Gilead’s remdesivir to the regimen.

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Bryan Roberts, Venrock

Ven­rock sur­vey shows grow­ing recog­ni­tion of coro­n­avirus toll, wan­ing con­fi­dence in ar­rival of vac­cines and treat­ments

When Venrock partner Bryan Roberts went to check the results from their annual survey of healthcare leaders, what he found was an imprint of the pandemic’s slow arrival in America.

The venture firm had sent their form out to hundreds of insurance and health tech executives, investors, officials and academics on February 24 and gave them two weeks to fill it out. No Americans had died at that point but the coronavirus had become enough of a global crisis that they included two questions about the virus, including “Total U.S. deaths in 2020 from the novel coronavirus will be:”.

Daphne Koller, insitro CEO (insitro)

Daphne Koller’s AI start­up gets $143M in new cash from a16z, oth­ers

Biotech is becoming saturated with machine learning companies promising to reinvent and hasten drug development, but few, if any, have amassed the war chest Daphne Koller has.

Entering Tuesday, the former Stanford professor, MacArthur Fellowship recipient, Coursera founder and chief computing officer of Google’s secretive anti-aging biotech Calico had raised $100 million for her AI startup insitro. Now she’s raised $143 million more.

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Stymied by the pan­dem­ic, Im­munomedic­s' new CEO bows out, tak­ing a mil­lion bucks plus perks as he heads out the vir­tu­al ex­it

Just a little more than a month since taking over as the latest CEO to helm Immunomedics, $IMMU Harout Semerjian is exiting the company after being confronted by “logistical” obstacles thrown up by the pandemic that made it impossible for him to move from London to carry out the job. And he’s getting a little over a million dollars in cash plus perks to grease the skids on the way out.

Word of the changeup arrived right after the market closed Wednesday.

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Roger Perlmutter, Merck R&D chief (YouTube)

UP­DAT­ED: Backed by BAR­DA, Mer­ck jumps in­to Covid-19: buy­ing out a vac­cine, part­ner­ing on an­oth­er and adding an­tivi­ral to the mix

Merck execs are making a triple play in a sudden leap into the R&D campaign against Covid-19. And they have more BARDA cash backing them up on the move.

Tuesday morning the pharma giant simultaneously announced plans to buy an Austrian biotech that has been working on a preclinical vaccine candidate, added a collaboration on another vaccine with the nonprofit IAVI and inked a deal with Ridgeback Biotherapeutics on an early-stage antiviral.

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