Har­bour Bio­Med fol­lows can­cer drug deals with a hefty $85M Se­ries B backed by Sin­ga­pore's GIC

Rid­ing on the mo­men­tum of two li­cens­ing deals, Har­bour Bio­Med now has $85 mil­lion to ad­vance its fresh­ly beefed up pipeline.

GIC — Sin­ga­pore’s sov­er­eign wealth fund — led the Se­ries B, lead­ing a syn­di­cate that in­cludes Chi­na Life Pri­vate Eq­ui­ty In­vest­ment and Ver­tex Ven­tures as well as Se­ries A in­vestors Ad­van­Tech and Leg­end Cap­i­tal.

Jing­song Wang

Founder and CEO Jing­song Wang calls the round a “strong vote of con­fi­dence” for the Chi­nese biotech’s three-pronged strat­e­gy built around its foun­da­tion­al hu­man trans­genic an­ti­body tech­nol­o­gy, dubbed Har­bour Mice: out-li­cens­ing its tech, in-li­cens­ing as­sets to de­vel­op on the plat­form and dis­cov­er­ing new ones in-house.

So far, the in-li­cens­ing stream has yield­ed all of Har­bour Bio­Med’s core drugs. A week ago Har­bour ac­quired ex­clu­sive rights to de­vel­op, man­u­fac­ture and com­mer­cial­ize a PD-L1 agent out­side of greater Chi­na from from Cheng­du-based Kelun biotech — one of at least 22 PD-1/L1 agents in de­vel­op­ment in Chi­na and an­oth­er spark in the glob­al ex­plo­sion of check­point in­hibitors. The deal is po­ten­tial­ly worth $350 mil­lion in­clud­ing biobucks.

Days be­fore that, Har­bour struck a deal with In­dia’s Glen­mark Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals to ob­tain Chi­na rights to a CD3-based bi-spe­cif­ic an­ti­body ther­a­py against HER-2 over­ex­pressed breast can­cer.

The rest of the pipeline has yet to en­ter the clin­ic, in­clud­ing an an­ti-FcRn based an­ti­body against au­toim­mune dis­eases and a bi­o­log­ic for in­flam­ma­to­ry dry-eye dis­ease, among oth­er po­ten­tial in­di­ca­tions.

Launched in late 2016 through the ac­qui­si­tion of Nether­lands-based Har­bour An­ti­bod­ies, Har­bour Bio­Med is head­quar­tered in Shang­hai with a Boston out­post.

“Dur­ing the one and half years since we es­tab­lished op­er­a­tions, Har­bour has suc­cess­ful­ly ex­pand­ed its net­work of col­lab­o­ra­tions for its core trans­genic mouse tech­nolo­gies, rapid­ly built an in­no­v­a­tive pipeline through in­ter­nal dis­cov­ery and in-li­censed de­vel­op­ment stage pro­grams in the ar­eas of on­col­o­gy and im­munol­o­gy, and es­tab­lished an ex­pe­ri­enced and pro­fes­sion­al team,” said Wang in a state­ment. “The fi­nanc­ing is a very strong vote of con­fi­dence by our new and ex­ist­ing in­vestors in our vi­sion for the com­pa­ny, strat­e­gy, progress to date and our team.”

Tesla and SpaceX founder Elon Musk gestures to the audience after being recognized by President Trump following the successful launch of a Falcon 9 rocket at the Kennedy Space Center. (via Getty Images)

Tes­la chief Elon Musk teams up with Covid-19 play­er Cure­Vac to build 'R­NA mi­cro­fac­to­ries'

Elon Musk has joined the global tech crusade now underway to revolutionize vaccine manufacturing — now aimed at delivering billions of doses of a new mRNA vaccine to fight Covid-19. And he’s cutting right to the front.

In a late-night tweet Wednesday, the Tesla chief announced:

Tesla, as a side project, is building RNA microfactories for CureVac & possibly others.

That’s not a lot to go on. But the tweet comes a year after Tesla’s German division in Grohmann and CureVac filed a patent on a “bioreactor for RNA in vitro transcription, a method for RNA in vitro transcription, a module for transcribing DNA into RNA and an automated apparatus for RNA manufacturing.” CureVac, in the meantime, has discussed a variety of plans to build microfactories that can speed up the whole process for a global supply chain.

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George Yancopoulos (Regeneron)

UP­DAT­ED: Re­gen­eron co-founder George Yan­copou­los of­fers a com­bat­ive de­fense of the po­lice at a high school com­mence­ment. It didn’t go well

Typically, the commencement speech at Yorktown Central School District in Westchester — like most high schools — is an opportunity to encourage students to face the future with confidence and hope. Regeneron president and co-founder George Yancopoulos, though, went a different route.

In a fiery speech, the outspoken billionaire defended the police against the “prejudice and bias against law enforcement” that has erupted around the country in street protests from coast to coast. And for many who attended the commencement, Yancopoulos struck the wrong note at the wrong time, especially when he combatively challenged someone for interrupting his speech with a honk for “another act of cowardness.”

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Elias Zerhouni (Photo by Vincent Isore/IP3/Getty Images)

Elias Zer­houni dis­cuss­es ‘am­a­teur hour’ in DC, the de­struc­tion of in­fec­tious dis­ease R&D and how we need to prep for the next time

Elias Zerhouni favors blunt talk, and in a recent discussion with NPR, the ex-Sanofi R&D and ex-NIH chief had some tough points to make regarding the pandemic response.

Rather than interpret them, I thought it would be best to provide snippets straight from the interview.

On the Trump administration response:

It was basically amateur hour. There is no central concept of operations for preparedness, for pandemics, period. This administration doesn’t want to or has no concept of what it takes to protect the American people and the world because it is codependent. You can’t close your borders and say, “OK, we’re going to be safe.” You’re not going to be able to do that in this world. So it’s a lack of vision, basically just a lack of understanding, of what it takes to protect the American people.

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Sec­ond death trig­gers hold on Astel­las' $3B gene ther­a­py biotech's lead pro­gram, rais­ing fresh con­cerns about AAV

Seven months after Astellas shelled out $3 billion to acquire the gene therapy player Audentes, the biotech company’s lead program has been put on hold following the death of 2 patients taking a high dose of their treatment. And there was another serious adverse event recorded in the study as well, with a total of 3 “older” patients in the study affected.

The incidents are derailing plans to file for a near-term approval, which had been expected right about now.

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Look­ing for 'ex­ter­nal in­no­va­tion,' Boehringer In­gel­heim re­serves $500M+ for new Shang­hai hub

Now that Boehringer Ingelheim’s bet on contract manufacturing in China has paid off, the German drugmaker is anteing up more to get into the research game.

Boehringer has set aside $507.9 million (€451 million) for a new External Innovation Hub to be built in Shanghai over five years. The site will become one of its “strategic pillars” as the team strives to get 71 approvals — either for new products or indications — by 2030, said Felix Gutsche, president and CEO of Boehringer Ingelheim China.

Douglas Love, Annexon CEO (Annexon)

IPO bound? A Bay Area biotech grabs a mega-round on the road to a piv­otal neu­rode­gen­er­a­tion pro­gram

South San Francisco-based Annexon has added $100 million to its cash reserves, along with a new roster of marquee investors backing their play on the classical complement pathway involved in neurodegeneration. And that may well fit the profile for an IPO — though right now everything seems to be working on that score.

Eighteen months after Bain and their syndicate partners put up $75 million to fuel clinical work, Annexon is back at the trough. And this time they’re adding Redmile Group for the lead role, with supporting investments from these new arrivals: BlackRock, Deerfield Management Company, Eventide Asset Management, Farallon Capital Management, Janus Henderson Investors and Logos Capital.

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Pfiz­er shares surge on pos­i­tive im­pact of their mR­NA Covid-19 vac­cine — part­nered with BioN­Tech — in an ear­ly-stage study

Pfizer and their partners at the mRNA specialist BioNTech have published the first glimpse of biomarker data from an early-stage study spotlighting the “robust immunogenicity” triggered by their Covid-19 vaccine, which is one of the leaders in the race to vanquish the global pandemic.

Researchers selected 45 healthy volunteers 18-55 years of age for the study. They were randomized to receive 2 doses, separated by 21 days, of 10 µg, 30 µg, or 100 µg of BNT162b1, “a lipid nanoparticle-formulated, nucleoside-modified, mRNA vaccine that encodes trimerized SARS-CoV-2 spike glycoprotein RBD.” Their responses were compared against the effect of a natural, presumably protective defense offered by a regular infection.

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Randy Schatzman, Bolt CEO (Bolt Biotherapeutics)

Bolt Bio­ther­a­peu­tics nabs $93.5M to push Provenge in­ven­tor's new idea deep­er in the clin­ic

A cancer-fighting concept from the inventor of the first cancer vaccine is nearing prime time, and its biotech developer has received a significant new infusion of cash to get it there.

Bolt Biotherapeutics announced a $93.5 million Series C round led by Sofinnova Investments and joined by more than 9 others, including Pfizer Ventures and RA Capital Management. That money will go toward pushing the San Francisco biotech’s platform of innate immune-boosting warheads through its first trial on metastatic solid tumors and into several more.

Josh Cohen, Justin Klee

Armed with pos­i­tive ALS da­ta, Amy­lyx scores $30M in fresh fund­ing to com­plete Alzheimer's PhII

Four years after announcing themselves to the biotech world with a new idea for drugging neurodegeneration, backing by the late Henri Termeer and $5 million from Morningside Venture, the young entrepreneurs at Amylyx are back for round 2.

Morningside continued to lead the $30 million Series B, with participation from Termeer’s widow, Belinda, and other unnamed investors. Having celebrated a topline Phase II win for its lead program in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, Amylyx expects the cash to fund talks with regulators as well as a separate trial for the same drug in Alzheimer’s — for which they had just finished enrolling.