Hemab, still play­ing coy, gets its first ma­jor fundraise for he­mo­phil­ia bis­pecifics

A com­pa­ny seed­ed by No­vo’s in­cu­ba­tor at the end of 2020 is tak­ing its next step Thurs­day, emerg­ing in­to the he­mo­phil­ia space with a hefty Se­ries A.

The Dan­ish biotech Hemab is putting the bow on a $55 mil­lion round ear­ly Thurs­day, raised with mon­ey from No­vo Seeds as well as promi­nent in­vestor RA Cap­i­tal. See­ing RA in­vest as ear­ly as a Se­ries A rais­es the nat­ur­al sus­pi­cion of a po­ten­tial IPO, and new­ly-ap­point­ed CEO Ben­ny Sorensen told End­points News he’d hoped to be asked about it.

But that doesn’t mean he’s giv­ing away any free an­swers, de­mur­ring with “it de­pends.”

Ben­ny Sorensen

“We have tons of cap­i­tal to ad­vance pro­grams right now, but the very clear mis­sion for Hemab is to ad­vance the com­pa­ny and gen­er­ate fur­ther da­ta,” Sorensen said. “Our clear­ly stat­ed mis­sion is to be­come a ful­ly in­de­pen­dent biotech com­pa­ny that dis­cov­ers and launch­es phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals for blood clot­ting dis­or­ders. We have to raise more cap­i­tal in the fu­ture, but right now we’re ex­cit­ed to have plen­ty of cap­i­tal.”

So what’s gen­er­at­ing all the ex­cite­ment be­hind Thurs­day’s raise? Hemab has been fo­cus­ing on its lead can­di­date, a bis­pe­cif­ic an­ti­body the com­pa­ny is look­ing to eval­u­ate in a “va­ri­ety” of bleed­ing dis­or­ders, Sorensen said. The biotech re­vealed lit­tle back in De­cem­ber, and Sorensen again kept things close to the vest.

The on­ly clue Sorensen dropped in­volves the “tremen­dous” amount of progress Hemab has made since that seed round sev­en months ago.

Re­gard­less of what in­di­ca­tion Hemab specif­i­cal­ly goes af­ter, Sorensen will be lead­ing the com­pa­ny in­to an ex­treme­ly crowd­ed he­mo­phil­ia mar­ket. The Dan­ish bio­phar­ma No­vo Nordisk, sep­a­rate from the in­cu­ba­tor that has fund­ed Hemab thus far, has its own pro­gram in con­cizum­ab it hopes can com­pete against Roche gi­ant Hem­li­bra.

Even though No­vo Nordisk got a Phase III tri­al back on track last sum­mer fol­low­ing safe­ty is­sues back in March 2020, Hem­li­bra is a tough cook­ie to catch. The drug quick­ly reached block­buster sta­tus af­ter ap­proval in Oc­to­ber 2018 for rou­tine pro­phy­lax­is to lessen bleed­ing episodes, tal­ly­ing al­most $2.4 bil­lion in 2020 sales and an­oth­er $720 mil­lion in the first quar­ter of 2021.

Roche is al­so look­ing to ex­pand the drug in­to mild to mod­er­ate he­mo­phil­ia A and re­leased fi­nal pos­i­tive analy­ses for a Phase II­Ib study in­to he­mo­phil­ia A pa­tients with in­hibitors to fac­tor VI­II last Mon­day. But No­vo Seeds is chas­ing small­er pa­tient pop­u­la­tion where there aren’t any ap­proved treat­ments, man­ag­ing part­ner Søren Møller told End­points.

“The pro­gram fits, it’s well po­si­tioned with rare bleed­ing dis­or­ders,” Møller said. “We take sort of that or­phan niche ap­proach. We do feel that this is a prod­uct that can eas­i­ly work in the con­text of gene ther­a­py and oth­er ap­proach­es that are com­ing out.”

In ad­di­tion to No­vo Seeds and RA Cap­i­tal, Health­Cap co-lead Thurs­day’s round.

IDC: Life Sci­ences Firms Must Em­brace Dig­i­tal Trans­for­ma­tion Now

Pre-pandemic, the life sciences industry had settled into a pattern. The average drug took 12 years and $2.9 billion to bring to market, and it was an acceptable mode of operations, according to Nimita Limaye, Research Vice President for Life Sciences R&D Strategy and Technology at IDC.

COVID-19 changed that, and served as a proof-of-concept for how technology can truly help life sciences companies succeed and grow, Limaye said. She recently spoke about industry trends at Egnyte’s Life Sciences Summit 2022. You should watch the entire session, free and on-demand, but here’s a brief recap of why she’s urging life sciences companies to embrace digital transformation.

Geoffrey Porges, new Schrödinger CFO

Long­time an­a­lyst Ge­of­frey Porges de­parts SVB to lead fi­nances at a drug dis­cov­ery shop

Geoffrey Porges has ended his two-decade run as a biotech analyst, as the former SVB Securities vice chair began as CFO of Schrödinger on Thursday.

The long-running analyst, who previously headed up vaccines marketing at Merck before the turn of the millennium, will lead the financial operations of the 700-employee company as Schrödinger broadens its focus from a drug discovery partner to also building out an in-house pipeline, with clinical trial No. 1 set to begin next quarter.

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FDA ap­proves one of the prici­est new treat­ments of all time — blue­bird's gene ther­a­py for be­ta tha­lassemia

The FDA on Wednesday approved the first gene therapy for a chronic condition — bluebird bio’s new Zynteglo (beti-cel) as a potentially curative treatment for those with transfusion-dependent thalassemia.

The thumbs-up from the FDA follows a unanimous adcomm vote in June, with outside experts pointing to extraordinary efficacy, with 89% of subjects with TDT who received beti-cel having achieved transfusion independence.

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Joel Dudley, new partner at Innovation Endeavors (Bosch Health Campus)

For­mer Google CEO’s VC is mak­ing a big­ger push in­to the biotech world, hir­ing promi­nent Ther­a­nos skep­tic

Venture capital firm Innovation Endeavors has mainly had its focus on investments across the tech space, but it has been slowly turning its attention to the biotech world. Now, a new partner is coming into the fold showing that its interest in biotech is likely to grow further.

The Silicon Valley-based company, which is headed up by former Google CEO Eric Schmidt, has brought on Joel Dudley as a partner. According to Dudley’s LinkedIn page, he is joining Innovation Endeavors after serving as the chief science officer of biotech startup Tempus Labs since 2020.

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James Sabry, Roche global head of pharma partnering

Roche, Genen­tech plunk down $60M up­front to part­ner with Chi­nese phar­ma on PRO­TAC-based prostate can­cer drug

Roche and Genentech are always on the hunt for deals, and on Thursday they found their newest partner.

The pair will team up with the Chinese pharma company Jemincare to push forward a new program for prostate cancer, the companies announced. Roche is ponying up $60 million upfront to get its hands on the candidate and promising up to $590 million in biobucks, plus royalties, down the line.

In return, Genentech will get a worldwide license to develop the program, known as JMKX002992, and bring it to market.

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Andrew Hopkins, Exscientia CEO

Ex­sci­en­tia ter­mi­nates Bay­er pact half a year ear­ly, col­lect­ing small por­tion of €240M promised

Bayer and Exscientia are winding down their three-year collaboration, leaving the big German pharma to take the AI-designed compounds born out of the pact further.

London-based Exscientia revealed in its Q2 update that the partners have “mutually agreed to end” their collaboration, which kicked off in early 2020, after recently achieving a drug discovery milestone. In an SEC filing, Exscientia said it terminated the pact on May 30, about six months early.

Bayer's first DTC ad campaign for chronic kidney disease drug Kerendia spells out its benefits

Bay­er aims to sim­pli­fy the com­plex­i­ties of CKD with an ABC-themed ad cam­paign

Do you know the ABCs of CKD in T2D? Bayer’s first ad campaign for Kerendia tackles the complexity of chronic kidney disease with a play on the acronym (CKD) and its connection to type 2 diabetes (T2D).

Kerendia was approved last year as the first and only non-steroidal mineralocorticoid receptor antagonist to treat CKD in people with type 2 diabetes.

In the TV commercial launched this week, A is for awareness, B is for belief and C is for cardiovascular, explained in the ad as awareness of the connection between type 2 and kidney disease, belief that something can be done about it, and cardiovascular events that may be reduced with treatment.

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James Mock, incoming CFO at Moderna

Mod­er­na taps new CFO from PerkinElmer af­ter for­mer one-day CFO oust­ed

When Moderna hired a new CFO last year,  it didn’t expect to see him gone after only one day. Today the biotech named his — likely much more vetted — replacement.

The mRNA company put out word early Wednesday that after the untimely departure of then brand-new CFO Jorge Gomez, it has now found a replacement in James Mock, the soon-to-be former CFO at diagnostics and analytics company PerkinElmer.

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Etleva Kadilli, director of UNICEF’s supply division

GSK lands first-ever UNICEF con­tract for malar­ia vac­cine worth $170M

GSK has landed a new first from UNICEF the first-ever contract for malaria vaccines, worth up to $170 million for 18 million vaccine doses distributed over the next three years.

The vaccine, known as Mosquirix or RTS,S, won WHO’s backing last October after a controversial start, but UNICEF said these doses will potentially save thousands of lives every year.

“We hope this is just the beginning,” Etleva Kadilli, director of UNICEF’s supply division, said. “Continued innovation is needed to develop new and next-generation vaccines to increase available supply, and enable a healthier vaccine market. This is a giant step forward in our collective efforts to save children’s lives and reduce the burden of malaria as part of wider malaria prevention and control programmes.”