Hous­ing As­traZeneca's old R&D ef­forts in an­tibi­otics, En­ta­sis files for $86M IPO

When As­traZeneca spun out its strug­gling an­tibi­otics unit a few years back, the tech — and a much small­er team — was de­posit­ed in­to a com­pa­ny called En­ta­sis. Now, that up­start has filed for an $86 mil­lion IPO to push a few of its prod­uct can­di­dates through hu­man tri­als.

The tiny Waltham com­pa­ny is on­ly a frac­tion of what the phar­ma gi­ant’s an­tibi­otics ef­fort used to be. At one point, the unit had 175 staffers. But it was pared down over the years un­til En­ta­sis launched in 2015 with on­ly 21 em­ploy­ees. To­day, ac­cord­ing to its prospec­tus, it em­ploys 34.

En­ta­sis has a pipeline of clin­i­cal-stage prod­uct can­di­dates meant to treat in­fec­tions caused by mul­ti-drug re­sis­tant Gram-neg­a­tive bac­te­ria. Its lead prod­uct, ETX2514, in­hibits one of the most com­mon forms of bac­te­r­i­al re­sis­tance: b-lac­ta­mase en­zymes, so named be­cause of their abil­i­ty to in­ac­ti­vate b-lac­tam an­tibi­otics, one of the most com­mon­ly used class­es of an­tibi­otics. En­ta­sis has an­oth­er pipeline ther­a­py, ETX0282, that in­hibits the same en­zymes.

“By block­ing this re­sis­tance mech­a­nism, these prod­uct can­di­dates, when ad­min­is­tered in com­bi­na­tion with b-lac­tam an­tibi­otics, are de­signed to re­store the ef­fi­ca­cy of those an­tibi­otics,” the com­pa­ny said in its prospec­tus.

En­ta­sis plans to use its IPO funds to ad­vance ETX2514 through a Phase III tri­al, and to move 0282 through a mul­ti-part Phase I. The rest of the cash will go to­ward oth­er R&D and gen­er­al cor­po­rate pur­pos­es.

The com­pa­ny will list on the Nas­daq un­der the tick­er sym­bol $ET­TX.

The an­tibi­otics R&D field has been rife with hur­dles, and new­com­ers like Za­vante and Cidara have failed to make big waves like once hoped. In fact, Za­vante fiz­zled in­to an ac­qui­si­tion less than three years af­ter its launch. And Cidara suf­fered a Phase II tri­al flop last year that dropped its stock price about 50%. And al­though fed­er­al in­cen­tives have spurred new ac­tiv­i­ty in the field, the small mar­gins that dis­cour­aged de­vel­op­ment ef­forts a decade ago — lead­ing to our cur­rent crit­i­cal short­age — still ham­per the niche.

Vas Narasimhan (Photographer: Jason Alden/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

No­var­tis de­tails plans to axe 8,000 staffers as Narasimhan be­gins sec­ond phase of a glob­al re­org

We now know the number of jobs coming under the axe at Novartis, and it isn’t small.

The pharma giant is confirming a report from Swiss newspaper Tages-Anzeiger that it is chopping 8,000 jobs out of its 108,000 global staffers. A large segment will hit right at company headquarters in Basel, as CEO Vas Narasimhan axes some 1,400 of a little more than 11,000  jobs in Switzerland.

The first phase of the work is almost done, the company says in a statement to Endpoints News. Now it’s on to phase two. In the statement, Novartis says:

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Bob Nelsen (Lyell)

As bear mar­ket con­tin­ues to beat down biotech, ARCH clos­es a $3B ear­ly-stage fund

One of the biggest names in biotech investing has a whole lot of new money to spend.

ARCH Venture Partners closed its 12th venture fund early Wednesday morning, the firm said, bringing in almost $3 billion to invest in early-stage biotechs. The move comes about a year and a half after ARCH announced its previous fund, for almost $2 billion back in January 2021.

In a statement, ARCH managing director and co-founder Bob Nelsen appeared to brush off concerns about the broader market troubles, alluding to the downturn that’s seen several biotechs downsize and the XBI fall back to almost pre-pandemic levels.

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Sanofi to cut in­sulin prices for unin­sured from $99 to $35, match­ing the in­sulin cap com­ing through Con­gress

As the House-passed bill to cap the monthly price of insulin at $35 nationwide makes its way for a Senate vote soon, Sanofi announced Wednesday morning that beginning next month it will cut the monthly price of its insulins for uninsured Americans to $35, down from $99 previously.

The announcement from Sanofi, which allows the uninsured to buy one or multiple Sanofi insulins (Lantus, Insulin Glargine U-100, Toujeo, Admelog, and Apidra) at $35 for a 30-day supply effective July 1, follows House passage (232-193) of the monthly cap in March, with just 12 Republicans voting in favor of the measure.

Shehnaaz Suliman, ReCode Therapeutics CEO (Photo by Jennifer Leahy)

Pfiz­er, Sanofi-backed LNP out­fit goes back to the well and draws $120M for its trek to the clin­ic

A preclinical biotech touting a five-lipid drug delivery platform is looking to break out of its preclinical mold, and it just secured a sizable raise to do just that.

ReCode Therapeutics reported Wednesday morning that Leaps by Bayer and Matrix Capital Management affiliate AyurMaya co-led a Series B extension round, adding $120 million to the biotech’s previous Series B haul of $80 million. The biotech has been backed by several players in Big Pharma, notably Pfizer and Sanofi from its original Series B close last fall. And in this extension — featuring all new investors, CEO Shehnaaz Suliman tells Endpoints News — Amgen’s VC arm jumped on board.

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Lina Gugucheva, NewAmsterdam Pharma CBO

Phar­ma group bets up to $1B-plus on the PhI­II res­ur­rec­tion of a once dead-and-buried LDL drug

Close to 5 years after then-Amgen R&D chief Sean Harper tamped the last spade of dirt on the last broadly focused CETP cholesterol drug — burying their $300 million upfront and the few remaining hopes for the class with it — the therapy has been fully resurrected. And today, the NewAmsterdam Pharma crew that did the Lazarus treatment on obicetrapib is taking another big step on the comeback trail with a €1 billion-plus regional licensing deal, complete with close to $150 million in upfront cash.

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How pre­pared is bio­phar­ma for the cy­ber dooms­day?

One of the largest cyberattacks in history happened on a Friday, Eric Perakslis distinctly remembers.

Perakslis, who was head of Takeda’s R&D Data Sciences Institute and visiting faculty at Harvard Medical School at the time, had spent that morning completing a review on cybersecurity for the British Medical Journal. Moments after he turned it in, he heard back from the editor: “Have you heard what’s going on right now?”

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Hank Safferstein, Generian CEO

Astel­las sub­sidiary to part­ner with Pitts­burgh up­start in search for 'un­drug­gable' pro­teins

As Astellas continues its drive to build out its gene therapy portfolio and capabilities, a subsidiary of the Japanese pharma company has entered into a collaboration with a little-known Pittsburgh biotech.

Astellas-owned Mitobridge and Generian Pharmaceuticals announced on Wednesday that they will work together in a new deal for “undruggable” protein targets. Generian will net an undisclosed upfront payment and could get up to $180 million in milestones, should anything from its platform prove successful, as well as single-digit royalties on global net sales.

Adam Simpson, Icosavax CEO

Reel­ing from Covid flop, Icosavax says its RSV can­di­date passed ear­ly test. But in­vestors need some more con­vinc­ing

Three months separated from a disappointing readout of its Covid-19 vaccine, Icosavax is back with what it calls positive topline data for a different VLP vaccine candidate — although investors aren’t impressed.

IVX-121, a vaccine candidate for respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), appeared to generate “robust” immune responses among both young and older adults, as measured by neutralizing antibodies, and appeared generally well-tolerated, Icosavax reported.

Eliot Charles, MiroBio executive chairman

Ox­ford spin­out nabs al­most $100M in new cash to test PD-1 in au­toim­mune dis­eases and hunt for a CEO

After about 15 years in an Oxford lab and three more years in the upstart world following a 2019 spinout, MiroBio is ready to enter UK clinical trials and, en route to the clinic, the biotech has picked up $97 million in Series B funds.

The £80 million financing round kicked off in earnest last September and includes a transatlantic consortium — led by Medicxi — ready to bankroll that first clinical trial, beginning “imminently,” as well as the debut study of a second program thereafter, executive chair Eliot Charles, an SR One venture partner, told Endpoints News.