Gene Wang, Immetas co-founder and CEO (file photo)

Im­metas Ther­a­peu­tics nabs $11M Se­ries A to nar­row their bis­pe­cif­ic work tar­get­ing in­flam­ma­tion in age-re­lat­ed dis­eases

How does a biotech cel­e­brate its two-year an­niver­sary? For Im­metas Ther­a­peu­tics, it’s with an $11 mil­lion Se­ries A round and a game plan to fight age-re­lat­ed dis­ease.

Co-founders Gene Wang and David Sin­clair came to­geth­er years ago around the idea that in­flam­ma­tion is the ul­ti­mate process dri­ving age-re­lat­ed ill­ness­es, in­clud­ing can­cer. The duo launched Im­metas in 2018 and packed the staff with in­dus­try ex­perts. Wang, who says he’s al­ways had an en­tre­pre­neur­ial spir­it, has held lead roles at No­var­tis, GSK, Bris­tol My­ers Squibb and Mer­ck. He’s worked on block­buster drugs like Hu­mi­ra, Gar­dasil, Varu­bi and Zolin­za. And now, he’s chan­nel­ing that spir­it as CEO.

Sin­clair, sci­en­tif­ic ad­vi­sor, was named by Time as one of its “50 Most In­flu­en­tial Peo­ple in Health­care,” and di­rec­tor of Har­vard Uni­ver­si­ty’s Paul F. Glenn Cen­ter for Bi­ol­o­gy of Ag­ing Re­search. He al­so helped found Sir­tris, the biotech that Glax­o­SmithK­line bought in 2008 for $720 mil­lion in cash, then shut down five years lat­er. Im­metas CSO Jon­ah Rainey’s re­sume in­cludes lead­ing As­traZeneca’s bis­pe­cif­ic team.

The fi­nanc­ing round — from Morn­ing­side Ven­tures — will be used for “en­gi­neer­ing the weapon” against can­cer and os­teoarthri­tis, Wang said.

Age-spe­cif­ic can­cer in­ci­dence rates spike in the 55- to 59-year-old co­hort, with the high­est in­ci­dence rates in 85- to 89-year-olds, he point­ed out in a Zoom in­ter­view. “So ag­ing has a sig­nif­i­cant role in the patho­gen­e­sis of can­cer and pro­gres­sion of can­cer. And that’s what we’re fo­cus­ing on,” he said of the com­pa­ny’s lead pro­gram.

The NJ-based biotech has six bis­pe­cif­ic can­di­dates tar­get­ing “con­trol of in­flam­ma­tion in the tu­mor mi­croen­vi­ron­ment as a way to over­come the re­sis­tance to im­mune check­point ther­a­py,” Wang said. The can­di­dates are de­signed to block pro-in­flam­ma­to­ry path­ways in the tu­mor mi­croen­vi­ron­ment, fight­ing cells that pro­mote can­cer growth and sup­press im­mune re­sponse.

“Can­cer im­munother­a­py … specif­i­cal­ly in check­point ther­a­py, rev­o­lu­tion­ized can­cer treat­ment in re­cent years, as you know. But there’s still a large un­met med­ical need and many can­cer types we call cold tu­mors, right, they do not re­spond,” Wang said. “So vast ma­jori­ties of pa­tients with can­cer still do not ben­e­fit with tra­di­tion­al can­cer im­munother­a­py,” he added lat­er.

In os­teoarthri­tis, syn­ovial in­flam­ma­tion leads to car­ti­lage ero­sion, Wang ex­plained. Im­metas is work­ing on an in­tra-ar­tic­u­lar in­jec­tion that could mute macrophage and lym­pho­cyte ac­tiv­i­ty, and down­reg­u­late pro-in­flam­ma­to­ry cy­tokine lev­els.

By the end of the year, re­searchers plan to nar­row the six can­di­dates in pre­clin­i­cal de­vel­op­ment for age-re­lat­ed can­cer down to one. The com­pa­ny could sub­mit an IND ap­pli­ca­tion for the win­ner in ear­ly 2022, ac­cord­ing to Wang.

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.

Ron DePinho (file photo)

A 'fly­over' biotech launch­es in Texas with four Ron De­Pin­ho-found­ed com­pa­nies un­der its belt

In his 13 years at Genzyme, Michael Wyzga noticed something about East Coast drugmakers. Execs would often jet from Boston or New York to San Francisco to find more assets, and completely miss the work being done in flyover states, like Texas or Wisconsin.

“If it doesn’t come out of MGH or MIT or Harvard, probably not that interesting,” he said of the mindset.

Now, he and some well-known industry players are looking to change that, and they’ve reeled in just over $38 million to do it.

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Onno van de Stolpe, Galapagos CEO (Thierry Roge/Belga Mag/AFP via Getty Images)

Gala­pa­gos chops in­to their pipeline, drop­ping core fields and re­or­ga­niz­ing R&D as the BD team hunts for some­thing 'trans­for­ma­tive'

Just 5 months after Gilead gutted its rich partnership with Galapagos following a bitter setback at the FDA, the Belgian biotech is hunkering down and chopping the pipeline in an effort to conserve cash while their BD team pursues a mission to find a “transformative” deal for the company.

The filgotinib disaster didn’t warrant a mention as Galapagos laid out its Darwinian restructuring plans. Forced to make choices, the company is ditching its IPF molecule ’1205, while moving ahead with a Phase II IPF study for its chitinase inhibitor ’4617.

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Stéphane Bancel, Getty

Mod­er­na CEO brush­es off US sup­port for IP waiv­er, eyes more than $19B in Covid-19 vac­cine sales in 2021

Moderna is definitively more concerned with keeping pace with Pfizer in the race to vaccinate the world against Covid-19 than it is with Wednesday’s decision from the Biden administration to back an intellectual property waiver that aims to increase vaccine supplies worldwide.

In its first quarter earnings call on Thursday, Moderna CEO Stéphane Bancel shrugged off any suggestion that the newly US-backed intellectual property waiver would impact his company’s vaccine or bottom line. Still, the company’s stock price fell by about 9% in early morning trading.

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Brent Saunders (Richard Drew, AP Images)

OcuWho? Star deal­mak­er turned aes­thet­ics czar Brent Saun­ders flips back in­to biotech. But who’s he team­ing up with now?

Brent Saunders went on a tear of headline-blazing deals building Allergan, merging and rearranging a variety of big companies into one before an M&A pact with Pfizer blew up and sent him on a bout of biotech drug deals. That didn’t work so well, so under pressure, he got his buyout at AbbVie — which needed a big franchise like Botox. And it was no big surprise to see him riding the SPAC wave into a recent $1 billion-plus deal that left him in the executive chairman’s seat at an aesthetics outfit — now redubbed The Beauty Health Company — holding a big chunk of the equity.

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'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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Ad­comm splits slight­ly in fa­vor of FDA ap­prov­ing Chemo­Cen­tryx’s rare dis­ease drug

The FDA’s Arthritis Advisory Committee on Thursday voted 10 for and 8 against the approval of ChemoCentryx’s $CCXI investigational drug avacopan as a treatment for adults with a rare and serious disease known as anti-neutrophil cytoplasmic autoantibody (ANCA)-vasculitis.

The vote on whether the FDA should approve the drug was preceded by a split vote of 9 to 9 on whether the efficacy data support approval, and 10 to 8 that the safety profile of avacopan is adequate enough to support approval.

Gold­man Sachs jumps aboard Bain-backed 503(b) com­pound­ing phar­ma­cy with a $275M debt loan to sup­ply hos­pi­tals

Long the bane of the FDA’s existence, compounding pharmacies have seen a minor resurgence in the past year as short-term saviors for hospital drug shortages. Now, a 503(b) company specializing in hospital meds has earned a big backer to keep expanding its 200-drug strong portfolio.

Goldman Sachs and Owl Rock Capital Partners have doled out a $275 million debt loan to QuVa Pharma, a 503(b)-certified outsourcing facility providing compounded drugs to hospitals, the company said Thursday.

Bill Lis, Jasper Therapeutics

Jasper and its stem cell con­di­tion­ing an­ti­body earn a tick­et to Nas­daq in lat­est SPAC re­verse merg­er

Editor’s note: Interested in following biopharma’s fast-paced IPO market? You can bookmark our IPO Tracker here.

Another biotech SPAC deal has landed as the glut of blank-check companies continues to make waves in the industry.

Thursday’s winner is Jasper Therapeutics, joining forces with Amplitude Healthcare Acquisition Corp. in a $100 million reverse-merger, Jasper announced. The deal also comes with a PIPE financing of an additional $100 million, setting Jasper up with a $490 million market cap once the merger closes in the third quarter.