In search of biotech hub glo­ry, the Big Ap­ple lures lo­cal star­tups with lab space

The city that nev­er sleeps is itch­ing to be­come the city that could cure in­som­nia. With Boston and San Fran­cis­co main­tain­ing their dom­i­nance as the pre­mier hubs for de­vel­op­ing drugs, New York City has or­ches­trat­ed a scheme to en­tice biotech — iden­ti­fy­ing the lack of space in these de­sired clus­ters as a key im­ped­i­ment to grow­ing star­tups.

Back in 2016, NYC may­or Bill de Bla­sio made a $500 mil­lion com­mit­ment to the sec­tor over 10 years as part of his broad­er plan to boost job cre­ation. As part of this ini­tia­tive, called LifeSci NYC, $10 mil­lion has been set aside to sup­port nascent biotechs by al­lo­cat­ing them lab space.

“One of the ma­jor is­sues the city has faced with life sci­ences has been find­ing space,” a spokesman for New York City Eco­nom­ic De­vel­op­ment Corp (NYCEDC) told End­points News. “There has been sig­nif­i­cant ad­di­tions to in­cu­ba­tion space with Bi­o­Labs@NYU­Lan­gone, JLabs, and Launch Labs, but we’re now fac­ing what hap­pens to those com­pa­nies once they’ve suc­cess­ful grad­u­at­ed from these spaces. The Ex­pan­sion Space Funds was one of the so­lu­tions – we want­ed to help them by di­rect­ly in­vest­ing in­to the com­pa­nies who are tak­ing on the ad­di­tion­al cost to cre­ate new space in the City to grow.”

De­spite high rents and low avail­abil­i­ty, the life sci­ence ecosys­tems in Boston and San Fran­cis­co con­tin­ue to thrive, while the Den­ver metro area has seen life sci­ences em­ploy­ment dou­ble in the last decade thanks to a bur­geon­ing start­up com­mu­ni­ty. Seat­tle, mean­while, has prof­it­ed from a flur­ry of M&A ac­tiv­i­ty and now com­mands some of the high­est rents out­side of San Fran­cis­co and Boston, ac­cord­ing to a re­search re­port by Jones Lang LaSalle de­tail­ing the life sci­ences land­scape in 2018.

Star­tups are al­so con­stant­ly vy­ing for top bio­phar­ma tal­ent, which has had a rip­ple ef­fect on re­al es­tate de­ci­sions. Da­ta from JLL show the high­est num­ber of life sci­ences PhDs each year grad­u­ate from — you guessed it — Boston and San Fran­cis­co with 1317 and 1065, re­spec­tive­ly. New York, mean­while, gen­er­ates some 591 such grad­u­ates an­nu­al­ly, while claim­ing to be the world’s largest con­cen­tra­tion of aca­d­e­m­ic in­sti­tu­tions. Af­ter tal­ent, space is an­oth­er im­por­tant con­sid­er­a­tion for biotech star­tups. Ac­cord­ing to JLL, eight of the top 10 US clus­ters cur­rent­ly have sin­gle-dig­it di­rect va­can­cy rates.

NYCEDC launched the ex­pan­sion fund ear­li­er this month by al­lo­cat­ing $1 mil­lion to Ver­sant Ven­tures-backed im­muno-on­col­o­gy start­up Quen­tis Ther­a­peu­tics. They de­buted with a $48 mil­lion A round in 2016, used to ex­pand its head­quar­ters with 10,000 square feet of ded­i­cat­ed wet-lab and of­fice space in West Harlem.

Michael Aber­man

The com­pa­ny, run by for­mer Re­gen­eron ex­ec Michael Aber­man, cur­rent­ly has 16 em­ploy­ees, and hopes to em­ploy a to­tal of 50 over the course of five years. Quen­tis’ new HQ will form part of West Harlem’s biotech clus­ter, which in­cludes CUNY’s Ad­vanced Sci­ence Re­search Cen­ter, City Col­lege’s Cen­ter for Dis­cov­ery and In­no­va­tion, Harlem Bio­space, New York Struc­tur­al Bi­ol­o­gy Cen­ter and the Zuck­er­man Mind & Brain In­sti­tute.

“In­vest­ments in NYC by Alexan­dria Re­al­ty ini­tial­ly, and JLABS, and Bi­o­labs NY more re­cent­ly, have re­al­ly moved the nee­dle for the NYC biotech en­vi­ron­ment as start-up space/in­cu­ba­tor space had been one of the miss­ing in­gre­di­ents, now that we have achieved a crit­i­cal mass of young com­pa­nies in start­up,” Aber­man told End­points News.

“I have lived in NY for my en­tire ca­reer, my fam­i­ly is here, I am a Yan­kee, Jets, Knicks fan, and be­lieve there are many tal­ent­ed bio­phar­ma ex­ec­u­tives that would love to stay in (or re­turn to) NY rather than move to Boston or San Fran­cis­co.”

Im­age: NYC Shut­ter­stock

BiTE® Plat­form and the Evo­lu­tion To­ward Off-The-Shelf Im­muno-On­col­o­gy Ap­proach­es

Despite rapid advances in the field of immuno-oncology that have transformed the cancer treatment landscape, many cancer patients are still left behind.1,2 Not every person has access to innovative therapies designed specifically to treat his or her disease. Many currently available immuno-oncology-based approaches and chemotherapies have brought long-term benefits to some patients — but many patients still need other therapeutic options.3

Pfiz­er’s Doug Gior­dano has $500M — and some ad­vice — to of­fer a cer­tain breed of 'break­through' biotech

So let’s say you’re running a cutting-edge, clinical-stage biotech, probably public, but not necessarily so, which could see some big advantages teaming up with some marquee researchers, picking up say $50 million to $75 million dollars in a non-threatening minority equity investment that could take you to the next level.

Doug Giordano might have some thoughts on how that could work out.

The SVP of business development at the pharma giant has helped forge a new fund called the Pfizer Breakthrough Growth Initiative. And he has $500 million of Pfizer’s money to put behind 7 to 10 — or so — biotech stocks that fit that general description.

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Gilead re­leas­es an­oth­er round of murky remde­sivir re­sults

A month after the NIH declared the first trial on remdesivir in Covid-19 a success, Gilead is out with new results on their antiviral. But although the study met one of its primary endpoints, the data are likely to only add to a growing debate over how effective the drug actually is.

In a Phase III trial, patients given a 5-day dose of remdesivir were 65% more likely to show “clinical improvement” compared to an arm given standard-of-care. The trial, though, gave little indication for whether the drug had an impact on key endpoints such as survival or time-to-recovery. And in a surprising twist, a 10-day dosing arm of remdesivir didn’t lead to a statistically significant improvement over standard of care.

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Hill­house re­casts spot­light on Chi­na's biotech scene with $160M round for Shang­hai-based an­ti­body mak­er

Almost two years after first buying into Genor Biopharma’s pipeline of cancer and autoimmune therapies, Hillhouse Capital has led a $160 million cash injection to push the late-stage assets over the finish line while continuing to fund both internal R&D and dealmaking.

The Series B has landed right around the time Genor would have listed on the Hong Kong stock exchange, according to plans reported by Bloomberg late last year. Insiders had said that the company was looking to raise about $200 million.

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Fangliang Zhang (Imaginechina via AP Images)

The big mon­ey: Poised to make drug R&D his­to­ry, a Chi­na biotech un­veils uni­corn rac­ing am­bi­tions in a bid to raise $350M-plus on Nas­daq

Almost exactly three years after Shanghai-based Legend came out of nowhere to steal the show at ASCO with jaw-dropping data on their BCMA-targeted CAR-T for multiple myeloma, the little player with Big Pharma connections is taking a giant step toward making it big on Wall Street. And this time they want to seal the deal on a global rep after staking out a unicorn valuation in what’s turned out to be a bull market for biotech IPOs — in the middle of a pandemic.

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Novus Ther­a­peu­tics plunges deep in­to pen­ny stock ter­ri­to­ry af­ter failed ear tri­al

After a more than 15-year run, a California-based biotech is exploring options, including a sale, after its lead experimental therapy failed an exploratory mid-stage study in patients with middle ear infections characterized by a build-up of fluid behind the eardrum.

The company, initially called Tokai Pharmaceuticals but which subsequently changed its name to Novus Therapeutics in 2017, saw its shares more than halve on Monday after the drug — OP0201— did not pass muster as an adjunct therapy to oral antibiotics in infants and children aged 6 to 24 months with acute otitis media (OM).

Pablo Legorreta, founder and CEO of Royalty Pharma AG, speaks at the annual Milken Institute Global Conference in Beverly Hills, California (Patrick T. Fallon/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Cap­i­tal­iz­ing Pablo: The world’s biggest drug roy­al­ty buy­er is go­ing pub­lic. And the low-key CEO di­vulges a few se­crets along the way

Pablo Legorreta is one of the most influential players in biopharma you likely never heard of.

Over the last 24 years, Legorreta’s Royalty Pharma group has become, by its own reckoning, the biggest buyer of drug royalties in the world. The CEO and founder has bought up a stake in a lengthy list of the world’s biggest drug franchises, spending $18 billion in the process — $2.2 billion last year alone. And he’s become one of the best-paid execs in the industry, reaping $28 million from the cash flow last year while reserving 20% of the cash flow, less expenses, for himself.

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Federico Mingozzi (Spark)

Spark touts an­i­mal da­ta for a so­lu­tion to AAV gene ther­a­py's an­ti­body prob­lem

Among all the limitations of using an adeno-associated virus as a vector to deliver a gene — still the most established modality in gene therapy given years of trial and error and finally success — the presence of neutralizing antibodies, whether pre-existing or induced, looms large.

“When I think about the immune responses in AAV, I try to sort of layer them,” Federico Mingozzi, the CSO at Spark Therapeutics, told Endpoints News. “The antibody is the first layer. It’s the first block that you find when you’re trying to do gene transfer.”

Len Schleifer (left) and George Yancopoulos, Regeneron (Vimeo)

Eyes on he­mo­phil­ia prize, Re­gen­eron adds a $100M wa­ger on joint de­vel­op­ment cam­paign with In­tel­lia

When George Yancopoulos first signed up Intellia to be its CRISPR/Cas9 partner on gene editing projects 4 years ago, the upstart smartly ramped up its IPO at the same time. Today, Regeneron $REGN is coming back in, adding $100 million in an upfront fee and equity to significantly boot up a whole roster of new development projects.

And they’re highlighting some clinical hemophilia research plans in the process.

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