Sean Mackay, IsoPlexis

Iso­Plex­is scores big backer for per­son­al­ized pro­tein 'bar­codes' as Per­cep­tive jumps on board new fund­ing round

A lit­tle less than two years af­ter bag­ging an ex­tend­ed $50 mil­lion Se­ries C, Iso­Plex­is and its “pro­teom­ic bar­codes” for per­son­al­ized can­cer care are back set­ting hooks to bring even more in­vestors on board. And this time, they’ve caught a big fish.

Per­cep­tive Ad­vi­sors is lead­ing a $135 mil­lion Se­ries D round for the com­pa­ny, the firms an­nounced Thurs­day, com­pris­ing $85 mil­lion in eq­ui­ty and a $50 mil­lion line of cred­it. Iso­Plex­is plans to use the pro­ceeds to ex­pand com­mer­cial and R&D staff, in­crease op­er­a­tional ca­pac­i­ty and ac­cel­er­ate prod­uct de­vel­op­ment.

The Bran­ford, CT-based com­pa­ny works with can­cer cen­ters and bio­phar­ma com­pa­nies in the US, Eu­rope and Chi­na, us­ing its bio­mark­er-dri­ven sys­tem de­signed to pre­dict re­spons­es to such treat­ments and per­son­al­ize treat­ment for pa­tients. Iso­Plex­is em­ploys a pro­pri­etary sin­gle-cell analy­sis tool to re­fine its im­munother­a­pies.

Sam Chawla

“We be­lieve the fu­ture of ad­vanced med­i­cines will re­ly up­on deep­er ac­cess to in vi­vo bi­ol­o­gy for the de­vel­op­ment of new ther­a­pies and are ex­cit­ed to back the team at Iso­Plex­is,” Per­cep­tive port­fo­lio man­ag­er Sam Chawla said in a state­ment.

Re­searchers have de­vel­oped what they call pro­teom­ic bar­code chips, which al­low them to look at the en­tire com­ple­ment of pro­teins with­in a pa­tient’s cells. It’s a process they say pro­vides the map­ping of new and ac­ces­si­ble lay­ers of bi­o­log­i­cal da­ta for every sin­gle cell, ul­ti­mate­ly al­low­ing for a bet­ter un­der­stand­ing of how in­di­vid­u­als may re­spond to ther­a­pies.

Es­sen­tial­ly, pa­tients re­ceive sam­ples of these chips, which CEO Sean Mack­ay says is bar­cod­ed with an­ti­bod­ies. Af­ter the com­pa­ny re­ceives the sam­ple back, they place it in­to their sys­tem to see just how a per­son’s im­mune sys­tem would re­spond to dif­fer­ent treat­ments.

“We call that the sin­gle-cell im­mune land­scap­ing,” Mack­ay told End­points News. “What we’re able to do with that is find sub­sets of pow­er­ful im­mune cells that you typ­i­cal­ly miss in bulk pro­fil­ing, sort of sta­tus quo, and that is a prod­uct that works on our in­stru­ment, ba­si­cal­ly a soft­ware-en­abled sys­tem that reads out what the chips look like and what the pro­teins are per cell.”

That soft­ware then lets Iso­Plex­is com­pare what’s typ­i­cal­ly missed in that bulk pro­fil­ing to long-term re­spon­der pa­tients in sev­er­al dif­fer­ent fields like can­cer im­munother­a­py, cell and gene ther­a­py, Covid-19 and au­toim­mune dis­ease, among oth­er ar­eas. Iso­Plex­is can then pick and choose the ap­pro­pri­ate pre­clin­i­cal treat­ments and bio­mark­ers in the clin­ic, pack­ag­ing that in­fo to phar­ma com­pa­nies and aca­d­e­m­ic labs.

Per­cep­tive, his­tor­i­cal­ly a pas­sive in­vestor that en­joys clin­i­cal-stage in­vest­ments and crossover rounds, has been fair­ly busy over the last year or so. It made its first for­ay in­to the com­pa­ny for­ma­tion and Se­ries A spaces in late 2019, set­ting up a $210 mil­lion ear­ly-stage VC fund with Xon­toge­ny. Then last Au­gust, they launched their first in-house start-up in Chi­na, fol­lowed by a $310 mil­lion raise a few months lat­er. Per­cep­tive’s third SPAC al­so filed for an IPO in late Ju­ly.

Oth­er new in­vestors in­clud­ed Al­ly Bridge Group and funds and ac­counts man­aged by Black­Rock. Un­named ex­ist­ing in­vestors al­so par­tic­i­pat­ed in the round.

No­var­tis reshuf­fles its wild cards; Tough sell for Bio­gen? Googling pro­teins; Ken Fra­zier's new gig; and more

Welcome back to Endpoints Weekly, your review of the week’s top biopharma headlines. Want this in your inbox every Saturday morning? Current Endpoints readers can visit their reader profile to add Endpoints Weekly. New to Endpoints? Sign up here.

If you enjoy the People section in this report, you may also want to check out Peer Review, my colleagues Alex Hoffman and Kathy Wong’s comprehensive compilation of comings and goings in biopharma.

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Demis Hassabis, DeepMind CEO (Qianlong/Imaginechina via AP Images)

Google's Deep­Mind opens its pro­tein data­base to sci­ence — po­ten­tial­ly crack­ing drug R&D wide open

Nearly a year ago, Google’s AI outfit DeepMind announced they had cracked one of the oldest problems in biology: predicting a protein’s structure from its sequence alone. Now they’ve turned that software on nearly every human protein and hundreds of thousands of additional proteins from organisms important to medical research, such as fruit flies, mice and malaria parasite.

The new database of roughly 350,000 protein sequences and structures represents a potentially monumental achievement for the life sciences, one that could hasten new biological insights and the development of new drugs. DeepMind said it will be free and accessible to all researchers and companies.

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In­side Bio­gen's scram­ble to sell Aduhelm: Pro­ject 'Javelin' and pres­sure to ID as many pa­tients as pos­si­ble

In anticipation of Aduhelm’s approval for Alzheimer’s in June, Biogen employees were directed to identify and guarantee treatment centers would administer the drug through a program called “Javelin,” a senior Biogen employee told Endpoints News.

The program identified about 800 centers for use, he said, and Biogen now pays for the use of bioassays to identify beta amyloid in potential patients having undergone a lumbar puncture procedure, the employee said — and one center preparing to administer the drug confirmed its participation in the bioassay program.

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Vas Narasimhan, Novartis CEO (Jason Alden/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

No­var­tis dis­cards one of its ‘wild card’ drugs af­ter it flops in key study. But it takes one more for the hand

Always remember just how risky it is to gamble big on small studies.

A little more than 4 years ago, Novartis reportedly put up a package worth up to $1 billion for the dry eye drug ECF843 after a small biotech called Lubris put it through its paces in a tiny study of 40 moderate to severe patients, tracking some statistically significant markers of efficacy.

By last fall, the program had risen up to become one of CEO Vas Narasimhan’s top “wild card” programs in line for a potential breakthrough year in 2021. These drugs were all considered high-risk, high-reward efforts. And in this case, risk won.

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UP­DAT­ED: Three biotechs price hefty IPOs just be­fore the week­end, while a fourth and a SPAC seek spots on Wall Street

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

A handful of biotechs are hitting Wall Street just before the start of the weekend, with three companies — Caribou Biosciences, Sophia Genetics and Absci — all pricing big raises Wednesday and Thursday. Gamma delta T cell-focused IN8bio relaunched its IPO campaign months after postponing it last November, seeking a slightly lower raise. And another SPAC has filed for a public debut.

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Victor Perlroth, Kodiak Sciences CEO

Ko­di­ak turns down $125M pay­ment from Bak­er Bros. deal, slash­es roy­al­ty cap by 55%

Following a massive public raise last November, Kodiak Sciences has re-worked a royalty sale agreement with an old partner — and declined new funds in the process.

Kodiak is turning down a planned $125 million payment from Baker Bros. Advisors, according to an SEC filing, cutting short an agreement that saw the biotech hand over a 4.5% stream of royalty sales on its experimental anti-VEGF therapy KSI-301 for retinal vascular diseases. In conjunction with the move, Kodiak is shrinking the royalty cap from just over $1 billion to $450 million.

EMA re­jects FDA-ap­proved Parkin­son's drug, signs off on Mod­er­na vac­cine use in ado­les­cents ahead of FDA

The European Medicines Agency on Friday rejected Kyowa Kirin’s Parkinson’s disease drug Nouryant (istradefylline), which the US FDA approved in 2019 under the brand name Nourianz.

EMA said it considered that the results of the clinical studies used to support the application “were inconsistent and did not satisfactorily show that Nouryant was effective at reducing the ‘off’ time. Only four out of the eight studies showed a reduction in ‘off’ time, and the effect did not increase with an increased dose of Nouryant.”

6 top drug­mak­ers of­fer per­spec­tives on FDA's new co­vari­ates in RCTs guid­ance

Back in May, the FDA revised and expanded a 2019 draft guidance that spells out how to adjust for covariates in the statistical analysis of randomized controlled trials.

Building on the ICH’s E9 guideline on the statistical principles for clinical trials, the 3-page draft was transformed into an 8-page draft, with more detailed recommendations on linear and nonlinear models to analyze the efficacy endpoints in RCTs.

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Mol­e­c­u­lar Di­ag­nos­tics Can Trans­form Can­cer Care. Let’s Make It Hap­pen.

Like so many people around the world, my life has been profoundly shaped by cancer. Those personal experiences, along with a deep love of clinical laboratory science and a passion to apply the power of genomics in medicine, motivated me to launch a company that would improve cancer care through better diagnostics. Thirteen years later, I am proud that we are delivering more accurate information at multiple points along the patient journey, with a focus on eight of the 10 cancers that are most commonly diagnosed in the United States.