CEO Jeff Hatfield (Vividion)

Jeff Hat­field as­sem­bles a syn­di­cate with some A-list pub­lic in­vestors in the mix as Vi­vid­ion adds $135M raise

Bioreg­num Opin­ion Col­umn by John Car­roll

Back when Vi­vid­ion put to­geth­er its $82 mil­lion B round more than a year ago, I spec­u­lat­ed that the start­up was prob­a­bly gear­ing up for an IPO. That still hasn’t hap­pened, but they may be a lot clos­er af­ter to­day.

The ARCH- and Ver­sant-backed com­pa­ny just nailed down a $135 mil­lion raise from a dream team of crossover in­vestors, with Lo­gos Cap­i­tal and Box­er Cap­i­tal lead­ing as Soft­Bank jumps in with Avoro Cap­i­tal Ad­vi­sors, Black­Rock, RA Cap­i­tal Man­age­ment, T. Rowe Price As­so­ci­ates, Sur­vey­or Cap­i­tal (a Citadel com­pa­ny), Wood­line Part­ners LP, Acu­ta Cap­i­tal and Driehaus Cap­i­tal Man­age­ment. Ex­ist­ing in­vestors ARCH Ven­ture Part­ners, BVF Part­ners L.P., Cas­din Cap­i­tal, Mubadala Cap­i­tal, Nex­tech In­vest and Ver­sant Ven­tures all came back to chip in.

“There was a lot of en­thu­si­asm for this raise,” CEO Jeff Hat­field tells me about the pipeline-build­ing raise for a com­pa­ny that has big am­bi­tions in on­col­o­gy as well as im­munol­o­gy. “It came to­geth­er very quick­ly and we bumped it up a cou­ple of times.”

Hat­field isn’t ready to flag an IPO, though — “Who knows what the fu­ture holds?” — but he’s a lot more forth­com­ing about the pre­clin­i­cal work they have un­der­way.

In-house work in­cludes a fo­cus on the KEAP1-NRF2 ax­is, with work un­der­way on NRF2 mu­tant and ad­dict­ed can­cers. NRF2 mod­u­lates stress in cells, ex­plains Hat­field, and once “mu­tat­ed it leads to a form of can­cer that is cur­rent­ly” un­ad­dressed by any ex­ist­ing ther­a­peu­tics. That gets to the com­pa­ny’s fo­cus on the broad range of dis­ease tar­gets still in un­chart­ed drug ter­ri­to­ry.

The com­pa­ny has spe­cial­ized in iden­ti­fy­ing lig­ands for unique pock­ets, al­low­ing them to drug pre­vi­ous­ly un­drug­gable pro­teins. The chair­man is Rich Hey­man, who built and sold Aragon and Ser­agon.

There is al­so a tran­scrip­tion fac­tor pro­gram they’re work­ing on with Bris­tol My­ers that Hat­field de­scribes as “one of a hand­ful of Holy Grail tar­gets in on­col­o­gy and im­munol­o­gy.” But that’s as far as he’s will­ing to go at this stage.

James Sabry

So how about that IPO?

Just this morn­ing we wrote up a sto­ry about Soft­Bank’s plan to in­ject bil­lions more in pub­lic biotechs, help­ing to push the stock boom that’s dri­ven up the Nas­daq biotech in­dex by 35% over the past year — and adding more cash to crossovers would ap­pear to fit in neat­ly with that strat­e­gy.

Since that B round Vi­vid­ion has struck a deal with Roche — the Big Phar­ma every­one likes to have on their R&D side — that de­liv­ered $135 mil­lion in cash plus mul­ti­ple bil­lions on the back end. That gave Roche a shot at E3 lig­as­es — which plays a role in pro­tein degra­da­tion, one of BD chief James Sabry’s fa­vorite sub­jects — as well as new on­col­o­gy and im­munol­o­gy pro­grams.

That all adds up to some promi­nent play­ers, world-class part­ners, a lot of cash on hand and the first snap­shot of the pre­clin­i­cal strat­e­gy — all key in­gre­di­ents fu­el­ing the IPO boom of the past year.

So we’ll see.

Rupert Vessey, Bristol Myers Squibb head of research and early development

Up­dat­ed: R&D tur­bu­lence at Bris­tol My­ers now in­cludes the end of a $650M al­liance and the de­par­ture of a top re­search cham­pi­on

This morning biotech Dragonfly put out word that Bristol Myers Squibb has handed back all rights to its IL-12 clinical-stage drug after spending $650 million to advance it into the clinic.

The news arrives amid a turbulent R&D stage for the pharma giant, which late last week highlighted Rupert Vessey’s decision to depart this summer as head of early-stage R&D following a crucial three-year stretch after he jumped to Bristol Myers in the big Celgene buyout. During that time he struck a series of deals for Bristol Myers, and also shepherded a number of Celgene programs down the pipeline, playing a major role for a lineup of biotechs which depended on him to champion their drugs.

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Bill Haney, Dragonfly CEO (Dave Pedley/Getty Images for SXSW)

Drag­on­fly chief: Bris­tol My­ers shouldn’t blame IL-12’s clin­i­cal per­for­mance for de­ci­sion to scrap the deal — eco­nom­ics played a key role

Bristol Myers Squibb says the IL-12 drug they were developing out of Dragonfly Therapeutics was scrubbed from the pipeline for a simple reason: It didn’t measure up on clinical performance.

But Bill Haney, the CEO of Dragonfly, is taking issue with that.

The early-stage drug, still in Phase I development, has passed muster with Bristol Myers’ general clinical expectations, advancing successfully while still in Phase I, he says.

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Illustration: Assistant Editor Kathy Wong for Endpoints News

How Pur­due's $272M ad­dic­tion pay­out fund­ed a new home for its dis­card­ed non-opi­oid re­search

Don Kyle spent more than 20 years working for Purdue Pharma, right through the US opioid epidemic that led to the company’s rise and eventual infamy. But contrary to Purdue’s focus on OxyContin, Kyle was researching non-opioid painkillers — that is, until the company shelved his research.

As the company’s legal troubles mounted, Kyle found an unlikely way to reboot the project. In 2019, he took his work to an Oklahoma State University center that’s slated to receive more than two-thirds of the state’s $272 million settlement with Purdue over claims that the drugmaker’s behavior ignited the epidemic of opioid use and abuse.

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President Joe Biden at the State of the Union address with Vice President Kamala Harris and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (Patrick Semansky/AP Images)

The drug pric­ing pres­i­dent: Biden warns of ve­to for any IRA re­peal at­tempts

President Joe Biden made clear in his “finish the job” State of the Union address last night that one of those jobs to be finished is insulin prices.

Biden’s push again to tackle insulin prices, after Republicans rebuffed the idea last summer and just after Biden won Medicare drug price negotiations/caps via the Inflation Reduction Act, shows how heavily he’s leaning into this work.

Utpal Koppikar, new Verily CFO

Ex­clu­sive: Ver­i­ly wel­comes Atara Bio­ther­a­peu­tics vet­er­an as new CFO

Verily, Alphabet’s life sciences outfit, has plucked a new CFO from the ranks of Atara Biotherapeutics, the company announced on Wednesday.

Utpal Koppikar joins Verily after a nearly five-year stint as CFO and senior VP at Atara, though his résumé also boasts roles at Gilead and Amgen.

The news follows a major reshuffling at Verily, including several senior departures earlier this year and a round of layoffs.

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Singer Nick Jonas is back at work for Dexcom, this time for its new G7 glucose monitor.

Dex­com's spokescelebri­ty Nick Jonas re­turns to Su­per Bowl in new glu­cose mon­i­tor com­mer­cial

Dexcom is going back to the Super Bowl with its pop singer and patient spokesperson Nick Jonas. Jonas takes center stage as the lone figure in the 30-second commercial showcasing Dexcom’s next-generation G7 continuous glucose monitoring (CGM) device.

Jonas’ sleight-of-hand tricks populate the commercial — he pinches his empty fingers together and pops them open to reveal the small CGM — even as he ends the ad, saying, “It’s not magic. It just feels that way.” Jonas then disappears in a puff of smoke.

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Richard Francis, newly-appointed Teva CEO (Novartis via Facebook)

New Te­va CEO Richard Fran­cis repri­or­i­tizes to 'get back to growth'

Six weeks into his new role at the helm of Teva Pharmaceutical, Richard Francis said it’s time to “get back to growth,” starting with a good look at the company’s priorities.

The chief executive has kicked off a strategic review, he announced during Teva’s quarterly call, which will continue over the next several months and produce results sometime in the middle of 2023. That means some pipeline cuts may be in store, he told Endpoints News, while declining to offer much more detail.

FDA Commissioner Robert Califf on Capitol Hill, Feb. 8, 2023 (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

FDA com­mis­sion­er floats ideas on how to bet­ter han­dle the pan­dem­ic

FDA Commissioner Rob Califf joined the heads of the CDC and NIH in the hot seat today before a key House subcommittee, explaining that there needs to be a much faster, more coordinated way to oversee vaccine safety, and that foreign biopharma inspections, halted for years due to the pandemic, are slowly ramping up again.

Califf, who stressed to the House Energy and Commerce’s Subcommittee on Health that the CDC also needs better data, made clear that the FDA’s ability to monitor the safety of vaccines “would also benefit greatly by a coordinated federal public health data reporting authority.”

Sanofi is renewing its #VaccinesForDreams campaign with more stories, such as Juan's in Argentina (Sanofi)

Sanofi re­news so­cial cam­paign to re­mind that vac­cines let peo­ple ‘Dream Big’

Sanofi is highlighting people’s dreams — both big and small — to make the point that vaccines make them possible.

The renewed “Dream Big” global social media campaign’s newest dreamer is Juan, a teacher in the Misiones rainforest in Argentina whose story is told through videos on Instagram and Sanofi’s website with the hashtag #VaccinesForDreams.

The campaign ties to Sanofi’s broader umbrella initiative “Vaccine Stories” to promote the value of vaccines and drive awareness of the need for improved vaccination coverage.

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