Jim Broderick

Jim Brod­er­ick reels in a $100M Se­ries B to ex­plore a 'new and big' an­gle of im­mune reg­u­la­tion

When Jim Brod­er­ick launched Mass­a­chu­setts-based Palleon Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals in 2015, he had an of­fice in Cam­bridge’s Kendall Square, a bit of seed mon­ey, and a blank can­vas.

He set out to in­no­vate with­in a new space in im­munol­o­gy, and re­cruit­ed sci­en­tif­ic co-founders Car­olyn Bertozzi, a Stan­ford pro­fes­sor, and Paul Crock­er, a pro­fes­sor and the head of the cell sig­nal­ing and im­munol­o­gy di­vi­sion at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Dundee, Scot­land, to help him do it.

“When you start a new com­pa­ny in biotech, you need to be in some­thing that’s new and big, and you need to have the world’s best sci­en­tists be­hind you,” Brod­er­ick, who was the first en­tre­pre­neur-in-res­i­dence at GSK’s ven­ture arm SR One, told End­points News.

On Wednes­day, the five-year-old com­pa­ny an­nounced the com­ple­tion of a $100 mil­lion Se­ries B round to de­vel­op its pipeline of gly­co-im­munol­o­gy ther­a­pies. Its lead pro­gram in on­col­o­gy, an en­zy­mat­ic sialo­gly­can de­grad­er, is ex­pect­ed to hit the clin­ic next year.

“Gly­can-me­di­at­ed im­mune reg­u­la­tion presents an enor­mous op­por­tu­ni­ty for nov­el ther­a­peu­tics to treat a range of dis­eases char­ac­ter­ized by im­mune sys­tem dys­func­tion, in­clud­ing can­cer and in­flam­ma­to­ry dis­eases,” the CEO an­nounced in a state­ment. Be­fore Palleon, Brod­er­ick co-found­ed three oth­er biotechs, in­clud­ing Ra Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals.

Ac­cord­ing to Brod­er­ick, it’s been known since 1959 that tu­mors have dif­fer­ent gly­can struc­tures on their sur­faces. “But no­body could fig­ure out what the gly­cans were do­ing,” he said.

The an­swer, he added, was hid­ing in plain sight. “But no­body could see it, be­cause we didn’t re­al­ly have the lens to view the im­mune sys­tem in this way that we now do.” The tu­mors, he said, use evolved gly­can struc­tures to hide from im­mune sys­tem at­tacks. And so Palleon is work­ing on us­ing cell sur­face sug­ar mol­e­cules to mod­u­late im­mune ac­tiv­i­ty.

In ad­di­tion to its EA­GLE plat­form, which us­es en­zy­mat­ic sialo­gly­can degra­da­tion to over­come in­tractable bi­o­log­i­cal re­dun­dan­cy and en­able a pan-im­mune an­ti-tu­mor re­sponse, the com­pa­ny al­so has its HY­DRA plat­form, which char­ac­ter­izes can­cer pa­tients by their tu­mor sur­face gly­can pro­file to iden­ti­fy which pa­tients are most like­ly to re­spond. Palleon says it’s de­vel­op­ing a “broad pipeline” of can­di­dates that tar­get in­di­vid­ual Siglecs and oth­er gly­can-sens­ing re­cep­tors, which may be use­ful against in­flam­ma­to­ry dis­eases like au­toim­mu­ni­ty and fi­bro­sis.

The Se­ries B, led by Ma­trix Cap­i­tal Man­ae­ment, will help push that pipeline to­ward the clin­ic, Brod­er­ick said. Re­turn­ing in­vestors SR One, Pfiz­er Ven­tures, Ver­tex Ven­tures HC, Take­da Ven­tures, and Ab­b­Vie Ven­tures, and new in­vestor Sur­vey­or Cap­i­tal al­so chipped in.

“It’s just a whole oth­er an­gle of im­mune reg­u­la­tion… You couldn’t see it be­fore… and now when you see it, there seems to be a lot of op­por­tu­ni­ty,” Brod­er­ick said.

Biotech in­vestors and CEOs see two paths to growth, but are they equal­ly vi­able?

The dynamic in the biotech market has been highly volatile in the last few years, from the high peaks immediately after the COVID vaccine in 2021, to the lowest downturns of the last 20 years in 2022. This uncertainty makes calling the exact timing of the market’s turn something of a fool’s errand, according to Dr. Chen Yu, Founder and Managing Partner of TCG Crossover (TCG X). He speaks with RBC’s Noël Brown, Head of US Biotechnology Investment Banking, about the market’s road ahead and two possible paths for growth.

Casey McPherson shows his daughters Rose (left) and Weston around Everlum Bio, a lab that he co-founded to spark a treatment for Rose and others with ultra-rare conditions. (Ilana Panich-Linsman)

Fa­ther starts lab af­ter in­tel­lec­tu­al prop­er­ty is­sues stymie rare dis­ease drug de­vel­op­ment

Under bright lab lights, Casey McPherson holds his 6-year-old daughter, Rose. His free hand directs Rose’s gaze toward a computer screen with potential clues in treating her one-of-a kind genetic condition.

Gray specks on the screen show her cells that scientists reprogrammed with the goal of zeroing in on a custom medicine. McPherson co-founded the lab, Everlum Bio, to spark a treatment for Rose — and others like her. A regarded singer-songwriter, McPherson never imagined going into drug development.

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Fireside chat between Hal Barron and John Carroll, UKBIO19

It’s time we talked about bio­phar­ma — live in Lon­don next week

Zoom can only go so far. And I think at this stage, we’ve all tested the limits of staying in touch — virtually. So I’m particularly happy now that we’ve revved up the travel machine to point myself to London for the first time in several years.

Whatever events we have lined up, we’ve always built in plenty of opportunities for all of us to get together and talk. For London, live, I plan to be right out front, meeting with and chatting with the small crowd of biopharma people we are hosting on October 12 at Silicon Valley Bank’s London headquarters. And there’s a lengthy mixer at the end I’m most looking forward to, with several networking openings between sessions.

Take­da to pull key hy­poparathy­roidism drug from the mar­ket af­ter years of man­u­fac­tur­ing woes

Takeda on Tuesday morning made an announcement that almost 3,000 people with the rare disease known as hypoparathyroidism were fearing.

Due to unresolved supply issues and manufacturing woes, Takeda said it will cut its losses and discontinue its hypoparathyroidism drug, known as Natpara (parathyroid hormone), halting all manufacturing of the drug by the end of 2024, but the entire inventory will be available until depleted or expired, a company spokesperson said via email.

Pfizer and BioNTech's original Marvel comic book links evolving Covid vaccine science to Avengers' evolving villain-fighting tools.(Source: Pfizer LinkedIn post)

Pfiz­er, BioN­Tech part­ner with Mar­vel for Avengers and Covid-fight­ing com­ic book

Pfizer and BioNTech are collaborating with Marvel to celebrate “everyday” people getting Covid-19 vaccines in a custom comic book.

In the “Everyday Heroes” digital comic book, an evolving Ultron, one of the Avengers’ leading villains, is defeated by Captain America, Ironman and others. The plotline and history of Ultron is explained by a grandfather who is waiting with his family at a clinic for Covid-19 vaccinations.

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FDA+ roundup: Ad­comm date set for Cy­to­ki­net­ics heart drug; New gener­ic drug guid­ance to re­duce fa­cil­i­ty de­lays

The FDA has set Dec. 13 as the day that its Cardiovascular and Renal Drugs Advisory Committee will review Cytokinetics’ potential heart drug, setting up a key vote ahead of a Feb. 28, 2023 PDUFA date.

The drug, known as omecamtiv mecarbil, read out its first Phase III in November 2020, hitting the primary endpoint of reducing the odds of hospitalization or other urgent care for heart failure by 8%. But it also missed a key secondary endpoint analysts had pegged as the key to breaking into the market, failing to significantly differ in reducing cardiovascular death from placebo.

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Af­ter Covid set­back, Val­ne­va lines up $100M for Pfiz­er-al­lied Ly­me dis­ease PhI­II

Valneva has secured €102.9 million (around $99.9 million USD) in a share offering to push forward its Pfizer-partnered Lyme disease vaccine and a jab for chikungunya that awaits an FDA decision.

The French vaccine maker largely snagged the near $100 million from Deep Track Capital and local state-owned Bpifrance, the company said Tuesday night. The capital injection is nearly equal to the amount Pfizer paid to nab equity in the company earlier this summer as part of the duo’s vaccine tie-up.

Valitor CEO Steven Lo (L) and president and CSO Wesley Jackson

A dozen years in the mak­ing, a UC Berke­ley spin­out nabs funds to take on the eye

Largely funded by government grants for the better part of its first decade, a UC Berkeley spinout has secured a new CEO and the funds to take its research into the clinic in early 2024.

The biotech, named by one of the co-founder’s daughters and originally scrapped together with NIH funds in the aftermath of the 2008-09 financial crisis, is also on a mission to upend the treatment of wet age-related macular degeneration, or AMD, with an injectable drug that it claims could be more durable than the “800-pound gorilla” in the room, Genentech’s Lucentis and Regeneron/Bayer’s Eylea.

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Car­olyn Bertozzi (Illustration: Assistant editor Kathy Wong for Endpoints News)

Car­olyn Bertozzi, re­peat biotech founder and launch­er of a field, shares in chem­istry No­bel win

Carolyn Bertozzi, predicted by some to become a Nobel laureate, clinched one of the world’s top awards in the wee hours of Wednesday, winning the Nobel Prize in Chemistry alongside a repeat winner and a Copenhagen researcher.

The Stanford professor, Morten Meldal of University of Copenhagen and 2001-awardee K. Barry Sharpless of Scripps shared the prize equally. The Nobel is sometimes split in quarters and/or halves.