Jim Mel­lon's Ju­ve­nes­cence takes a chance on tiny up­start run by for­mer Pfiz­er ex­ec

When Mar­garet Jack­son was do­ing some con­sult­ing work for Ju­ve­nes­cence CEO Greg Bai­ley last year, she did not an­tic­i­pate the an­ti-ag­ing biotech ven­ture would even­tu­al­ly in­vest in her new­ly in­cor­po­rat­ed pre­clin­i­cal meta­bol­ic dis­ease biotech BY­OMass.

The com­pa­ny, run by Jack­son who is the on­ly full-time em­ploy­ee, has been in stealth mode — it is so ear­ly stage, it doesn’t even have a web­site yet.

Ju­ve­nes­cence on Wednes­day said it had pledged up to $6.5 mil­lion in eq­ui­ty fi­nanc­ing in BY­OMass and will col­lab­o­rate with the com­pa­ny to de­vel­op ther­a­peu­tics de­signed to mod­u­late me­tab­o­lism as­so­ci­at­ed with ag­ing and age-re­lat­ed chron­ic ill­ness­es.

Mar­garet Jack­son

With­in the field of meta­bol­ic dis­eases, drug­mak­ers gen­er­al­ly tend to tar­get tis­sues like the liv­er, the mus­cle, the fat and the pan­creas, Jack­son said in an in­ter­view with End­points News.

“My group is go­ing to be fo­cus­ing on the brain and how it con­trols me­tab­o­lism, more specif­i­cal­ly how the hy­po­thal­a­mus and the brain stem per­form…to help main­tain food in­take, body weight and blood pres­sure.”

Ju­ve­nes­cence’s cap­i­tal in­jec­tion will help take the three pro­grams she is cur­rent­ly work­ing on clos­er to the clin­i­cal can­di­date nom­i­na­tion stage, she said. “I ex­pect to do an­i­mal test­ing by the end of this year.”

For now, BY­OMass is a one woman show, as­sist­ed by a large co­hort of ex­pe­ri­enced con­sul­tants. The goal is to build a team as the pro­grams ad­vance.

Mean­while, Jack­son has joined the Ju­ve­nes­cence team as VP, head of pre­clin­i­cal R&D. She has led mul­ti­ple teams and drug dis­cov­ery ef­forts in her 20-year ca­reer — the bulk of which was spent at Pfiz­er.

Two months ago, Ju­ve­nes­cence said it had raised $46 mil­lion to in­vest in the sci­ence of an­ti-ag­ing, as part of a promised $100 mil­lion raise. The 15-mem­ber team works with re­searchers far and wide, in­vest­ing in their col­lab­o­ra­tors and set­ting up JVs with AI groups, such as Alex Zha­voronkov’s AI shop at In­sil­i­co Med­i­cine — while gain­ing con­trol­ling in­ter­ests in firms in­clud­ing AgeX and Ly­Ge­n­e­sis. Last month, Ju­ve­nes­cence de­buted an an­ti-ag­ing joint ven­ture with the Buck In­sti­tute ded­i­cat­ed to in­duc­ing ke­to­sis.

Health­care Dis­par­i­ties and Sick­le Cell Dis­ease

In the complicated U.S. healthcare system, navigating a serious illness such as cancer or heart disease can be remarkably challenging for patients and caregivers. When that illness is classified as a rare disease, those challenges can become even more acute. And when that rare disease occurs in a population that experiences health disparities, such as people with sickle cell disease (SCD) who are primarily Black and Latino, challenges can become almost insurmountable.

David Meek, new Mirati CEO (Marlene Awaad/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Fresh off Fer­Gene's melt­down, David Meek takes over at Mi­rati with lead KRAS drug rac­ing to an ap­proval

In the insular world of biotech, a spectacular failure can sometimes stay on any executive’s record for a long time. But for David Meek, the man at the helm of FerGene’s recent implosion, two questionable exits made way for what could be an excellent rebound.

Meek, most recently FerGene’s CEO and a past head at Ipsen, has become CEO at Mirati Therapeutics, taking the reins from founding CEO Charles Baum, who will step over into the role of president and head of R&D, according to a release.

Dave Lennon, former president of Novartis Gene Therapies

Zol­gens­ma patent spat brews be­tween No­var­tis and Re­genxbio as top No­var­tis gene ther­a­py ex­ec de­parts

Regenxbio, a small licensor of gene therapy viral vectors spun out from the University of Pennsylvania, is now finding itself in the middle of some major league patent fights.

In addition to a patent suit with Sarepta Therapeutics from last September, Novartis, is now trying to push its smaller partner out of the way. The Swiss biopharma licensed Regenxbio’s AAV9 vector for its $2.1 million spinal muscular atrophy therapy Zolgensma.

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Rafaèle Tordjman (Jeito Capital)

Con­ti­nu­ity and di­ver­si­ty: Rafaèle Tord­j­man's women-led VC firm tops out first fund at $630M

For a first-time fund, Jeito Capital talks a lot about continuity.

Rafaèle Tordjman had spotlighted that concept ever since she started building the firm in 2018, promising to go the extra mile(s) with biotech entrepreneurs while pushing them to reach patients faster.

Coincidentally, the lack of continuity was one of the sore spots listed in a report about the European healthcare sector published that same year by the European Investment Bank — whose fund is one of the LPs, alongside the American pension fund Teacher Retirement System of Texas and Singapore’s Temasek, to help Jeito close its first fund at $630 million (€534 million). As previously reported, Sanofi had chimed in €50 million, marking its first investment in a French life sciences fund.

Time for round 2: Il­lu­mi­na-backed VC snags $325M for its next fund

Illumina Ventures closed off its second investment fund with a total commitment of $325 million, offering fresh fuel to back a slate of startups that have already included a smorgasbord of companies, covering everything from diagnostics to biotech drug development and genomics.

Fund II brings the total investment under Illumina Ventures’ oversight to $560 million, which has been focused on early-stage companies. And it has a transatlantic portfolio that includes SQZ, Twist and Encoded Therapeutics.

Volker Wagner (L) and Jeff Legos

As Bay­er, No­var­tis stack up their ra­dio­phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal da­ta at #ES­MO21, a key de­bate takes shape

Ten years ago, a small Norwegian biotech by the name of Algeta showed up at ESMO — then the European Multidisciplinary Cancer Conference 2011 — and declared that its Bayer-partnered targeted radionuclide therapy, radium-223 chloride, boosted the overall survival of castration-resistant prostate cancer patients with symptomatic bone metastases.

In a Phase III study dubbed ALSYMPCA, patients who were treated with radium-223 chloride lived a median of 14 months compared to 11.2 months. The FDA would stamp an approval on it based on those data two years later, after Bayer snapped up Algeta and christened the drug Xofigo.

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Ex­elix­is pulls a sur­prise win in thy­roid can­cer just days ahead of fi­nal Cabome­tyx read­out

Exelixis added a thyroid cancer indication to its super-seller Cabometyx’s label on Friday — months before the FDA was expected to make a decision, and days before the company was set to unveil the final data at #ESMO21.

At a median follow-up of 10.1 months, differentiated thyroid cancer patients treated with Cabometyx (cabozantinib) lived a median of 11 months without their disease worsening, compared to just 1.9 months for patients given a placebo, Exelixis said on Monday.

Raju Mohan, Ventyx Biosciences CEO

Months af­ter a mam­moth raise, Ven­tyx Bio­sciences dips back in­to ven­ture well

Several months after emerging from what CEO Raju Mohan called “quiet mode” with a mammoth $114 million raise, Ventyx Biosciences is now making its plans for the clinic loud and clear.

The California-based immune modulation player kicked the week off with a $51 million Series B, while also naming some key hires ahead of its big clinical push.

The CMO slot is going to Jörn Drappa, former CMO at Viela Bio before it was bought out by Horizon Therapeutics earlier this year. The AstraZeneca vet stayed on at Horizon for a while as executive VP of R&D before making the jump to Ventyx.

Mi­rati tri­umphs again in KRAS-mu­tat­ed lung can­cer with a close­ly watched FDA fil­ing now in the cards

After a busy weekend at #ESMO21, which included a big readout for its KRAS drug adagrasib in colon cancer, Mirati Therapeutics is ready to keep the pressure on competitor Amgen with lung cancer data that will undergird an upcoming filing.

In topline results from a Phase II cohort of its KRYSTAL-1 study, adagrasib posted a response rate of 43% in second-line-or-later patients with metastatic non-small cell lung cancer containing a KRAS-G12C mutation, Mirati said Monday.