Jnana launch­es with $50M to spot­light an un­ex­plored pro­tein ter­ri­to­ry

Boston start­up Jnana Ther­a­peu­tics is launch­ing with a $50 mil­lion Se­ries A round to de­vel­op a drug dis­cov­ery plat­form it hopes will push the en­ve­lope of pro­tein sci­ence.

The com­pa­ny is look­ing to dis­cov­er on­col­o­gy tar­gets (among oth­er dis­ease ar­eas) by in­ves­ti­gat­ing how pro­teins known as SLC trans­porters func­tion across cells and in tis­sues.

Amir Nashat

“These pro­teins are amongst the old­est in bi­ol­o­gy, and af­ford av­enues to ad­dress vir­tu­al­ly all ma­jor dis­eases,” said the com­pa­ny’s CEO Amir Nashat in a state­ment. “Af­ter 50 years of drug de­vel­op­ment, on­ly a hand­ful of SLCs have been har­nessed to treat dis­ease, leav­ing over 400 mem­bers un­stud­ied.”

In the past, these pro­teins have been stud­ied one by one. Jnana’s edge is that its tech can sift through the whole body of SLC trans­porters and de­vel­op small-mol­e­cule drugs against them.

“Our pro­pri­etary chem­istry and bi­ol­o­gy plat­form al­lows us to sys­tem­at­i­cal­ly ad­vance med­i­cines based on the bi­ol­o­gy of these an­cient in­for­ma­tion gath­er­ing sys­tems,” said Nashat, who is al­so man­ag­ing part­ner at Po­laris Part­ners, one of Jnana’s back­ers.

Seed fun­ders Po­laris Part­ners and Aval­on Ven­tures were joined in the Se­ries A syn­di­cate by Ver­sant Ven­tures, Ab­b­Vie Ven­tures, and Pfiz­er R&D In­no­vate.

Jnana was co-found­ed by Stu­art Schreiber, the co-founder of Ver­tex Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals and Ari­ad Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals (which Take­da ac­quired ear­li­er this year in a $5.2 bil­lion deal). Oth­er founders in­clude Ram­nik Xavier (Mass­a­chu­setts Gen­er­al Hos­pi­tal and Har­vard Med­ical School), Joanne Kotz (Jnana’s pres­i­dent and for­mer di­rec­tor of the Broad In­sti­tute), and Joel Bar­rish (Jnana’s CSO and the for­mer vice pres­i­dent and head of dis­cov­ery chem­istry for Bris­tol-My­ers Squibb).

Op­ti­miz­ing Cell and Gene Ther­a­py De­vel­op­ment and Pro­duc­tion: How Tech­nol­o­gy Providers Like Corn­ing Life Sci­ences are Spurring In­no­va­tion

Remarkable advances in cell and gene therapy over the last decade offer unprecedented therapeutic promise and bring new hope for many patients facing diseases once thought incurable. However, for cell and gene therapies to reach their full potential, researchers, manufacturers, life science companies, and academics will need to work together to solve the significant challenges facing the industry.

Amid mon­key­pox fears, biotechs spring to ac­tion; Mod­er­na’s CFO trou­ble; Cuts, cuts every­where; Craft­ing the right pro­teins; 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.

It’s always a bittersweet moment saying goodbye, but as Josh Sullivan goes off to new adventures we are grateful for the way he’s built up the Endpoints Manufacturing section — which the rest of the team will now carry forward. If you’re not already, this may be a good time to sign up for your weekly dose of drug manufacturing news. Thank you for reading and wish you a restful weekend.

Bay­er sounds re­treat from a $670 mil­lion CAR-T pact in the wake of a pa­tient death

Two months after Atara Biotherapeutics hit the hold button on its lead CAR-T 2.0 therapy following a patient death, putting the company under the watchful eye of the FDA, its Big Pharma partners at Bayer are bowing out of a $670 million global alliance. And the move is forcing a revamp of Atara’s pipeline plans, even as research execs vow to continue work on the two drugs allied with Bayer 18 months ago, which delivered a $60 million cash upfront.

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Rob Etherington, Clene CEO

Mary­land of­fers loan to Clene de­spite ALS tri­al bumps

Even after Utah-based Clene failed to hit its primary endpoints for its ALS drug last year, the state of Maryland is putting its money at least behind Clene’s manufacturing facility.

The Maryland Board of Public Works has finalized a $3 million, 60-month loan facility with Clene Nanomedicine. The loan was provided by the state’s Neighborhood BusinessWorks program within the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development.

Daisy Robinton, Oviva Therapeutics co-founder and CEO

A new spin­out wades in­to ovar­i­an ag­ing, armed with a seed round and ex­per­i­men­tal drugs from Mass Gen­er­al

There aren’t many biotechs emphasizing women’s health, but a new spinout is trying to change that.

Oviva Therapeutics, a pipeline company of New York-based Cambrian Biopharma, emerged from stealth earlier this week to dive into the idea of extending women’s “healthspans,” or what it says is the part of a person’s life spent in generally good health, with a specific focus on ovaries. The emergence comes both with a seed financing worth $11.5 million from Cambrian, and an in-licensing agreement with Massachusetts General Hospital for a trio of patents.

Shailesh Maingi, Inceptor founder and CEO

Not one, not two, but three — biotech claims it will pur­sue CARs T, M and NK all at once

An oncology startup is touting some really, really bold claims.

Inceptor Bio announced its latest round of funding Thursday at $37 million, which it plans on using to back preclinical programs in CARs T, M and NK. Not only will it be fleshing out its oncology programs, the company says it will also be putting some of that financing to building out its manufacturing facility in Gainesville, FL, which it bought from Massachusetts CDMO Arranta Bio late last year.

Sanofi and Re­gen­eron clear the fin­ish line in an in­flam­ma­to­ry esoph­a­gus dis­ease, leav­ing Take­da in the dust

With atopic dermatitis rivals breathing down Dupixent’s neck, Sanofi and Regeneron on Friday secured a first win in new territory in what Sanofi’s head of immunology and inflammation Naimish Patel called the fastest approval he’s ever seen.

The FDA approved Dupixent on Friday to treat patients 12 years and older with eosinophilic esophagitis (EoE), an inflammatory condition that causes swelling and scarring of the esophagus. The approval came just a couple months after regulators granted Dupixent priority review, and months ahead of its PDUFA date on Aug. 3.

Fu­ji­film con­tin­ues its biotech build­ing spree with new fa­cil­i­ty in Chi­na

A Japanese conglomerate is making a big play in China with the opening of a new facility, as it continues to expand.

Fujifilm Irvine Scientific has opened its new Innovation and Collaboration Center in Suzhou New District, China, an area in Jiangsu province specifically designated for technological and industrial development.

According to Fujifilm, the 12,000-square-foot site will be responsible for the company’s cell culture media optimization, analysis and design services. Cell culture media itself often requires customization of formulas and protocols to achieve the desired quantity and quality of therapeutic desired. Fujifilm Irvine Scientific is offering these services from its headquarters in California and Japan to its customers globally, as well as in China now.

Castle Creek Biosciences chair Jeff Aronin

Scoop: Af­ter pulling IPO am­bi­tions last De­cem­ber, Jeff Aron­in's Cas­tle Creek turns to pri­vate back­ers

Jeff Aronin’s cell and gene therapy biotech Castle Creek Biosciences has raised $112 million in equity, Endpoints News has learned.

The Exton, PA, biotech secured the financing from 54 investors, according to an SEC filing dated May 2. The late-stage startup had last year considered a $100 million Nasdaq debut, but in a sign of the bear market that has plagued hundreds of newly minted public biotechs, Castle Creek pulled those ambitions in the last few weeks of 2021.