Nima Farzan, Kinnate CEO

Kin­nate gets $98M Se­ries C to push pre­ci­sion on­col­o­gy drugs to the clin­ic

Less than a year af­ter bank­ing $74.5 mil­lion in a Se­ries B, San Diego-based Kin­nate Bio­phar­ma is fol­low­ing up with a Se­ries C to bring its pipeline of pre­ci­sion on­col­o­gy drugs to the clin­ic.

The two-year-old com­pa­ny just raised $98 mil­lion in a round led by RA Cap­i­tal Man­age­ment, and is eye­ing INDs for its two lead pro­grams — ki­nase in­hibitors that tar­get BRAF, FGFR2 and FGFR3 mu­ta­tions. If all goes well in pre­clin­i­cal stud­ies, CEO Ni­ma Farzan ex­pects its BRAF pro­gram to en­ter Phase I in the first half of next year, with its FGFR pro­gram not far be­hind.

“A very small per­cent­age of pa­tients can re­spond over a long pe­ri­od of time … to a tar­get­ed ther­a­py,” Farzan told End­points News. “So we’re re­al­ly fo­cused on bring­ing drugs that ei­ther are go­ing af­ter known onco­genic dri­vers that cur­rent­ly aren’t tar­get­ed by drugs, or help­ing over­come those re­sis­tance mu­ta­tions.”

While there are cur­rent­ly FDA-ap­proved op­tions for pa­tients with Class I BRAF mu­ta­tions, Kin­nate saw an op­por­tu­ni­ty to de­vel­op in­hibitors tar­get­ing Class II and III mu­ta­tions. Kin­nate’s in­hibitors are de­signed to block BRAF pro­tein dimers. Right now, the com­pa­ny is fo­cus­ing on pa­tients with melanoma and non-small cell lung can­cer.

Kin­nate’s FGFR can­di­dates are de­signed to ad­dress mu­ta­tions in FGFR2 fu­sion gene-pos­i­tive in­tra­hep­at­ic cholan­gio­car­ci­no­ma and FGFR3-al­tered urothe­lial car­ci­no­ma. The com­pa­ny aims to over­come re­sis­tance to cur­rent FGFR drugs on the mar­ket.

“Over time, pa­tients de­vel­op re­sis­tance to these drugs through cer­tain mu­ta­tions in FGFR that makes the cur­rent drugs not ef­fec­tive,” Farzan said.

Kin­nate has set out to de­vel­op a drug that’s ef­fec­tive against the FGFR al­ter­ation, as well as the most com­mon re­sis­tant mu­ta­tions. Farzan sees the drug ini­tial­ly as a sec­ond-line treat­ment for those who have be­come re­sis­tant to cur­rent drugs, and even­tu­al­ly as a first-line treat­ment.

The com­pa­ny will al­so use Se­ries C funds to de­vel­op its CDK12 in­hibitor, though Farzan said it is “more dif­fi­cult to say” when that pro­gram will be ready for an IND.

The Se­ries C in­clud­ed new in­vestors Viking Glob­al In­vestors, Ven­rock Health­care Cap­i­tal Part­ners, Fi­deli­ty Man­age­ment & Re­search Com­pa­ny, LLC, Janus Hen­der­son In­vestors, Sur­vey­or Cap­i­tal, Box­er Cap­i­tal of Tavi­s­tock Group, Lo­gos Cap­i­tal, and an in­vest­ment fund as­so­ci­at­ed with SVB Leerink. Re­turn­ing in­vestors Fore­site Cap­i­tal, Or­biMed, Nex­tech In­vest, and Vi­da Ven­tures al­so backed the round.

“I re­al­ly do see this not as an as­set or two we are de­vel­op­ing, but as a com­pa­ny we are build­ing,” Farzan said.

The Pax­Vax vet spent sev­en years as pres­i­dent and CEO be­fore the com­pa­ny was bought by Emer­gent BioSo­lu­tions in 2018. In March, he took over for Kin­nate co-founder and for­mer CEO Stephen Kaldor.

Ap­proval of Kin­nate’s lead pro­grams “would con­tin­ue to demon­strate that tar­get­ed ther­a­pies are a sub­stan­tial ad­di­tion to the ar­ma­men­tar­i­um that physi­cians have to bat­tle can­cer. Can­cer is a … it’s kind of a nev­er-end­ing strug­gle,” Farzan said. “… It’s al­ways go­ing to try to de­vel­op mu­ta­tions and de­vel­op re­sis­tance, and so you have to con­stant­ly keep in­no­vat­ing.”

A new era of treat­ment: How bio­mark­ers are chang­ing the way we think about can­cer

AJ Patel was recovering from a complicated brain surgery when his oncologist burst into the hospital room yelling, “I’ve got some really great news for you!”

For two years, Patel had been going from doctor to doctor trying to diagnose his wheezing, only to be dealt the devastating news that he had stage IV lung cancer and only six months to live. And then they found the brain tumors.

“What are you talking about?” Patel asked. He had never seen an oncologist so happy.

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David Ricks, Eli Lilly CEO (David Paul Morris/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Eli Lil­ly set to in­vest $2.1B in home state man­u­fac­tur­ing boost

Eli Lilly is looking to expand its footprint in its home Hoosier State by making a major investment in manufacturing.

The pharma is investing $2.1 billion in two new manufacturing sites at Indiana’s LEAP Lebanon Innovation and Research District in Boone County, northwest of Lilly’s headquarters in Indianapolis.

The two new facilities will expand Lilly’s manufacturing network for active ingredients and new therapeutic modalities, including genetic medicines, according to a press release.

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US sees spike in Paxlovid us­age as Mer­ck­'s mol­nupi­ravir and As­traZeneca's Evusheld are slow­er off the shelf

New data from HHS show that more than 162,000 courses of Pfizer’s Covid-19 antiviral Paxlovid were administered across the US over the past week, continuing a streak of increased usage of the pill, and signaling not only rising case numbers but more awareness of how to access it.

In comparison to this week, about 670,000 courses of the Pfizer pill have been administered across the first five months since Paxlovid has been on the US market, averaging about 33,000 courses administered per week in that time.

Pfiz­er and CD­MOs ramp up Paxlovid man­u­fac­tur­ing with Kala­ma­zoo plant ex­pan­sion lead­ing the way

As the Covid-19 pandemic continues to evolve, pharma companies and manufacturers are exploring how to step up production on antivirals.

Pfizer is planning to expand its Kalamazoo-area facility to increase manufacturing capabilities for the oral Covid-19 antiviral Paxlovid, according to a report from Michigan-based news site MLive. The expansion of the facility, which serves as Pfizer’s largest manufacturing location, is expected to create hundreds of “high-skilled” STEM jobs, MLive reported. No details about the project’s cost and timeline have been released, but according to MLive, Pfizer will announce the details of the expansion at some point in early June.

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FDA spells out the rules and re­stric­tions for states seek­ing to im­port drugs from Cana­da

The FDA is offering more of an explanation of the guardrails around its program that may soon allow states to import prescription drugs in some select circumstances from Canada, but only if such imports will result in significant cost reductions for consumers.

While the agency has yet to sign off on any of the 5 state plans in the works so far, and PhRMA’s suit to block the Trump-era rule allowing such imports is stalled, the new Q&A guidance spells out the various restrictions that states will have to abide by, potentially signaling that a state approval is coming.

Simba Gill, CEO of Evelo Biosciences

While down 87% YOY, Evelo gets Flag­ship and oth­ers to in­fuse new cap­i­tal for come­back hope

Just four years after Flagship spinout Evelo Biosciences went public in an IPO worth $85 million, the biotech has seen its share price tank from $13 a share this time last year (ultimately reaching a peak of over $17) to now under $1.50. And today, it looks like Flagship still thinks the fledging biotech, in a down market, is still worth something after initial pre-IPO backing from the likes of Google’s GV, Celgene, Mayo Clinic and Alexandria Venture.

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Peter Thompson, Terremoto Biosciences interim CEO

For­mer Prin­cip­ia team looks to shake up co­va­lent small mol­e­cules again, this time at 'earthquake' scale

Terremoto Biosciences goes back a long ways, in a sense, to about a dozen years ago when Principia Biopharma was founded by UCSF professor Jack Taunton. Peter Thompson initially helmed the biotech.

The company helped expand covalent small molecule inhibitors beyond oncology and into autoimmune disease by targeting cystine. But that amino acid is uncommon in a lot of proteins, offering fewer drug targets than, say, lysine, which is present in most proteins of interest. So, over the years, Taunton went back to the drawing board to check out that second amino acid.

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Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla at the World Economic Forum (Gian Ehrenzeller/Keystone via AP Images)

All about ac­cess: Pfiz­er moves to a non-prof­it mod­el for drug sales in 45 low­er-in­come coun­tries

Leading the way to increase access to cheaper drugs worldwide, Pfizer said Wednesday it will provide all current and future patent-protected medicines and vaccines available in the US or EU on a not-for-profit basis to about 1.2 billion people in 45 lower-income countries.

Rwanda, Ghana, Malawi, Senegal and Uganda are the first five countries to sign on to this accord, which will also seek to blaze new paths for quick and efficient regulatory and procurement processes to reduce the usual delays in making new medicines and vaccines available in these countries.

Almirall is tapping artificial intelligence on behalf of its sales force for insights and efficiencies. (via Shutterstock)

Almi­rall rolls out sales rep ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence sys­tem, cut­ting pre-call prep and 'wind­shield time'

Dermatology specialty pharma Almirall is making its sales reps smarter. Not with extra training or educational courses, but instead with artificial intelligence tools.

It began a soft launch of a sales rep AI and machine learning platform it calls Polaris last August in one of its 7 US coverage regions. The platform from Aktana gathers information from across Almirall internal sources and external ones – such as claims and prescribing data – to generate insights for reps. Now, instead of spending hours prepping for a sales call, Polaris can generate details about a physician’s preferences, past behaviors and prescription habits for reps in minutes, said Almirall head of commercial operations Vincent Cerio.

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