CEO Frederick Beddingfield (Kira)

Ki­ra Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals emerges from stealth with $46M and new CEO to lead com­ple­ment ther­a­py mis­sion

Fred­er­ick Bed­ding­field left Si­en­na Bio­phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals last De­cem­ber, a few months af­ter the strug­gling biotech filed for bank­rupt­cy. The for­mer CEO was plan­ning to take some time off, un­til he re­ceived a call from the Uni­ver­si­ty of Penn­syl­va­nia pro­fes­sor Wen­chao Song.

Song was look­ing for some­one to helm Ki­ra Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals, a start­up he co-found­ed to de­vel­op a “new gen­er­a­tion” of com­ple­ment-tar­get­ed ther­a­pies for im­mune-me­di­at­ed dis­eases. The two got talk­ing, one thing led to an­oth­er, and “it just turned out to be a great fit,” Bed­ding­field said.

On Thurs­day, Ki­ra emerged from stealth mode with Bed­ding­field as CEO, $46 mil­lion from the ven­ture well, and a lead can­di­date ex­pect­ed to hit the clin­ic in the next three months.

“It’s the tip of the ice­berg for com­ple­ment dis­eases,” Bed­ding­field said.

While the com­pa­ny is in­ter­est­ed in im­prov­ing on the stan­dard of care for some dis­eases, “our big­ger goal is to treat dis­eases where there’s re­al­ly … a com­plete­ly un­met need, and there are no com­ple­ment drugs ap­proved,” he said.

The com­ple­ment cas­cade, a part of the in­nate im­mune sys­tem, is “great when it’s work­ing well,” Bed­ding­field said. But dys­reg­u­la­tion can lead to au­toim­mune dis­or­ders. De­pend­ing on that dys­reg­u­la­tion, block­ing cer­tain parts of the path­ways that ac­ti­vate the com­ple­ment sys­tem can be “quite ef­fec­tive” in con­trol­ling dis­ease, the CEO said.

“Some­times pa­tients have a ge­net­ic pre­dis­po­si­tion, some mu­ta­tion in … part of this com­ple­ment cas­cade that makes them have this ab­nor­mal re­sponse. Oth­er times, we don’t know ex­act­ly why it’s ex­ag­ger­at­ed, but it is. And in­ter­est­ing­ly, if you look at Covid pa­tients, many of them have (an) ex­ag­ger­at­ed com­ple­ment cas­cade re­sponse,” he said.

Ki­ra’s lead can­di­date, P014, is de­signed to in­hib­it both up­stream and down­stream com­ple­ment tar­gets. It’s en­gi­neered with an ex­tend­ed half-life and po­ten­cy, and has the po­ten­tial to be self-ad­min­is­tered at home. While Ki­ra has yet to an­nounce which in­di­ca­tions it’s go­ing af­ter, Bed­ding­field said the can­di­date should en­ter the clin­ic with­in the next three months. The pipeline al­so in­cludes two oth­er can­di­dates in IND-en­abling stages.

Cam­bridge, MA-based Ki­ra was found­ed in 2017. While in stealth, it bagged an $18 mil­lion Se­ries A and $28 mil­lion Se­ries B from a slate of in­vestors in­clud­ing Quan Cap­i­tal, 6 Di­men­sions Cap­i­tal, Qim­ing Ven­ture Part­ners, and Sinopharm Cap­i­tal. While its head­quar­ters is in the US, the com­pa­ny al­so boasts a Suzhou, Chi­na of­fice.

“I think we’re the on­ly com­ple­ment com­pa­ny that from the get-go has a cross-bor­der strat­e­gy to bring ther­a­pies … glob­al­ly to the US to Chi­na,” Bed­ding­field said. This will al­low the com­pa­ny to eas­i­ly con­duct clin­i­cal tri­als in both coun­tries.

Even so, the biotech may have some catch­ing up to do. Alex­ion, which made waves with the in­tro­duc­tion of its first an­ti-C5 an­ti­body, snagged its sec­ond ap­proval for the com­ple­ment ther­a­py Ul­tomiris last year. The drug, which blocks the C5 path­way, has the FDA’s OK to treat atyp­i­cal he­molyt­ic ure­mic syn­drome and parox­ys­mal noc­tur­nal he­mo­glo­bin­uria. It raked in $338.9 mil­lion in net sales last year.

Last Au­gust, Alex­ion was hit with a sur­prise in­ter partes re­view. The US Patent Tri­als Ap­peal Board ac­tion was stoked by Am­gen, which pushed to over­turn patents on the com­ple­ment in­hibitor Soliris to cre­ate a biosim­i­lar.

While Bed­ding­field once served as CMO of both Kythera and Al­ler­gan, his lat­est gig was at Si­en­na, which filed for a Chap­ter 11 last Sep­tem­ber. The biotech’s stock nev­er quite re­cov­ered from the fail­ure of its ex­per­i­men­tal ac­ne drug SNA-001, which flopped in two sep­a­rate tri­als test­ing its ef­fi­ca­cy when man­aged by laser tech. The com­pa­ny cut 20 jobs in a re­struc­tur­ing to re­fo­cus on pso­ri­a­sis and as­so­ci­at­ed pru­ri­tus, and 7 more in con­nec­tion with the bank­rupt­cy fil­ing.

Has the mo­ment fi­nal­ly ar­rived for val­ue-based health­care?

RBC Capital Markets’ Healthcare Technology Analyst, Sean Dodge, spotlights a new breed of tech-enabled providers who are rapidly transforming the way clinicians deliver healthcare, and explores the key question: can this accelerating revolution overturn the US healthcare system?

Key points

Tech-enabled healthcare providers are poised to help the US transition to value, not volume, as the basis for reward.
The move to value-based care has policy momentum, but is risky and complex for clinicians.
Outsourced tech specialists are emerging to provide the required expertise, while healthcare and tech are also converging through M&A.
Value-based care remains in its early stages, but the transition is accelerating and represents a huge addressable market.

Clay Siegall, Morphimmune CEO

Up­dat­ed: Ex-Seagen chief Clay Sie­gall emerges as CEO of pri­vate biotech

Clay Siegall will be back in the CEO seat, taking the helm of a private startup working on targeted cancer therapies.

It’s been almost a year since Siegall resigned from Seagen, the biotech he co-founded and led for more than 20 years, in the wake of domestic violence allegations by his then-wife. His eventual successor, David Epstein, sold the company to Pfizer in a $43 billion deal unveiled last week.

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No­vo Nordisk oral semaglu­tide tri­al shows re­duc­tion in blood sug­ar, plus weight loss

Novo Nordisk is testing higher levels of its oral version of its GLP-1, semaglutide, and its type 2 diabetes trial results released today show reductions in blood sugar as well as weight loss.

In the Phase IIIb trial, Novo compared its oral semaglutide in 25 mg and 50 mg doses with the 14 mg version that’s currently the maximum approved dose. The trial looked at how the doses compared when added to a stable dose of one to three oral antidiabetic medicines in people with type 2 diabetes who were in need of an intensified treatment.

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Ly­me vac­cine test com­ple­tion is pushed back by a year as Pfiz­er, Val­ne­va say they'll ad­just tri­al

Valneva and Pfizer have adjusted the end date for the Phase III study of their investigational Lyme disease vaccine, pushing it back by a year after issues at a contract researcher led to thousands of US patients being dropped from the test.

In a March 20 update to, Valneva and Pfizer moved the primary completion date on the trial, called VALOR, from the end of 2024 to the end of 2025.

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Stuart Peltz, former PTC Therapeutics CEO

Stu­art Peltz re­signs as PTC Ther­a­peu­tics CEO af­ter 25 years

Stuart Peltz, the longtime CEO of PTC Therapeutics who’s led the rare disease drug developer since its founding 25 years ago, is stepping down.

Succeeding him in the top job is Matthew Klein, who joined PTC in 2019 and was promoted to chief operating officer in 2022. In a call with analysts, he said the CEO transition has been planned for “quite some time” — in fact, as part of it, he gave the company’s presentation at the JP Morgan healthcare conference earlier this year.

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Bet­ter Ther­a­peu­tics cuts 35% of staff while await­ing dig­i­tal ther­a­peu­tic ap­proval

Digital therapeutics company Better Therapeutics announced on Thursday that it’s cutting 35% of its staff as it awaits FDA clearance for its first product.

The company, which launched eight years ago, is one of a growing group of companies seeking a digital alternative to traditional medicine. The space saw a record $7.5 billion in investments in 2021, according to Chris Dokomajilar at DealForma, with uses spanning ADHD, PTSD and other indications. However, private insurers have been slow to hop on board.

FDA spells out how can­cer drug de­vel­op­ers can use one tri­al for both ac­cel­er­at­ed and full ap­provals

The FDA’s Oncology Center of Excellence has been a bright spot within the agency in terms of speeding new treatments to patients. That flexibility was on full display this morning as FDA released new draft guidance spelling out exactly how oncology drug developers can fulfill both the accelerated and full approval’s requirements with just a single randomized controlled trial.

While Congress recently passed legislation that will allow FDA to require confirmatory trials to be recruiting and ongoing prior to granting an accelerated approval, the agency is now making clear that the initial trial used to win the AA, if designed appropriately, can also serve as the trial for converting the accelerated approval into a full approval.

Steven James, Pionyr Immunotherapeutics CEO

Gilead pass­es on ful­ly ac­quir­ing Pi­o­nyr, as eyes now turn to Tizona, a fel­low sum­mer 2020 buy­out op­tion

Gilead and Pionyr Immunotherapeutics, a biotech trying to follow up on the first generation of checkpoint inhibitors, have “mutually agreed” on a rewrite to their 2020 terms, with Gilead deciding not to buy out the company.

The California biopharma waived its option to acquire the remaining 50.1% of Pionyr, which would have triggered a $315 million upfront payment and up to $1.15 billion down the road. Had Gilead waited to decide, the drugmaker would have had a potential payment to make in the near term under their agreement, a spokesperson said in an email to Endpoints News.

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Zhi Hong, Brii Biosciences CEO

Brii Bio­sciences stops man­u­fac­tur­ing Covid-19 an­ti­body com­bo, plans to with­draw EUA re­quest

Brii Biosciences said it will stop manufacturing its Covid-19 antibody combination, sold in China, and is working to withdraw its emergency use authorization request in the US, which it started in October 2021.

The Beijing and North Carolina biotech commercially launched the treatment in China last July but is now axing the work and reverting resources to other “high-priority programs,” per a Friday update. The focus now is namely hepatitis B viral infection, postpartum depression and major depressive disorders.

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