Sean Nolan and RA Session II

Less than 3 months af­ter launch, the AveX­is crew’s Taysha rais­es $95M Se­ries B. Is an IPO next?

The old AveX­is team is mov­ing quick­ly in Dal­las.

Three months ago, they launched Taysha with $30 mil­lion in Se­ries A fund­ing and a pipeline of gene ther­a­pies out of UT South­west­ern. Now, they’ve an­nounced an over­sub­scribed $95 mil­lion Se­ries B. And the biotech is de­clin­ing all in­ter­view re­quests on the news, the kind of broad si­lence that can in­di­cate an IPO is in the pipeline.

Biotechs, in­clud­ing those rel­a­tive­ly fresh off launch, have been go­ing pub­lic at a fren­zy since the pan­dem­ic be­gan. In­vestors have showed a will­ing­ness to put up­wards of $200 mil­lion to com­pa­nies that have yet to bring a drug in­to the clin­ic. Still, if Taysha were to go pub­lic in the near fu­ture, it would be per­haps the short­est path from launch to IPO in re­cent biotech mem­o­ry.

Taysha launched in April as the brain­child of for­mer AveX­is CEO Sean Nolan and for­mer AveX­is cor­po­rate strat­e­gy chief RA Ses­sion II, who now serve as Taysha’s chair­man and CEO, re­spec­tive­ly. The idea was to tap in­to a line of AAV9 vec­tor gene ther­a­pies that were be­ing de­vel­oped at UT South­west­ern, par­tic­u­lar­ly from the labs of Steven Gray and Berge Mi­nass­ian. The group al­ready had 50 trans­la­tion­al sci­en­tists at work and a GMP fa­cil­i­ty.

The biotech would take a port­fo­lio ap­proach to gene ther­a­py, akin to the one pur­sued by Bridge­Bio (where Ses­sion had been CBO of gene ther­a­py). They li­censed 15 gene ther­a­pies in epilep­sy, neu­rode­vel­op­ment and neu­rode­gen­er­a­tive dis­or­ders, with an op­tion to li­cense 4 more. The com­pa­ny pur­sued new tech­nolo­gies that can be built on top of AAV9, in­clud­ing bi­cistron­ic plas­mids (a vec­tor with 2 genes in­stead of 1), mi­croR­NA knock­down (a method to in­hib­it the tiny strands of RNA that con­trol gene ex­pres­sion), and re­dos­ing.

When they launched, Taysha said they planned to clin­i­cal stud­ies on a gene ther­a­py for Tay-Sachs dis­ease and then file three more INDs in 2021. De­spite the pan­dem­ic, the com­pa­ny said they are still on track for that plan.

Gene ther­a­py tri­als, of course, can cost a fair bit of cash. And the com­pa­ny said that it hopes to even­tu­al­ly con­struct its own com­mer­cial scale pro­duc­tion site in Dal­las – a prospect that per­haps could come soon­er rather than lat­er.

IDC: Life Sci­ences Firms Must Em­brace Dig­i­tal Trans­for­ma­tion Now

Pre-pandemic, the life sciences industry had settled into a pattern. The average drug took 12 years and $2.9 billion to bring to market, and it was an acceptable mode of operations, according to Nimita Limaye, Research Vice President for Life Sciences R&D Strategy and Technology at IDC.

COVID-19 changed that, and served as a proof-of-concept for how technology can truly help life sciences companies succeed and grow, Limaye said. She recently spoke about industry trends at Egnyte’s Life Sciences Summit 2022. You should watch the entire session, free and on-demand, but here’s a brief recap of why she’s urging life sciences companies to embrace digital transformation.

Tom Barnes, Orna Therapeutics CEO

UP­DAT­ED: 'We have failed to fail': Mer­ck gam­bles $250M cash on a next-gen ap­proach to mR­NA — af­ter punt­ing its big al­liance with Mod­er­na

Merck went in deep on its collaboration with Moderna on new mRNA programs, and dropped them all over time, including their RSV partnership. But after writing off what turned out as one of the most successful infectious disease players in the business, Merck is coming in this morning with a new preclinical alliance — this time embracing a biotech that hopes to eventually outdo the famously successful mRNA in a new run at vaccines and therapeutics.

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Joel Dudley, new partner at Innovation Endeavors (Bosch Health Campus)

For­mer Google CEO’s VC is mak­ing a big­ger push in­to the biotech world, hir­ing promi­nent Ther­a­nos skep­tic

Venture capital firm Innovation Endeavors has mainly had its focus on investments across the tech space, but it has been slowly turning its attention to the biotech world. Now, a new partner is coming into the fold showing that its interest in biotech is likely to grow further.

The Silicon Valley-based company, which is headed up by former Google CEO Eric Schmidt, has brought on Joel Dudley as a partner. According to Dudley’s LinkedIn page, he is joining Innovation Endeavors after serving as the chief science officer of biotech startup Tempus Labs since 2020.

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Bayer's first DTC ad campaign for chronic kidney disease drug Kerendia spells out its benefits

Bay­er aims to sim­pli­fy the com­plex­i­ties of CKD with an ABC-themed ad cam­paign

Do you know the ABCs of CKD in T2D? Bayer’s first ad campaign for Kerendia tackles the complexity of chronic kidney disease with a play on the acronym (CKD) and its connection to type 2 diabetes (T2D).

Kerendia was approved last year as the first and only non-steroidal mineralocorticoid receptor antagonist to treat CKD in people with type 2 diabetes.

In the TV commercial launched this week, A is for awareness, B is for belief and C is for cardiovascular, explained in the ad as awareness of the connection between type 2 and kidney disease, belief that something can be done about it, and cardiovascular events that may be reduced with treatment.

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James Mock, incoming CFO at Moderna

Mod­er­na taps new CFO from PerkinElmer af­ter for­mer one-day CFO oust­ed

When Moderna hired a new CFO last year,  it didn’t expect to see him gone after only one day. Today the biotech named his — likely much more vetted — replacement.

The mRNA company put out word early Wednesday that after the untimely departure of then brand-new CFO Jorge Gomez, it has now found a replacement in James Mock, the soon-to-be former CFO at diagnostics and analytics company PerkinElmer.

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Etleva Kadilli, director of UNICEF’s supply division

GSK lands first-ever UNICEF con­tract for malar­ia vac­cine worth $170M

GSK has landed a new first from UNICEF the first-ever contract for malaria vaccines, worth up to $170 million for 18 million vaccine doses distributed over the next three years.

The vaccine, known as Mosquirix or RTS,S, won WHO’s backing last October after a controversial start, but UNICEF said these doses will potentially save thousands of lives every year.

“We hope this is just the beginning,” Etleva Kadilli, director of UNICEF’s supply division, said. “Continued innovation is needed to develop new and next-generation vaccines to increase available supply, and enable a healthier vaccine market. This is a giant step forward in our collective efforts to save children’s lives and reduce the burden of malaria as part of wider malaria prevention and control programmes.”

Joe Jonas (Photo by Anthony Behar/Sipa USA)(Sipa via AP Images)

So­lo Jonas broth­er car­ries Merz's new tune in Botox ri­val cam­paign

As the lyrics of his band’s 2019 pop-rock single suggest, Joe Jonas is only human — and that means even he gets frown lines. The 33-year-old singer-songwriter is Merz’s newest celebrity brand partner for its Botox rival Xeomin, as medical aesthetics brands target a younger audience.

Merz kicked off its “Beauty on Your Terms” campaign on Tuesday, featuring the Jonas brother in a video ad for its double-filtered anti-wrinkle injection Xeomin.

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Marisol Peron, Genmab SVP of communications and corporate affairs

Gen­mab launch­es cor­po­rate cam­paign am­pli­fy­ing its ‘knock your socks off’ an­ti­bod­ies

Genmab often talks about its “knock-your-socks-off” antibodies — and now the term is getting its own logo and corporate campaign.

The teal and purple logo for the acronym KYSO — Genmab pronounces it “ky-so” — debuts on Wednesday and comes on the heels of Genmab’s newly announced 2030 vision. That aspiration aims to expand Genmab’s drug development beyond oncology to include other serious diseases, while also doubling down on its own drug development.

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Kate Haviland, Blueprint Medicines CEO

Blue­print met all its end­points in bid for ex­pand­ed Ay­vak­it la­bel — but stock trends low­er any­way

Blueprint Medicines announced this morning that the second part of its study on Ayvakit in non-advanced systemic mastocytosis (SM) — a rare disease in which a type of white blood cells known as mast cells builds up — met all endpoints, but the biopharma left key questions unanswered.

In 212 patients, with 141 in the treatment arm and 71 in the control arm, patients who got Ayvakit saw an average 15.6-point decrease in their symptom scores compared to a 9.2-point decrease in the placebo arm at 24 weeks. In an extension study, those on Ayvakit saw their symptom scores drop by 20.2 points by week 48.