Dmitry Kuzmin, Owen Smith. 4BIO

Lon­don's 4BIO Cap­i­tal un­veils first close of $150M fund ded­i­cat­ed to ad­vanced ther­a­pies

Or­chard $OR­TX. Seres $MCRB. Ret­roSense (ac­quired by Al­ler­gan). With sev­er­al high pro­file ex­its un­der their belt, 4BIO Cap­i­tal is out to find more trail­blaz­ers to back in the drug R&D world.

The VC shop has raised $50 mil­lion in the first close of what it hopes to be a $150 mil­lion sec­ond fund at the end of next year. With a fo­cus on ad­vanced ther­a­pies — cell and gene ther­a­py, RNA-based ther­a­py, tar­get­ed ther­a­py, and the mi­cro­bio­me — they will de­vote 60% of the fund to Eu­ro­pean deals from their perch in Lon­don, while spread­ing the rest be­tween Japan and the US, go­ing in­to the Mid­west and the South for promis­ing ideas that might not have re­ceived as much love as those com­ing out of Boston.

Al­to­geth­er, 8 to 12 pri­vate com­pa­nies will re­ceive in­vest­ment from 4BIO Ven­tures II.

“With the gap in re­al com­mer­cial de­vel­op­ment of ad­vanced ther­a­pies over the last 20 years, there’s a lot of pro­grams, par­tic­u­lar­ly here in Eu­rope, that aca­d­e­mics have been sol­dier­ing on, on a shoe­string bud­get, push­ing their ideas and thoughts to a point where they can be in the clin­ic with­in a year, par­tic­u­lar­ly if they don’t suf­fer from the bot­tle­neck of man­u­fac­tur­ing,” Owen Smith, di­rec­tor of in­vest­ment, told End­points News.

While many suc­cess­es in ad­vanced ther­a­pies have been lim­it­ed to rare con­di­tions, main­ly of the reti­na, liv­er and bone mar­row — 4BIO wants to start tak­ing these cut­ting edge ap­proach­es to slight­ly more main­stream ap­pli­ca­tions, man­ag­ing part­ner Dmit­ry Kuzmin said.

“Our am­bi­tion for…Fund II is to try and bring these in­to what we jok­ing­ly call medi­um rare con­di­tions, and ba­si­cal­ly where we have to tack­le with treat­ing tens of thou­sands of pa­tients on a reg­u­lar ba­sis,” he said.

Hav­ing been at the fore­front of ad­vanced ther­a­pies in­vest­ment since 2010, the team of 9 (bol­stered by a 6-mem­ber ad­vi­so­ry board) is clear about just the kind of fron­tiers it’s keen on tack­ling in each of the fields it’s watch­ing, Kuzmin added.

That means gene ther­a­py in the brain, as well as ways to tone down, crank up or turn off gene ther­a­pies (4BIO has pre­vi­ous­ly in­vest­ed in op­to­ge­net­ics start­up Ret­roSense, but there’s al­so chemo­ge­net­ics, ther­mo­ge­net­ics, mag­ne­to­ge­net­ics, and so on).

With­in cell ther­a­py, 4BIO is look­ing for sol­id clin­i­cal and man­u­fac­tur­ing op­er­a­tions that can de­liv­er con­sis­tent and durable re­spons­es; for tar­get­ed ther­a­py it’s most in­ter­est­ed in pro­tein degra­da­tion and vi­ral ap­pli­ca­tions; and “ra­tio­nal en­gi­neer­ing” is the key word for their mi­cro­bio­me bets.

The LPs, which in­clude the Chil­dren’s Min­neso­ta among a group of fam­i­ly of­fices and in­sti­tu­tion­al in­vestors, have man­dat­ed a third of the fund be re­served to launch new star­tups.

Kuzmin en­vi­sions most­ly seed-stage and Se­ries A rounds, with the oc­ca­sion­al Se­ries B — and the more ad­vanced in clin­i­cal proof-of-con­cept, the bet­ter. “Our ide­al project is clear­ly a for­ma­tion deal that’s al­ready in the clin­ic,” he summed up.

Ex­pect some more de­tails soon on the com­pa­nies they reck­on are push­ing through the med­i­cines of to­mor­row as the first two in­vest­ments get un­der way.

A fa­vorite in Alex­ion’s C-suite is leav­ing, and some mighty sur­prised an­a­lysts aren’t the least bit hap­py about it

Analysts hate to lose a biotech CFO they’ve come to trust and admire — especially if they’re being blindsided by a surprise exit.

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While No­var­tis ban­ish­es Zol­gens­ma scan­dal scars — Bio­gen goes on a Spin­raza 'of­fen­sive'

While Novartis painstakingly works to mop up the stench of the data manipulation scandal associated with its expensive gene therapy for spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) Zolgensma— rival Biogen is attempting to expand the use of its SMA therapy, Spinraza. 

The US drugmaker $BIIB secured US approval for Spinraza for use in the often fatal genetic disease in 2016. The approval covered a broad range of patients with infantile-onset (most likely to develop Type 1) SMA. 

Jason Kelly. Mike Blake/Reuters via Adobe

Eye­ing big ther­a­peu­tic push, Gink­go bags $290M to build a cell pro­gram­ming em­pire

Ginkgo Bioworks is on a roll. Days after publicizing a plan to nurture new startups via partnerships with accelerators Y Combinator and Petri, the Boston biotech says it has raised another $290 million for its cell programming platform to reach further and wider.

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UP­DAT­ED: Speak­er Nan­cy Pelosi to un­veil bill for fed­er­al­ly ne­go­ti­at­ed drug prices

After months of buzz from both sides of the aisle, Speaker Nancy Pelosi will today introduce her plan to allow the federal government to negotiate prices for 250 prescription drugs, setting up a showdown with a pharmaceutical industry working overtime to prevent it.

The need to limit drug prices is a rare point of agreement between President Trump and Democrats, although the president has yet to comment on the proposal and will likely face pressure to back a more conservative option or no bill at all. Republican Senator Chuck Grassley is reportedly lobbying his fellow party members on a more modest proposal he negotiated with Democratic Senator Ron Wyden in July.

Jeff Kindler's Cen­trex­ion re­news bid to make pub­lic de­but

Jeffrey Kindler’s plan to take his biotech — which is developing a slate of non-opioid painkillers — public, is back on.

The Boston based company, led by former Pfizer $PFE chief Kindler, originally contemplated a $70 million to $80 million IPO last year— but eventually postponed that strategy. On Wednesday, the company revived its bid to make a public debut in a filing with the SEC — although no pricing details were disclosed.

David Grainger [file photo]

'Dis­con­nect the bas­tard­s' — one biotech's plan to break can­cer cell­s' uni­fied de­fens­es

Chemotherapy and radiotherapy are the current gladiators of cancer treatment, but they come with well-known limitations and side-effects. The emergence of immunotherapy — a ferocious new titan in oncologist’s toolbox — takes the brakes off the immune system to kill cancer cells with remarkable success in some cases, but the approach is not always effective. What makes certain forms of cancer so resilient? Scientists may have finally pieced together a tantalizing piece of the puzzle, and a new biotech is banking on a new approach to fill the gap.

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Zachary Hornby. Boundless

'A fourth rev­o­lu­tion in can­cer ther­a­pies': ARCH-backed Bound­less Bio flash­es big check, makes big­ger promis­es in de­but

It was the cellular equivalent of opening your car door and finding an active, roaring engine in the driver seat.

Scientists learned strands of DNA could occasionally appear outside of its traditional home in the nucleus in the 1970s, when they appeared as little, innocuous circles on microscopes; inexplicable but apparently innate. But not until UC San Diego’s Paul Mischel published his first study in Science in 2014 did researchers realize these circles were not only active but potentially overactive and driving some cancer tumors’ superhuman growth.

It’s fi­nal­ly over: Bio­gen, Ei­sai scrap big Alzheimer’s PhI­I­Is af­ter a pre­dictable BACE cat­a­stro­phe rais­es safe­ty fears

Months after analysts and investors called on Biogen and Eisai to scrap their BACE drug for Alzheimer’s and move on in the wake of a string of late-stage failures and rising safety fears, the partners have called it quits. And they said they were dropping the drug — elenbecestat — after the independent monitoring board raised concerns about…safety.

We don’t know exactly what researchers found in this latest catastrophe, but the companies noted in their release that investigators had determined that the drug was flunking the risk/benefit analysis.

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Mer­ck helps bankroll new part­ner Themis' game plan to fin­ish the chikun­gun­ya race and be­gin on­colyt­ic virus quest

As Themis gears up for a Phase III trial of its chikungunya vaccine, the Vienna-based biotech has closed out €40 million ($44 million) to foot the clinical and manufacturing bills.

Its heavyweight partners at Merck — which signed a pact around a mysterious “blockbuster indication” last month — jumped into the Series D, led by new investors Farallon Capital and Hadean Ventures. Adjuvant Capital also joined, as did current investors Global Health Investment Fund, aws Gruenderfonds, Omnes Capital, Ventech and Wellington Partners Life Sciences.