Luca Santarelli, VectivBio CEO

Lu­ca Santarel­li's Vec­tivBio buys out small Mass­a­chu­setts biotech, re­dou­bling fo­cus on meta­bol­ic dis­ease

Lu­ca Santarel­li moved quick­ly af­ter spin­ning out Vec­tivBio from Ther­a­chon, get­ting an IPO set­tled in less than two years. On Tues­day, he con­tin­ued charg­ing for­ward with a new buy­out that will see Vec­tivBio ex­pand its pipeline sig­nif­i­cant­ly over the next year and a half.

Vec­tivBio has ac­quired Comet Ther­a­peu­tics for an undis­closed eq­ui­ty and cash sum, the biotech an­nounced Tues­day, aim­ing to tar­get a swath of rare meta­bol­ic dis­eases. The goal is to hit the ground run­ning, Santarel­li told End­points News, with four new pro­grams ex­pect­ed to launch at once and plans to en­ter the clin­ic in 18 months.

“This deal is im­por­tant for us but al­so some­thing we’ve been plan­ning for a long time,” Santarel­li told End­points.

In ad­di­tion to the sums paid up­front, Vec­tivBio could be on the hook for more eq­ui­ty and cash pay­ments should the new projects reach cer­tain mile­stones.

As their teams start work­ing to­geth­er, Vec­tivBio and Comet will go af­ter a fam­i­ly of con­di­tions known as in­her­it­ed meta­bol­ic dis­eases, or IMDs. These ge­net­ic dis­or­ders re­sult in in­fants be­ing un­able to prop­er­ly con­vert food in­to en­er­gy, re­sult­ing in the buildup of tox­ic metabo­lites and some­times life-threat­en­ing con­di­tions that have lim­it­ed treat­ment op­tions.

Comet, how­ev­er, has de­vel­oped a plat­form to at­tack these dis­eases with a “unique” bit of chem­istry, Santarel­li said. By fo­cus­ing on coen­zyme A, an en­zyme im­pli­cat­ed in many meta­bol­ic path­ways, re­searchers the­o­rized a way to re­store its nor­mal func­tion while de­liv­er­ing pay­loads spe­cif­ic to each IMD.

“It al­lows CoA to be used as a back­bone,” Santarel­li said of the Comet tech­nol­o­gy. “It al­lows for sys­temic ad­min­is­tra­tion and ex­po­sure, al­lows for sys­temic in­te­gra­tion and can car­ry var­i­ous car­goes in­to the cells.”

The first pro­gram that will come out of the ac­qui­si­tion will tar­get or­gan­ic acid dis­or­ders such as methyl­malonic acidemia and pro­pi­onic acidemia, Santarel­li added. Their goal is to de­liv­er car­go that can stim­u­late the dis­reg­u­lat­ed meta­bol­ic path­ways.

Vec­tivBio got start­ed back in 2019, spin­ning out from Ther­a­con af­ter Pfiz­er bought it out for $340 mil­lion up­front and $470 mil­lion in po­ten­tial mile­stones. The biotech al­most im­me­di­ate­ly got to work on a Phase II drug for short bow­el syn­drome, and Santarel­li raised $110 mil­lion last Oc­to­ber to get the pro­gram through Phase III.

He fol­lowed that up with an IPO ear­li­er this year, and the com­pa­ny is ex­pect­ing topline re­sults for SBS in­testi­nal fail­ure in 2023. But with the Comet ac­qui­si­tion Tues­day, Santarel­li is start­ing work on Vec­tivBio’s next chap­ter in the mean­time.

Comet launched back in 2018 and re­ceived $28.5 mil­lion in a Se­ries A in June 2019. The Cam­bridge, MA-based biotech has seen in­vest­ment from Sofinno­va Part­ners, INKEF Cap­i­tal, Canaan and Mis­sion Bio­Cap­i­tal.

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Days of heat­ed ru­mors cul­mi­nate in a re­port that Ac­celeron is in ad­vanced buy­out talks

Days of frothy rumors about possible M&A discussions at Acceleron were capped late Friday with a Bloomberg report asserting that the biotech company is in advanced talks for an $11 billion buyout deal.

Bloomberg was unable to identify any bidders in the deal, but speculation has been running rampant that the surging value of Acceleron stock had to be the result of leaks around the auction of the company. As of early Monday morning, we’re still awaiting the final word.

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Merck CEO Rob Davis

Mer­ck emerges as lead bid­der in po­ten­tial Ac­celeron buy­out with deal pos­si­ble this week — re­port

With rumors swirling about a potential buyout of biotech Acceleron and its lead PAH drug sotatercept, market watchers have been keeping close tabs on industry movers and shakers due up for an expensive bolt-on. According to a new report, it appears Merck may be the one.

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The coro­n­avirus vac­cine that the world for­got could still help save it

Back at the beginning of the pandemic — back when we still called the virus “novel” and a single case in Washington state could make headlines — there emerged the story of the coronavirus vaccine that the world forgot.

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Safe­ty fears force Pfiz­er to change piv­otal DMD gene ther­a­py tri­al pro­to­col

As one of the biggest players in an increasingly packed gene therapy space, Pfizer has taken an early lead over specialists like Sarepta in taking a Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) candidate into late-stage testing. But new safety fears have led Pfizer to scale back that trial, cutting out patients with certain genetic mutations.

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Albert Bourla, Pfizer CEO (John Thys, Pool via AP Images)

Covid-19 roundup: Pfiz­er/BioN­Tech sub­mit vac­cine da­ta to FDA for younger chil­dren; Doc­tors kept pre­scrib­ing hy­drox­y­chloro­quine

Pfizer and BioNTech said Tuesday they submitted to FDA positive data from a Phase II/III trial of their Covid-19 vaccine in children aged 5 to less than 12 years old.

A formal EUA submission for the vaccine in these children is expected to follow “in the coming weeks,” the companies said in a statement.

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From left to right: Mark Springel, Kristina Wang, Lin Ao, Soufiane Aboulhouda

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Engelhardt was joining a student-run “match night.” A postdoc at MIT’s Bathe BioNanoLab, where researchers use DNA and RNA like Lego blocks for nanometer-sized structures, Engelhardt wanted to find real-world applications for her work. She sketched out — literally — a plan to use DNA origami, a decade-old technique for precisely folding DNA, to make therapies.

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Kim Smith, ViiV CEO, at GlaxoSmithKline's Investor Day

Bank­ing on in­te­grase in­hibitors as HIV cor­ner­stone, Vi­iV bags 3rd-gen­er­a­tion com­pound from Sh­iono­gi

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Paul Hudson, Sanofi CEO (Cyril Marcilhacy/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Sanofi calls it quits on mR­NA Covid-19 shots, scrap­ping vac­cine from $3.2B Trans­late Bio buy­out

Sanofi is throwing in the towel on mRNA-based Covid-19 vaccines.

The French drugmaker will halt development on its unmodified mRNA Covid-19 shot despite what it said were positive Phase I/II results, a spokesperson told Endpoints News on Tuesday morning. Sanofi said the reason it’s stopping the Covid-19 mRNA program, developed in partnership with its new $3.2 billion acquisition Translate Bio, is because the market is too crowded.