Eric Lefkofsky, Getty

Mar­ry­ing pre­ci­sion med and AI, Groupon co-founder Er­ic Lefkof­sky takes to­tal haul for his an­a­lyt­ics firm over the $1B line

The pan­dem­ic has tak­en Tem­pus — the com­pa­ny Groupon co-founder Er­ic Lefkof­sky launched to bring ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence to physi­cians and re­searchers fo­cused on pre­ci­sion med­i­cine — in quite a few un­ex­pect­ed turns.

Not on­ly did it launch ef­forts to help doc­tors in their core field of can­cer adapt to new ways of work­ing, it al­so made a de­ci­sion to ex­pand in­to in­fec­tious dis­eases (start­ing with Covid-19), while dou­bling down on de­pres­sion and car­di­ol­o­gy.

One thing that hasn’t changed: It’s still got the funds to do it all.

With a new cash in­fu­sion on Thurs­day, in 2020 it’s raised more mon­ey than it has in all the years since its 2015 found­ing com­bined, bring­ing the to­tal haul to $1.05 bil­lion.

Bail­lie Gif­ford, Franklin Tem­ple­ton, Google, No­vo Hold­ings, and funds and ac­counts man­aged by T. Rowe Price in­vest­ed $200 mil­lion in a Se­ries G-2 at a post-mon­ey val­u­a­tion of $8.1 bil­lion dol­lars. At the same time, Tem­pus has al­so se­cured $250 mil­lion in con­vert­ible debt.

That’s a jump of $3.1 bil­lion com­pared to how it was val­ued in the Se­ries G back in March.

“Nev­er be­fore has the need to bring the pow­er and promise of tech­nol­o­gy to health­care been more acute than it is to­day,” CEO Lefkof­sky said in a state­ment, adding in an in­ter­view with End­points News: “I think Tem­pus is the first of what I hope will be a se­ries of many com­pa­nies that are ac­tu­al­ly able to prac­ti­cal­ly bring tech­nol­o­gy and ma­chine learn­ing and ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence to health­care by virtue of be­ing able to ac­cess all that da­ta.”

While Tem­pus start­ed out as a tool for physi­cians, help­ing them an­a­lyze ge­nom­ic da­ta and make re­al-time de­ci­sions, it’s al­so been ex­tend­ing its ten­ta­cles deep­er in­to bio­phar­ma. Just in No­vem­ber, the com­pa­ny un­veiled part­ner­ships with both J&J and AS­CO: The for­mer con­sists of a da­ta deal to fa­cil­i­tate AI/ma­chine learn­ing projects plus Janssen’s par­tic­i­pa­tion in Tem­pus’ bio­mark­er-dri­ven tri­al net­work. The lat­ter gives sci­en­tists ac­cess to a dataset of 500 glioblas­toma pa­tients with matched mol­e­c­u­lar and clin­i­cal da­ta.

Its pitch for drug de­vel­op­ers cen­ters around the abil­i­ty to ag­gre­gate “one of the largest repos­i­to­ries of health­care da­ta in the world,” at a lev­el of de­tail that could be valu­able for look­ing at how to hit a par­tic­u­lar tar­get.

“As we raise ad­di­tion­al funds, we are con­sis­tent­ly in­vest­ing in new dis­ease ar­eas and build­ing up the teams and then ac­quir­ing nec­es­sary da­ta to bring big da­ta to those ar­eas,” Lefkof­sky said.

Un­pack­ing the Aduhelm de­ci­sion, Ver­tex's half full glass, a $525M J&J breakup, and more

Welcome back to Endpoints Weekly, your review of the week’s top biopharma headlines. Want this in your inbox every Saturday morning? Current Endpoints readers can visit their reader profile to add Endpoints Weekly. New to Endpoints? Sign up here.

By now you have surely read about the FDA’s controversial approval of Biogen’s Alzheimer’s drug and all its reverberations. But I’d still recommend checking out the meaty recap below to make sure you didn’t miss all the angles that the Endpoints team has covered. If you’d rather look ahead, look no further than our three-day virtual panels next week at BIO, where we will discuss what the new normal means for every part of the industry.

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What does a clear ma­jor­i­ty of the bio­phar­ma in­dus­try think of the FDA ap­proval of ad­u­canum­ab? 'Hor­ri­fy­ing' 'Dan­ger­ous' 'Con­fus­ing' 'Dis­as­ter'

Over the years, we’ve become used to seeing a consensus emerge early in our industry polls at Endpoints News. And when we took the pulse of drug hunters on the heels of a controversial FDA approval for aducanumab this week, it became immediately apparent that the vast majority of our readers — heavily concentrated among biopharma staffers and execs — were incensed by what they had just witnessed.

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Aaron Kesselheim (Scott Eisen/AP Images for AIDS Healthcare Foundation)

Har­vard’s Aaron Kessel­heim re­signs from ex­pert pan­el in wake of ad­u­canum­ab OK, blast­ing FDA for ‘worst drug ap­proval de­ci­sion in re­cent U.S. his­to­ry'

A third member of the FDA’s Peripheral and Central Nervous System Drugs Advisory Committee has resigned in the wake of Biogen’s controversial Aduhelm approval, slamming the agency as he left and further deepening the controversy surrounding the decision.

Harvard University professor Aaron Kesselheim quit in protest Thursday afternoon, calling the Aduhelm OK “probably the worst drug approval decision in recent U.S. history.” Kesselheim follows both Joel Perlmutter, a neurologist from Washington University in St. Louis, and David Knopman, a neurologist from the Mayo Clinic, out the door.

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David Knopman (Mayo Clinic via YouTube)

A sec­ond ad­comm mem­ber aban­dons his post in af­ter­math of con­tro­ver­sial ad­u­canum­ab de­ci­sion

As the fallout from the FDA’s approval of Alzheimer’s med aducanumab grows, a second member of the adcomm overseeing that drug’s review has walked away. But even with two experts now having resigned from that committee in protest, is there enough broad-level outrage to prevent another aducanumab from getting approved?

The FDA on Wednesday lost another member of its Peripheral and Central Nervous System Drugs Advisory Committee as Mayo Clinic neurologist David Knopman hit the exit over the agency’s decision to approve Biogen’s Alzheimer’s drug Aduhelm despite the committee’s near-unanimous vote against it.

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FDA au­tho­rizes about 10M J&J vac­cine dos­es, trash­es 60M more from trou­bled Emer­gent plant

The FDA on Friday released about 10 million doses of J&J’s vaccine for use, and disposed of another 60 million doses that were manufactured at the now-shuttered Emergent BioSolutions facility in Baltimore where cross-contamination occurred.

The agency said it’s not yet ready to allow the Emergent plant to be included in the J&J EUA, but that may occur soon. FDA came to the decision to authorize some of the doses after reviewing facility records and quality testing results.

The IPO 4-1-1: Four fil­ings, a pric­ing and a with­draw­al head­line this week's Nas­daq ac­tion as raise ap­proach­es $7.5B

Editor’s note: Interested in following biopharma’s fast-paced IPO market? You can bookmark our IPO Tracker here.

Another week, another horde of biotechs is doing the Nasdaq dance.

This week saw four companies file their SEC paperwork ahead of expected debuts, another hit Nasdaq on Friday and a sixth formally withdrew its bid to go public. Aerovate Therapeutics, Ocean Biomedical and Acumen Pharmaceuticals all penciled in initial raises of $100 million, while Dermata Therapeutics is estimating a modest $18 million raise.

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Keiichi Fukuda, Heartseed CEO

Fresh off $598M deal with No­vo Nordisk, a Japan­ese stem cell com­pa­ny is on its way to the clin­ic with a dif­fer­ent ap­proach to treat­ing heart fail­ure

A common approach to treating heart failure with induced pluripotent stem cells involves grafting sheets of cells onto the surface of the heart to improve vascularization and blood flow. It’s the easiest method of transplantation — but you run the risk of not making an electrical connection with the heart and the cells not synchronizing with the patient’s heart muscle.

So what if you could inject spherical clusters of heart cells directly into the heart muscle wall? For Heartseed, that’s now the $37 million question.

Janet Woodcock, acting FDA commissioner, at Thursday's Senate Appropriations hearing (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call via AP Images)

Sen­a­tors lam­bast new Alzheimer’s drug’s price but give Janet Wood­cock a free pass on the ap­proval de­ci­sion

Senate Finance Democrats took aim at Biogen’s pricey new Alzheimer’s drug on Thursday, but members on both sides of the aisle at a separate appropriations hearing didn’t question acting FDA commissioner Janet Woodcock on the approval.

“I was appalled that Biogen priced their Alzheimer’s drug approved by the FDA at $56,000 per year — I’m not going to debate whether this is effective or not, but it’s double the household median income for Michiganders over the age of 65,” Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) said at the finance hearing.

Reshma Kewalramani, Vertex CEO (BIO via YouTube)

UP­DAT­ED: Ver­tex strikes out on its lat­est big shot at a rare ge­net­ic dis­ease. But they're go­ing to keep on swing­ing

It’s been several months since Vertex culled one of its small molecules for alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency (AATD), taking a big hit after evidence of liver damage surfaced in a key Phase II trial. Now we learned that the company has whiffed on its second shot, and there’s nothing left in the clinic to treat the rare genetic disease — but that won’t stop it from trying.

Despite avoiding the safety issues that plagued the last candidate, Vertex $VRTX is taking the axe to VX-864 after Phase II results revealed the magnitude of the drug’s response is “unlikely to translate into substantial clinical benefit.” As a result of the news, the company’s stock fell 12.5% after hours.

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