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.

Big Phar­ma's Twit­ter ex­o­dus; Mer­ck wa­gers $1.35B on buy­out; $3.5M gene ther­a­py; and more

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As you start planning for #JPM23, we hope you will consider joining Endpoints News for our live and virtual events. For those who are celebrating Thanksgiving, we hope you are enjoying the long weekend with loved ones. And if you’re not — we’ll see you next week!

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Paul Perreault, CSL Behring CEO

CSL lands FDA ap­proval for he­mo­phil­ia B gene ther­a­py, sets $3.5M list price

The FDA has approved the world’s first gene therapy for hemophilia B, ushering into the market a treatment that’s historic in both what it promises to do and how much it will cost.

CSL will be marketing the drug, Hemgenix, at a list price of $3.5 million — which sets a new record for the most expensive single-use gene therapy in the US.

In a statement provided to Endpoints News, the Australian company noted that the current costs of treating people with moderate to severe hemophilia B can be significant over a lifetime. By some estimates, healthcare systems could spend more than $20 million per person.

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Elon Musk (GDA via AP Images)

Biggest drug com­pa­nies halt­ed Twit­ter ad buys af­ter Lil­ly in­sulin spoof

Almost all of the drug industry’s biggest advertisers cut their spending on Twitter to zero or near-zero over the last two weeks amid worries about impersonation of their brands by pranksters and the future of the social media company.

Among 18 of the biggest pharmaceutical advertisers in the US market, 12 cut their Twitter ad spending to nothing for the week beginning Nov. 14, according to Pathmatics, which tracks data on prescription drug ad spending as well as general corporate advertising. The list of drugmakers cutting spending to zero includes Merck, AstraZeneca, Eli Lilly, Novartis, Pfizer and others.

Rob Davis, Merck CEO

Up­dat­ed: No Seagen here: 'Do more' means a small $1.35B pur­chase of Ima­go for Mer­ck

Merck is making an acquisition, the Big Pharma announced before Monday’s opening bell. No, Seagen is not entering the fold, as had been speculated for quarters.

Folding under Merck’s wings will be Pfizer-backed Imago BioSciences. For nearly a year, Merck CEO Rob Davis has been saying the pharma giant needs to “do more” on the business development front after its 2021 $11.5 billion acquisition of Acceleron.

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Andrew Phillips, Nexo Therapeutics CEO

Scoop: Ver­sant, NEA launch new biotech helmed by ex-CEO of pro­tein de­grad­er C4 Ther­a­peu­tics

Long-time biotech venture firms Versant and New Enterprise Associates are backing a new startup run by former C4 Therapeutics chief executive Andrew Phillips.

The fledgling biotech has raised at least $30 million so far, according to paperwork filed with the SEC this week. The round could balloon to $60 million.

Phillips, who left protein degradation startup C4 in 2020 to be a managing director at Cormorant Asset Management, is running the show of the new venture as president, the SEC filing outlines. He also served as interim CEO of Cormorant-backed and Hansoh Pharmaceutical-partnered Blossom Bioscience last year.

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Alzheimer’s drug bites the dust; Re­struc­ture, re­struc­ture, re­struc­ture; Land­mark di­a­betes OK; 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.

Being in the news business can give one a warped sense of time — it feels like quite a while since we published some of these stories below. But next Saturday’s Endpoints Weekly will definitely be shorter, as we take off Thursday and Friday for Thanksgiving. We will still have the abbreviated edition in your inbox at the usual time.

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Image: Shutterstock

MIT re­searchers re­veal DNA "Paste" tech be­hind lat­est gene edit­ing start­up

MIT scientists have developed a tool that they say can insert large gene sequences where they want in the genome.

In a paper published Thursday in Nature Biotechnology, MIT fellows Omar Abudayyeh, Jonathan Gootenberg and colleagues detail a technology they call PASTE, which they say can potentially be used to insert long strands of DNA and treat genetic diseases caused by many different mutations, such as cystic fibrosis and Leber congenital amaurosis, a rare eye disorder that causes blindness.

J&J's Spra­va­to pulls a PhI­II win against Sero­quel XR in treat­ment-re­sis­tant de­pres­sion

A day before Thanksgiving, J&J’s Janssen has a new cut of Phase III Spravato data to be grateful for.

The pharma giant announced on Wednesday that its nasal spray, also known as esketamine, beat extended-release quetiapine, previously sold by AstraZeneca as Seroquel XR, in treatment-resistant depression (TRD). Of 676 adults, a significantly higher number of patients on Spravato were able to achieve remission and avoid relapse after 32 weeks, according to J&J.

Dermavant Sciences' first consumer TV ad for its Vtama psoriasis med shows people ready for a new topical treatment.

Roivant’s Der­ma­vant de­buts first-ever TV com­mer­cial for pso­ri­a­sis cream Vta­ma

Dermavant Sciences has been marketing its first product, psoriasis med Vtama, to dermatologists for months, but on Tuesday it rolled out its first consumer campaign. The debut DTC effort including a streaming TV commercial encourages patients to a “Topical Uprising” in a nod to Vtama being a topical cream.

In the new commercial, a swell of people discards scarves and jacket coverings, gathering in the street to converge on a pharmacy to demand a steroid-free prescription. A moment of levity follows when a pharmacist says, “You know you can just talk to your doctor, right?” The gathered crowds collectively says, “Oh.”

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