Jason Coloma, Maze Therapeutics CEO

Maze Ther­a­peu­tics spins out two new com­pa­nies with Al­loy and Bridge­Bio

The start­up has be­come the starter.

Just un­der two years af­ter burst­ing on­to the scene with close to $200 mil­lion, Maze Ther­a­peu­tics is spin­ning out two new com­pa­nies, fo­cus­ing its hu­man ge­net­ics and func­tion­al ge­nomics plat­form on oph­thal­mol­o­gy and car­dio­vas­cu­lar dis­ease.

The new com­pa­nies — Broad­wing Bio and Con­tour Ther­a­peu­tics — were formed from part­ner­ships with Al­loy Ther­a­peu­tics and Bridge­Bio re­spec­tive­ly. While the com­pa­nies are keep­ing the fi­nan­cial terms un­der wraps, Maze says it has three pro­grams go­ing be­tween the two col­lab­o­ra­tions.

Maze launched last Feb­ru­ary with a $191 mil­lion in­fu­sion led by in­vestors Third Rock Ven­tures and ARCH Ven­ture Part­ners. Its COM­PASS plat­form is de­signed to do three things, CEO Ja­son Colo­ma ex­plained: iden­ti­fy par­tic­u­lar drug tar­gets through large amounts of hu­man ge­net­ic and func­tion­al ge­nom­ic da­ta; as­sess the best way those tar­gets can be drugged; and iden­ti­fy the pa­tients who would best ben­e­fit from the treat­ment.

Broad­wing will pair the COM­PASS plat­form with Al­loy’s ATX-Gx mouse plat­form for an­ti­body dis­cov­ery to gen­er­ate oph­thal­mol­o­gy can­di­dates — an area where Colo­ma said there hasn’t been a lot of progress in iden­ti­fy­ing ge­net­ic sub­sets of pa­tients.

“If you look at dis­eases like glau­co­ma, by and large, there hasn’t been a lot of in­no­va­tion there. And we haven’t been re­al­ly able to find re­al ge­net­ic dri­vers where we think there’s go­ing to be many pa­tients that can ben­e­fit,” he said.

An­drew Pe­ter­son, Genen­tech’s for­mer se­nior mol­e­c­u­lar bi­ol­o­gy and meta­bol­ic dis­ease di­rec­tor, has been tapped to lead the charge as founder and CEO.

The Bridge­Bio part­ner­ship is fo­cused on car­dio­vas­cu­lar dis­ease, and unites con­nec­tions from Bridge­Bio, Maze and MyoKar­dia — which was co-found­ed by se­nior lead­ers at Bridge­Bio and Maze. Richard Scheller and Maze founder Charles Hom­cy, for ex­am­ple, are on both the Birdge­Bio and Maze boards. And Bridge­Bio CEO Neil Ku­mar and Hom­cy both trace back to MyoKar­dia.

“So a lot of this was re­al­ly based on, how we can get a lot of these peo­ple back to­geth­er … in the sense of build­ing out an­oth­er sort of area in pre­ci­sion med­i­cine car­di­ol­o­gy?” Colo­ma said.

Both part­ner­ships are still ear­ly in drug dis­cov­ery, and while no spe­cif­ic can­di­dates have been an­nounced, Colo­ma says more news should come in the next 12 months.

“What we want­ed to do … was think about a dif­fer­ent type of mod­el to re­al­ly ad­vance these par­tic­u­lar drug pro­grams. I think we found part­ners that al­low us to do that,” Colo­ma said.

No­var­tis reshuf­fles its wild cards; Tough sell for Bio­gen? Googling pro­teins; Ken Fra­zier's new gig; 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.

If you enjoy the People section in this report, you may also want to check out Peer Review, my colleagues Alex Hoffman and Kathy Wong’s comprehensive compilation of comings and goings in biopharma.

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Demis Hassabis, DeepMind CEO (Qianlong/Imaginechina via AP Images)

Google's Deep­Mind opens its pro­tein data­base to sci­ence — po­ten­tial­ly crack­ing drug R&D wide open

Nearly a year ago, Google’s AI outfit DeepMind announced they had cracked one of the oldest problems in biology: predicting a protein’s structure from its sequence alone. Now they’ve turned that software on nearly every human protein and hundreds of thousands of additional proteins from organisms important to medical research, such as fruit flies, mice and malaria parasite.

The new database of roughly 350,000 protein sequences and structures represents a potentially monumental achievement for the life sciences, one that could hasten new biological insights and the development of new drugs. DeepMind said it will be free and accessible to all researchers and companies.

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In­side Bio­gen's scram­ble to sell Aduhelm: Pro­ject 'Javelin' and pres­sure to ID as many pa­tients as pos­si­ble

In anticipation of Aduhelm’s approval for Alzheimer’s in June, Biogen employees were directed to identify and guarantee treatment centers would administer the drug through a program called “Javelin,” a senior Biogen employee told Endpoints News.

The program identified about 800 centers for use, he said, and Biogen now pays for the use of bioassays to identify beta amyloid in potential patients having undergone a lumbar puncture procedure, the employee said — and one center preparing to administer the drug confirmed its participation in the bioassay program.

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Vas Narasimhan, Novartis CEO (Jason Alden/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

No­var­tis dis­cards one of its ‘wild card’ drugs af­ter it flops in key study. But it takes one more for the hand

Always remember just how risky it is to gamble big on small studies.

A little more than 4 years ago, Novartis reportedly put up a package worth up to $1 billion for the dry eye drug ECF843 after a small biotech called Lubris put it through its paces in a tiny study of 40 moderate to severe patients, tracking some statistically significant markers of efficacy.

By last fall, the program had risen up to become one of CEO Vas Narasimhan’s top “wild card” programs in line for a potential breakthrough year in 2021. These drugs were all considered high-risk, high-reward efforts. And in this case, risk won.

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EMA re­jects FDA-ap­proved Parkin­son's drug, signs off on Mod­er­na vac­cine use in ado­les­cents ahead of FDA

The European Medicines Agency on Friday rejected Kyowa Kirin’s Parkinson’s disease drug Nouryant (istradefylline), which the US FDA approved in 2019 under the brand name Nourianz.

EMA said it considered that the results of the clinical studies used to support the application “were inconsistent and did not satisfactorily show that Nouryant was effective at reducing the ‘off’ time. Only four out of the eight studies showed a reduction in ‘off’ time, and the effect did not increase with an increased dose of Nouryant.”

6 top drug­mak­ers of­fer per­spec­tives on FDA's new co­vari­ates in RCTs guid­ance

Back in May, the FDA revised and expanded a 2019 draft guidance that spells out how to adjust for covariates in the statistical analysis of randomized controlled trials.

Building on the ICH’s E9 guideline on the statistical principles for clinical trials, the 3-page draft was transformed into an 8-page draft, with more detailed recommendations on linear and nonlinear models to analyze the efficacy endpoints in RCTs.

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Mol­e­c­u­lar Di­ag­nos­tics Can Trans­form Can­cer Care. Let’s Make It Hap­pen.

Like so many people around the world, my life has been profoundly shaped by cancer. Those personal experiences, along with a deep love of clinical laboratory science and a passion to apply the power of genomics in medicine, motivated me to launch a company that would improve cancer care through better diagnostics. Thirteen years later, I am proud that we are delivering more accurate information at multiple points along the patient journey, with a focus on eight of the 10 cancers that are most commonly diagnosed in the United States.

Mod­er­na es­tab­lish­es pub­lic health-fo­cused char­i­ty; FDA ap­proves As­traZeneca di­a­betes drug for pe­di­atric use

To help promote public health and healthcare in underserved areas of the world, Moderna will establish a charity with a $50 million endowment.

The Cambridge, MA-based company announced the board of directors’ approval Thursday. The foundation will focus on “charitable, scientific and educational endeavors” with an emphasis on promoting public health and the access to healthcare, the press release said. The foundation will start operations once its status as a 501(c)(3) is approved.

UP­DAT­ED: Three biotechs price hefty IPOs just be­fore the week­end, while a fourth and a SPAC seek spots on Wall Street

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

A handful of biotechs are hitting Wall Street just before the start of the weekend, with three companies — Caribou Biosciences, Sophia Genetics and Absci — all pricing big raises Wednesday and Thursday. Gamma delta T cell-focused IN8bio relaunched its IPO campaign months after postponing it last November, seeking a slightly lower raise. And another SPAC has filed for a public debut.

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