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.

Biotech in­vestors and CEOs see two paths to growth, but are they equal­ly vi­able?

The dynamic in the biotech market has been highly volatile in the last few years, from the high peaks immediately after the COVID vaccine in 2021, to the lowest downturns of the last 20 years in 2022. This uncertainty makes calling the exact timing of the market’s turn something of a fool’s errand, according to Dr. Chen Yu, Founder and Managing Partner of TCG Crossover (TCG X). He speaks with RBC’s Noël Brown, Head of US Biotechnology Investment Banking, about the market’s road ahead and two possible paths for growth.

Casey McPherson shows his daughters Rose (left) and Weston around Everlum Bio, a lab that he co-founded to spark a treatment for Rose and others with ultra-rare conditions. (Ilana Panich-Linsman)

Fa­ther starts lab af­ter in­tel­lec­tu­al prop­er­ty is­sues stymie rare dis­ease drug de­vel­op­ment

Under bright lab lights, Casey McPherson holds his 6-year-old daughter, Rose. His free hand directs Rose’s gaze toward a computer screen with potential clues in treating her one-of-a kind genetic condition.

Gray specks on the screen show her cells that scientists reprogrammed with the goal of zeroing in on a custom medicine. McPherson co-founded the lab, Everlum Bio, to spark a treatment for Rose — and others like her. A regarded singer-songwriter, McPherson never imagined going into drug development.

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Fireside chat between Hal Barron and John Carroll, UKBIO19

It’s time we talked about bio­phar­ma — live in Lon­don next week

Zoom can only go so far. And I think at this stage, we’ve all tested the limits of staying in touch — virtually. So I’m particularly happy now that we’ve revved up the travel machine to point myself to London for the first time in several years.

Whatever events we have lined up, we’ve always built in plenty of opportunities for all of us to get together and talk. For London, live, I plan to be right out front, meeting with and chatting with the small crowd of biopharma people we are hosting on October 12 at Silicon Valley Bank’s London headquarters. And there’s a lengthy mixer at the end I’m most looking forward to, with several networking openings between sessions.

Take­da to pull key hy­poparathy­roidism drug from the mar­ket af­ter years of man­u­fac­tur­ing woes

Takeda on Tuesday morning made an announcement that almost 3,000 people with the rare disease known as hypoparathyroidism were fearing.

Due to unresolved supply issues and manufacturing woes, Takeda said it will cut its losses and discontinue its hypoparathyroidism drug, known as Natpara (parathyroid hormone), halting all manufacturing of the drug by the end of 2024, but the entire inventory will be available until depleted or expired, a company spokesperson said via email.

Pfizer and BioNTech's original Marvel comic book links evolving Covid vaccine science to Avengers' evolving villain-fighting tools.(Source: Pfizer LinkedIn post)

Pfiz­er, BioN­Tech part­ner with Mar­vel for Avengers and Covid-fight­ing com­ic book

Pfizer and BioNTech are collaborating with Marvel to celebrate “everyday” people getting Covid-19 vaccines in a custom comic book.

In the “Everyday Heroes” digital comic book, an evolving Ultron, one of the Avengers’ leading villains, is defeated by Captain America, Ironman and others. The plotline and history of Ultron is explained by a grandfather who is waiting with his family at a clinic for Covid-19 vaccinations.

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FDA+ roundup: Ad­comm date set for Cy­to­ki­net­ics heart drug; New gener­ic drug guid­ance to re­duce fa­cil­i­ty de­lays

The FDA has set Dec. 13 as the day that its Cardiovascular and Renal Drugs Advisory Committee will review Cytokinetics’ potential heart drug, setting up a key vote ahead of a Feb. 28, 2023 PDUFA date.

The drug, known as omecamtiv mecarbil, read out its first Phase III in November 2020, hitting the primary endpoint of reducing the odds of hospitalization or other urgent care for heart failure by 8%. But it also missed a key secondary endpoint analysts had pegged as the key to breaking into the market, failing to significantly differ in reducing cardiovascular death from placebo.

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Valitor CEO Steven Lo (L) and president and CSO Wesley Jackson

A dozen years in the mak­ing, a UC Berke­ley spin­out nabs funds to take on the eye

Largely funded by government grants for the better part of its first decade, a UC Berkeley spinout has secured a new CEO and the funds to take its research into the clinic in early 2024.

The biotech, named by one of the co-founder’s daughters and originally scrapped together with NIH funds in the aftermath of the 2008-09 financial crisis, is also on a mission to upend the treatment of wet age-related macular degeneration, or AMD, with an injectable drug that it claims could be more durable than the “800-pound gorilla” in the room, Genentech’s Lucentis and Regeneron/Bayer’s Eylea.

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Car­olyn Bertozzi (Illustration: Assistant editor Kathy Wong for Endpoints News)

Car­olyn Bertozzi, re­peat biotech founder and launch­er of a field, shares in chem­istry No­bel win

Carolyn Bertozzi, predicted by some to become a Nobel laureate, clinched one of the world’s top awards in the wee hours of Wednesday, winning the Nobel Prize in Chemistry alongside a repeat winner and a Copenhagen researcher.

The Stanford professor, Morten Meldal of University of Copenhagen and 2001-awardee K. Barry Sharpless of Scripps shared the prize equally. The Nobel is sometimes split in quarters and/or halves.

Eli Lil­ly and Te­va pre­pare for court bat­tle over mi­graine med ri­val­ry

It looks like Eli Lilly and Teva Pharmaceuticals are going to trial.

A federal appeals court on Monday refused to invalidate three of Teva’s patents for its migraine treatment Ajovy, while also declining to issue a summary judgment in favor of either company, which would effectively end the case without a full trial.

Teva filed suit against Lilly back in 2018, alleging that the company infringed upon nine patents with its rival migraine drug Emgality. The rival drugs were both approved in September 2018 for the preventative treatment of migraine, and are designed to block calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP), a protein associated with the onset of migraine pain.

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