Med­i­cines Co ex­ecs grab a $33M A round to spin out an in­fec­tious dis­ease out­fit with a pipeline

Turns out, Melin­ta didn’t bag all of The Med­i­cines Com­pa­ny’s in­fec­tious dis­ease work when they ex­e­cut­ed a buy­out deal last fall. There were some pre­clin­i­cal as­sets in the pipeline as well, and now some of the ex­ecs in­volved have gained the back­ing of in­vestors to use it to cre­ate a pipeline for a start­up ven­ture.

Qpex, which an­nounced the clos­ing of a $33 mil­lion Se­ries A fi­nanc­ing round, now has ac­cess to $MD­CO’s be­ta-lac­ta­mase in­hibitor tech­nol­o­gy. Be­ta-lac­ta­mases are a fam­i­ly of en­zymes that hy­drolyze and there­by in­ac­ti­vate be­ta-lac­tam an­tibi­otics – a group of an­timi­cro­bials com­pris­ing four ma­jor groups: peni­cillins, cephalosporins, monobac­tams, and car­bapen­ems that are ubiq­ui­tous and ac­count for near­ly half of all pre­scribed an­tibi­otics.

New En­ter­prise As­so­ci­ates led the fi­nanc­ing syn­di­cate and was ac­com­pa­nied by Adams Street Part­ners, LYZZ Cap­i­tal, Hat­teras Ven­ture Part­ners and Stan­ford Uni­ver­si­ty Drap­er Fund.

The un­bri­dled — and oft’ un­nec­es­sary — use of ex­ist­ing an­tibi­otics by health­care prac­ti­tion­ers, and per­va­sive an­tibi­ot­ic use in food live­stock has cul­mi­nat­ed in the evo­lu­tion of an­tibi­ot­ic-re­sis­tant bac­te­ria. The World Health Or­ga­ni­za­tion now con­sid­ers an­tibi­ot­ic re­sis­tance as one of the biggest threats to glob­al health, food se­cu­ri­ty, and de­vel­op­ment, and in the Unit­ed States, the CDC es­ti­mates at least 2 mil­lion peo­ple con­tract an an­tibi­ot­ic-re­sis­tant in­fec­tion each year, and at least 23,000 die as a re­sult. Mean­while, in re­cent years many large drug­mak­ers such as No­var­tis $NVS, As­traZeneca $AZN, Al­ler­gan $AGN and Sanofi $SNY have aban­doned their an­tibi­ot­ic re­search pro­grams in favour of lu­cra­tive cat­e­gories of un­met need such as can­cer and rare dis­eases, that re­quire sim­i­lar R&D in­vest­ments, but com­mand high­er prices and are typ­i­cal­ly used for longer.

Qpex, through its whol­ly-owned in­fec­tious dis­ease sub­sidiary, al­ready has in place a strate­gic part­ner­ship with BAR­DA that pro­vides the po­ten­tial for up to $132 mil­lion to sup­port de­vel­op­ing a port­fo­lio of new an­tibi­otics to fight drug-re­sis­tant, gram-neg­a­tive in­fec­tions.

At the Med­i­cines Co, the team of ex­ec­u­tives spear­head­ed the ap­proval of a com­bi­na­tion drug, Vabomere, that is made up of the an­tibi­ot­ic meropen­em and be­ta lac­ta­mase in­hibitor vabor­bac­tam, to treat com­pli­cat­ed uri­nary tract in­fec­tions, or the old­er Aug­mentin which was ap­proved in 1990’s and is com­mon­ly used to tack­le in­ner ear in­fec­tions. Qpex is bet­ting on these pre­clin­i­cal as­sets to de­vel­op sim­i­lar com­bi­na­tion treat­ments to fight su­per­bugs.

The slow pace of an­tibi­ot­ic ap­provals — on­ly 12 since the year 2000 — makes the space ripe for in­vest­ment. Of the big­ger play­ers, on­ly Mer­ck $MRK, Roche $RHH­BY, Glax­o­SmithK­line $GSK and Pfiz­er $PFE, have ac­tive an­tibi­ot­ic pro­grams, ac­cord­ing to Na­ture Biotech­nol­o­gy. Oth­er small­er com­pa­nies de­vel­op­ing an ar­moury against mul­ti-drug re­sis­tant pathogens in­clude Cidara Ther­a­peu­tics $CDTX, Spero Ther­a­peu­tics $SPRO, Achao­gen $AKAO, and Macrolide Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals. Sci­en­tists are al­so re­viv­ing re­search in­to decades-old idea to com­bat bac­te­ria us­ing the once-dis­missed bac­te­rio­phage ther­a­py.


Nick Leschly via Getty

UP­DAT­ED: Blue­bird shares sink as an­a­lysts puz­zle out $1.8M stick­er shock and an un­ex­pect­ed de­lay

Blue­bird bio $BLUE has un­veiled its price for the new­ly ap­proved gene ther­a­py Zyn­te­glo (Lenti­Glo­bin), which came as a big sur­prise. And it wasn’t the on­ly un­ex­pect­ed twist in to­day’s sto­ry.

With some an­a­lysts bet­ting on a $900,000 price for the β-tha­lassemia treat­ment in Eu­rope, where reg­u­la­tors pro­vid­ed a con­di­tion­al ear­ly OK, blue­bird CEO Nick Leschly said Fri­day morn­ing that the pa­tients who are suc­cess­ful­ly treat­ed with their drug over 5 years will be charged twice that — $1.8 mil­lion — on the con­ti­nent. That makes this drug the sec­ond most ex­pen­sive ther­a­py on the plan­et, just be­hind No­var­tis’ new­ly ap­proved Zol­gens­ma at $2.1 mil­lion, with an­a­lysts still wait­ing to see what kind of pre­mi­um can be had in the US.

Bain’s biotech team has cre­at­ed a $1B-plus fund — with an eye to more Big Phar­ma spin­outs

One of the biggest investors to burst onto the biotech scene in recent years has re-upped with more than a billion dollars flowing into its second fund. And this next wave of bets will likely include more of the Big Pharma spinouts that highlighted their first 3 years in action.

Adam Koppel and Jeff Schwartz got the new life sciences fund at Bain Capital into gear in the spring of 2016, as they were putting together a $720 million fund with $600 million flowing in from external investors and the rest drawn from the Bain side of the equation. This time the external investors chipped in $900 million, with Bain coming in for roughly $180 million more.

They’re not done with Fund I, with plans to add a couple more deals to the 15 they’ve already posted. And once again, they’re estimating another 15 to 20 investments over a 3- to 5-year time horizon for Fund II.

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Adding mar­quee in­vestors, Black­Thorn bags $76M to back an AI-dri­ven strat­e­gy for pre­ci­sion neu­ro med­i­cine

As ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence and ma­chine learn­ing loom ever larg­er in drug dis­cov­ery and de­vel­op­ment, a biotech op­er­at­ing at the “nexus” of tech­nol­o­gy and neu­ro­sciences has cashed in with $76 mil­lion in fresh fi­nanc­ing.

The big idea at Black­Thorn Ther­a­peu­tics is to do for neu­robe­hav­ioral dis­or­ders what ge­net­i­cal­ly tar­get­ed ther­a­py has done for on­col­o­gy: Re­de­fine pa­tient pop­u­la­tions by the un­der­ly­ing bi­ol­o­gy — dys­reg­u­lat­ed brain cir­cuits, or neu­rotypes — in­stead of symp­toms, there­by find­ing the pa­tients who are most like­ly to ben­e­fit at en­roll­ment phase.

Neil Woodford, Woodford Investment Management via YouTube

Un­der siege, in­vest­ment man­ag­er Wood­ford faces an­oth­er in­vest­ment shock

Em­bat­tled UK fund man­ag­er Neil Wood­ford — who has con­tro­ver­sial­ly blocked in­vestors from pulling out from his flag­ship fund to stem the blood­let­ting, af­ter a slew of dis­ap­point­ed in­vestors fled fol­low­ing a se­ries of sour bets — is now pay­ing the price for his ac­tions via an in­vestor ex­o­dus on an­oth­er fund.

Har­g­reaves Lans­down, which has in the past sold and pro­mot­ed the Wood­ford funds via its re­tail in­vest­ment plat­form, has re­port­ed­ly with­drawn £45 mil­lion — its en­tire po­si­tion — from the in­vest­ment man­ag­er’s In­come Fo­cus Fund.


Glob­al Blood Ther­a­peu­tics poised to sub­mit ap­pli­ca­tion for ac­cel­er­at­ed ap­proval, with new piv­otal da­ta on its sick­le cell dis­ease drug

Global Blood Therapeutics is set to submit an application for accelerated approval in the second-half of this year, after unveiling fresh data from a late-stage trial that showed just over half the patients given the highest dose of its experimental sickle cell disease drug experienced a statistically significant improvement in oxygen-wielding hemoglobin, meeting the study's main goal.

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Gene ther­a­pies seize the top of the list of the most ex­pen­sive drugs on the plan­et — and that trend has just be­gun

Anyone looking for a few simple reasons why the gene therapy field has caught fire with the pharma giants need only look at the new list of the 10 most expensive therapies from GoodRx.

Two recently approved gene therapies sit atop this list, with Novartis’ Zolgensma crowned the king of the priciest drugs at $2.1 million. Right below is Luxturna, the $850,000 pioneer from Spark, which Roche is pushing hard to acquire as it adds a gene therapy group to the global mix.

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Fol­low­ing CAR-T pi­o­neer­s' foot­steps, Tes­sa launch­es Chi­na JV in $120M deal

These days just about every biotech se­ri­ous about glob­al de­vel­op­ment — and not just com­mer­cial­iza­tion — has a Chi­na strat­e­gy. Tes­sa Ther­a­peu­tics, a Bay­lor as­so­ci­at­ed out­fit based out of Sin­ga­pore, is no ex­cep­tion.

Tak­ing a page out of the CAR-T pi­o­neers’ play­book, Tes­sa is es­tab­lish­ing a joint ven­ture with Chi­na-Sin­ga­pore Guangzhou Knowl­edge City, which is ini­tial­ly putting down $40 mil­lion for a 13% stake with $40 mil­lion more to come in a sec­ond stage. The biotech, which now re­tains an 87% con­trol, is al­so rolling out its own con­tri­bu­tions in two phas­es, start­ing with $20 mil­lion and all its tech­nol­o­gy li­cense rights for Chi­na.

News­mak­ers at #EHA19: Re­gen­eron, Ar­Qule track progress on re­sponse rates

Re­gen­eron’s close­ly-watched bis­pe­cif­ic con­tin­ues to ring up high re­sponse rates

Re­gen­eron’s high-pro­file bis­pe­cif­ic REGN1979 is back in the spot­light at the Eu­ro­pean Hema­tol­ogy As­so­ci­a­tion sci­en­tif­ic con­fab. And while the stel­lar num­bers we saw at ASH have erod­ed some­what as more blood can­cer pa­tients are eval­u­at­ed, the re­sponse rates for this CD3/CD20 drug re­main high.

A to­tal of 13 out of 14 fol­lic­u­lar lym­phomas re­spond­ed to the drug, a 93% ORR, down from 100% at the last read­out. In 10 out of 14, there was a com­plete re­sponse. In dif­fuse large B-cell lym­phoma the re­sponse rate was 57% among pa­tients treat­ed at the 80 mg to 160 mg dose range. They were all com­plete re­spons­es. And 2 of these Cars were for pa­tients who had failed CAR-T ther­a­py.

Search­ing for the next block­buster to fol­low Darza­lex, J&J finds a $150M an­ti-CD38 drug from part­ner Gen­mab

Now that J&J and Genmab have thrust Darzalex onto the regulatory orbit for first-line use in multiple myeloma, the partners are lining up a deal for a next-gen follow-on to the leading CD38 drug.

Janssen — J&J’s biotech unit — has its eyes on HexaBody-CD38, a preclinical compound generated on Genmab’s tech platform designed to make drugs more potent via hexamerization.

Genmab is footing the bill on studies in multiple myeloma and diffuse large B-cell lymphoma; once it completes clinical proof of concept, Janssen has the option to license the drug for a $150 million exercise fee. There’s also $125 million worth of milestones in play.

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