Medicxi kick­starts a new can­cer drug de­vel­op­er with $19M launch round

Af­ter seed­ing work for a new can­cer ther­a­py in the lab of Uni­ver­si­ty of Toron­to pro­fes­sor Patrick Gun­ning, Medicxi is step­ping up with a $19 mil­lion launch round to kick­start a new biotech charged with tak­ing their ap­proach in­to the clin­ic.

Patrick Gun­ning

Gun­ning has been do­ing con­sid­er­able work on STAT3 and STAT5, an ab­bre­vi­a­tion for the sig­nal trans­duc­er and ac­ti­va­tor of tran­scrip­tion pro­teins that play a role in dri­ving the de­vel­op­ment of can­cer. In his pub­lished work, Gun­ning has linked STAT3, for ex­am­ple, for its role in pro­mot­ing tu­mor growth and drug re­sis­tance in glioblas­toma.

Jan­pix will be work­ing on putting a brake on that process.

Work­ing out of Cam­bridge, MA un­der the guid­ing hand of Medicxi ad­vis­er Ro­man Fleck, the start­up Jan­pix will look to be­come a rec­og­nized play­er with an in­hibitor that can play a role in the tu­mor mi­croen­vi­ron­ment — a hot field in on­col­o­gy — where Gun­ning says STAT3 and STAT5 in­hibitors demon­strate re­al promise in blood, brain and breast can­cers.

Ac­cord­ing to a re­port from the Uni­ver­si­ty of Toron­to, Jan­pix plans to en­ter the clin­ic in 18 to 24 months.

Gio­van­ni Marig­gi, a prin­ci­pal at Medicxi and board mem­ber of Jan­pix, not­ed:

Jan­pix has made great progress in de­vel­op­ing tractable com­pounds that in­hib­it these dif­fi­cult-to-tar­get pro­teins. The role of STATs in mul­ti­ple tu­mour types is sup­port­ed by vast da­ta and the emerg­ing ev­i­dence of their role in tu­mour im­mu­ni­ty adds an ex­tra di­men­sion to the po­ten­tial im­pact these new drugs could have on pa­tients.

With some ma­jor league back­ing from J&J, Glax­o­SmithK­line and more re­cent­ly No­var­tis and Ver­i­ly, Medicxi has been step­ping up its biotech game around the world. It’s known for a lean-and-mean ap­proach to drug de­vel­op­ment, with a tough-mind­ed ap­proach to killing off what­ev­er doesn’t pan out as quick­ly as pos­si­ble.

At the In­flec­tion Point for the Next Gen­er­a­tion of Can­cer Im­munother­a­py

While oncology researchers have long pursued the potential of cellular immunotherapies for the treatment of cancer, it was unclear whether these therapies would ever reach patients due to the complexity of manufacturing and costs of development. Fortunately, the recent successful development and regulatory approval of chimeric antigen receptor-engineered T (CAR-T) cells have demonstrated the significant benefit of these therapies to patients.

Stéphane Bancel, Moderna CEO

'This is not go­ing to be good': Mod­er­na CEO Ban­cel warns of a 'ma­te­r­i­al drop' in vac­cine ef­fi­ca­cy as Omi­cron spreads

Even as public health officials remain guarded about their comments on the likelihood Omicron will escape the reach of the currently approved Covid-19 vaccines, there’s growing scientific consensus that we’re facing a variant that threatens to overwhelm the vaccine barricades that have been erected.

Stéphane Bancel, the CEO of Moderna, one of the leading mRNA players whose quick vault into the markets with a highly effective vaccine created an instant multibillion-dollar market, added his voice to the rising chorus early Tuesday. According to Bancel, there will be a significant drop in efficacy when the average immune system is confronted by Omicron. The only question now is: How much?

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 124,200+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

FDA ad­comm nar­row­ly votes in fa­vor of Mer­ck­'s an­tivi­ral for out­pa­tient Covid-19

With little explanation for why Merck’s potential Covid-19 antiviral was less effective in reducing Covid hospitalizations and deaths in a full analysis of a Phase 3 trial versus an interim look, the FDA’s antimicrobial drugs advisory committee on Tuesday voted 13-10 in favor of the pill’s benefits outweighing the risks for adults within 5 days of developing Covid symptoms.

Molnupiravir will likely be authorized by FDA in the coming days for adults with mild or moderate Covid-19. While Pfizer’s antiviral may prove to be more effective, Merck’s pill will be another weapon in the armamentarium of Covid-19 treatments for countries around the world, adding to the mAb treatments already in use in the outpatient space from Regeneron, Eli Lilly and Vir/GlaxoSmithKline.

Ap­peals court puts the fi­nal nail in the cof­fin for Tec­fidera patent, adding to Bio­gen's bur­geon­ing set­backs

In another setback for Biogen, the big biotech lost its appeal to revive a patent for the once-blockbuster drug Tecfidera, marking a likely conclusion to the case.

The US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit issued the ruling Tuesday morning, saying Biogen failed to satisfy the “written description” requirement for patent law. As a result, Mylan-turned-Viatris will be able to sell its multiple sclerosis generic without fear of infringement and Biogen will have to find a new revenue driver elsewhere.

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 124,200+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

Philip Dormitzer, new GSK global head of vaccines R&D

Glax­o­SmithK­line poach­es Pfiz­er's vi­ral vac­cines lead in rush to cap­i­tal­ize on fu­ture of mR­NA

GlaxoSmithKline has appointed Philip Dormitzer, formerly chief scientific officer of Pfizer’s viral vaccines unit, as its newest global head of vaccines R&D, looking to leverage one of the leading minds behind Pfizer and BioNTech’s RNA collaboration that led to Covid-19 jab Comirnaty, the British drug giant said Tuesday.

Dormitzer had been with Pfizer for a little more than six years, joining up after a seven-year stint with Novartis, where he reached the role of US head of research and head of global virology for the company’s vaccines and diagnostics unit.

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 124,200+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

In­tro­duc­ing End­points Stu­dio, a new way to ad­ver­tise with End­points-craft­ed brand­ing cam­paigns

Since our start in 2016, Endpoints has grown fast while executing our mission to cover biopharma’s most critical developments for industry pros worldwide. As readership has grown, our advertising business has too. Endpoints advertising partners support the mission and engage their desired audiences through announcements on our email and web platforms, brand recognition in our event coverage and sponsorships of Endpoints daily and weekly reports.

Tillman Gerngross (Adagio)

Till­man Gern­gross on Omi­cron: 'It is a grim sit­u­a­tion...we’re go­ing to see a sig­nif­i­cant drop in vac­cine ef­fi­ca­cy'

Tillman Gerngross, the rarely shy Dartmouth professor, biotech entrepreneur and antibody expert, has been warning for over a year that the virus behind Covid-19 would likely continue to mutate, potentially in ways that avoid immunity from infection and the best defenses scientists developed. He spun out a company, Adagio, to build a universal antibody, one that could snuff out any potential mutation.

Endpoints Premium

Premium subscription required

Unlock this article along with other benefits by subscribing to one of our paid plans.

In­cor­po­rat­ing Ex­ter­nal Da­ta in­to Clin­i­cal Tri­als: Com­par­ing Dig­i­tal Twins to Ex­ter­nal Con­trol Arms

Most drug development professionals are familiar with the nerve-racking wait for the read-out of a large trial. If it’s negative, is the investigational therapy ineffective? Or could the failure result from an unforeseen flaw in the design or execution of the protocol, rather than a lack of efficacy? The team could spend weeks analyzing data, but a definitive answer may be elusive due to insufficient power for such analyses in the already completed trial. These problems are only made worse if the trial had lower enrollment, or higher dropout than expected due to an unanticipated event like COVID-19. And if a trial is negative, the next one is likely to be larger and more costly — if it happens at all.

Mar­ket­ingRx roundup: Ab­b­Vie’s Hu­mi­ra TV turns fo­cus to HS skin con­di­tion; Sanofi amps par­ent­ing pol­i­cy

After years as the top spending pharma TV advertiser, AbbVie’s Humira brand finally downshifted earlier this year, ceding much of its marketing budget to up-and-coming sibling meds Skyrizi and Rinvoq. However, now Humira is back on TV with ads for another condition — Hidradenitis suppurativa (HS).

The chronic and painful skin condition results in lumps and abscesses caused by inflammation or infection of sweat glands, most often in the armpits or groin. Humira was first approved to treat HS in 2015 and remains the only FDA-approved drug for the condition. Two TV ads both note more than 30,000 people with HS have been prescribed Humira.