Patrick Gunning, Janpix founder and CSO (Gunning Group)

Medicxi splash­es more fund­ing in­to Jan­pix's STAT pro­tein de­grad­er pro­gram

Three years af­ter giv­ing Uni­ver­si­ty of Toron­to pro­fes­sor Patrick Gun­ning a $19 mil­lion launch round to start Jan­pix, Medicxi is reach­ing deep­er in­to its pock­ets to nudge the biotech’s first STAT pro­tein de­grad­er in­to the clin­ic.

On Wednes­day, Cam­bridge, MA-based Jan­pix an­nounced the clos­ing of a mod­est $10 mil­lion Se­ries B led by Medicxi. Ro­man Fleck — CEO and Medicxi ven­ture ad­vi­sor — says the fund­ing will see the com­pa­ny’s first can­di­date to hu­man test­ing, and ex­pand its pipeline of STAT3 and STAT5 pro­tein de­graders.

A steady stream of fund­ing has flowed in­to pro­tein degra­da­tion this year. Back in March, Nurix and Kymera scooped up a to­tal of $222 mil­lion in con­sec­u­tive days. And a month lat­er, Am­phista launched with a $7.5 mil­lion Se­ries A and help from field ex­pert Alessio Ciul­li. C4 Ther­a­peu­tics, mean­while, land­ed its IPO just days ago. The gen­er­al idea is to make en­tire pro­teins dis­ap­pear — rather than just block­ing their ki­nase bind­ing sites — by us­ing the body’s garbage dis­pos­al sys­tem.

“Se­lec­tive pro­tein degra­da­tion is emerg­ing as a new ther­a­peu­tic par­a­digm and it will have a ma­jor im­pact on how we treat se­ri­ous dis­eases,” Sandy Zweifach, chair­man of the Jan­pix board and ven­ture part­ner at Medicxi, said in a state­ment. “Jan­pix’s small mol­e­cules present a new modal­i­ty to achieve pro­tein degra­da­tion and will like­ly ex­pand the range of pro­teins that can be ef­fi­cient­ly tar­get­ed.”

Jan­pix’s lead pro­gram, for “var­i­ous hema­to­log­i­cal can­cers,” tar­gets both STAT3 and STAT5, short for the sig­nal trans­duc­er and ac­ti­va­tor of tran­scrip­tion pro­teins that have a role in can­cer de­vel­op­ment. Gun­ning has linked STAT3, for in­stance, to the pro­mo­tion of tu­mor growth and drug re­sis­tance in glioblas­toma. Back in 2017, he said his work was shap­ing up to fight ag­gres­sive blood, brain and breast can­cers, ac­cord­ing to a Uni­ver­si­ty of Toron­to re­port.

In June, the biotech brought da­ta to the Eu­ro­pean Hema­tol­ogy As­so­ci­a­tion and Amer­i­can As­so­ci­a­tion for Can­cer Re­search vir­tu­al meet­ings show­ing that its can­di­date JPX-1188 de­grad­ed STAT3 & STAT5 in leukemic cells. The drug achieved a sus­tained degra­da­tion of greater than 90% af­ter 2 hours, ac­cord­ing to Jan­pix. Plus, re­sults showed sig­nif­i­cant tu­mor re­gres­sion in an AML mouse mod­el, it an­nounced.

Gun­ning said in a state­ment:

As Jan­pix ad­vances our STAT3/5 de­graders to­wards the clin­ic, we con­tin­ue to ex­pand our un­der­stand­ing of the bi­o­log­i­cal im­pact of dual STAT3/5 degra­da­tion … Our da­ta al­so high­light the po­ten­tial for STAT3/5 de­graders to treat a broad­er set of leukemia pa­tients, as most leukemic pri­ma­ry pa­tient sam­ples test­ed re­spond­ed to our com­pounds.

5AM Ven­tures: Fu­el­ing the Next Gen­er­a­tion of In­no­va­tors

By RBC Capital Markets
With Andy Schwab, Co-Founder and Managing Partner at 5AM Ventures

Key Points

Prescription Digital Therapeutics, cell therapy technologies, and in silico medicines will be a vital part of future treatment modalities.
Unlocking the potential of the microbiome could be the missing link to better disease diagnosis.
Growing links between academia, industry, and venture capital are spinning out more innovative biotech companies.
Biotech is now seen by investors as a growth space as well as a safe haven, fuelling the recent IPO boom.

Hal Barron, GSK via YouTube

What does $29B buy you in Big Phar­ma? In Glax­o­SmithK­line’s case, a whole lot of un­com­fort­able ques­tions about the pipeline

Talk about your bad timing.

A little over a week ago, GSK R&D chief Hal Barron marked his third anniversary at the research helm by taking a turn at the virtual podium during JP Morgan to make the case that he and his team had built a valuable late-stage pipeline capable of churning out more than 10 blockbusters in the next 5 years.

And then, just days later, one of the cancer drugs he bet big on as a top prospect — bintrafusp, partnered with Merck KGaA — failed its first pivotal test in non-small cell lung cancer.

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Janet Woodcock (AP Images)

End­points poll: Janet Wood­cock takes the (in­ter­im) helm at the FDA. And a large ma­jor­i­ty of our read­ers want her to stay there

It’s official: Janet Woodcock is now the acting chief of the FDA.

And — according to an Endpoints poll — most industry readers would like her to stay there, although a significant minority is strongly opposed.

To recap: Joe Biden is reportedly choosing between Woodcock and former deputy FDA commissioner Joshua Sharfstein as his nominee for the permanent position. Given their respective track records, the decision is set to determine the agency’s lodestar for years to come.

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What’s next for End­points — and how to sup­port our in­de­pen­dent bio­phar­ma news mis­sion

The firehose of biopharma news is gushing these days.

That’s why broader and deeper is the theme for 2021 at Endpoints. You can expect new coverage outside our core R&D focus, with deeper reporting in some key areas. When John Carroll and I launched Endpoints nearly five years ago, we were wading in waist-high waters. Now we’re a team of 25 full-time staffers (and growing) with plans to cover the flood of biopharma news, Endpoints-style.

Fast on Glax­o­SmithK­line's heels, Au­rinia wins OK to steer a sec­ond lu­pus nephri­tis drug straight to the mar­ket

GlaxoSmithKline’s Benlysta isn’t alone in the small circle of approved lupus nephritis drugs anymore.

Little Aurinia Pharmaceuticals has gotten the green light from the FDA to start marketing its first and only program, voclosporin, under the brand name Lupkynis — something CEO Peter Greenleaf says it’s been ready to do since December.

Regulators went right down to the wire on the decision, keeping the company and the entire salesforce it’s already assembled on its toes.

Janet Woodcock and Joshua Sharfstein (AP, Images)

Poll: Should Joshua Sharf­stein or Janet Wood­cock lead the FDA from here?

It’s time for a new FDA commissioner to come on board, a rite of passage for Joe Biden’s administration that should help seal the new president’s rep on seeking out the experts to lead the government over the next 4 years.

As of now, the competition for the top job appears to have narrowed down to 2 people: The longtime CDER chief Janet Woodcock and Joshua Sharfstein, the former principal deputy at the FDA under Peggy Hamburg. Both were appointed by Barack Obama.

Eli Lil­ly's an­ti­body cuts risk of Covid-19 by up to 80% among the most vul­ner­a­ble — but will it have a place next to vac­cines?

Eli Lilly says bamlanivimab lowered the risk of contracting symptomatic Covid-19 in a first-of-its-kind trial involving nursing home residents and staff, paving the way for a new option to protect against the virus.

But how big of an impact it might have, and what role it will play, at a time vaccines are being rolled out to the exact population it is targeting still remains unclear.

Among 965 participants in the study — all of whom tested negative for the coronavirus at baseline — the number of symptomatic cases reported in the bamlanivimab arm was 57% lower than that in the placebo arm (odds ratio 0.43, p=0.00021). In addition to that primary endpoint, all secondary endpoints reached statistical significance.

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Hal Barron, GSK R&D chief (GSK via YouTube)

Glax­o­SmithK­line's $4B bis­pe­cif­ic can­cer drug al­liance with Mer­ck KGaA hit by big set­back with a PhI­II fail­ure on NSCLC

Close to 2 years ago, GSK’s R&D team eagerly agreed to pay up to $4 billion-plus to ally itself with Merck KGaA on a mid-stage bispecific called bintrafusp alfa, which intrigued them with the combination of a TGF-β trap with the anti-PD-L1 mechanism in one fusion protein.

But today the German pharma company says that their lead study on lung cancer was a bust, as independent monitors said there was no reason to believe that the experimental drug — targeting PD-L1/TGF-Beta — could beat Keytruda.

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Charlie Fuchs, Roche and Genentech global head of product development for oncology and hematology (Yale Cancer Center)

Yale can­cer spe­cial­ist Char­lie Fuchs tapped as new glob­al de­vel­op­ment chief for Roche/Genen­tech

Roche and their big sub Genentech have just recruited a top cancer specialist at Yale to head up global product development in oncology and hematology.

I just got word that the pharma giant, which leads one of the most active cancer research operations in the world, recruited Charlie Fuchs, director of the Yale Cancer Center and physician-in-chief of Smilow Cancer Hospital. He’ll join the global operation March 1 and will be based in South San Francisco, where Genentech is based.

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