Sajith Wickramasekara, Benchling via YouTube

Meet Bench­ling, the lat­est uni­corn seek­ing to rev­o­lu­tion­ize the way sci­en­tists do work with the help of the cloud

There’s an­oth­er uni­corn in biotech land, as Bench­ling and its lead­ing R&D cloud plat­form pull in a $200 mil­lion Se­ries E to help sci­en­tists ac­cel­er­ate drug de­vel­op­ment. In do­ing so, the com­pa­ny hit a lofty $4 bil­lion val­u­a­tion — near­ly five times what it was worth around this time last year, ac­cord­ing to Forbes.

De­spite the fact that drug de­vel­op­ment is be­com­ing sig­nif­i­cant­ly more com­plex, the in­dus­try con­tin­ues to run on pa­per, emails and spread­sheets, co-founder and CEO Sajith Wick­ra­masekara said in a video on Bench­ling’s web­site. The for­mer MIT stu­dent sought to change that by cre­at­ing soft­ware that al­lows sci­en­tists to bet­ter track, mod­el and fore­cast their work.

“Giv­en the mas­sive change in com­plex­i­ty of the work that’s be­ing done — more teams, new mol­e­cules, new process­es — it was im­pos­si­ble to do work in an ef­fi­cient way with a lega­cy set of tools,” he said.

Since launch­ing Bench­ling in 2012, Wick­ra­masekara has sold the plat­form to more than 1,000 R&D or­ga­ni­za­tions world­wide, in­clud­ing big play­ers like Gilead, Sanofi and Re­gen­eron. Sana Biotech­nol­o­gy CEO Steve Harr says Bench­ling helps the com­pa­ny — which scored a mas­sive IPO ear­li­er this year — “cap­ture, store and an­a­lyze im­mense amounts of da­ta.”

In Jan­u­ary, Bench­ling an­nounced it dou­bled its an­nu­al re­cur­ring rev­enue for the fourth year in a row, and opened its EMEA head­quar­ters in Zurich. The com­pa­ny bagged a $50 mil­lion Se­ries D in May, bring­ing its to­tal fundraise to $114 mil­lion with an $850 mil­lion val­u­a­tion, Forbes re­port­ed. With the Se­ries E round, the com­pa­ny’s to­tal raise sits at $350 mil­lion.

Wick­ra­masekara told Forbes that the com­pa­ny doesn’t have a time­line for an IPO, but is “do­ing the work to get ready.”

“This fund­ing will en­able us to pro­vide more prod­ucts, so­lu­tions and ser­vices that sci­en­tists around the world ul­ti­mate­ly need to solve some of hu­man­i­ty’s great­est chal­lenges,” he said in a state­ment.

Se­quoia Cap­i­tal Glob­al Eq­ui­ties led the Se­ries E, with help from a mix of new and old in­vestors, in­clud­ing Al­time­ter Cap­i­tal, By­ers Cap­i­tal, Elad Gil, Thrive Cap­i­tal, Bench­mark, Men­lo Ven­tures, Alkeon Cap­i­tal, ICONIQ, Lux Cap­i­tal, Spark Cap­i­tal and Lead Edge Cap­i­tal.

Ugur Sahin, BioNTech CEO (Bernd von Jutrczenka/dpa via AP Images)

BioN­Tech is spear­head­ing an mR­NA vac­cine de­vel­op­ment pro­gram for malar­ia, with a tech trans­fer planned for Africa

Flush with the success of its mRNA Covid-19 vaccine, BioNTech is now gearing up for one of the biggest challenges in vaccine development — which comes without potential profit.

The German mRNA pioneer says it plans to work on a jab for malaria, then transfer the tech to the African continent, where it will work with partners on developing the manufacturing ops needed to make this and other vaccines.

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How one start­up fore­told the neu­ro­science re­nais­sance af­ter '50 years of shit­show'

In the past couple of years, something curious has happened: Pharma and VC dollars started gushing into neuroscience research.

Biogen’s controversial new Alzheimer’s drug Aduhelm has been approved on the basis of removing amyloid plaque from the brain, but the new neuro-focused pharma and biotechs have much loftier aims. Significantly curbing or even curing the most notorious disorders would prove the Holy Grail for a complex system that has tied the world’s best drug developers in knots for decades.

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Why is On­col­o­gy Drug De­vel­op­ment Re­search Late to the Dig­i­tal Bio­mark­ers Game?

During the recent Annual ASCO Meeting, thousands of cancer researchers and clinicians from across the globe joined together virtually to present and discuss the latest findings and breakthroughs in cancer research and care. There were more than 5000+ scientific abstracts presented during this event, yet only a handful involved the use of motion-tracking wearables to collect digital measures relating to activity, sleep, mobility, functional status, and/or quality of life. Although these results were a bit disappointing, they should come as no surprise to those of us in the wearable technology field.

Bob Bradway, Amgen CEO (Scott Eisen/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Am­gen bel­lies back up to the M&A ta­ble for an­oth­er biotech buy­out, this time with a $2.5B deal for an an­ti­body play­er fo­cused on PS­MA

Five months after Amgen CEO Bob Bradway stepped up to the M&A table and acquired Five Prime for $1.9 billion, following up with the smaller Rodeo acquisition, he’s gone back in for another biotech buyout.

This time around, Amgen is paying $900 million cash while committing up to $1.6 billion in milestones to bag the privately held Teneobio, an antibody drug developer that has expertise in developing new bispecifics and multispecifics. In addition, Amgen cited Teneobio’s “T-cell engager platform, which expands on Amgen’s existing leadership position in bispecific T-cell engagers by providing a differentiated, but complementary, approach to Amgen’s current BiTE platform.”

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Art Levinson (Calico)

Google-backed Cal­i­co dou­bles down on an­ti-ag­ing R&D pact with Ab­b­Vie as part­ners ante up $1B, start to de­tail drug tar­gets

Seven years after striking up a major R&D alliance, AbbVie and Google-backed anti-aging specialist Calico are doubling down on their work with a joint, $1 billion commitment to continuing their work together. And they’re also beginning to offer some details on where this project is taking them in the clinic.

According to their statement, each of the two players is putting up $500 million more to keep the labs humming.

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Andrea Pfeifer, AC Immune CEO (AC Immune)

Look­ing to repli­cate Covid-19 suc­cess in neu­ro, BioN­Tech back­ers bet on AC Im­mune and its new­ly-ac­quired Parkin­son's vac­cine

The German billionaires behind BioNTech have found a new vaccine project to back.

Through their family office Athos Service, twin brothers Thomas and Andreas Strüngmann are leading a $25 million private placement into Switzerland’s AC Immune — which concurrently announced that it’s shelling out $58.7 million worth of stock to acquire Affiris’ portfolio of therapies targeting alpha-synuclein, including a vaccine candidate, for Parkinson’s disease.

Rajiv Shukla, Constellation Alpha Holdings

Can­del gets busy IPO week mov­ing with down­sized raise as Ra­jiv Shuk­la's third SPAC goes pub­lic

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

In a week that’s expected to see several biotechs price their IPOs, Candel Therapeutics got things kicked off Tuesday with a muted opener.

The company helmed by former GlaxoSmithKline vet Paul Peter Tak made its way to Nasdaq thanks to a $72 million raise, which was downsized by about 15% than originally anticipated, according to Renaissance Capital. Candel priced at $8 per share after initially seeking to launch in the $13 to $15 range.

Busi­ness­es and schools can man­date the use of Covid-19 vac­cines un­der EUAs, DOJ says

As public and private companies stare down the reality of the Delta variant, many are now requiring that their employees or students be vaccinated against Covid-19 prior to attending school or to returning or starting a new job. Claims that such mandates are illegal or cannot be used for vaccines under emergency use authorizations have now been dismissed.

Setting the record straight, the Department of Justice on Monday called the mandates legal in a new memo, even when used for people with vaccines that remain subject to EUAs.

Gerry Brunk (Lumira)

What will Lu­mi­ra Ven­tures do with $220M? Stay out of the com­fort zone and off the beat­en biotech path

Lumira Ventures closed its largest fund on Monday, raking in $220 million to pump into the life sciences — but instead of targeting biotech hubs like San Francisco and Boston, the company is rolling the dice on “underserved geographies” in the US and Canada.

“We find oftentimes companies located in places like Montreal, or Fort Lauderdale, FL, or Kansas City or Phoenix, AZ just have more capital efficiency and better valuations, without having to compromise anything at all in the quality of the innovation and the management talent,” co-founder and managing partner Gerry Brunk told Endpoints News.