Raju Mohan, Ventyx Biosciences CEO

Months af­ter a mam­moth raise, Ven­tyx Bio­sciences dips back in­to ven­ture well

Sev­er­al months af­ter emerg­ing from what CEO Ra­ju Mo­han called “qui­et mode” with a mam­moth $114 mil­lion raise, Ven­tyx Bio­sciences is now mak­ing its plans for the clin­ic loud and clear.

The Cal­i­for­nia-based im­mune mod­u­la­tion play­er kicked the week off with a $51 mil­lion Se­ries B, while al­so nam­ing some key hires ahead of its big clin­i­cal push.

The CMO slot is go­ing to Jörn Drap­pa, for­mer CMO at Viela Bio be­fore it was bought out by Hori­zon Ther­a­peu­tics ear­li­er this year. The As­traZeneca vet stayed on at Hori­zon for a while as ex­ec­u­tive VP of R&D be­fore mak­ing the jump to Ven­tyx.

Sheila Gu­jrathi

Sheila Gu­jrathi, the for­mer Gos­samer Bio CEO, is com­ing on board as Ven­tyx’s new ex­ec­u­tive chair. Gu­jrathi spent just over two years at Gos­samer be­fore leav­ing the helm on the heels of a hard fail­ure for the com­pa­ny’s lead pro­gram. And Luisa Salter-Cid, CSO at Pi­o­neer­ing Med­i­cines and for­mer CSO of Gos­samer, will chair the sci­en­tif­ic ad­vi­so­ry board.

“Sheila’s and Jörn’s depth of ex­pe­ri­ence in de­vel­op­ing im­munol­o­gy drugs and ex­per­tise in build­ing and lead­ing biotech com­pa­nies will be in­valu­able as we ad­vance our port­fo­lio of clin­i­cal pro­grams and con­tin­ue to grow the com­pa­ny,” Mo­han said in a state­ment.

Ven­tyx’s re­designed pipeline com­bines pro­grams from three com­pa­nies all found­ed by Mo­han and New Sci­ence Ven­tures. The lead pro­gram is an S1P1 re­cep­tor mod­u­la­tor that’s al­ready in Phase II for IBD, which the joint en­ti­ty ab­sorbed from Op­pi­lan Phar­ma. The can­di­date was de­signed specif­i­cal­ly for IBD, un­like oth­er S1P1s re­pur­posed from mul­ti­ple scle­ro­sis ap­pli­ca­tions, and is de­signed to mod­u­late the blood-brain bar­ri­er.

Right be­hind that is a Phase I TKY2 in­hibitor for au­toim­mune dis­eases, which was plucked straight from the orig­i­nal Ven­tyx formed in 2019. Back in March, Mo­han told End­points News that Ven­tyx plans to go af­ter Crohn’s dis­ease first, though the team al­so has as­pi­ra­tions in pso­ri­a­sis, pso­ri­at­ic athri­tis and lu­pus, to name a few.

A third can­di­date tar­get­ing the NL­RP3 in­flam­ma­some is Phase I-ready ac­cord­ing to Ven­tyx. The NL­RP3 in­flam­ma­some, a key sig­nal­ing pro­tein com­plex in the in­nate im­mune sys­tem, re­ceived a big boost as an an­ti­body tar­get for car­dio­vas­cu­lar and CNS dis­eases af­ter No­var­tis re­leased da­ta in 2017, show­ing it re­duced the risk of heart dis­ease and stroke.

Is an IPO next for Ven­tyx? Mo­han told End­points months ago that he could be open to a pub­lic de­but in the fu­ture, whether it be through an IPO or re­verse merg­er.

Sur­vey­or Cap­i­tal led the Se­ries B round, with a hand from ven­Bio Part­ners, Third Point, RTW In­vest­ments, LP, Janus Hen­der­son In­vestors, Welling­ton Man­age­ment, Or­biMed, Far­al­lon Cap­i­tal, Vi­vo Cap­i­tal, Lo­gos Cap­i­tal, Qim­ing Ven­ture Part­ners USA and Cor­morant As­set Man­age­ment.

2023 Spot­light on the Fu­ture of Drug De­vel­op­ment for Small and Mid-Sized Biotechs

In the context of today’s global economic environment, there is an increasing need to work smarter, faster and leaner across all facets of the life sciences industry.  This is particularly true for small and mid-sized biotech companies, many of which are facing declining valuations and competing for increasingly limited funding to propel their science forward.  It is important to recognize that within this framework, many of these smaller companies already find themselves resource-challenged to design and manage clinical studies themselves because they don’t have large teams or in-house experts in navigating the various aspects of the drug development journey. This can be particularly challenging for the most complex and difficult to treat diseases where no previous pathway exists and patients are urgently awaiting breakthroughs.

Spe­cial re­port 2022: Meet 20 women blaz­ing trails in bio­phar­ma R&D

When you run a special report for a fourth year, it can start feeling a little bit like a ritual. You go through the motions — in our case opening up nominations for top women in biopharma R&D and reviewing more than 500 entries — you make your choices of inclusion and exclusion. You host a ceremony.

But then things happen that remind you why you do it in the first place. Perhaps a Supreme Court rules to overturn the constitutional right to abortion and a group of women biotech leaders makes it clear they strongly dissent; perhaps new data on gender diversity in the industry come out that look all too similar to the old ones, suggesting women are still dramatically underrepresented at the top; perhaps protests and conflicts around the world put in stark terms the struggles that many women still face in earning the most basic recognition.

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Graphic: Shutterstock

Prometheus moves to raise cash hours af­ter PhII da­ta leads to stock surge

After releasing better-than-anticipated data on two mid-stage studies Wednesday morning, Prometheus Biosciences’ CEO said the company would “take some time to assess” its next financing options.

It only needed about seven hours. Wednesday afternoon after the market closed, the biotech announced it would seek $250 million through an equity offering as the company looks to edge out anti-TL1A competitor Pfizer and its new partner Roivant.

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Kristen Hege, Bristol Myers Squibb SVP, early clinical development, oncology/hematology and cell therapy (Illustration: Assistant Editor Kathy Wong for Endpoints News)

Q&A: Bris­tol My­er­s' Kris­ten Hege on cell ther­a­py, can­cer pa­tients and men­tor­ing the next gen­er­a­tion

Kristen Hege leads Bristol Myers Squibb’s early oncology discovery program carrying on from the same work at Celgene, which was acquired by BMS in 2019. She’s known for her early work in CAR-T, having pioneered the first CAR-T cell trial for solid tumors more than 25 years ago.

However, the eminent physician-scientist is more than just a drug developer mastermind. She’s also a practicing physician, mother to two young women, an avid backpacker and intersecting all those interests — a champion of young women and people of color in STEM and life sciences.

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Gossamer Bio CEO Faheem Hasnain at Endpoints' #BIO22 panel (J.T. MacMillan Photography for Endpoints News)

Gos­samer’s Fa­heem Has­nain de­fends a round of pos­i­tive PAH da­ta as a clear win. But can these PhII re­sults stand up to scruti­ny?

Gossamer Bio $GOSS posted a statistically significant improvement for its primary endpoint in the key Phase II TORREY trial for lead drug seralutinib on Tuesday morning. But CEO Faheem Hasnain has some explaining to do on the important secondary of the crucial six-minute walk distance test — which will be the primary endpoint in Phase III — as the data on both endpoints fell short of expectations, missing one analyst’s bar on even modest success.

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Alex Martinez, Intrinsic Medicine CEO

They with­drew their IPO. Then, they broke off their SPAC merg­er. Now what?

If at first an IPO doesn’t succeed, try, try a SPAC. But what happens when that fails too?

Intrinsic Medicine and its blank-check partner Phoenix Biotech Acquisition Corp. called off their reverse merger Tuesday night, citing “current market conditions” as the reason it went kaput. The pair decoupled just weeks after agreeing to combine in late October as investors’ appetite for new IPOs and SPACs has been limited, at best.

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Piper Trelstad, head of CMC, Bill & Melinda Gates Medical Research Institute

Q&A with Gates leader: Women tak­ing on more roles in phar­ma man­u­fac­tur­ing, but still work to do

More and more women are driving innovation and taking leadership roles in biotech – as evidenced today in the release of Endpoints News’ list of the top 20 women in the R&D world – but those gains are beginning to extend across pharma sectors.

In pharma manufacturing in the US today, around 46% of all roles are occupied by women, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics for 2021. And according to a Bloomberg report, women’s roles across manufacturing roles had a massive boost after the start of the pandemic.

Phar­ma rep­u­ta­tion re­tains 'halo' even as pan­dem­ic me­dia cov­er­age re­cedes — sur­vey

The Covid-19 halo effect on the pharma industry is continuing, according to a new global study from Ipsos. The annual survey for the International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers and Associations (IFPMA) finds considerable goodwill from consumers across measures of trust, cooperation with governments, and advancing research and drug development.

“Despite the pandemic in many countries no longer being the top of mind concern generally – although it does remain the top concern as a health issue – the industry’s reputation has remained positive,” said Ipsos research director Thomas Fife-Schaw.

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FDA commissioner Robert Califf (Jose Luis Magana/AP Images)

FDA pulls On­copep­tides' Pepax­to in­di­ca­tion, open­ing the door for dan­gling ac­cel­er­at­ed ap­proval en­force­ment

In a move all but ensured after an overwhelmingly negative adcomm vote this September, the FDA is yanking Oncopeptides’ dangling accelerated approval. And there may be more to come.

In recent months, US regulators have honed in on reforming the accelerated approval pathway and preventing drugmakers from continuing to sell their medicines in the event of a confirmatory study flop. The moves come after commissioner Rob Califf has called for companies to do more to produce post-marketing evidence quickly earlier this year.

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