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.

IDC: Life Sci­ences Firms Must Em­brace Dig­i­tal Trans­for­ma­tion Now

Pre-pandemic, the life sciences industry had settled into a pattern. The average drug took 12 years and $2.9 billion to bring to market, and it was an acceptable mode of operations, according to Nimita Limaye, Research Vice President for Life Sciences R&D Strategy and Technology at IDC.

COVID-19 changed that, and served as a proof-of-concept for how technology can truly help life sciences companies succeed and grow, Limaye said. She recently spoke about industry trends at Egnyte’s Life Sciences Summit 2022. You should watch the entire session, free and on-demand, but here’s a brief recap of why she’s urging life sciences companies to embrace digital transformation.

Geoffrey Porges, new Schrödinger CFO

Long­time an­a­lyst Ge­of­frey Porges de­parts SVB to lead fi­nances at a drug dis­cov­ery shop

Geoffrey Porges has ended his two-decade run as a biotech analyst, as the former SVB Securities vice chair began as CFO of Schrödinger on Thursday.

The long-running analyst, who previously headed up vaccines marketing at Merck before the turn of the millennium, will lead the financial operations of the 700-employee company as Schrödinger broadens its focus from a drug discovery partner to also building out an in-house pipeline, with clinical trial No. 1 set to begin next quarter.

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FDA ap­proves one of the prici­est new treat­ments of all time — blue­bird's gene ther­a­py for be­ta tha­lassemia

The FDA on Wednesday approved the first gene therapy for a chronic condition — bluebird bio’s new Zynteglo (beti-cel) as a potentially curative treatment for those with transfusion-dependent thalassemia.

The thumbs-up from the FDA follows a unanimous adcomm vote in June, with outside experts pointing to extraordinary efficacy, with 89% of subjects with TDT who received beti-cel having achieved transfusion independence.

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Joel Dudley, new partner at Innovation Endeavors (Bosch Health Campus)

For­mer Google CEO’s VC is mak­ing a big­ger push in­to the biotech world, hir­ing promi­nent Ther­a­nos skep­tic

Venture capital firm Innovation Endeavors has mainly had its focus on investments across the tech space, but it has been slowly turning its attention to the biotech world. Now, a new partner is coming into the fold showing that its interest in biotech is likely to grow further.

The Silicon Valley-based company, which is headed up by former Google CEO Eric Schmidt, has brought on Joel Dudley as a partner. According to Dudley’s LinkedIn page, he is joining Innovation Endeavors after serving as the chief science officer of biotech startup Tempus Labs since 2020.

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James Sabry, Roche global head of pharma partnering

Roche, Genen­tech plunk down $60M up­front to part­ner with Chi­nese phar­ma on PRO­TAC-based prostate can­cer drug

Roche and Genentech are always on the hunt for deals, and on Thursday they found their newest partner.

The pair will team up with the Chinese pharma company Jemincare to push forward a new program for prostate cancer, the companies announced. Roche is ponying up $60 million upfront to get its hands on the candidate and promising up to $590 million in biobucks, plus royalties, down the line.

In return, Genentech will get a worldwide license to develop the program, known as JMKX002992, and bring it to market.

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Andrew Hopkins, Exscientia CEO

Ex­sci­en­tia ter­mi­nates Bay­er pact half a year ear­ly, col­lect­ing small por­tion of €240M promised

Bayer and Exscientia are winding down their three-year collaboration, leaving the big German pharma to take the AI-designed compounds born out of the pact further.

London-based Exscientia revealed in its Q2 update that the partners have “mutually agreed to end” their collaboration, which kicked off in early 2020, after recently achieving a drug discovery milestone. In an SEC filing, Exscientia said it terminated the pact on May 30, about six months early.

Bayer's first DTC ad campaign for chronic kidney disease drug Kerendia spells out its benefits

Bay­er aims to sim­pli­fy the com­plex­i­ties of CKD with an ABC-themed ad cam­paign

Do you know the ABCs of CKD in T2D? Bayer’s first ad campaign for Kerendia tackles the complexity of chronic kidney disease with a play on the acronym (CKD) and its connection to type 2 diabetes (T2D).

Kerendia was approved last year as the first and only non-steroidal mineralocorticoid receptor antagonist to treat CKD in people with type 2 diabetes.

In the TV commercial launched this week, A is for awareness, B is for belief and C is for cardiovascular, explained in the ad as awareness of the connection between type 2 and kidney disease, belief that something can be done about it, and cardiovascular events that may be reduced with treatment.

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James Mock, incoming CFO at Moderna

Mod­er­na taps new CFO from PerkinElmer af­ter for­mer one-day CFO oust­ed

When Moderna hired a new CFO last year,  it didn’t expect to see him gone after only one day. Today the biotech named his — likely much more vetted — replacement.

The mRNA company put out word early Wednesday that after the untimely departure of then brand-new CFO Jorge Gomez, it has now found a replacement in James Mock, the soon-to-be former CFO at diagnostics and analytics company PerkinElmer.

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Etleva Kadilli, director of UNICEF’s supply division

GSK lands first-ever UNICEF con­tract for malar­ia vac­cine worth $170M

GSK has landed a new first from UNICEF the first-ever contract for malaria vaccines, worth up to $170 million for 18 million vaccine doses distributed over the next three years.

The vaccine, known as Mosquirix or RTS,S, won WHO’s backing last October after a controversial start, but UNICEF said these doses will potentially save thousands of lives every year.

“We hope this is just the beginning,” Etleva Kadilli, director of UNICEF’s supply division, said. “Continued innovation is needed to develop new and next-generation vaccines to increase available supply, and enable a healthier vaccine market. This is a giant step forward in our collective efforts to save children’s lives and reduce the burden of malaria as part of wider malaria prevention and control programmes.”