Eric Murphy, Alterome CEO

Mys­te­ri­ous Or­biMed-backed biotech nears $100M in fund­ing, hints at plans to go af­ter ‘un­drug­gable 3.0’

In Jan­u­ary, Al­terome launched from stealth — but re­mained quite stealthy. While the biotech put out a press re­lease for its $64 mil­lion Se­ries A, led by Or­biMed, it launched with­out a web­site and didn’t elab­o­rate on its sci­ence be­yond “al­ter­ation-spe­cif­ic tar­get­ed ther­a­pies for the treat­ment of can­cer.”

But with an ad­di­tion­al $35 mil­lion — bring­ing its to­tal Se­ries A to $99 mil­lion — Al­terome ap­pears more will­ing to share. For one, it now has a web­site, al­though the page doesn’t of­fer more than the bare-bones de­tails on the sci­ence.

Al­terome CEO and CSO Er­ic Mur­phy told End­points News that the Se­ries A ex­ten­sion arose from a third pro­gram that Al­terome want­ed to pur­sue. Al­terome’s fo­cus is go­ing af­ter so-called un­drug­gable can­cer dri­ver mu­ta­tions, but Mur­phy said Al­terome wasn’t dis­clos­ing time­lines or tar­gets at the time.

With­out giv­ing any specifics on what ex­act­ly these pro­grams were, Mur­phy de­scribed the two ex­ist­ing pro­grams as best-in-class, but said the new one was first-in-class too, not­ing that they weren’t aware of any­one else who was do­ing the same thing.

Mur­phy said the third, new pro­gram goes af­ter “a very val­i­dat­ed onco­genic dri­ver” through an in­ter­est­ing an­gle. “You hit it, and you will like­ly have a monother­a­py path in the in­di­ca­tions we’re plan­ning,” he said.

But in its ini­tial Se­ries A, Al­terome had raised mon­ey on­ly for its first two pro­grams.

Dur­ing Al­terome’s Q2 board meet­ing, in­vestors en­cour­aged the San Diego-based biotech to try and raise more mon­ey for the new pro­gram. “In­stead of go­ing through this sit­u­a­tion, even at a down mar­ket, of ‘pick your fa­vorite child,’” as Al­terome COO Scott Moore­field put it, the biotech found Colt Ven­tures to co-lead an ex­ten­sion round along­side Or­biMed, fol­lowed by its oth­er ex­ist­ing in­vestors Nex­tech In­vest, Vi­da Ven­tures, and Box­er Cap­i­tal.

Ryan Cor­co­ran

Mur­phy, who co-found­ed Kin­nate Bio­phar­ma and was its CSO un­til last year, said he hatched the plan for Al­terome along­side Mass­a­chu­setts Gen­er­al’s Gas­troin­testi­nal Can­cer Cen­ter di­rec­tor Ryan Cor­co­ran, who he met when Cor­co­ran joined Kin­nate as a sci­en­tif­ic ad­vi­sor. “We had many like-mind­ed philoso­phies for mak­ing the next gen­er­a­tion of tar­get­ed ther­a­pies,” Mur­phy said. And Al­terome’s ini­tial in­vestors all pre­vi­ous­ly in­vest­ed in Kin­nate as well.

While Kin­nate was born out of “un­drug­gable 2.0,” Mur­phy said, Al­terome plans to go af­ter “un­drug­gable 3.0” —  the next se­ries of can­cer dri­ver mu­ta­tions that has yet to be tar­get­ed suc­cess­ful­ly. He said the idea was akin to his work at Kin­nate on BRAF Class II and III mu­ta­tions.

At the cen­ter of Al­terome’s work is a com­pu­ta­tion­al chem­istry plat­form which Mur­phy de­scribed as “struc­ture-guid­ed but then co-crys­tal en­abled.”

“Now I don’t re­al­ly use the word un­drug­gable any­more in this day and age. It’s just that it will take time to drug these tar­gets,” he said.

Rodney Rietze, iVexSol CEO

Bris­tol My­ers, Charles Riv­er join Se­ries A fund­ing for iVex­Sol

Massachusetts-based iVexSol has secured funding to the tune of $23.8 million in its latest Series A round. The new investors include Bristol Myers Squibb, manufacturer Charles River Laboratories and Asahi Kasei Medical.

iVexSol is a manufacturer of lentiviral vectors (LVV), used in making gene therapies, and this latest round of fundraising brings its total Series A total over $39 million, which will be used to recruit more employees and bolster its technology.

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Jake Van Naarden, Loxo@Lilly CEO

Lil­ly en­ters ripe BTK field with quick FDA nod in man­tle cell lym­phoma

Eli Lilly has succeeded in its attempt to get the first non-covalent version of Bruton’s tyrosine kinase, or BTK, inhibitors to market, pushing it past rival Merck.

The FDA gave an accelerated nod to Lilly’s daily oral med, to be sold as Jaypirca, for patients with relapsed or refractory mantle cell lymphoma.

The agency’s green light, disclosed by the Indianapolis Big Pharma on Friday afternoon, catapults Lilly into a field dominated by covalent BTK inhibitors, which includes AbbVie and Johnson & Johnson’s Imbruvica, AstraZeneca’s Calquence and BeiGene’s Brukinsa.

Filip Dubovsky, Novavax CMO

No­vavax gets ready to take an­oth­er shot at Covid vac­cine mar­ket with next sea­son plans

While mRNA took center stage at yesterday’s FDA vaccine advisory committee meeting, Novavax announced its plans to deliver an updated protein-based vaccine based on new guidance.

Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee (VRBPAC) members voted unanimously in favor of “harmonizing” Covid vaccine compositions, meaning all future vaccine recipients would receive a bivalent vaccine, regardless of whether they’ve gotten their primary series.

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Pfiz­er lays off em­ploy­ees at Cal­i­for­nia and Con­necti­cut sites

Pfizer has laid off employees at its La Jolla, CA, and Groton, CT sites, according to multiple LinkedIn posts from former employees.

The Big Pharma confirmed to Endpoints News it has let go of some employees, but a spokesperson declined to specify how many workers were impacted and the exact locations affected. Earlier this month, the drug developer had confirmed to Endpoints it was sharpening its focus and doing away with some early research on areas such as rare disease, oncology and gene therapies.

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Eliot Forster, F-star CEO (Rachel Kiki for Endpoints News)

F-star gets down to the wire with $161M sale to Chi­nese buy­er as na­tion­al se­cu­ri­ty con­cerns linger

With the clock ticking on F-star Therapeutics’ takeover by a Chinese buyer, the companies are still scrambling to remove a hold on the deal from the US government’s Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States.

F-star and invoX Pharma said they are “actively negotiating” with CFIUS “about the terms of a mitigation agreement to address CFIUS’s concerns regarding potential national security risks posed by the transaction.”

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CBER Director Peter Marks (Susan Walsh/AP Images)

FDA ad­vi­so­ry com­mit­tee votes unan­i­mous­ly in fa­vor of bi­va­lent Covid shots re­plac­ing pri­ma­ry se­ries

The FDA’s Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee (VRBPAC) voted unanimously in favor of “harmonizing” Covid vaccine compositions, meaning all current vaccine recipients would receive a bivalent vaccine, regardless of whether they’ve gotten their primary series.

The vote marks an effort to clear up confusion around varying formulations and dosing schedules for current primary series and booster vaccines, as well as “get closer to the strains that are circulating,” according to committee member Paul Offit, professor of pediatrics at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.

John Rim, Samsung Biologics CEO (Samsung/PR Newswire)

Sam­sung Bi­o­log­ics spells out ex­pan­sion plans in South Ko­rea and US

The CDMO arm of one of South Korea’s largest conglomerates has posted its year-end results and plans for 2023, which include new construction.

Samsung Biologics netted north of KRW 3 trillion ($2.4 billion) in 2022 revenue and an operating profit of KRW 983.6 billion ($799 million), which the company touted on Friday as “record-high earnings.” The revenue boost was 55% compared to 2021.

No­var­tis' ap­proved sick­le cell dis­ease drug fails to beat place­bo in PhI­II

Novartis’ sickle cell drug, approved in 2019 and branded as Adakveo, has failed an ongoing Phase III, according to preliminary results.

The Swiss pharma giant unveiled early data from the ongoing STAND Phase III study on Friday, saying that crizanlizumab showed no statistically significant difference between the drug at two different dose levels compared to placebo in annualized rates of vaso-occlusive crises that lead to a healthcare visit over the first year since being randomized into the trial.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) (Michael Brochstein/Sipa USA/Sipa via AP Images)

Sen. Eliz­a­beth War­ren urges FTC to 'scru­ti­nize' two phar­ma buy­outs

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) is calling on senior Federal Trade Commission officials to “closely scrutinize” two proposed pharma mergers.

Warren expressed concern over “rampant consolidation in the pharmaceutical industry,” in particular Amgen’s $28 billion plans to take over Horizon Therapeutics, and Indivior’s proposed acquisition of Opiant for $145 million upfront, in a letter to FTC Chair Lina Khan and Commissioners Alvaro Bedoya and Rebecca Kelly Slaughter earlier this week.