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.

Forge Bi­o­log­ics’ cGMP Com­pli­ant and Com­mer­cial­ly Vi­able Be­spoke Affin­i­ty Chro­matog­ra­phy Plat­form

Forge Biologics has developed a bespoke affinity chromatography platform approach that factors in unique vector combinations to streamline development timelines and assist our clients in efficiently entering the clinic. By leveraging our experience with natural and novel serotypes and transgene conformations, we are able to accelerate affinity chromatography development by nearly 3-fold. Many downstream purification models are serotype-dependent, demanding unique and time-consuming development strategies for each AAV gene therapy product1. With the increasing demand to propel AAV gene therapies to market, platform purification methods that support commercial-scale manufacturing of high-quality vectors with excellent safety and efficacy profiles are essential.

Jeff Bluestone (R), Sonoma Biotherapeutics CEO

Jef­frey Blue­stone brings his start­up haul to $400M+, join­ing forces with Re­gen­eron on cell ther­a­pies

These days, when Jeffrey Bluestone gets together with his contemporaries in science, the conversation often turns to retirement plans.

But a little more than three years ago, Bluestone reached a momentous turning point in his career, exiting a prestigious post at UCSF, where he had spent decades in the scientific pursuit of new therapies. And it had nothing to do with retirement anytime in the near future.

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Mathai Mammen, FogPharma's next CEO

Math­ai Mam­men hands in J&J's R&D keys to lead Greg Ver­dine’s Fog­Phar­ma 

In the early 1990s, Mathai Mammen was a teaching assistant in Greg Verdine’s Science B46 course at Harvard. In June, the former R&D head at Johnson & Johnson will succeed Verdine as CEO, president and chair of FogPharma, the same month the seven-year-old biotech kickstarts its first clinical trial.

After leading R&D at one of the largest drugmakers in the world, taking the company through more than half a dozen drug approvals in the past few years, not to mention a Covid-19 vaccine race, Mammen departed J&J last month and will take the helm of a Cambridge, MA biotech attempting to go after what Verdine calls the “true emperor of all oncogenes” — beta-catenin.

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Alec­tor cuts 11% of work­force as it dou­bles down on late-stage neu­ro pro­grams part­nered with GSK, Ab­b­Vie

A month after revealing plans to concentrate on its late-stage immuno-neurology pipeline, Alector is trimming its headcount by 11%.

The layoffs will impact around 30 employees across the organization, the company disclosed in an SEC filing, adding that the plan will “better align the company’s resources” with the new strategy. With $712.9 million in cash, cash equivalents and investments as of the end of 2022, Alector believes the reserves will now get it through 2025.

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Hugo Peris, Spiral Therapeutics CEO

Hear­ing-fo­cused biotech grabs trio of pro­grams from Oton­o­my's fire sale

Otonomy may be shutting down, but the lessons learned there will live on at another biotech working on new treatments for hearing loss.

San Francisco-based Spiral Therapeutics has bought certain assets related to three of Otonomy’s programs, ranging from data, patent rights, and know-how to inventory. That includes data around Otonomy’s twice-failed lead program, OTO-104 (Otividex), a sustained-exposure formulation of dexamethasone.

Covant acting CEO Matt Maisak (L) and CSO Iván Cornella

With Boehringer In­gel­heim’s help, Roivant churns out an­oth­er Vant to go up against En­deav­or, Im­pact founders

Roivant Sciences has added another branch to its family tree, unveiling Covant Therapeutics with a $10 million upfront commitment from Boehringer Ingelheim to turn up the heat in cancer.

The Boston-based drug discovery startup will jointly create a new small molecule immunotherapy with the private German pharma giant. The deal, made public Tuesday morning, includes up to $471 million in future payments and tiered royalties, should the product make it to market.

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CSL CEO Paul McKenzie (L) and CMO Bill Mezzanotte

Q&A: New­ly-mint­ed CSL chief ex­ec­u­tive Paul McKen­zie and chief med­ical of­fi­cer Bill Mez­zan­otte

Paul McKenzie took over as CEO of Australian pharma giant CSL this month, following in the footsteps of long-time CSL vet Paul Perreault.

With an eye on mRNA, and quickly commercializing its new, $3.5 million-per-shot gene therapy for hemophilia B, McKenzie and chief medical officer Bill Mezzanotte answered some questions from Endpoints News this afternoon about where McKenzie is going to take the company and what advances may be coming to market from CSL’s pipeline. Below is a lightly edited transcript.

UK gov­ern­ment, pri­vate in­vestors dole out $340M+ to drug, di­ag­nos­tic man­u­fac­tur­ers

The government of the United Kingdom is giving out grants to several manufacturers that have a presence in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

The government announced that four companies, including Ipsen, contract manufacturer Pharmaron, DNA manufacturer Touchlight and diagnostic test producer Randox, will receive a total of £277 million ($341.1 million). According to a release from the UK government, this represents the first portion of grants from the Life Sciences Innovative Manufacturing Fund.

Kourosh Davarpanah, Inato CEO

Big Phar­ma-part­nered clin­i­cal tri­al match­mak­er se­cures $20M to im­prove plat­form

A company with public links to Sanofi and Moderna has raised more money to expand its mission of improving diversity and enrollment in clinical trials.

Inato put the word out on Wednesday that it raised $20 million via an A2 round to advance its matching platform between pharma companies and potential clinical trial sites.

Inato CEO Kourosh Davarpanah told Endpoints News that with the $20 million in hand, it will pursue improvements to its diversity offerings, its focus on oncology and data collection.