Mystery investors back a new NASH approach; GSK antibiotics sale triggers layoff fears
A mystery investor is backing a new late-stage effort to treat NASH, leading an $80 million crossover round for Sagimet Biosciences.
The Series F round was led by an “undisclosed public equity healthcare investment fund” and joined by Altium Capital, HM Capital, Invus, and PFM Health Sciences, Ascletis, Kleiner Perkins, New Enterprise Associates, and Rock Springs Capital. It comes on the heels of positive mid-stage data last June, when the company announced a 61% response rate in 30 patients and a median liver fat reduction of 28.2%.
A second undisclosed public healthcare investment fund also joined the round.
Sagimet, which was known as 3-V Biosciences until 2019, specializes in FASN. The enzyme is involved in lipid synthesis; inhibiting it, in theory, could reduce fat production and alleviate diseases such as NASH and even cancer. The company will use the capital to help launch a Phase IIb trial. — Jason Mast
Employees at GSK plant fear layoffs after Novartis sale
GlaxoSmithKline’s decision to sell its generics antibiotics business to Novartis’s Sandoz unit has brought fears of mass layoffs to Ulverston, England, where the antibiotics have been manufactured.
Although GSK will continue to supply Sandoz with the antibiotic, cephalosporin, for the next four years, the sale has put 130 jobs at “risk of redundancy,” The Mail reported.
This company has been a mainstay in the town, providing employment and resources,” town councilman David Webster told the British outlet. “It will be a great loss and a tremendous gap to fill in employment and cooperation.”
A GSK spokesperson told The Mail that the sale was meant as part of a company-wide shift to focus on R&D. The big pharma has pledged land to allow Lake Biosciences, which manufactures monoclonal antibodies, to build a £350 million facility there. — Jason Mast
Seagen notches Tukysa OK in Europe
After getting its Tukysa drug across the finish line in the US last year, Seagen has done the same in Europe.
The company announced Friday morning that the breast cancer treatment had been given the thumbs up by the European Commission. Like in the US, it’s been approved for the treatment of adults with HER2-positive locally advanced or metastatic breast cancer, in combination with Herceptin and capecitabine for those who have received at least two prior anti-HER2 treatments.
In Tukysa’s pivotal trial in Europe, the drug showed a 46% improvement for progression-free survival compared to the control arm of Herceptin and capecitabine, as well as improving overall survival by 34%. Patients were randomized to the drug arm 2-to-1 in the double-blinded trial.
Tukysa is a tyrosine kinase inhibitor of the HER2 protein and was originally developed by Array BioPharma, who licensed it to Cascadian Therapeutics. Seattle Genetics bought Cascadian for $614 million in 2018. — Max Gelman