Takeda-partnered Evox signs up to $1.2B pact with Lilly; New liquid biopsy company launches with $12M Series A
→ Oxford spinout Evox — one of a handful of players that are using tiny exosomes to deliver a therapeutic payload where needed, including to the brain — is acing the dealmaking game with big pharma. Just months after securing $44 million upfront in an up to $882 million deal with Takeda, the company has inked a pact with Eli Lilly focused on drugs to treat neurological disorders.
This deal is lighter upfront, and heavier on milestones: $20 million cash up-front, research funding over three years, as well as a $10 million investment from Lilly in exchange for a convertible bond. Milestone payments add up to a meaty $1.2 billion for Evox, in addition to potential royalties.
→ A little over a month after Thrive unveiled its first ‘real-world’ data and Grail raised a gargantuan $390 million round, Casdin Capital, NFX Capital and The Mark Foundation for Cancer Research are getting in on the liquid biopsy game. They’ve backed C2i Genomics with a $12 million to support their platform for monitoring cancer recurrence and treatment response. The founders detailed their technology in Nature Medicine on June 1.
→ Almost a year after landing accelerated approval for their sickle cell drug Oxbryta, Global Blood Therapeutics is asking the FDA to okay the drug for kids ages 4 to 11. Currently approved for patients 12 and up, Oxbryta is one of the first approved drugs designed to treat the underlying pathology behind sickle cell.
→ Microbiome-based therapeutics company Microbiotica is tying up with Cancer Research UK and Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust to finally put the question to bed: which consortium of bacteria play a pivotal role in steering responses in cancer patients to checkpoint inhibitors?
Previous studies have shown that the gut microbiome plays a key, causative role in determining which patients respond to these medicines, but scientists have not quite honed in on a consistent gut bacterial signature associated with treatment response or resistance. Microbiotica, using its genomic profiling technology, has found a signature in a large number of melanoma patients — and now with this new collaboration will look for signatures in different cancers and across a range of immunotherapies. Eventually, chief Mike Romanos told Endpoints News, the information will be used to develop microbiome-based therapeutics to help patients who are non-responders become responders.
→ Neurocrine Biosciences has posted positive biomarker for its Phase II drug for congenital adrenal hyperplasia, a development-stunting disease. The open-label study on the drug, called crinecerfont, found “meaningful reductions in all three key disease hormone markers” in adult patients. A registrational study is planned for next year.
→ AXONIS Therapeutics — focused on the treatment of spinal cord injury and paralysis — has closed the first part of a $4 million financing round. The Cambridge, Massachusetts-based company plans to use the funds towards the preclinical development of their neuromodulating KCC2 therapy. The round was led by AXONIS board member Kerry Murphy. The second tranche of funding will be provided after successful delivery of proof-of-concept data — expected in approximately one year.