News briefing: Alnylam wins EC OK for its third drug, putting them out front on PH1; Big biotech VC Qiming closes out Fund VII with $1.2B
Alnylam $ALNY put out word today that the European Commission has approved its third drug, lumasiran, for primary hyperoxaluria type 1, better known as PH1. It will be marketed as Oxlumo.
An ultra rare genetic condition, Alnylam CEO John Maraganore says there are only some 1,000 to 1,700 patients in the US and Europe at any particular point. The patients, mostly kids, suffer from an overproduction of oxalate in the liver that spurs the development of kidney stones, right through to end stage kidney disease.
A decision from the FDA — most likely positive — is due by the PDUFA date of December 3, though it wouldn’t be unusual for the agency to act faster than that.
For right now, the European approval puts Alnylam as the frontrunner in the field. But that isn’t expected to last forever. Dicerna is coming along with an RNAi rival that is expected to cover the range of PH1-3, though Maraganore notes that PH1 is the most common type in the mix.
Big biotech VC Qiming closes out Fund VII with $1.2B
Shanghai-based Qiming Venture Partners has topped up and closed out Fund VII, ending up with $1.2 billion — an add on of about $100 million from the earlier close in April, which Amber Tong reported on.
Qiming managing partner Nisa Leung has cut a wide swathe in China’s venture community with a special focus on biotech. The VC counts 370 some health and tech companies in the portfolio, with a special place of honor for the 30-plus that achieved unicorn status and the 40-plus that have undertaken an IPO.
The investments in China cover 3 big biotech plays: Tigermed, Zai Lab and CanSino Biologics.
“We are very grateful to our LPs for their trust and support over the last 15 years,” noted Leung in a prepared statement. “Qiming will continue to focus on investing in visionary entrepreneurs to bring long-term value to humanity and society.”
Achilles Therapeutics reels in more than $69 million for T-cell therapies
A year after bagging a $121 million Series B megaround, Achilles Therapeutics is bringing home another $69.7 million from an oversubscribed Series C.
Achilles tagged the funds for R&D, and for two ongoing Phase I/IIa trials in recurrent or metastatic malignant melanoma and advanced non-small cell lung cancer, respectively. Both T-cell therapy programs target clonal neoantigens — an approach which came from research out of Charles Swanton’s lab at the Francis Crick. Swanton illustrated the potential of targeting clonal neoantigens, which are formed in the early process a cell goes through as it mutates into a cancer cell, as opposed to later-stage neoantigens.
“Achilles has made tremendous progress since its founding in 2016…” CEO Iraj Ali said in a statement. The biotech expects to read out interim data from both of its lead studies in the first half of 2021.
OrbiMed, Boxer Capital of Tavistock Group, RA Capital, Syncona, Forbion, Invus, Perceptive Advisors and Redmile Group all chipped into the Series C. — Nicole DeFeudis