NFX general partner Pete Flint (Photo by Steve Jennings/Getty Images for TechCrunch)

NFX tar­gets seed and pre-seed com­pa­nies with lat­est $450M round

NFX is launch­ing its third fund, with $450 mil­lion locked and loaded for 70 lucky seed and pre-seed com­pa­nies. The ven­ture firm’s claim to fame? Seed­ing 25 uni­corns to date.

The lat­est raise will sup­port star­tups in a wide range of sec­tors, from biotech to gam­ing to cryp­to, the firm an­nounced on Tues­day. You’ll like­ly rec­og­nize some of the big-name com­pa­nies al­ready in their port­fo­lio, like Mam­moth Bio­sciences (co-found­ed by CRISPR leg­end Jen­nifer Doud­na), Lyft and Do­or­Dash.

“At NFX, we lead with a Founder-first mind­set be­cause we were Founders our­selves. The ear­ly days of a com­pa­ny are many of the most crit­i­cal and chal­leng­ing,” gen­er­al part­ner Pe­te Flint said in a state­ment.

Om­ri Ami­rav-Dro­ry

The biotech di­vi­sion is steered by Om­ri Ami­rav-Dro­ry, founder of the NFX-backed tech com­pa­ny Gene Com­pil­er, which sold to next-gen DNA syn­the­sis com­pa­ny Twist Bio­sciences back in 2016. Af­ter that, Ami­rav-Dro­ry went on to lead cor­po­rate de­vel­op­ment at Twist for about two years, and has ad­vised at com­pa­nies like Mam­moth and C2i Ge­nomics.

“Now is the time to back Sci­en­tist-Founders at the in­ter­sec­tion of bi­ol­o­gy and tech­nol­o­gy solv­ing our civ­i­liza­tion’s most press­ing chal­lenges in health, sus­tain­abil­i­ty, food and the en­vi­ron­ment,” he said in a state­ment.

Twist CEO Emi­ly Lep­roust is al­so on NFX’s bio in­vest­ment com­mit­tee.

This is NFX’s largest fund yet, with funds I and II com­ing in at $150 mil­lion in 2017 and $275 mil­lion in 2019, re­spec­tive­ly. Its in­vest­ments typ­i­cal­ly range be­tween $500,000 and $4 mil­lion, ac­cord­ing to a Forbes re­port. In ad­di­tion to the fund­ing, port­fo­lio com­pa­nies can lever­age NFX’s net­work and soft­ware tools to scale up.

“For NFX, a big new fund is sim­ply the rock­et fu­el that lets us work with ex­cep­tion­al Founders. Build­ing the fu­ture is the point,” the firm said.

Biotech and Big Phar­ma: A blue­print for a suc­cess­ful part­ner­ship

Strategic partnerships have long been an important contributor to how drugs are discovered and developed. For decades, big pharma companies have been forming alliances with biotech innovators to increase R&D productivity, expand geographical reach and better manage late-stage commercialization costs.

Noël Brown, Managing Director and Head of Biotechnology Investment Banking, and Greg Wiederrecht, Ph.D., Managing Director in the Global Healthcare Investment Banking Group at RBC Capital Markets, are no strangers to the importance of these tie-ups. Noël has over 20 years of investment banking experience in the industry. Before moving to the banking world in 2015, Greg was the Vice President and Head of External Scientific Affairs (ESA) at Merck, where he was responsible for the scientific assessment of strategic partnership opportunities worldwide.

No­var­tis' sec­ond at­tempt to repli­cate a stun­ning can­cer re­sult falls flat

Novartis’ hopes of turning one of the most surprising trial data points of the last decade into a lung cancer drug has taken another setback.

The Swiss pharma announced Monday that its IL-1 inhibitor canakinumab did not significantly extend the lives or slow the disease progression of patients with previously untreated locally advanced or metastatic non-small cell lung cancer when compared to standard of-care alone.

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How Chi­na turned the ta­bles on bio­phar­ma's glob­al deal­mak­ing

Fenlai Tan still gets chills thinking about the darkest day of his life.

Three out of eight lung cancer patients who received a tyrosine kinase inhibitor developed by his company, Betta Pharma, died in the span of a month. Tan, the chief medical officer, was summoned to Peking Union Medical College Hospital, where the head of the clinical trial department told him that the trial investigators would be conducting an autopsy to see if the patients had died of the disease — they were all very sick by the time they enrolled — or of interstitial lung disease, a deadly side effect tied to the TKI class that’s been reported in Japan.

James Peyer, Cambrian CEO

Brent Saun­ders joins $100M Se­ries C for a com­pa­ny out to be the Bridge­Bio of ag­ing

About a year ago, James Peyer, a CEO and co-founder of the little known longevity biotech Cambrian Biopharma, was trying to find some R&D talent last year when he met with more than a bit of experience in that department: David Nicholson, the former R&D chief of the erstwhile pharma giant Allergan.

It turned out Nicholson already had an interest in Peyer’s field. In their Allergan days, he and COO Brent Saunders held weekly meetups where they tried to figure out how to take the company’s dominance in aesthetics — which, until recently, was often what people meant by anti-aging science — and expertise with more traditional drug development, and use it to make drugs that extend people’s lifespan.

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As pres­sure to share tech­nol­o­gy mounts, BioN­Tech se­lects Rwan­da for lat­est vac­cine site

BioNTech’s first mRNA-based vaccine site in Africa will call Rwanda home, and construction is set to start in mid-2022, the company announced Tuesday at a public health forum.

The German company signed a memorandum of understanding, after a meeting between Rwanda’s Minister of Health, Daniel Ngamije, Senegal’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Aïssata Tall Sall, and senior BioNTech officials. Construction plans have been finalized, and assets have been ordered. The agreement will help bring end-to-end manufacturing to Africa, and as many as several hundred million doses of vaccines per year, though initial production will be more modest.

No­var­tis dumps AveX­is pro­gram for Rett syn­drome af­ter fail­ing re­peat round of pre­clin­i­cal test­ing

Say goodbye to AVXS-201.

The Rett syndrome gene therapy drug made by AveXis — the biotech that was bought, kept separate, then renamed and finally absorbed by Novartis into its R&D division — has been dropped by the biopharma.

In Novartis’ third quarter financial report, the pharma had found that preclinical data did not support development of the gene therapy into IND-enabling trials and beyond. The announcement comes a year after Novartis told the Rett Society how excited it was by the drug — and its potential benefits and uses.

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Katie Fanning, Mozart Therapeutics CEO

Mozart Ther­a­peu­tics makes its of­fi­cial de­but, jump­ing in­to the hot Treg R&D field with some big-name in­vestors back­ing it

Treg cells have been getting more and more attention recently among autoimmune specialists. There’s been Jeff Bluestone’s Sonoma, the $157 million launch of GentiBio this summer and Egle Therapeutics — which launched just last week — to name a few.

Now, there’s a new Treg player jumping in that wants to distinguish itself in the market: Mozart Therapeutics. Today, the biotech is emerging from stealth in its official debut with a $55 million Series A — with a bunch of A-list Big Pharma names on board a syndicate led by ARCH.

Vas Narasimhan, Novartis CEO (Simon Dawson/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

With San­doz con­tin­u­ing to drag on No­var­tis, Vas Narasimhan says he may fi­nal­ly be ready for a sale or spin­off

After years of rehab work aimed at getting Sandoz in fighting trim to compete in a market overshadowed by declining prices, CEO Vas Narasimhan took a big step toward possibly selling or spinning off the giant generic drug player.

The pharma giant flagged plans to launch a strategic review of the business in its Q3 update, noting that “options range from retaining the business to separation.”

Analysts have been poking and prodding Novartis execs for years now as Narasimhan attempted to remodel a business that has been a drag on its performance during most of his reign in the CEO suite. The former R&D chief has made it well known that he’s devoted to the innovative meds side of the business, where they see the greatest potential for growth.

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FDA is much worse than its reg­u­la­to­ry peers at proac­tive­ly dis­clos­ing da­ta, re­searchers find

The European Medicines Agency and Health Canada continue to outpace the FDA when it comes to proactively releasing data on drugs and biologics the agency has reviewed, leading to further questions of why the American agency can’t be more transparent.

In a study published recently in the Journal of Law, Medicine, & Ethics, Yale and other academic lawyers and researchers found that between 2016 and April 2021, the EMA proactively released data for 123 unique medical products, while Health Canada proactively released data for 73 unique medical products between 2019 and April 2021. What’s more, the EMA and Health Canada didn’t proactively release the same data on the same drugs. In stark contrast, the FDA in 2018 only proactively disclosed data supporting one drug that was approved that year.

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