Philippe Pouletty (Credit: Deinove)

No pain, no gain: Com­pa­ny-build­ing French VC scores €250M for life sci­ences fund

In the Truf­fle Cap­i­tal play­book, you ei­ther go big or go home.

The French VC firm does not both­er with pitch­es from com­pa­nies vy­ing for in­vest­ment — in­stead, it sources the raw ma­te­r­i­al to build com­pa­nies from scratch. On Wednes­day, it un­veiled a €250 mil­lion boost to in­vest in the life sci­ences, in par­tic­u­lar, the realm of in­ter­ven­tion­al med­ical de­vices.

The recipe for in­vest­ment is ar­du­ous. The firm ap­prais­es about 1000 un­pub­lished patent ap­pli­ca­tions from the top 50 uni­ver­si­ties across the Unit­ed States and Eu­rope. Af­ter whit­tling the list to five per year, it goes about ne­go­ti­at­ing ex­clu­sive glob­al li­cens­es.

A ma­jor source of ‘dis­rup­tive’ sci­ence and tech­nol­o­gy is acad­e­mia, but on­ly some 20% to 30% of patents from uni­ver­si­ties give rise to com­pa­nies be­cause aca­d­e­m­ic re­searchers tend to want to re­main with­in the halls of acad­e­mia, Philippe Poulet­ty, co-founder and chief of Truf­fle Cap­i­tal, not­ed in an in­ter­view with End­points News. “So you have maybe 70% of patent ap­pli­ca­tions which are left aside if you will.”

Once the tech­nol­o­gy is li­censed, Truf­fle in­vents a name for the com­pa­ny, hires the man­age­ment team and puts in mil­lions to de­vel­op the tech — all the while re­main­ing the largest, typ­i­cal­ly soli­tary share­hold­er. In the last 15 years, the firm has backed more than 70 com­pa­nies — of which 80% were cre­at­ed by or with the sup­port of Truf­fle teams. Al­to­geth­er, 13 com­pa­nies, such as Abi­vax, have gone on to make pub­lic de­buts, while Truf­fle has made 17 ex­its, in­clud­ing sales to Stryk­er and Boston Sci­en­tif­ic.

Truf­fle — which is named af­ter the fa­mous black truf­fles of Périg­ord, a re­gion east of Bor­deaux in south-west France in­hab­it­ed by its co-founders — sets up its star­tups in France, but the Eu­ro­pean ap­petite for in­vest­ment is eclipsed by in­vestors in the Unit­ed States, Poulet­ty ac­knowl­edged.

Get­ting be­tween €30 to €50 mil­lion in a Se­ries A fund­ing is pos­si­ble, but cer­tain­ly, Eu­ronext is not as pow­er­ful nor as deep as Nas­daq, he not­ed.

“So that means that when you want to grow fur­ther the com­pa­ny to the com­mer­cial stage, it’s more dif­fi­cult,” he said. “So M&A is of­ten the pre­ferred route, which is why we’ve sold a num­ber of com­pa­nies, which is not great for the Eu­ro­pean econ­o­my be­cause most of the buy­ers are US com­pa­nies…soon they will be Chi­nese com­pa­nies.”

But the in­vest­ment cli­mate in Eu­rope is ripe for change, he added, not­ing that the French and Ger­man au­thor­i­ties are think­ing of putting to­geth­er a raft of in­cen­tives to chan­nel more in­vest­ment in­to the biotech and tech in­dus­tries.

“So I’m quite op­ti­mistic that in the next five years, you should see com­pa­nies be­ing able to grow like in the US on Nas­daq and do­ing big sec­ondary of­fer­ings.”

Cre­at­ed in 2001, Truf­fle Cap­i­tal has raised over €1.1 bil­lion so far. Aside from its fin­tech in­ter­est, the firm’s Bio­MedTech strat­e­gy is fo­cused on tech­nol­o­gy that helps pa­tients more ef­fi­cient­ly and cost-ef­fec­tive­ly with­in the fields of car­di­ol­o­gy, neu­rol­o­gy, der­mo-cos­met­ics, on­col­o­gy, gas­troen­terol­o­gy, and or­tho­pe­dics.

The work has al­ready be­gun. Five com­pa­nies have been cre­at­ed with this new in­jec­tion of funds, in­clud­ing Holi­Stick Med­ical, which is fo­cused on treat­ing se­ri­ous car­diac ail­ments with­out open-heart surgery; Ski­nosive, which is work­ing on tech­nol­o­gy to pre­vent skin can­cers; and Art­e­drone, whose au­tonomous mi­cro-ro­bots are be­ing en­gi­neered to pre­vent and treat cere­brovas­cu­lar is­sues. An­oth­er three are slat­ed for 2020, and the plan is to cre­ate up to a dozen com­pa­nies in to­tal.

“We build the com­pa­ny, we have 90% own­er­ship, and if we suc­ceed, we can say, thanks to Truf­fle oth­er­wise this com­pa­ny would not ex­ist,” Poulet­ty said. “If we fail, we say we were stu­pid and we don’t ac­cuse some­one else of mis­takes. It’s our suc­cess or our mis­takes.”

Vas Narasimhan (Photographer: Jason Alden/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

No­var­tis de­tails plans to axe 8,000 staffers as Narasimhan be­gins sec­ond phase of a glob­al re­org

We now know the number of jobs coming under the axe at Novartis, and it isn’t small.

The pharma giant is confirming a report from Swiss newspaper Tages-Anzeiger that it is chopping 8,000 jobs out of its 108,000 global staffers. A large segment will hit right at company headquarters in Basel, as CEO Vas Narasimhan axes some 1,400 of a little more than 11,000  jobs in Switzerland.

The first phase of the work is almost done, the company says in a statement to Endpoints News. Now it’s on to phase two. In the statement, Novartis says:

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Bob Nelsen (Lyell)

As bear mar­ket con­tin­ues to beat down biotech, ARCH clos­es a $3B ear­ly-stage fund

One of the biggest names in biotech investing has a whole lot of new money to spend.

ARCH Venture Partners closed its 12th venture fund early Wednesday morning, the firm said, bringing in almost $3 billion to invest in early-stage biotechs. The move comes about a year and a half after ARCH announced its previous fund, for almost $2 billion back in January 2021.

In a statement, ARCH managing director and co-founder Bob Nelsen appeared to brush off concerns about the broader market troubles, alluding to the downturn that’s seen several biotechs downsize and the XBI fall back to almost pre-pandemic levels.

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Peter Marks (Jim Lo Scalzo/Pool via AP Images)

FDA's VRB­PAC votes in fa­vor of adapt­ing the Covid-19 vac­cine to the lat­est Omi­cron vari­ant

The FDA’s Vaccine and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee on Tuesday gave the thumbs up — by a vote of 19-2 — that the FDA should require an Omicron-related component in this next season’s booster dose for Covid-19, which both Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna are hard at work on.

And while neither booster will likely be ready to go with adequate supplies for all American adults by the beginning of the next school year, the situation is still complex and fluid, with CBER Director Peter Marks telling the committee that it’ll take companies at least three months to ready their supplies for this expected next wave.

Lina Gugucheva, NewAmsterdam Pharma CBO

Phar­ma group bets up to $1B-plus on the PhI­II res­ur­rec­tion of a once dead-and-buried LDL drug

Close to 5 years after then-Amgen R&D chief Sean Harper tamped the last spade of dirt on the last broadly focused CETP cholesterol drug — burying their $300 million upfront and the few remaining hopes for the class with it — the therapy has been fully resurrected. And today, the NewAmsterdam Pharma crew that did the Lazarus treatment on obicetrapib is taking another big step on the comeback trail with a €1 billion-plus regional licensing deal, complete with close to $150 million in upfront cash.

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How pre­pared is bio­phar­ma for the cy­ber dooms­day?

One of the largest cyberattacks in history happened on a Friday, Eric Perakslis distinctly remembers.

Perakslis, who was head of Takeda’s R&D Data Sciences Institute and visiting faculty at Harvard Medical School at the time, had spent that morning completing a review on cybersecurity for the British Medical Journal. Moments after he turned it in, he heard back from the editor: “Have you heard what’s going on right now?”

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Sanofi to cut in­sulin prices for unin­sured from $99 to $35, match­ing the in­sulin cap com­ing through Con­gress

As the House-passed bill to cap the monthly price of insulin at $35 nationwide makes its way for a Senate vote soon, Sanofi announced Wednesday morning that beginning next month it will cut the monthly price of its insulins for uninsured Americans to $35, down from $99 previously.

The announcement from Sanofi, which allows the uninsured to buy one or multiple Sanofi insulins (Lantus, Insulin Glargine U-100, Toujeo, Admelog, and Apidra) at $35 for a 30-day supply effective July 1, follows House passage (232-193) of the monthly cap in March, with just 12 Republicans voting in favor of the measure.

Shehnaaz Suliman, ReCode Therapeutics CEO (Photo by Jennifer Leahy)

Pfiz­er, Sanofi-backed LNP out­fit goes back to the well and draws $120M for its trek to the clin­ic

A preclinical biotech touting a five-lipid drug delivery platform is looking to break out of its preclinical mold, and it just secured a sizable raise to do just that.

ReCode Therapeutics reported Wednesday morning that Leaps by Bayer and Matrix Capital Management affiliate AyurMaya co-led a Series B extension round, adding $120 million to the biotech’s previous Series B haul of $80 million. The biotech has been backed by several players in Big Pharma, notably Pfizer and Sanofi from its original Series B close last fall. And in this extension — featuring all new investors, CEO Shehnaaz Suliman tells Endpoints News — Amgen’s VC arm jumped on board.

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Eliot Charles, MiroBio executive chairman

Ox­ford spin­out nabs al­most $100M in new cash to test PD-1 in au­toim­mune dis­eases and hunt for a CEO

After about 15 years in an Oxford lab and three more years in the upstart world following a 2019 spinout, MiroBio is ready to enter UK clinical trials and, en route to the clinic, the biotech has picked up $97 million in Series B funds.

The £80 million financing round kicked off in earnest last September and includes a transatlantic consortium — led by Medicxi — ready to bankroll that first clinical trial, beginning “imminently,” as well as the debut study of a second program thereafter, executive chair Eliot Charles, an SR One venture partner, told Endpoints News.

Hank Safferstein, Generian CEO

Astel­las sub­sidiary to part­ner with Pitts­burgh up­start in search for 'un­drug­gable' pro­teins

As Astellas continues its drive to build out its gene therapy portfolio and capabilities, a subsidiary of the Japanese pharma company has entered into a collaboration with a little-known Pittsburgh biotech.

Astellas-owned Mitobridge and Generian Pharmaceuticals announced on Wednesday that they will work together in a new deal for “undruggable” protein targets. Generian will net an undisclosed upfront payment and could get up to $180 million in milestones, should anything from its platform prove successful, as well as single-digit royalties on global net sales.