Not your mom’s pro­bi­ot­ic: GV-backed Evelo teams up with Mayo Clin­ic on mi­cro­bio­me drugs

Google Ven­tures-backed Evelo is join­ing forces with the Mayo Clin­ic to de­vel­op and even­tu­al­ly com­mer­cial­ize a fam­i­ly of gut bugs as med­i­cine.

You read that right. Evelo’s re­search is based on the idea that mi­crobes found in the gut can in­flu­ence bi­o­log­i­cal sys­tems through­out the rest of the body. If true, that means nat­u­ral­ly oc­cur­ring hu­man mi­crobes could po­ten­tial­ly be de­vel­oped as a new class of med­i­cine, the com­pa­ny’s CEO Sim­ba Gill tells me.

“What we have is a new modal­i­ty of med­i­cine that al­lows for oral, safe, con­ve­nient, and high­ly ef­fi­ca­cious drugs,” Gill said. “Sin­gle mi­crobes will act as med­i­cine to treat dis­ease.”

Mayo’s mi­crobes

Evelo calls these med­i­cine-wor­thy bugs “mon­o­clon­al mi­cro­bials,” and they’re not the on­ly ones in­trigued by their po­ten­tial phar­ma­co­log­i­cal us­es. The Mayo Clin­ic has been look­ing in­to this field for sev­er­al years, and re­cent­ly pub­lished da­ta in Cell and Arthri­tis and Rheuma­tol­ogy show­ing that pop­ping pills packed with cer­tain mi­cro­bials could sup­press mul­ti­ple scle­ro­sis and rheuma­toid arthri­tis. Mayo proved that in mice, and now Evelo wants to take the strain in­to the clin­ic.

The deal with Mayo gets Evelo a world­wide ex­clu­sive li­cense to the strains and sur­round­ing IP. The com­pa­ny did not dis­close the fi­nan­cial de­tails of the deal.

“This col­lab­o­ra­tion pro­vides us a new strain and fam­i­ly of mi­crobes backed by strong in­tel­lec­tu­al prop­er­ty,” Gill said. “Mayo has done great foun­da­tion­al work, and now we can rapid­ly take this fam­i­ly of mi­crobes in­to de­vel­op­ment by next year.”

Evelo isn’t di­vulging ex­act­ly which dis­eases it will take on first, but did say they’ll be look­ing in­to in­flam­ma­to­ry and neu­roin­flam­ma­to­ry dis­eases.

Evelo’s ex­ist­ing pipeline

As a com­pa­ny, Evelo emerged in 2016 by com­bin­ing two fledg­ling star­tups in­cu­bat­ed by Flag­ship Pi­o­neer­ing. Backed with $100 mil­lion from in­vestors in­clud­ing GV and Flag­ship, the com­pa­ny has been busy tak­ing on this am­bi­tious task of cre­at­ing a new drug modal­i­ty.

“What we’re do­ing is not straight for­ward,” Gill said. “Most peo­ple look at bal­anc­ing the gut ecosys­tem be­cause that’s the low hang­ing fruit. We went for the com­plex, more chal­leng­ing ap­proach. And that’s why we’re ahead of every­one else in this space.”

The new mi­crobes from Mayo add to Evelo’s ex­ist­ing vil­lage of mi­cro­bial fam­i­lies. The com­pa­ny is eval­u­at­ing how spe­cif­ic mi­crobes might in­flu­ence how the body’s im­mune sys­tem re­sponds to melanoma, re­nal and col­orec­tal can­cer, among oth­er dis­ease ar­eas. Gill was mum on ex­act­ly how many strains and pro­grams are on­go­ing, but said “sev­er­al” would en­ter the clin­ic next year.

The fu­ture of med­i­cine

Joseph Mur­ray

Gill has a rather bold pre­dic­tion that mon­o­clon­al mi­cro­bials will rev­o­lu­tion­ize med­i­cine.

“One of the rea­sons we’re so ex­cit­ed about this space is that — for many, many dif­fer­ent dis­eases — mon­o­clon­al mi­cro­bials could be used in com­bi­na­tion with or even dis­place bi­o­log­ics.”

And Mayo Clin­ic seems to agree.

“Our stud­ies show that hu­man de­rived mi­crobes can be used to treat mul­ti­ple im­muno­log­i­cal dis­eases well be­yond the gut,” said Joseph Mur­ray, pro­fes­sor of med­i­cine at Mayo Clin­ic.

Like the ad­vent of mon­o­clon­al an­ti­bod­ies, Gill be­lieves mon­o­clon­al mi­cro­bials will lead to a new wave of smarter drugs — more ef­fi­ca­cious, less tox­ic, and broad­ly ap­plic­a­ble to sev­er­al dis­ease ar­eas.

“Ef­fi­ca­cy, tox­i­c­i­ty, and con­ve­nience are the key at­trib­ut­es we’re look­ing at,” Gill said.

In those ar­eas so far, Gill said mon­o­clon­al mi­cro­bials’ per­for­mance is “strik­ing” in com­par­i­son to bi­o­log­ics.

Nick Leschly via Getty

UP­DAT­ED: Blue­bird shares sink as an­a­lysts puz­zle out $1.8M stick­er shock and an un­ex­pect­ed de­lay

Blue­bird bio $BLUE has un­veiled its price for the new­ly ap­proved gene ther­a­py Zyn­te­glo (Lenti­Glo­bin), which came as a big sur­prise. And it wasn’t the on­ly un­ex­pect­ed twist in to­day’s sto­ry.

With some an­a­lysts bet­ting on a $900,000 price for the β-tha­lassemia treat­ment in Eu­rope, where reg­u­la­tors pro­vid­ed a con­di­tion­al ear­ly OK, blue­bird CEO Nick Leschly said Fri­day morn­ing that the pa­tients who are suc­cess­ful­ly treat­ed with their drug over 5 years will be charged twice that — $1.8 mil­lion — on the con­ti­nent. That makes this drug the sec­ond most ex­pen­sive ther­a­py on the plan­et, just be­hind No­var­tis’ new­ly ap­proved Zol­gens­ma at $2.1 mil­lion, with an­a­lysts still wait­ing to see what kind of pre­mi­um can be had in the US.

Ted Love. HAVERFORD COLLEGE

Glob­al Blood Ther­a­peu­tics poised to sub­mit ap­pli­ca­tion for ac­cel­er­at­ed ap­proval, with new piv­otal da­ta on its sick­le cell dis­ease drug

Global Blood Therapeutics is set to submit an application for accelerated approval in the second-half of this year, after unveiling fresh data from a late-stage trial that showed just over half the patients given the highest dose of its experimental sickle cell disease drug experienced a statistically significant improvement in oxygen-wielding hemoglobin, meeting the study's main goal.

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News­mak­ers at #EHA19: Re­gen­eron, Ar­Qule track progress on re­sponse rates

Re­gen­eron’s close­ly-watched bis­pe­cif­ic con­tin­ues to ring up high re­sponse rates

Re­gen­eron’s high-pro­file bis­pe­cif­ic REGN1979 is back in the spot­light at the Eu­ro­pean Hema­tol­ogy As­so­ci­a­tion sci­en­tif­ic con­fab. And while the stel­lar num­bers we saw at ASH have erod­ed some­what as more blood can­cer pa­tients are eval­u­at­ed, the re­sponse rates for this CD3/CD20 drug re­main high.

A to­tal of 13 out of 14 fol­lic­u­lar lym­phomas re­spond­ed to the drug, a 93% ORR, down from 100% at the last read­out. In 10 out of 14, there was a com­plete re­sponse. In dif­fuse large B-cell lym­phoma the re­sponse rate was 57% among pa­tients treat­ed at the 80 mg to 160 mg dose range. They were all com­plete re­spons­es. And 2 of these Cars were for pa­tients who had failed CAR-T ther­a­py.

Neil Woodford, Woodford Investment Management via YouTube

Un­der siege, in­vest­ment man­ag­er Wood­ford faces an­oth­er in­vest­ment shock

Em­bat­tled UK fund man­ag­er Neil Wood­ford — who has con­tro­ver­sial­ly blocked in­vestors from pulling out from his flag­ship fund to stem the blood­let­ting, af­ter a slew of dis­ap­point­ed in­vestors fled fol­low­ing a se­ries of sour bets — is now pay­ing the price for his ac­tions via an in­vestor ex­o­dus on an­oth­er fund.

Har­g­reaves Lans­down, which has in the past sold and pro­mot­ed the Wood­ford funds via its re­tail in­vest­ment plat­form, has re­port­ed­ly with­drawn £45 mil­lion — its en­tire po­si­tion — from the in­vest­ment man­ag­er’s In­come Fo­cus Fund.

Gene ther­a­pies seize the top of the list of the most ex­pen­sive drugs on the plan­et — and that trend has just be­gun

Anyone looking for a few simple reasons why the gene therapy field has caught fire with the pharma giants need only look at the new list of the 10 most expensive therapies from GoodRx.

Two recently approved gene therapies sit atop this list, with Novartis’ Zolgensma crowned the king of the priciest drugs at $2.1 million. Right below is Luxturna, the $850,000 pioneer from Spark, which Roche is pushing hard to acquire as it adds a gene therapy group to the global mix.

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Search­ing for the next block­buster to fol­low Darza­lex, J&J finds a $150M an­ti-CD38 drug from part­ner Gen­mab

Now that J&J and Genmab have thrust Darzalex onto the regulatory orbit for first-line use in multiple myeloma, the partners are lining up a deal for a next-gen follow-on to the leading CD38 drug.


Janssen — J&J’s biotech unit — has its eyes on HexaBody-CD38, a preclinical compound generated on Genmab’s tech platform designed to make drugs more potent via hexamerization.


Genmab is footing the bill on studies in multiple myeloma and diffuse large B-cell lymphoma; once it completes clinical proof of concept, Janssen has the option to license the drug for a $150 million exercise fee. There’s also $125 million worth of milestones in play.

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Ab­b­Vie touts new da­ta for Hu­mi­ra suc­ces­sor; Gilead inks dis­cov­ery deal

→ Ab­b­Vie is tout­ing new pos­i­tive da­ta com­par­ing their ag­ing block­buster Hu­mi­ra with their hoped-for block­buster upadac­i­tinib. Over 48 weeks a larg­er pro­por­tion of pa­tients tak­ing the ex­per­i­men­tal drug ex­pe­ri­enced clin­i­cal re­mis­sion than in the con­trol arm with Hu­mi­ra. Their drug brought in $20 bil­lion last year, top­ping the scales in the num­ber 1 slot.

→ Gilead has turned to Van­cou­ver-based Ab­Cellera for its lat­est dis­cov­ery deal. Ab­Cellera will use its know-how in “sin­gle-cell screen­ing of nat­ur­al im­mune sources” to find an­ti­body can­di­dates for Gilead to pur­sue in the in­fec­tious dis­ease field. The deal in­cludes an up­front and mile­stones.

In a boost to Rit­ux­an fran­chise, Roche nabs quick ap­proval for po­latuzum­ab ve­dotin

Roche’s lat­est an­ti­body-drug con­ju­gate has crossed the FDA fin­ish line, gain­ing an ac­cel­er­at­ed ap­proval a full two months ahead of sched­ule.

Po­livy, or po­latuzum­ab ve­dotin, is a first-in-class drug tar­get­ing CD79b — a pro­tein promi­nent in B-cell non-Hodgkin lym­phoma. It will now be mar­ket­ed for dif­fuse large B-cell lym­phoma as part of a reg­i­men that al­so in­cludes the chemother­a­py ben­damus­tine and a ver­sion of rit­ux­imab (Rit­ux­an).

J&J gains an en­thu­si­as­tic en­dorse­ment from Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump for their big new drug Spra­va­to

Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump has lit­tle love for Big Phar­ma, but there’s at least one new drug that just hit the mar­ket which he is en­am­ored with.

Trump, ev­i­dent­ly, has been read­ing up on J&J’s new an­ti-de­pres­sion drug, Spra­va­to. And the pres­i­dent — who of­ten likes to break out in­to a full-throat­ed at­tack on greedy drug­mak­ers — ap­par­ent­ly en­thused about the ther­a­py in a meet­ing with of­fi­cials of Vet­er­ans Af­fairs, which has long grap­pled with de­pres­sion among vet­er­ans.