Nu­mero quat­tro: Im­munol­o­gy ex­perts at deal-fo­cused IFM line up $55.5M for the next leg of their drug ex­plo­ration jour­ney

It’s pipeline prim­ing time at IFM Ther­a­peu­tics. And they have the mon­ey to get the job done.

The im­munol­o­gy ex­perts at the dis­cov­ery out­fit have lined up $55.5 mil­lion in new ven­ture back­ing from an ex­pand­ed syn­di­cate — still in­clud­ing their big be­liev­ers at At­las. And it’s not hard to fig­ure out the mo­ti­va­tion.

Gary Glick

Gary Glick, who’s mov­ing from CEO to ex­ec­u­tive chair­man on this round, and his team have lined up a slate of deals for their ear­ly-stage work.

Just 2 months ago No­var­tis’s NI­BR stepped up with an $840 mil­lion buy­out op­tion tied to re­search fund­ing for ther­a­peu­tics that fire up the STING path­way. And they’ve reaped more than $600 mil­lion in cash from Bris­tol-My­ers and No­var­tis on both sides of NL­RP3, tamp­ing down as well as trig­ger­ing that path­way, in ad­di­tion to STING.

“The fi­nanc­ing will have a goal of grad­u­at­ing 2 pro­grams in­to sub­sidiaries,” says Mar­tin Sei­del, a NI­BR vet who’s now mov­ing up to the CEO post af­ter run­ning re­search for IFM over the last cou­ple of years.

Now comes their third sub­sidiary, IFM Quat­tro, as the crew al­so starts their own in­cu­ba­tor to play with some new ideas in the field.

Mar­tin Sei­del

They’re stick­ing to their area of ex­per­tise in the in­nate im­mune sys­tem, look­ing for new ways that work in fight­ing can­cer as well as new an­ti-in­flam­ma­to­ries. What ex­act­ly is on the hori­zon is a top­ic they aren’t ready to dis­cuss with End­points News, but there are a va­ri­ety of pos­si­bil­i­ties. Just a cou­ple of weeks ago a group of their sci­en­tists and col­lab­o­ra­tors pub­lished new work on the role the in­flam­ma­some plays in tau pathol­o­gy — a pos­si­ble new ap­proach to Alzheimer’s, where noth­ing has worked so far.

Lina Guguche­va

“So the plan at a high lev­el is to con­tin­ue to ex­e­cute on the strat­e­gy: Take tar­get spe­cif­ic pro­grams in­to sub­sidiaries” and then hunt up part­ners around the IND stage, says Lina Guguche­va, the BD chief at IFM. The new ven­ture round will be enough to fu­el the com­pa­ny of 35 staffers for the next 3 years or so as it sets up the new sub­sidiaries and starts to look to ex­e­cute new deals.

With their track record, back­ers have good rea­son to be­lieve that IFM has de­cent odds of pay­ing off again with a sol­id mul­ti­ple in a rel­a­tive­ly short span of time. As a re­sult, says Glick, there was plen­ty of in­ter­est from new in­vestors, and they opt­ed to let Omega Funds in­to the small syn­di­cate, along­side At­las and Abing­worth. Omega’s Pauli­na Hill joins Jean-Fran­cois Formela at At­las and Shel­ley Chu from Abing­worth on the board.

So what’s with the Ital­ian num­ber­ing sys­tem at IFM? Glick says it was in­spired by a tra­di­tion­al 12 course Ital­ian meal. And that leaves IFM prepar­ing the main course.

So­cial im­age: Mar­tin Sei­del, Gary Glick, Lina Guguche­va

How one start­up fore­told the neu­ro­science re­nais­sance af­ter '50 years of shit­show'

In the past couple of years, something curious has happened: Pharma and VC dollars started gushing into neuroscience research.

Biogen’s controversial new Alzheimer’s drug Aduhelm has been approved on the basis of removing amyloid plaque from the brain, but the new neuro-focused pharma and biotechs have much loftier aims. Significantly curbing or even curing the most notorious disorders would prove the Holy Grail for a complex system that has tied the world’s best drug developers in knots for decades.

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Ryan Watts, Denali CEO

De­nali slips as a snap­shot of ear­ly da­ta rais­es some trou­bling ques­tions on its pi­o­neer­ing blood-brain bar­ri­er neu­ro work

Denali Therapeutics had drummed up considerable hype for their blood-brain barrier technology since launching over six years ago, hype that’s only intensified in the last 14 months following the publications of a pair of papers last spring and proof of concept data earlier this year. On Sunday, the South San Francisco-based biotech gave the biopharma world the next look at in-human data for its lead candidate in Hunter syndrome.

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Why is On­col­o­gy Drug De­vel­op­ment Re­search Late to the Dig­i­tal Bio­mark­ers Game?

During the recent Annual ASCO Meeting, thousands of cancer researchers and clinicians from across the globe joined together virtually to present and discuss the latest findings and breakthroughs in cancer research and care. There were more than 5000+ scientific abstracts presented during this event, yet only a handful involved the use of motion-tracking wearables to collect digital measures relating to activity, sleep, mobility, functional status, and/or quality of life. Although these results were a bit disappointing, they should come as no surprise to those of us in the wearable technology field.

Bob Bradway, Amgen CEO (Scott Eisen/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Am­gen bel­lies back up to the M&A ta­ble for an­oth­er biotech buy­out, this time with a $2.5B deal for an an­ti­body play­er fo­cused on PS­MA

Five months after Amgen CEO Bob Bradway stepped up to the M&A table and acquired Five Prime for $1.9 billion, following up with the smaller Rodeo acquisition, he’s gone back in for another biotech buyout.

This time around, Amgen is paying $900 million cash while committing up to $1.6 billion in milestones to bag the privately held Teneobio, an antibody drug developer that has expertise in developing new bispecifics and multispecifics. In addition, Amgen cited Teneobio’s “T-cell engager platform, which expands on Amgen’s existing leadership position in bispecific T-cell engagers by providing a differentiated, but complementary, approach to Amgen’s current BiTE platform.”

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Art Levinson (Calico)

Google-backed Cal­i­co dou­bles down on an­ti-ag­ing R&D pact with Ab­b­Vie as part­ners ante up $1B, start to de­tail drug tar­gets

Seven years after striking up a major R&D alliance, AbbVie and Google-backed anti-aging specialist Calico are doubling down on their work with a joint, $1 billion commitment to continuing their work together. And they’re also beginning to offer some details on where this project is taking them in the clinic.

According to their statement, each of the two players is putting up $500 million more to keep the labs humming.

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Andrea Pfeifer, AC Immune CEO (AC Immune)

Look­ing to repli­cate Covid-19 suc­cess in neu­ro, BioN­Tech back­ers bet on AC Im­mune and its new­ly-ac­quired Parkin­son's vac­cine

The German billionaires behind BioNTech have found a new vaccine project to back.

Through their family office Athos Service, twin brothers Thomas and Andreas Strüngmann are leading a $25 million private placement into Switzerland’s AC Immune — which concurrently announced that it’s shelling out $58.7 million worth of stock to acquire Affiris’ portfolio of therapies targeting alpha-synuclein, including a vaccine candidate, for Parkinson’s disease.

Rajiv Shukla, Constellation Alpha Holdings

Can­del gets busy IPO week mov­ing with down­sized raise as Ra­jiv Shuk­la's third SPAC goes pub­lic

Editor’s note: Interested in following biopharma’s fast-paced IPO market? You can bookmark our IPO Tracker here.

In a week that’s expected to see several biotechs price their IPOs, Candel Therapeutics got things kicked off Tuesday with a muted opener.

The company helmed by former GlaxoSmithKline vet Paul Peter Tak made its way to Nasdaq thanks to a $72 million raise, which was downsized by about 15% than originally anticipated, according to Renaissance Capital. Candel priced at $8 per share after initially seeking to launch in the $13 to $15 range.

Busi­ness­es and schools can man­date the use of Covid-19 vac­cines un­der EUAs, DOJ says

As public and private companies stare down the reality of the Delta variant, many are now requiring that their employees or students be vaccinated against Covid-19 prior to attending school or to returning or starting a new job. Claims that such mandates are illegal or cannot be used for vaccines under emergency use authorizations have now been dismissed.

Setting the record straight, the Department of Justice on Monday called the mandates legal in a new memo, even when used for people with vaccines that remain subject to EUAs.

Ugur Sahin, BioNTech CEO (Bernd von Jutrczenka/dpa via AP Images)

BioN­Tech is spear­head­ing an mR­NA vac­cine de­vel­op­ment pro­gram for malar­ia, with a tech trans­fer planned for Africa

Flush with the success of its mRNA Covid-19 vaccine, BioNTech is now gearing up for one of the biggest challenges in vaccine development — which comes without potential profit.

The German mRNA pioneer says it plans to work on a jab for malaria, then transfer the tech to the African continent, where it will work with partners on developing the manufacturing ops needed to make this and other vaccines.

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