Eric Murphy (Kinnate)

Or­biMed takes point on a new biotech launch, but al­most every­thing re­mains se­cret for now

If you missed the news of a new com­pa­ny launch backed by blue-chip in­vestor Or­biMed ear­ly Wednes­day morn­ing, that was by de­sign.

Al­terome Ther­a­peu­tics qui­et­ly emerged from stealth with $64 mil­lion in its Se­ries A, a fair­ly large sum for an ini­tial biotech raise. One would think, giv­en the in­dus­try’s pen­chant for bom­bast, such a raise would be ac­com­pa­nied by all the fan­fare that comes with an Or­biMed back­ing and enough cash to buy hun­dreds up­on hun­dreds of the most ex­pen­sive Tes­la mod­el.

Ar­jun Goy­al

But Al­terome put out on­ly a terse and am­bigu­ous press re­lease, in­stead cul­ti­vat­ing an au­ra of mys­tique. The choice to do so was in­ten­tion­al, said Ar­jun Goy­al, man­ag­ing di­rec­tor of Vi­da Ven­tures, which al­so backed the Se­ries A.

“We did have a dis­cus­sion, we kept it de­lib­er­ate­ly — I don’t want to say vague — but we want to be qui­et about the tar­gets we’re go­ing af­ter and the ap­proach­es we’re us­ing,” Goy­al told End­points News. “What I can say … is that it’s a very strong drug hunt­ing team lever­ag­ing new in­sights in com­pu­ta­tion­al chem­istry to go af­ter in­tractable on­col­o­gy tar­gets.”

Most promi­nent among the not-vague word­ing is the phrase “al­ter­ation-spe­cif­ic,” used three times through­out the 297-word press re­lease. Made in ref­er­ence to the types of tar­get­ed can­cer ther­a­peu­tics Al­terome is de­vel­op­ing, the ex­pres­sion hasn’t been ful­ly ex­plained and like­ly won’t be for some time. Goy­al de­clined to elab­o­rate and Al­terome does not have a web­site.

What Goy­al could talk about dealt with ar­eas of can­cer re­search where Al­terome wants to in­no­vate. For now, those in­clude cer­tain sol­id tu­mor fields with “a lot of room for im­prove­ments in out­comes,” he said, tick­ing off col­orec­tal can­cer, NSCLC and gas­tric can­cer as a few ex­am­ples. The raise will give Al­terome rough­ly three years of run­way to de­vel­op its set of pro­grams, at which point the biotech hopes to be near the clin­ic.

Ryan Cor­co­ran

Goy­al al­so ex­pand­ed on how he be­lieves Al­terome’s team could prove a big­ger dif­fer­en­ti­at­ing fac­tor than any kind of tech­nol­o­gy or plat­form. The com­pa­ny is led by Er­ic Mur­phy, for­mer­ly the CSO and founder of Kin­nate Bio­phar­ma, and was al­so co-found­ed by Ryan Cor­co­ran, di­rec­tor of Mass­a­chu­setts Gen­er­al Hos­pi­tal’s gas­troin­testi­nal can­cer cen­ter.

That duo’s ex­pe­ri­ence, Goy­al says, gives Al­terome a bet­ter chance to suc­ceed than oth­er biotech com­pa­nies out there.

“Ul­ti­mate­ly, the proof will be in the pud­ding,” he said. “It’s easy to start these com­pa­nies, but it’s all about ex­e­cu­tion. We do be­lieve, most im­por­tant­ly, that we have a team that has ex­e­cut­ed in the past and will ex­e­cute go­ing for­ward.”

In ad­di­tion to Or­biMed and Vi­da, Wednes­day’s raise al­so saw par­tic­i­pa­tion from Nex­tech In­vest, Box­er Cap­i­tal and oth­ers.

Rodney Rietze, iVexSol CEO

Bris­tol My­ers, Charles Riv­er join Se­ries A fund­ing for iVex­Sol

Massachusetts-based iVexSol has secured funding to the tune of $23.8 million in its latest Series A round. The new investors include Bristol Myers Squibb, manufacturer Charles River Laboratories and Asahi Kasei Medical.

iVexSol is a manufacturer of lentiviral vectors (LVV), used in making gene therapies, and this latest round of fundraising brings its total Series A total over $39 million, which will be used to recruit more employees and bolster its technology.

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Jake Van Naarden, Loxo@Lilly CEO

Lil­ly en­ters ripe BTK field with quick FDA nod in man­tle cell lym­phoma

Eli Lilly has succeeded in its attempt to get the first non-covalent version of Bruton’s tyrosine kinase, or BTK, inhibitors to market, pushing it past rival Merck.

The FDA gave an accelerated nod to Lilly’s daily oral med, to be sold as Jaypirca, for patients with relapsed or refractory mantle cell lymphoma.

The agency’s green light, disclosed by the Indianapolis Big Pharma on Friday afternoon, catapults Lilly into a field dominated by covalent BTK inhibitors, which includes AbbVie and Johnson & Johnson’s Imbruvica, AstraZeneca’s Calquence and BeiGene’s Brukinsa.

Tony Johnson, Goldfinch Bio CEO (Goldfinch via YouTube)

Kid­ney dis­ease drug­mak­er Goldfinch Bio shuts down

Goldfinch Bio, attempting to make treatments for kidney diseases and diabetic nephropathy, is shutting down.

President and CEO Tony Johnson confirmed to Endpoints News Friday afternoon that the biotech shut down after “fundraising challenges in the current macro-environment.” Fierce Biotech first reported the news.

Johnson, who joined in 2017 after a stint as SVP of early clinical development at AstraZeneca, said in a text that the company “entered the ABC process recently,” referring to an assignment for the benefit of the creditors, which provides a different wind-down avenue than a bankruptcy.

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Filip Dubovsky, Novavax CMO

No­vavax gets ready to take an­oth­er shot at Covid vac­cine mar­ket with next sea­son plans

While mRNA took center stage at yesterday’s FDA vaccine advisory committee meeting, Novavax announced its plans to deliver an updated protein-based vaccine based on new guidance.

Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee (VRBPAC) members voted unanimously in favor of “harmonizing” Covid vaccine compositions, meaning all future vaccine recipients would receive a bivalent vaccine, regardless of whether they’ve gotten their primary series.

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Pfiz­er lays off em­ploy­ees at Cal­i­for­nia and Con­necti­cut sites

Pfizer has laid off employees at its La Jolla, CA, and Groton, CT sites, according to multiple LinkedIn posts from former employees.

The Big Pharma confirmed to Endpoints News it has let go of some employees, but a spokesperson declined to specify how many workers were impacted and the exact locations affected. Earlier this month, the drug developer had confirmed to Endpoints it was sharpening its focus and doing away with some early research on areas such as rare disease, oncology and gene therapies.

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In­vestor 'misalign­men­t' leads to tR­NA biotech's shut­ter­ing

A small biotech looking to carve a lane in the tRNA field has folded, an investor and a co-founder confirmed to Endpoints News.

Similar to Flagship’s Alltrna and other upstarts like Takeda-backed hC Bioscience, the now-shuttered Theonys was attempting to go after transfer RNA, seen as a potential Swiss Army knife in the broader RNA therapeutics space. The idea is that one tRNA drug could be used across a galaxy of disorders and diseases.

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Eliot Forster, F-star CEO (Rachel Kiki for Endpoints News)

F-star gets down to the wire with $161M sale to Chi­nese buy­er as na­tion­al se­cu­ri­ty con­cerns linger

With the clock ticking on F-star Therapeutics’ takeover by a Chinese buyer, the companies are still scrambling to remove a hold on the deal from the US government’s Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States.

F-star and invoX Pharma said they are “actively negotiating” with CFIUS “about the terms of a mitigation agreement to address CFIUS’s concerns regarding potential national security risks posed by the transaction.”

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CBER Director Peter Marks (Susan Walsh/AP Images)

FDA ad­vi­so­ry com­mit­tee votes unan­i­mous­ly in fa­vor of bi­va­lent Covid shots re­plac­ing pri­ma­ry se­ries

The FDA’s Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee (VRBPAC) voted unanimously in favor of “harmonizing” Covid vaccine compositions, meaning all current vaccine recipients would receive a bivalent vaccine, regardless of whether they’ve gotten their primary series.

The vote marks an effort to clear up confusion around varying formulations and dosing schedules for current primary series and booster vaccines, as well as “get closer to the strains that are circulating,” according to committee member Paul Offit, professor of pediatrics at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.

John Rim, Samsung Biologics CEO (Samsung/PR Newswire)

Sam­sung Bi­o­log­ics spells out ex­pan­sion plans in South Ko­rea and US

The CDMO arm of one of South Korea’s largest conglomerates has posted its year-end results and plans for 2023, which include new construction.

Samsung Biologics netted north of KRW 3 trillion ($2.4 billion) in 2022 revenue and an operating profit of KRW 983.6 billion ($799 million), which the company touted on Friday as “record-high earnings.” The revenue boost was 55% compared to 2021.