Chris Garabedian. Perceptive

Per­cep­tive teams up with Chris Garabe­di­an to open up a new, $210M biotech fund fo­cused on A rounds

Per­cep­tive Ad­vi­sors is one of those pro­lif­ic biotech in­vestor groups which has tra­di­tion­al­ly en­joyed ze­ro­ing in on clin­i­cal-stage in­vest­ments and crossover rounds, a group that prefers more es­tab­lished drug de­vel­op­ment play­ers with near-term pay­off po­ten­tial.

But now they’re part­ner­ing with Xon­toge­ny chief and long­time biotech en­tre­pre­neur Chris Garabe­di­an on a $210 mil­lion fund — with mon­ey con­tributed by in­sti­tu­tion­al in­vestors and fam­i­ly funds — to go in­to the launch space with their first ear­ly-stage VC fund. Dubbed the Per­cep­tive Xon­toge­ny Ven­ture Fund, LP, or just PXV Fund, they plan to fa­vor up­starts that Garabe­di­an is fos­ter­ing in his in­cu­ba­tor. But they’ll al­so plan to reach out­side that in­ner cir­cle for more A rounds to back, with plans to dom­i­nate ini­tial fund­ing with $10 mil­lion to $20 mil­lion per new­born biotech.

And they have a new start­up to un­veil to­day in the com­ing out par­ty. It’s called Quel­lis Bio­sciences, comes out of Virid­i­an and gets $17 mil­lion in PXV mon­ey to ad­vance undis­closed an­ti­bod­ies for undis­closed tar­gets. body tech,The biotech has a li­cense to use Xen­cor’s an­ti­body tech, de­signed to ex­tend their half life to re­duce dos­ing.

Adam Stone Per­cep­tive

Click on the im­age to see the full-sized ver­sion

You can ex­pect a lot of the ear­ly mon­ey in to stay fair­ly well hid­den. As Garabe­di­an notes in an in­ter­view, they aren’t all go­ing to make it. So they’ll wait to be more forth­com­ing about some of these star­tups as they grow more as­sured of their po­ten­tial.

PXV has al­ready iden­ti­fied about half of the 8 to 10 com­pa­nies they plan to back out of fund 1. “I think this will go pret­ty quick­ly,’ says Garabe­di­an, who ex­pects the full $210 mil­lion to be com­mit­ted by late 2020 or ear­ly 2021. And once they’re done, they plan to ramp up fund 2.

Xon­toge­ny has pre­ferred a “more lean drug de­vel­op­ment ap­proach,” says Garabe­di­an, avoid­ing the big plays and cen­ter­ing on spe­cif­ic as­sets. And that suits Per­cep­tive just fine.

Per­cep­tive has large­ly stayed out of star­tups in the past be­cause “we don’t have peo­ple who have that ex­pe­ri­ence,” says Adam Stone, Per­cep­tive’s chief in­vest­ment of­fi­cer. But they do have a long­stand­ing re­la­tion­ship with Garabe­di­an, best known for his stint at the helm of Sarep­ta, who fills that hands-on role along with his team at Xon­toge­ny.

Stick­ing with an as­set-cen­tric ap­proach gives the new fund op­tions; M&A deals and part­ner­ing have been hot now for sev­er­al years for com­pa­nies get­ting to clin­i­cal proof of con­cept. IPOs have been run­ning steady as well. And if any of those win­dows close for a while, the part­ners ex­pect to be able to push through to when things pick back up again.

Michel Younatsos, Biogen CEO (via YouTube)

UP­DAT­ED: Bio­gen scores a pri­or­i­ty re­view for its Alzheimer's drug ad­u­canum­ab, mov­ing one gi­ant leap for­ward in its con­tro­ver­sial quest

Biogen scored a big win at the FDA today as regulators accepted their application for the controversial Alzheimer’s drug aducanumab and gave it a priority review.

The PDUFA date is March 7, 2021.

Significantly, Biogen says it did not use its priority review voucher to win special treatment at the FDA. The agency handed that out gratis.

That’s the ideal scenario Biogen was looking for as disappointed analysts wondered aloud about the delayed application earlier in the year.

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Ryan Watts, Denali CEO

Bio­gen hands De­nali $1B-plus in cash, $1B-plus in mile­stones to part­ner on late-stage Parkin­son’s drug

Biogen is handing over more than a billion dollars cash to partner with the up-and-coming neurosciences crew at Denali on a new therapy for Parkinson’s. And the big biotech is ready to pile on more than a billion dollars more in milestones — if the alliance is a success.

For Biogen $BIIB, the move on Denali’s small molecule inhibitors of LRRK2 puts them in line to collaborate on a late-stage program for DNL151, which is scheduled to start next year.

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Covid-19 roundup: No­vavax inks vac­cine deals with Japan and In­dia; As­traZeneca near­ing agree­ments with Japan and Brazil

Following the release this week of promising early data for their Covid-19 vaccine candidate, Novavax has announced collaborations to supply it to two countries — Japan and India.

The Maryland-based biotech announced a deal Friday morning with Takeda to develop and manufacture up to 250 million doses per year of its adjuvanted vaccine. And late Thursday afternoon, Novavax entered into an agreement with the Serum Institute of India to provide up to 1 billion doses to India and low- and middle-income countries.

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President Trump (AP Images)

FDA takes the lead on defin­ing es­sen­tial un­der Trump's 'Buy Amer­i­can' ex­ec­u­tive or­der — as in­dus­try warns of sup­ply chain dis­rup­tion

President Donald Trump has signed an executive order detailing how the federal government should help on-shore drug manufacturing — and the FDA will play a central role.

The agency now has three months to draw up the list of “essential medicines, medical countermeasures, and their critical inputs” that the US must have available at all times. Various departments and agencies are then directed to buy these drugs and their ingredients from American manufacturers.

In sur­pris­ing set­back, com­bo of Roche’s Tecen­triq and chemo fails to help pa­tients with triple-neg­a­tive breast can­cer

Roche broke ground last year when they secured the first FDA approval for a checkpoint therapy in triple-negative breast cancer, a notoriously difficult-to-treat indication that has been passed over by the wave of targeted therapies.

Now, though, doctors are puzzling over why a combination of drugs meant to make that therapy more potent instead appeared to make it less effective.

Roche said Thursday that in a Phase III trial, combining their PD-1/L1 checkpoint therapy Tecentriq with the chemotherapy paclitaxel, did not significantly improve progression-free survival for patients with locally advanced or metastatic triple-negative breast cancer over giving those patients chemotherapy alone. In fact, patients on the Tecentriq-chemo arm had lower overall survival than patients on chemo, although the drugmaker cautioned that the trial was not powered for that endpoint and the data were immature.

Sean Nolan and RA Session II

Less than 3 months af­ter launch, the AveX­is crew’s Taysha rais­es $95M Se­ries B. Is an IPO next?

The old AveXis team is moving quickly in Dallas.

Three months ago, they launched Taysha with $30 million in Series A funding and a pipeline of gene therapies out of UT Southwestern. Now, they’ve announced an oversubscribed $95 million Series B. And the biotech is declining all interview requests on the news, the kind of broad silence that can indicate an IPO is in the pipeline.

Biotechs, including those relatively fresh off launch, have been going public at a frenzy since the pandemic began. Investors have showed a willingness to put upwards of $200 million to companies that have yet to bring a drug into the clinic. Still, if Taysha were to go public in the near future, it would be perhaps the shortest path from launch to IPO in recent biotech memory.

Ben Dake (Source: Aerovate)

RA Cap­i­tal-backed Aerovate launch­es with $72.6M to treat PAH with a re­pur­posed can­cer med

The landmark cancer drug imatinib has been on the market since 2001, first sold by Novartis as Gleevec and in recent years as a generic. Now, a new Boston biotech is aiming to repurpose the drug as a treatment for pulmonary arterial hypertension.

Aerovate emerged from stealth Thursday and announced a $72.6 million Series A, which will be used to develop and run trials for its candidate AV-101 — a dry powder version of imatinib meant to be used with an inhaler. The company emerged from RA Capital’s incubator and funding was led by Sofinnova.

President Trump speaks with members of the media before boarding Marine One (AP Images)

'Oc­to­ber is com­ing,' and every­one still wants to know if a Covid-19 vac­cine will be whisked through the FDA ahead of the elec­tion

Right on the heels of a lengthy assurance from FDA commissioner Stephen Hahn that the agency will not rush through a quick approval for a Covid-19 vaccine, the President of the United States has some thoughts on timing he’d like to share.

In an exchange with Fox News’ Geraldo Rivera on Thursday, President Trump allowed that a vaccine could be ready to roll “sooner than the end of the year, could be much sooner.”

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Yvonne Greenstreet, incoming Alnylam president (Alnylam)

Al­ny­lam pres­i­dent Bar­ry Greene leaves af­ter 17 years, hand­ing po­si­tion over to Yvonne Green­street as biotech looks to­ward prof­itabil­i­ty

After 17 years helping Alnylam steer control of buzzy but unproven science they promised could change medicine, president Barry Greene is leaving the RNAi biotech just as that technology is beginning to hit prime time.

Leaving to “pursue outside interests in the biopharmaceutical industry,” the longtime executive will hand over the reins on October 1 to current COO Yvonne Greenstreet. Greenstreet, a former Pfizer and GlaxoSmithKline executive, inherits the high-profile spot at a company that’s proven its tech can work in rare diseases but now faces the daunting task of turning a couple successes and a new mountain of cash into drugs that are broadly applicable and, crucially, profitable.

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