Pe­ter Kolchin­sky and Raj Shah raise a $300M fund de­vot­ed to biotech star­tups

Josh Resnick RA Cap­i­tal

Pe­ter Kolchin­sky and Raj Shah have an­oth­er $300 mil­lion-plus to play with on the biotech ven­ture side of their in­vest­ment busi­ness. 

The two an­nounced Mon­day morn­ing that they’ve put to­geth­er their first pure-play ven­ture fund at RA Cap­i­tal Man­age­ment, which has been known to bet on just about every an­gle in health­care in­vest­ing — from rounds to fol­low-on in­vest­ments at pub­lic com­pa­nies. This new fund of theirs ar­rives well in­to a go-go era of new start­up fi­nanc­ing, with a par­tic­u­lar fo­cus on build­ing new biotechs.

The RA Cap­i­tal Nexus Fund closed at “just over” $300 mil­lion, they said in a state­ment. Add it to the rest of the mon­ey and their pri­vate deal ca­pac­i­ty jumps to $1 bil­lion, with $2.5 bil­lion un­der man­age­ment.

Nexus is ex­pect­ed to par­tic­i­pate in sub­stan­tial­ly all in­vest­ments in pri­vate com­pa­nies made by RA Cap­i­tal along­side its main, long­stand­ing fund, RA Cap­i­tal Health­care Fund L.P.

The out­spo­ken and oc­ca­sion­al­ly caus­tic Kolchin­sky is part­nered with an ur­bane and wide­ly-liked Shah. The co-heads of the ven­ture at RA are Josh Resnick and An­drew Levin, work­ing with 9 oth­er pro­fes­sion­als.

An­drew Levin RA Cap­i­tal

“The com­pa­nies RA Cap­i­tal ex­pects to build will range from sin­gle-as­sets to broad plat­forms, span­ning ear­ly dis­cov­ery through late clin­i­cal stage, across all ther­a­peu­tic ar­eas, such as neu­rol­o­gy, rare dis­or­ders, on­col­o­gy, and car­dio­vas­cu­lar dis­ease,” said Levin in a pre­pared state­ment.

The group has been build­ing an in­cu­ba­tor with 19 projects and two star­tups to their cred­it. There are al­so ven­ture part­ner and ex­ec­u­tive-in-res­i­dence pro­grams to build up the bench.

So­cial im­age: Pe­ter Kolchin­sky and Raj Shah, RA Cap­i­tal Man­age­ment

Tal Zaks, Moderna CMO (Moderna via YouTube)

UP­DAT­ED: NI­AID and Mod­er­na spell out a 'ro­bust' im­mune re­sponse in PhI coro­n­avirus vac­cine test — but big ques­tions re­main to be an­swered

The NIAID and Moderna have spelled out positive Phase I safety and efficacy data for their Covid-19 vaccine mRNA-1273 — highlighting the first full, clear sketch of evidence that back-to-back jabs at the dose selected for Phase III routinely produced a swarm of antibodies to the virus that exceeded levels seen in convalescent patients — typically in multiples indicating a protective response.

Moderna execs say plainly that this first stage of research produced exactly the kind of efficacy they hoped to see in humans, with a manageable safety profile.

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Trans­port Sim­u­la­tion Test­ing for Your Ther­a­py is the Best Way to As­sure FDA Ex­pe­dit­ed Pro­gram Ap­proval

Modality Solutions is an ISO:9001-registered biopharmaceutical cold chain engineering firm with unique transport simulation capabilities that support accelerated regulatory approval for biologics and advanced therapeutic medicinal products (ATMP). Our expertise combines traditional validation engineering approaches with regulatory knowledge into a methodology tailored for the life sciences industry. We provide insight and execution for the challenges faced in your cold chain logistics network.

BioAt­la rakes in $72.5M Se­ries D, ad­vanc­ing re­search for pH-de­tect­ing can­cer treat­ments

A little over a year after agreeing to a worldwide collaboration with hefty Chinese biotech BeiGene worth up to $270 million, BioAtla is ready for another haul.

The San Diego-based biotech pulled in a $72.5 million haul for their Series D financing, which the company announced Wednesday. Funds will go toward their four main clinical programs developing cancer treatments, two of which are currently in Phase II, BioAtla president and former Celgene COO Scott Smith said.

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Who are the women blaz­ing trails in bio­phar­ma R&D and lead­ing the fight against Covid-19? Nom­i­nate them for End­points' spe­cial re­port

One of the many inequalities the pandemic has laid bare is the gender imbalance in biomedical research. A paper examining Covid-19 research authorship wondered out loud: Where are the women?

It’s a question that echoes beyond our current times. In the biopharma world, not only are women under-represented in R&D roles (particularly at higher levels), their achievements and talents could also be undermined by stereotypes and norms of leadership styles. The problem is even more dire for women of color.

Sanjiv Patel, Relay CEO

Re­lay reaps $400M IPO wind­fall af­ter draw­ing the cur­tain on mo­tion-based drug de­sign pipeline

A red-hot venture market back in 2018 propelled Relay Therapeutics to a whopping $400 million crossover round. And now, the biotech is riding on a red-hot IPO market to a public debut that brought in the same exact amount.

The $400 million raise breaks down to 20 million shares sold at $20 each — above even the amended proposed range of $16 to $18.

It’s also double what Relay had penciled in with the initial S-1 filing, in yet another illustration that those figures are often nothing more than a placeholder these days.

Mene Pangalos, AstraZeneca R&D chief (AstraZeneca via YouTube)

A day af­ter Mod­er­na vac­cine re­sults, ru­mors swirl of pend­ing As­traZeneca da­ta

A day after Moderna and the NIH published much-anticipated data from their Phase I Covid-19 vaccine trial, attention is turning to AstraZeneca which, according to a UK report, is expected to publish its own early data tomorrow.

ITV’s Robert Peston reported that AstraZeneca will publish the Phase I data in The Lancet. 

AstraZeneca and Moderna represent the two most ambitious Covid-19 vaccine efforts, having set the quickest timelines for approval (though they were recently joined in that regard by the Pfizer-BioNTech partnership) and some of the loftiest goals in total doses. Yet there is even less known about AstraZeneca’s vaccine’s effect on humans than there was about Moderna’s before yesterday. Although, in a controversial move, Moderna released some statistics from its Phase I in May, AstraZeneca has yet to say anything about what it saw in its Phase I trial — a move consistent with the scientific convention to withhold data until it can be published in a peer-reviewed journal.

Stéphane Bancel, Moderna CEO (Steven Ferdman/Getty Images)

‘Plan­ning to vac­ci­nate every­one in the US,’ Mod­er­na out­lines ef­forts to sup­ply their Covid-19 vac­cine as man­u­fac­tur­ing ramps up ahead of PhI­II

Twelve days from the planned start of their Phase III pivotal trial, the executive crew at Moderna has set up the manufacturing base needed to begin production of the first 500,000 doses of their Covid-19 vaccine with plans to feed it into a global supply chain. But the initial batches will likely be ready in the US first, where company CEO Stéphane Bancel plans to be able to vaccinate everyone.

“We have started making commercial product at-risk, and will continue to do so every day and every week of the month,” Bancel told analysts during their morning call on the Phase I data just published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

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Carolyn Loew, Glympse Bio CEO

Gilead-part­nered Glympse snares $46.7M for their NASH-snoop­ing biosen­sors

Since its emergence at JP Morgan six years ago, the NASH field has been held back not only by the question of how to treat the disease, but also by the question of how you diagnose it. It’s simply not that difficult to tell if a liver is fatty or scarred or in full-on cirrhosis.

The method used in most trials is needle biopsy, where you take a hollow needle, stick it through someone’s skin and into their liver and suck out some cells. You stain those cells and examine them under the microscope. It’s safe but very painful, and that pain limits how often you can test a patient in a trial, and, down the line, how many of the millions of Americans suspected to have NASH would actually be tested for the disease and potentially prescribed an approved drug.

Covid-19 roundup: Vac­cine by end of 2020? Ken Fra­zier warns hype do­ing 'grave dis­ser­vice'

When it comes to setting expectations about a Covid-19 vaccine, Ken Frazier does not mince words.

Over a month after first casting doubts on the aggressive 12- to 18-month timeframe championed by the US government and his biopharma peers, the Merck CEO again cautioned against any hype around a quick vaccine approval.

In a wide-ranging interview with Harvard Business School professor Tsedal Neeley that touched other big topics such as race, Frazier emphasized that vaccines take a long time to develop. He would know: Out of the seven new vaccines introduced around the world in the past 25 years, four came from Merck.

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