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

Im­ple­ment­ing re­silience in the clin­i­cal tri­al sup­ply chain

Since January 2020, the clinical trials ecosystem has quickly evolved to manage roadblocks impeding clinical trial integrity, and patient care and safety amid a global pandemic. Closed borders, reduced air traffic and delayed or canceled flights disrupted global distribution, revealing how flexible logistics and supply chains can secure the timely delivery of clinical drug products and therapies to sites and patients.

In fi­nal days at Mer­ck, Roger Perl­mut­ter bets big on a lit­tle-known Covid-19 treat­ment

Roger Perlmutter is spending his last days at Merck, well, spending.

Two weeks after snapping up the antibody-drug conjugate biotech VelosBio for $2.75 billion, Merck announced today that it had purchased OncoImmune and its experimental Covid-19 drug for $425 million. The drug, known as CD24Fc, appeared to reduce the risk of respiratory failure or death in severe Covid-19 patients by 50% in a 203-person Phase III trial, OncoImmune said in September.

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Pascal Soriot (AP Images)

UP­DAT­ED: As­traZeneca, Ox­ford on the de­fen­sive as skep­tics dis­miss 70% av­er­age ef­fi­ca­cy for Covid-19 vac­cine

On the third straight Monday that the world wakes up to positive vaccine news, AstraZeneca and Oxford are declaring a new Phase III milestone in the fight against the pandemic. Not everyone is convinced they will play a big part, though.

With an average efficacy of 70%, the headline number struck analysts as less impressive than the 95% and 94.5% protection that Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna have boasted in the past two weeks, respectively. But the British partners say they have several other bright spots going for their candidate. One of the two dosing regimens tested in Phase III showed a better profile, bringing efficacy up to 90%; the adenovirus vector-based vaccine requires minimal refrigeration, which may mean easier distribution; and AstraZeneca has pledged to sell it at a fraction of the price that the other two vaccine developers are charging.

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Bob Nelsen (Photo by Michael Kovac/Getty Images)

Bob Nelsen rais­es $800M and re­cruits a star-stud­ded board to build the 'Fox­con­n' of biotech

Bob Nelsen spent his pandemic spring in his Seattle home, talking on the phone with Luciana Borio, the scientist who used to run pandemic preparedness on the National Security Council, and fuming with her about the dire state of American manufacturing.

Companies were rushing to develop vaccines and antibodies for the new virus, but even if they succeeded, there was no immediate supply chain or infrastructure to mass-produce them in a way that could make a dent in the outbreak.

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Peter Thiel (Riccardo Savi/Sipa via AP Images)

Tech bil­lion­aire Pe­ter Thiel backs a lead­ing psy­che­del­ic drug de­vel­op­er

Right on the heels of investing in antibody drug developer AbCellera, Facebook billionaire Peter Thiel has jumped into a syndicate putting up $125 million for a company with a portfolio of psychedelic drugs in the clinic for mental health.

The C round — which includes a $32 million conversion of notes to equity — will fuel the development programs at ATAI Life Sciences, a Berlin-based biotech that has assembled a portfolio of companies with psychedelic and non-psychedilc approaches to depression, anxiety and addiction.

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Carl Hansen, AbCellera CEO (University of British Columbia)

From a pair of Air Jor­dans to a $200M-plus IPO, Carl Hansen is craft­ing an overnight R&D for­tune fu­eled by Covid-19

Back in the summer of 2019, Carl Hansen left his post as a professor at the University of British Columbia to go full time as the CEO at a low-profile antibody shop he had founded called AbCellera.

As biotech CEOs go, even after a fundraise Hansen wasn’t paid a whole heck of a lot. He ended up earning right at $250,000 for the year. His compensation package included a loan — which he later paid back — and a pair of Air Jordan tennis shoes. His newly-hired CFO, Andrew Booth, got a sweeter pay packet than that — which included his own pair of Air Jordans.

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Vipin Suri, Catamaran Bio CSO

Cata­ma­ran Bio sails in­to the CAR-NK wa­ters with a $42M launch round

Catamaran Bio’s founding members decided to jump into the CAR-NK game last December over drinks at a trendy bar in Boston.

They were sitting around a table, discussing an MD Anderson study which provided some of the first clinical proof that natural killer (NK) cells can be reengineered to attack tumors, much like CAR-T therapies. It was a “long and lively” discussion, COO Mark Boshar recalls. And by the time it was over, they had a starting point to launch a company.

Leonard Schleifer, Regeneron CEO (Andrew Harnik/AP)

Trail­ing Eli Lil­ly by 12 days, Re­gen­eron gets the FDA OK for their Covid-19 an­ti­body cock­tail

A month and a half after becoming the experimental treatment of choice for a newly diagnosed president, Regeneron’s antibody cocktail has received emergency use authorization from the FDA. It will be used to treat non-hospitalized Covid-19 patients who are at high-risk of progressing.

Although the Rgeneron drug is not the first antibody treatment authorized by the FDA, the news comes as a significant milestone for a company and a treatment scientists have watched closely since the outbreak began.

Simeon George, SR One CEO (SR One)

Scoop: SR One crew com­pletes a com­pli­cat­ed spin­out from Glax­o­SmithK­line. And now they have a $500M fund to in­vest on their own

It’s taken close to 2 years, but Simeon George and his team at SR One have completed their spinout from GlaxoSmithKline, ending a saga as one of the longest running venture arms of Big Pharma as they go out on their own to forge the next chapter with a new and independent $500 million fund.

GSK is sticking with the spinout, this time as a minority investor — though a big one. And I’m told that the R&D group at GSK will remain involved in evaluating their new plays, helping with the scientific due diligence involved in scouting the world for new opportunities during a period of explosive growth in biotech investing.

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