Pe­ter Thiel jumps aboard Al­loy's lat­est $75M round, adding some heft to the an­ti­body dis­cov­ery out­fit's nascent plat­form

Errik An­der­son

In the world of ven­ture cap­i­tal, names mat­ter — and few names are big­ger than Sil­i­con Val­ley pow­er play­er Pe­ter Thiel. Af­ter mak­ing a sprin­kling of plays over the past cou­ple years, Thiel is now putting his weighty name be­hind an­ti­body play­er Al­loy Ther­a­peu­tics as part of a new fundrais­ing round.

Boston-based Al­loy, which was found­ed in 2017, closed a $75 mil­lion Se­ries C on Mon­day, head­lined by Thiel’s in­vest­ment. The biotech is build­ing a hu­man an­ti­body dis­cov­ery plat­form, dubbed ATX-Gx, that us­es high­ly im­muno­com­pe­tent trans­genic mice strains.

Pro­ceeds from the round will al­low Al­loy to ex­pand the scope of its plat­form as well as ex­pand its ca­pac­i­ty to take on more cus­tomers, ac­cord­ing to a re­lease. Cur­rent­ly, there are more than 70 com­pa­nies us­ing ATX-Gx in labs, Al­loy said.

“At Al­loy we are build­ing an ecosys­tem of col­lab­o­ra­tion across the bio­phar­ma com­mu­ni­ty to re­duce the bar­ri­ers of trans­la­tion and make bet­ter med­i­cines to­geth­er,” CEO Errik An­der­son said in a state­ment.

Fabi­an Hansen

Hav­ing Thiel on board will in­evitably help raise the com­pa­ny’s pro­file.

In 2017, Thiel made head­lines when he in­vest­ed more than $5 mil­lion in Pep­ti­log­ics, an an­tibi­ot­ic com­pa­ny fo­cused on al­ter­ing drug dis­cov­ery for un­met needs. Just a few months ago, Thiel al­so bet on Ab­Cellera, which at the time was a lit­tle known biotech. He con­tributed fund­ing and joined the com­pa­ny’s board as a non-ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor as it worked to de­vel­op what would ul­ti­mate­ly be­come the first an­ti­body treat­ment au­tho­rized for Covid-19 along­side part­ner Eli Lil­ly. They won $1.8 bil­lion in gov­ern­ment con­tracts to dis­trib­ute the drug in the US. That move came short­ly af­ter Thiel spoke out against the US fed­er­al gov­ern­ment’s han­dling of the Covid-19 pan­dem­ic.

Alaa Ha­lawa

8VC, Pre­sight Cap­i­tal and Thiel led the fund­ing round, and Mubadala Cap­i­tal, Founders Fund and Gain­gels par­tic­i­pat­ed as well. As a part of the fi­nanc­ing, Fabi­an Hansen, founder of Pre­sight, will join the board of di­rec­tors and Alaa Ha­lawa will come on as a board ob­serv­er.

“We have deep roots in com­pa­ny build­ing, par­tic­u­lar­ly in health­care,” Ha­lawa said in a state­ment. “Al­loy’s am­bi­tious long-term vi­sion is a nat­ur­al fit for our part­ner­ship.”

In De­cem­ber 2020, Al­loy teamed up with Maze Ther­a­peu­tics to cre­ate the spin­off com­pa­ny Broad­wing Bio. Broad­wing is fo­cused on oph­thal­mol­o­gy can­di­dates, an area that has been lack­ing in in­no­va­tion re­cent­ly.

So­cial im­age: Pe­ter Thiel (Pho­tog­ra­ph­er: Kiyoshi Ota/Bloomberg via Get­ty Im­ages)

In­side Track: Be­hind the Scenes of a Ma­jor Biotech SPAC

Dr. David Hung and Michelle Doig are no strangers to the SPAC phenomenon. As Founder and CEO of Nuvation Bio, a biotech company tackling some of the greatest unmet needs in oncology, Dr. Hung recently took the company public in one of this year’s biggest SPAC related deals. And as Partner at Omega Funds, Doig not only led and syndicated Nuvation Bio’s Series A, but is now also President of the newly formed, Omega-sponsored, Omega Alpha SPAC (Nasdaq: OMEG; oversubscribed $138m IPO priced January 6, 2021).

Aduhelm OK 'bit­ter­sweet' for ALS ad­vo­cates; Con­trast­ing Covid-19 vac­cine read­outs; GSK joins TIG­IT bat­tle; and more

Welcome back to Endpoints Weekly, your review of the week’s top biopharma headlines. Want this in your inbox every Saturday morning? Current Endpoints readers can visit their reader profile to add Endpoints Weekly. New to Endpoints? Sign up here.

With the busiest days of June now behind us, we’re starting to think seriously about the second half of the year. In August, we have scheduled a special report where Endpoints will compile a list of the 20 most influential R&D executives in biopharma. Know a luminary who should definitely be included? Nominate them now.

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Who are the lu­mi­nar­ies dri­ving the biggest ad­vances in bio­phar­ma R&D? End­points News is ask­ing for your nom­i­na­tions for a spe­cial re­port

In biopharma, driving a drug to market is the ultimate goal — but none of that happens without a strong research and development program. At the most successful companies, those R&D efforts are spearheaded by true innovators in the field who are always looking for that next novel mechanism of action or breakthrough safety profile.

Now, Endpoints News is asking you to tell us who those guiding lights are.

Leen Kawas, Athira CEO

Biotech founder placed on leave as $400M Alzheimer's start­up idea comes un­der scruti­ny

Athira Pharma, the Alzheimer’s biotech that emerged out of obscurity last year and raised nearly $400 million for a dark-horse approach to treating neurodegeneration, has found itself in sudden turmoil.

On Tuesday evening, the company released a terse statement announcing that CEO and founder Leen Kawas had been placed on administrative leave while an independent review board investigated “actions stemming” from her doctoral research at Washington State University. Mark Litton, who joined the company as COO two years ago, will take over day-to-day operations, they said.

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Bris­tol My­ers breaks the bank on Ei­sai's fo­late re­cep­tor ADC drug, lay­ing out more than $3B+ for rights

For years, innovation in oncology has been a crapshoot with Big Pharma — the whales at the table — dropping the big bucks for the key to the next generation of tumor fighters. Bristol Myers Squibb hasn’t exactly made a name for being an innovator in the space, but that doesn’t mean it won’t splash in when it sees a potential winner.

Now, with a massive check in hand, the drugmaker is willing to put its intuition to the test.

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Michael Chambers (L) and John Ballantyne

Dana­her strikes deal to buy boom­ing next-gen man­u­fac­tur­er Alde­vron for $9.6B

Life sciences conglomerate Danaher Corp. $DHR has struck a deal to buy the fast-growing Aldevron, one of the world’s top manufacturers of hotly sought-after plasmid DNA, mRNA and recombinant proteins for the burgeoning world of vaccine and drugmakers pushing some game-changing technologies.

Buyout talks set the stage for Danaher to settle on a $9.6 billion cash pact to acquire the private Fargo, ND-based company — a key supplier for a disruptive new Covid vaccine as well as a host of gene and cell therapy and CRISPR gene editing players — founded by Michael Chambers and CSO John Ballantyne as a crew of 2 back in 1998.

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Christian Hogg, Hutchmed CEO

Hutchmed files for $600M+ IPO in Hong Kong as lead on­col­o­gy drug su­r­u­fa­tinib awaits FDA's good graces

In oncology, a flush of Chinese-developed drugs has the biopharma industry rethinking the poles of power in R&D as the blossoming nation continues to make a name for itself and pick up bundles of cash in the process. Now, as its lead drug faces a pivotal FDA review, the company formerly known as Chi-Med is planting its flag on home soil with a massive public offering.

Hutchmed — recently renamed from Chi-Med, or Hutchison China MediTech — will look to raise $603 million as part of a Hong Kong IPO that serves as a homecoming of sorts for the Chinese-based oncology player, which has listed on Nasdaq since 2016.

FDA's con­tro­ver­sial Aduhelm de­ci­sion leaves ALS pa­tients feel­ing spurned

The FDA’s controversial approval of Biogen’s Aduhelm drug for Alzheimer’s disease has been met with fierce resistance from all corners of the biopharma industry, but few seem to be as upset with the decision as ALS patients and advocacy groups.

For all that’s already been written and discussed about the agency’s announcement, from the drug’s exorbitantly high price of $56,000 per year to criticism over lowered standards, ALS patients see something more. ALS patients and associations say they largely regarded Aduhelm’s approval as a bittersweet double standard: happy that those with Alzheimer’s have a new drug available, but questioning how the FDA evaluated Biogen’s drug compared to the experimental programs being studied for their own disease.

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Spring reg­u­la­to­ry agen­da: What’s com­ing soon-ish from the FDA

The FDA’s lack of a permanent commissioner does not seem to be halting its progress to propose and finalize dozens of new regulations, with the latest batch covering everything from adverse event reporting to supplemental application submissions to annual reports for INDs.

Overall, FDA expects to release more than 40 new proposed regulations and finalize another 24 in the coming months and years.

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