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)

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In­no­v­a­tive MedTech De­mands Spe­cial­ist Clin­i­cal Tri­al Reg­u­la­to­ry Af­fairs and De­sign

Avance Clinical is the Australian CRO for international biotechs providing world-class clinical research services with FDA-accepted data across all phases. With Avance Clinical, biotech companies can leverage Australia’s supportive clinical trials environment which includes no IND requirement plus a 43.5% Government incentive rebate on clinical spend. The CRO has been delivering clinical drug development services for international biotechs for FDA and EMA regulatory approval for the past 24 years. The company has been recognized for the past two consecutive years with the prestigious Frost & Sullivan CRO Best Practices Award and a finalist in Informa Pharma’s Best CRO award for 2022.

Mathai Mammen (Rob Tannenbaum, Endpoints News at BIO 2018)

Math­ai Mam­men makes an abrupt ex­it as head of the big R&D group at J&J

In an after-the-bell shocker, J&J announced Monday evening that Mathai Mammen has abruptly exited J&J as head of its top-10 R&D group.

Recruited from Merck five years ago, where the soft-spoken Mammen was being groomed as the successor to Roger Perlmutter, he had been one of the top-paid R&D chiefs in biopharma. His group spent $12 billion last year on drug development, putting it in the top 5 in the industry.

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Samantha Du, Zai Lab CEO

Any­one still look­ing for a CD47? Zai Lab shelves PhI pro­gram af­ter re­view­ing 'com­pet­i­tive land­scape'

Over the past few years, the promise of blocking CD47 — a “don’t eat me” signal co-opted by cancer cells — has sent drugmakers big and small into a frenzy. But one biotech is now bowing out.

Zai Lab is deprioritizing ZL-1201, its CD47 inhibitor, scrapping plans for a Phase II trial. It will now “pursue out-licensing opportunities,” the company said in its Q2 update. The decision was based on a review of the competitive landscape, it added, without going into further details.

Illustration: Kim Ryu for Endpoints News

Why non-opi­oid pain drugs keep fail­ing — and what's next for the field

In 1938, Rita Levi-Montalcini was forced to move her lab into her bedroom in Turin, as Mussolini’s facist government expelled Jewish people from studying or working in schools in Italy. Levi-Montalcini, then just a few years out of medical school and using sewing needles as scalpels in her makeshift lab, would soon discover nerve growth factor, or NGF, in chicken embryos.

Her discoveries formed the basis of our understanding of the peripheral nervous system and how cells talk to each other, and Levi-Montalcini went on to win the Nobel Prize in 1986. Much later, NGF was hailed as a promising target for new pain therapies, with some analysts quoting an $11 billion market. However, the latest anti-NGF candidate, Pfizer and Eli Lilly’s tanezumab, was rejected by the FDA last year because of a side effect that dissolved bone in some of its patients.

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Ted Love, Global Blood Therapeutics CEO

Up­dat­ed: Pfiz­er scoops up Glob­al Blood Ther­a­peu­tics and its sick­le cell ther­a­pies for $5.4B

Pfizer is dropping $5.4 billion to acquire Global Blood Therapeutics.

Just ahead of the weekend, word got out that Pfizer was close to clinching a $5 billion buyout — albeit with other potential buyers still at the table. The pharma giant, flush with cash from Covid-19 vaccine sales, apparently got out on top.

The deal immediately swells Pfizer’s previously tiny sickle cell disease portfolio from just a Phase I program to one with an approved drug, Oxbryta, plus a whole pipeline that, if all approved, the company believes could make for a $3 billion franchise at peak.

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HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra (Patrick Semansky/AP Images)

US weighs new route of ad­min­is­tra­tion for mon­key­pox vac­cine as cas­es climb — re­port

Less than a week after HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra declared monkeypox a national health emergency, reports have emerged that the US plans to extend its vaccine supply by opting for a different route of administration.

Officials are expected to call for intradermal injection of Bavarian Nordic’s Jynneos vaccine — the only shot approved specifically for monkeypox in the US — as opposed to subcutaneous injection, unnamed sources told both the New York Times and Washington Post on Tuesday.

'Messy at best': Is the US re­peat­ing the same Covid mis­steps with mon­key­pox mes­sag­ing?

When Kyle Planck first suspected he might have monkeypox in late June, he went to the CDC website and found six photos of different types of lesions. And that was about it for general public information.

Planck, who is a sixth-year PhD pharmacology researcher at Weill Cornell, kept looking though and found a separate part of the CDC website meant for healthcare professionals. There he found a medical slide deck with more pictures, professional journal articles and more details about symptoms and diagnosis.

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Andy Jassy, Amazon CEO (Isaac Brekken/AP Images for NFL, File)

Up­dat­ed: FDA slaps Ama­zon with a warn­ing let­ter for sell­ing OTC mole re­moval prod­ucts

The FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research on Tuesday released a warning letter sent last week to Amazon CEO Andy Jassy in Seattle for selling mole removal products over-the-counter, or, as the FDA explains, “introducing, delivering, or causing the introduction or delivery into interstate commerce of products that are unapproved new drugs.”

“There are no over-the-counter (OTC) drugs that can be legally sold for mole or skin tag removal, and FDA has safety concerns about drugs marketed OTC directly to consumers for these uses,” the agency said in its Aug. 4 warning.

Craig Thompson, Cerevance CEO

UP­DAT­ED: Mer­ck makes first big splash for Alzheimer’s drug R&D since 2017 fail, ink­ing re­search pact with Cere­vance

For the first time since discontinuing its late-stage Alzheimer’s program, Merck has found promise on the path forward in the memory-robbing disease.

After a Phase III flop of its drug verubecestat, the New Jersey Big Pharma axed the study in early 2018. More than four years later, the company is ready to sign up for another pact to test the waters of the befuddling disease.

This time, there’s $1.1 billion in biobucks on the line and a target that its partner says no other biopharma is looking at en route to finding the next treatment for Alzheimer’s, a neuroscience field that has hit hurdle after hurdle for decades.

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