Pfiz­er-backed Me­di­ar Ther­a­peu­tics ropes in an­oth­er Big Phar­ma in­vestor

A biotech cen­tered on treat­ing fi­bro­sis — born out of Mass Gen­er­al and Brigham and Women’s Hos­pi­tal — has re­ceived a fi­nan­cial boost.

Ac­cord­ing to an SEC fil­ing, the com­pa­ny has raised $31,761,186 in its lat­est fund­ing round, which in­cludes 17 in­vestors. The fil­ing lists six names at­tached to the com­pa­ny, in­clud­ing Mered­ith Fish­er, a part­ner at Mass Gen­er­al Brigham Ven­tures and Me­di­ar’s act­ing CEO.

Oth­er names in the fil­ing in­clude Pe­ter Park­er, the man­ag­ing gen­er­al part­ner at Mis­sion Bio­Cap­i­tal, and Michael Baran, a part­ner at Pfiz­er Ven­tures, who are mem­bers of Me­di­ar’s board. Nan­di­ta Shangari, man­ag­ing di­rec­tor of the No­var­tis Ven­ture Fund; Maina Bhaman, a part­ner at Sofinno­va Ven­tures; and An­dreas Ju­rgeit, a part­ner at Gimv, were al­so list­ed on the doc­u­ment.

End­points News has reached out for more in­for­ma­tion on the fund­ing. In an email, Fish­er said that Me­di­ar is not com­ment­ing at this time.

Me­di­ar, which was found­ed by Mass Gen­er­al Brigham Ven­tures and re­searchers from the in­sti­tu­tion in 2019, is still in the pre­clin­i­cal stage. The biotech is de­vel­op­ing can­di­dates to try and halt or re­verse fi­bro­sis by us­ing the cell known as the my­ofi­brob­last.

The biotech raised a seed ex­ten­sion in 2021, which brought on Pfiz­er Ven­tures and Ono Ven­ture In­vest­ment as new mem­bers to bring the to­tal back­ing to $20 mil­lion. Mass Gen­er­al Brigham Ven­tures led the ini­tial seed round in 2019, along with oth­er in­vestors, to sup­port a dis­cov­ery plat­form and the de­vel­op­ment of an­ti­body treat­ments.

This was not Pfiz­er’s first go-around with the com­pa­ny. In 2019, Me­di­ar was se­lect­ed as the win­ner of the Pfiz­er Gold­en Tick­et Pro­gram, pro­vid­ing the biotech with some bench space at Lab­Cen­tral, a shared lab­o­ra­to­ry space that is meant to act as a launch­pad for star­tups. The site is lo­cat­ed in Cam­bridge, MA, and is close to Pfiz­er’s pres­ence in Kendall Square.

Last year, Ex-Kymab CEO Si­mon Sturge was al­so brought on­to the team at Me­di­ar as ex­ec­u­tive chair­man.

Late Fri­day ap­proval; Trio of biotechs wind down; Stem cell pi­o­neer finds new fron­tier; Biotech icon to re­tire; 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.

I hope your weekend is off to a nice start, wherever you are reading this email. As for me, I’m trying to catch the tail of the Lunar New Year festivities.

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Pfiz­er lays off em­ploy­ees at Cal­i­for­nia and Con­necti­cut sites

Pfizer has laid off employees at its La Jolla, CA, and Groton, CT sites, according to multiple LinkedIn posts from former employees.

The Big Pharma confirmed to Endpoints News it has let go of some employees, but a spokesperson declined to specify how many workers were impacted and the exact locations affected. Earlier this month, the drug developer had confirmed to Endpoints it was sharpening its focus and doing away with some early research on areas such as rare disease, oncology and gene therapies.

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Jake Van Naarden, Loxo@Lilly CEO

Lil­ly en­ters ripe BTK field with quick FDA nod in man­tle cell lym­phoma

Eli Lilly has succeeded in its attempt to get the first non-covalent version of Bruton’s tyrosine kinase, or BTK, inhibitors to market, pushing it past rival Merck.

The FDA gave an accelerated nod to Lilly’s daily oral med, to be sold as Jaypirca, for patients with relapsed or refractory mantle cell lymphoma.

The agency’s green light, disclosed by the Indianapolis Big Pharma on Friday afternoon, catapults Lilly into a field dominated by covalent BTK inhibitors, which includes AbbVie and Johnson & Johnson’s Imbruvica, AstraZeneca’s Calquence and BeiGene’s Brukinsa.

In­vestor 'misalign­men­t' leads to tR­NA biotech's shut­ter­ing

A small biotech looking to carve a lane in the tRNA field has folded, an investor and a co-founder confirmed to Endpoints News.

Similar to Flagship’s Alltrna and other upstarts like Takeda-backed hC Bioscience, the now-shuttered Theonys was attempting to go after transfer RNA, seen as a potential Swiss Army knife in the broader RNA therapeutics space. The idea is that one tRNA drug could be used across a galaxy of disorders and diseases.

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Rodney Rietze, iVexSol CEO

Bris­tol My­ers, Charles Riv­er join Se­ries A fund­ing for iVex­Sol

Massachusetts-based iVexSol has secured funding to the tune of $23.8 million in its latest Series A round. The new investors include Bristol Myers Squibb, manufacturer Charles River Laboratories and Asahi Kasei Medical.

iVexSol is a manufacturer of lentiviral vectors (LVV), used in making gene therapies, and this latest round of fundraising brings its total Series A total over $39 million, which will be used to recruit more employees and bolster its technology.

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No­var­tis' ap­proved sick­le cell dis­ease drug fails to beat place­bo in PhI­II

Novartis’ sickle cell drug, approved in 2019 and branded as Adakveo, has failed an ongoing Phase III, according to preliminary results.

The Swiss pharma giant unveiled early data from the ongoing STAND Phase III study on Friday, saying that crizanlizumab showed no statistically significant difference between the drug at two different dose levels compared to placebo in annualized rates of vaso-occlusive crises that lead to a healthcare visit over the first year since being randomized into the trial.

Tony Johnson, Goldfinch Bio CEO (Goldfinch via YouTube)

Kid­ney dis­ease drug­mak­er Goldfinch Bio shuts down

Goldfinch Bio, attempting to make treatments for kidney diseases and diabetic nephropathy, is shutting down.

President and CEO Tony Johnson confirmed to Endpoints News Friday afternoon that the biotech shut down after “fundraising challenges in the current macro-environment.” Fierce Biotech first reported the news.

Johnson, who joined in 2017 after a stint as SVP of early clinical development at AstraZeneca, said in a text that the company “entered the ABC process recently,” referring to an assignment for the benefit of the creditors, which provides a different wind-down avenue than a bankruptcy.

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Filip Dubovsky, Novavax CMO

No­vavax gets ready to take an­oth­er shot at Covid vac­cine mar­ket with next sea­son plans

While mRNA took center stage at yesterday’s FDA vaccine advisory committee meeting, Novavax announced its plans to deliver an updated protein-based vaccine based on new guidance.

Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee (VRBPAC) members voted unanimously in favor of “harmonizing” Covid vaccine compositions, meaning all future vaccine recipients would receive a bivalent vaccine, regardless of whether they’ve gotten their primary series.

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FDA ap­proves an­oth­er in­di­ca­tion for Keytru­da, this time in the ad­ju­vant NSCLC set­ting

Merck’s blockbuster cancer treatment Keytruda has been handed another indication by the FDA.

The US regulator announced on Thursday that it has approved Keytruda to serve as an adjuvant treatment for non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC), which is its fifth indication in NSCLC and 34th indication overall.

According to a Merck release, the approval is based on data from a Phase III trial, dubbed Keynote-091, which measured disease-free survival in patients who received chemotherapy following surgery. The data from Merck displayed that Keytruda cut down on the risk of disease recurrence or death by 27% versus placebo.