Precision drug + diagnostics biotech scores modest Series A, retrofitting existing drug for new indication
A small biotech is going after sepsis — and it has raised some more money to advance that goal and get its newly-acquired drug into the clinic.
With $52 million in debt and equity funds via a Series A, precision therapeutics outfit Endpoint Health (no relation to Endpoints News) now has the capital to also consider expanding into autoimmune indications, CEO Jason Springs tells Endpoints News.
The funds will push the biotech’s platform and pipeline forward, plus move the startup’s in-licensed drug to Phase II clinical trials and submit an IND and IDE (Investigational Device Exemption) to the FDA later in 2022, the company said Thursday.
In terms of recent developments for the biotech, the Series A comes just a few months after Endpoint announced a collaboration and licensing deal with Spanish pharma and manufacturer Grifols for Antithrombin III, a drug originally approved in patients with hereditary antithrombin deficiency, an inherited blood clotting disorder. The planned indication is sepsis, a life-threatening condition where the body’s response to infection goes overboard and can lead to organ failure.
That deal included $25 million from Grifols for clinical development, and Endpoint gets exclusive rights to the drug in sepsis in all countries except for China. Endpoint also takes on future clinical development responsibilities, plus splitting the costs for manufacturing and paying Grifols royalties.
And while sepsis is the biotech’s first emphasis, Springs said it’s not the only one the biotech has on its radar. Part of the plan is looking at autoimmune indications, such as possibly rheumatoid arthritis and IBD.
Even though autoimmune indications are a much more competitive space in recent years thanks to the success of megablockbuster drugs such as Humira ($20 billion+ in annual sales is nothing to laugh at), Springs noted that there is room to find a niche. The CEO added:
It’s important to know that there are I think, more than 60 recognized autoimmune indications. So I mentioned areas like rheumatoid arthritis and inflammatory bowel disease, because they’re very well-known. That’s also where we have some data. But there are many, many indications where, despite advances in the more well-known autoimmune indications, like RA or IBD, there’s patients suffering from illnesses where they really have no next generation, or novel therapies that can resolve their disease. They’re stuck with steroids, which have a number of complicated problems if you take them systemically for too long. So we think that improving patients who are currently not being well-served by existing therapies is an important area.
Endpoint’s investors include Mayfield, Humboldt Fund, AME Cloud Ventures, Boom Capital, Alix Ventures, Yaya Capital, Wireframe Ventures, The Venture Collective, HCX Ventures and Global Health Investment Corporation (GHIC).
In short, the biotech has been primarily focused on its data platform after being founded in 2019. So far, the data platform is sort of the basis of the biotech, which has been working on developing drug candidates that target specific patient population groups. How those groups are identified is by the use of “companion diagnostics,” a blood test that Endpoint developed.
Springs told Endpoints that the results from the blood test feed into the biotech’s main data platform, mostly gene expression data and the measure of RNA, and goes out and looks for underlying patterns in patient biology. The CEO then elaborated about sepsis — and how the biotech found three subgroups of patients when taking a look at gene expression data. Springs called these groups A, B and C for simplicity’s sake.
“What we noticed is that, for example, there’s a group of patients that are having a robust but appropriate immune response,” Springs said. He added that “we call them type A patients. And these are patients that actually seem to have pretty good outcomes. They have an adaptive immune response, they’re fighting off their infection. Separate from those patients, we could see a group that we would call type B, and these are patients that are having a stronger inflammatory response, one that may lead to damage to the patient’s own body.”
Springs then discussed the third group of patients — type C — which Endpoint saw could experience complications in sepsis from coagulopathy, a condition that can result in excessive clotting. Springs further added that as these patients could form substantial numbers of blood clots and experience organ damage and high mortality rates, Endpoint hypothesized that the drug from Grifols could work — which is what they’re planning to test.
In terms of size, the biotech is currently about 25 strong, but with the new infusion of cash, Springs said the biotech is looking at hiring another 10-20 within the next 12-18 months.