Molly He, Element Biosciences CEO

Promis­es of a next-gen se­quenc­ing ap­proach earn El­e­ment Bio­sciences a hefty Se­ries C. Is an IPO next?

It took more than a decade and bil­lions of dol­lars for sci­en­tists to se­quence the first hu­man genome back in 2003. While DNA se­quenc­ing costs much less to­day, a slew of com­pa­nies is work­ing on next-gen ap­proach­es to save re­searchers time and mon­ey. El­e­ment Bio­sciences is one of them, and on Tues­day, the com­pa­ny un­veiled a $276 mil­lion round.

The Se­ries C brings El­e­ment’s to­tal raise to about $400 mil­lion. While the com­pa­ny de­clined an in­ter­view with End­points News, it ap­pears as though CEO Mol­ly He could have the com­pa­ny’s S-1 pa­pers in her back pock­et.

“El­e­ment will pro­vide re­searchers with in­no­v­a­tive tech­nol­o­gy choic­es and more flex­i­ble tools for sci­en­tif­ic ex­plo­ration,” He said in a state­ment. “We are work­ing to re­al­ize our vi­sion of dra­mat­i­cal­ly ex­pand­ing ac­cess to high qual­i­ty, low cost, easy-to-use ge­nomics tools.”

The San Diego-based biotech was found­ed in 2017, and se­cured $15 mil­lion in its first round of fund­ing two years lat­er. That same year, it moved in­to a new 30,000 square-foot fa­cil­i­ty on the Alexan­dria Grad­Labs cam­pus, bor­der­ing the Uni­ver­si­ty of Cal­i­for­nia, San Diego.

John Stuelp­nagel

The com­pa­ny says it has de­vel­oped a plat­form that “rein­vents all as­pects” of DNA se­quenc­ing, ac­cord­ing to chair­man John Stuelp­nagel, from sur­face chem­istry to de­tec­tion to da­ta analy­sis. The team raked in an $80 mil­lion Se­ries B round in Jan­u­ary 2020, then added an­oth­er $30 mil­lion to that last June.

“While the mar­ket is rapid­ly grow­ing, it is still chal­leng­ing for in­di­vid­ual labs to ac­cess such re­li­able tools with­out a sig­nif­i­cant amount of cap­i­tal and op­er­at­ing knowl­edge. The ge­nomics in­dus­try needs more com­pet­i­tive play­ers to ac­cel­er­ate re­search and dis­cov­ery,” El­e­ment an­nounced at the time.

By 2006, the cost to gen­er­ate a high-qual­i­ty ‘draft’ hu­man genome se­quence had dropped to about $14 mil­lion, ac­cord­ing to the NIH. And by late 2015, that fig­ure had fall­en be­low $1,500.

A slate of new and old in­vestors chipped in on the round, in­clud­ing Janus Hen­der­son In­vestors, Lo­gos Cap­i­tal, Meritech Cap­i­tal Part­ners, Coun­ter­point Glob­al (Mor­gan Stan­ley), T. Rowe Price, Fi­deli­ty Man­age­ment & Re­search Com­pa­ny, Fore­site Cap­i­tal, JS Cap­i­tal Man­age­ment,  RA Cap­i­tal Ad­vi­sors, and Ven­rock.

“With a com­bi­na­tion of El­e­ment’s pro­pri­etary tech­nolo­gies and the lat­est de­vel­op­ments in these re­spec­tive ar­eas, we have de­vel­oped a flex­i­ble, mod­u­lar, and high-per­form­ing se­quenc­ing plat­form,” He said in Jan­u­ary 2020.

El­e­ment is one of a se­ries of biotechs work­ing on easy-to-use, low cost ge­nomics tools. Promis­es of a next-gen se­quenc­ing ap­proach earned Om­niome — first found­ed by ex-Il­lu­mi­na em­ploy­ee Kan­daswamy (Swamy) Vi­jayan in 2013 — a $60 mil­lion Se­ries C round ear­ly last year. Last May, Roche ac­quired Stratos Ge­nomics, a Seat­tle-based de­vel­op­er of a new DNA tech­nol­o­gy de­signed to make ge­net­ic strands more easy to read. Back in 2019, Genap­sys un­veiled its 9.5-pound de­vice aimed at mak­ing DNA se­quenc­ing faster and cheap­er, and chal­leng­ing heavy­weight ri­val Il­lu­mi­na. This May, it pulled in $70 mil­lion in Se­ries D eq­ui­ty fi­nanc­ing. And the same month, Ox­ford Nanopore, a long­time in­vestor fa­vorite to chal­lenge Il­lu­mi­na, scored $273 mil­lion for its “scal­able” DNA and RNA se­quenc­ing tech.

Phar­ma re­acts to post-Roe; Drug­mak­ers beef up cy­ber de­fense; Boehringer, Roche qui­et­ly axe drugs; 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.

As a reminder, we are off on Monday for the Fourth of July. I hope this recap will kick off your (long) weekend well and that the rest of it will be just what you need. See you next week for a shortened edition!

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Paul Hudson, Sanofi CEO (Cyril Marcilhacy/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

FDA side­lines Paul Hud­son's $3.7B MS drug af­ter es­tab­lish­ing link to liv­er dam­age

One of Sanofi CEO Paul Hudson’s top picks in the pipeline — picked up in a $3.7 billion buyout 2 years ago — has just been sidelined in the US by a safety issue.

The pharma giant put out word early Thursday that the FDA has put their Phase III studies of tolebrutinib in multiple sclerosis and myasthenia gravis on partial clinical hold, halting enrollment and suspending dosing for patients who have been on the drug for less than 60 days. Patients who have completed at least 60 days of treatment can continue therapy as researchers explore a “limited” — but unspecified in Sanofi’s statement — number of cases of liver injury.

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Eric Hughes, incoming Teva EVP of global R&D and CMO

Te­va chief raids Ver­tex for his new glob­al head of re­search and de­vel­op­ment

Teva CEO Kåre Schultz has found his new R&D chief and CMO in Vertex’s ranks.

The global generics giant, which has some 3,500 staffers in the R&D group, has named Eric Hughes to the top research spot in the company. He’ll be replacing Hafrun Fridriksdottir, who held the role for close to five years, on Aug. 1.

Hughes hasn’t been at Vertex for long, though. He jumped from Novartis less than a year ago, after heading the immunology, hepatology & dermatology global development unit. Before that, he completed a five-year stint as head of early clinical research for the specialty discovery medicine department in the exploratory clinical & translational research group at Bristol Myers Squibb, according to his LinkedIn profile.

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#BIO22: Man­ag­ing a biotech in tur­bu­lent times. 'There's a per­fect shit­show out there'

On Tuesday, June 14, Endpoints News EIC John Carroll sat down with a group of biotech execs to discuss the bear market for industry stocks and how they were dealing with it. Here’s the conversation, which has been lightly edited for brevity.

Martin Meeson, sponsor opening:

Thank you, John. Hello everyone. My name’s Martin Meeson, I’m the CEO of Fujifilm Diosynth. For those of you who don’t know Fujifilm Diosynth, we operate in the development of clinical and commercial product scale up, we have facilities in Europe and the US, and around about 4,000 employees. We run on average about 150 programs, so when it comes to managing in turbulent times over the last two years, we’ve had quite a lot of experience of that. Not just keeping the clinical pipelines and the commercial pipelines open, but also our response to the pandemic and the molecules that we’ve had within there. One of the phrases that I coined probably about a year ago when we were talking at JP Morgan, was I talked about managing through turbulent times. Well, it’s become the fact that we are not managing and leading through these times, we are managing in them, which is why that’s really the purpose of and the topic that we’ve got today.

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On Friday, Lonza announced plans to construct a large-scale commercial drug product fill and finish facility in the town of Stein, Switzerland.

Lon­za to in­vest $500M+ on fill-fin­ish fa­cil­i­ty on its home turf

Lonza has been expanding its reach across the globe, bringing sites in China and the US online this year, but now they are looking closer to home for their next major investment.

The Swiss manufacturer on Friday announced plans to construct a large-scale commercial drug fill and finish facility in the town of Stein, Switzerland. The new facility will be delivered through an investment of approximately CHF 500 million, or $519 million, and is expected to be completed in 2026. The facility will also be constructed on the same campus as Lonza’s current clinical drug product facility.

Amgen's taking social media followers around the globe as it introduces the many different

From Tam­pa to Mu­nich, Am­gen’s ‘Places’ cam­paign in­tro­duces its lo­ca­tions around the world

Amgen is taking social media followers around the world with its latest corporate campaign. Called “Places of Amgen,” the twice monthly posts highlight the biopharma’s different offices and sites – and the people who work there.

Each post runs on LinkedIn, Facebook and Instagram with details about the work Amgen does in that location, when it was established, comments from people who work there and other interesting facts. The most recent one about Paris, France, for example, notes that Amgen France last year signed a French association charter committed to the inclusion of LBGT+ people in the workplace.

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Credit: Shutterstock

Bio­haven takes mi­graine cam­paign to pa­tients' Twit­ter feeds, months ahead of Pfiz­er takeover

Two weeks ago, Biohaven hit an all-time high in weekly Nurtec prescriptions. CEO Vlad Coric attributes at least some of that success to a new interactive Twitter campaign that encourages patients to free their feed of potential migraine triggers.

Earlier this month, Biohaven in partnership with Twitter launched the #RelieveYourFeed campaign that allows users to customize their app settings based on their migraine triggers.

Oncologists on Twitter are talking up ASCO studies, health equity and burnout, according to new deep dive research from Harris Poll (via Shutterstock)

What’s been on in­flu­en­tial on­col­o­gist­s' minds? Most­ly AS­CO, but al­so health eq­ui­ty, ac­cord­ing to new Har­ris Poll re­search

Over the past few months, oncologists have been talking a lot about the ASCO conference. Not surprising considering its import and the study data presented, but what may be less expected is the second most talked about topic of health equity.

That’s according to data from The Harris Poll and the new expert network the researcher is building out. While the company has been doing deep data dives into specific health issues or conditions for pharma clients, it’s now monitoring influencer networks of therapy area specialists to find out what experts are really thinking about.

Paula Ragan, X4 Pharmaceuticals CEO

Small Mass­a­chu­setts biotech tries to beat back the bears with $55M PIPE

As the bear market continues to hold down biotechs of several shapes and sizes, one company is selling shares to extend its runway.

Boston-based X4 Pharmaceuticals announced Friday that it has agreed to sell over 50 million shares of common stock to certain investors in a PIPE financing. The company is anticipating that gross proceeds from the PIPE will be approximately $55 million and close on July 6, with a purchase set at $1.09.