Todd Harris and Daniel Bensen. Tyra

RA Cap­i­tal, Canaan help in­fuse $50M in­to Al­ta-in­cu­bat­ed biotech bat­tling ac­quired re­sis­tance to TKIs

Since Gleevec was ap­proved in 2001, over 40 oth­er ty­ro­sine ki­nase in­hibitors have come on­to the mar­ket to treat var­i­ous types of can­cer. But with the pro­lif­er­a­tion of the class al­so came a surge of ac­quired re­sis­tance, where pa­tients’ tu­mors mu­tate around the drug tar­get and stop re­spond­ing to the ther­a­pies.

Tyra Bio, a Carls­bad, CA-based biotech “pur­pose built” to ad­dress that prob­lem, has just raised $50 mil­lion from Al­ta Part­ners, RA Cap­i­tal Man­age­ment, Box­er Cap­i­tal of Tavi­s­tock Group, and Canaan.

“It’s not en­tire­ly clear what type of ac­quired re­sis­tance might emerge re­al­ly un­til you get these drugs in­to pa­tients,” co-founder and CEO Todd Har­ris told End­points News. “In some in­stances, the first gen­er­a­tion drugs couldn’t have en­tire­ly pre­dict­ed what might come along.”

Bob More

But with some class­es of TKIs now in their third gen­er­a­tion, there is an in­creas­ing amount of clin­i­cal ev­i­dence and bet­ter tools to crunch them for in­sights in­to the pre­cise mu­ta­tions — in­sights that Tyra would take right back to the start of drug dis­cov­ery and de­vel­op­ment. In the long run, the goal is for their drugs to not just be de­ployed when re­sis­tance emerges but to move to the front­line set­ting with the hope of a longer du­ra­tion of re­sponse.

Har­ris added that the strat­e­gy has shown some promise in ALK and EGFR, but re­mained tight-lipped about the ex­act tar­gets they are start­ing with, though it’s a safe bet they would first go af­ter the most well-known ones.

Daniel Bensen, COO and co-founder, will be steer­ing a small team along­side CSO Ronald Swan­son, CFO Es­ther van den Boom, and Robert Hud­kins, VP of chem­istry, as well as Jane Ar­bole­da, as­so­ciate di­rec­tor of cell bi­ol­o­gy, to bring their first can­di­dates to the clin­ic. An army of biotechs are in the game, many fo­cus­ing on par­tic­u­lar nich­es with­in the vast TKI space. Tyra will be look­ing to out­pace some of them.

Ja­son Sheltzer of Cold Spring Har­bor Lab­o­ra­to­ry, William Hahn of Dana Far­ber, and Jef­frey Hager, for­mer­ly of Ideaya Bio, have come on board as sci­en­tif­ic ad­vi­sors.

“Our strength is re­al­ly in a nim­ble and high­ly ex­pe­ri­enced drug dis­cov­ery and drug de­vel­op­ment team,” Har­ris said, lever­ag­ing tried and true tech­nolo­gies such as struc­tured-based drug de­sign, and patch­ing in self-built pre­clin­i­cal mod­els when­ev­er nec­es­sary.

Har­ris al­so co-found­ed what even­tu­al­ly be­came Si­en­na Bio­phar­ma, a skin drug de­vel­op­er that count­ed Arch Ven­tures and Part­ner Fund Man­age­ment as back­ers but nev­er­the­less was forced to file for Chap­ter 11 af­ter a bruis­ing tri­al fail­ure. The en­tre­pre­neur­ial les­son he learned: Fi­nance your com­pa­ny for the ups and downs along the biotech road.

Al­ta Part­ners, which in­cu­bat­ed Tyra, is ready for the long haul. The in­clu­sion of crossover firm RA Cap­i­tal al­so gives Har­ris more con­fi­dence that this one will stick. Each in­vestor in the Se­ries A is send­ing a rep­re­sen­ta­tive to the board: Bob More of Al­ta Part­ners, Jake Sim­son of RA Cap­i­tal, Sid Sub­ra­mo­ny of Box­er Cap­i­tal and Ni­na Kjell­son of Canaan. Mi­rati CMO Isan Chen and for­mer Gates foun­da­tion ex­ec Gilla Ka­plan are the oth­er two di­rec­tors.

A lab technician works during research on coronavirus at Johnson & Johnson subsidiary Janssen Pharmaceutical in Beerse, Belgium, Wednesday, June 17, 2020. (Virginia Mayo/AP Images)

End­points News ranks all 28 play­ers in the Covid-19 vac­cine race. Here's how it stacks up to­day

The 28 players now in or close to the clinical race to get a Covid-19 vaccine over the finish line are angling for a piece of a multibillion-dollar market. And being first — or among the leaders — will play a big role in determining just how big a piece.

Endpoints News writer Nicole DeFeudis has posted a snapshot of all the companies, universities and hospital-based groups now racing through the clinic, ranking them according to their place in the pipeline as well as the latest remarks available on timelines. And we’ll keep this lineup updated right through the end of the year, as the checkered flags start to fall, possibly as early as October.

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Cell and Gene Con­tract Man­u­fac­tur­ers Must Em­brace Dig­i­ti­za­tion

The Cell and Gene Industry is growing at a staggering 30% CAGR and is estimated to reach $14B by 20251. A number of cell, gene and stem cell therapy sponsors currently have novel drug substances and products and many rely on Contract Development Manufacturing Organizations (CDMO) to produce them with adherence to stringent regulatory cGMP conditions. Cell and gene manufacturing for both autologous (one to one) and allogenic (one to many) treatments face difficult issues such as: a complex supply chain, variability on patient and cellular level, cell expansion count and a tight scheduling of lot disposition process. This complexity affects quality, compliance and accountability in the entire vein-to-vein process for critically ill patients.

Stéphane Bancel speaks to President Donald Trump at the White House meeting on March 2 (AP Images)

UP­DAT­ED: Mod­er­na of­fers steep dis­count in US sup­ply deal — but still takes the crown with close to $2.5B in vac­cine con­tracts

The US pre-order for Moderna’s Covid-19 vaccine is in.

Operation Warp Speed is reserving $1.525 billion for 100 million doses of Moderna’s Phase III mRNA candidate, rounding out to about $15 per dose — including $300 million in incentive payments for timely delivery. Given that Moderna has a two-dose regimen, it’s good for vaccinating 50 million people. The US government also has the option to purchase another 400 million doses for a total of $6.6 billion, or $16.5 per dose.

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Bayer's Marianne De Backer with Endpoints founder John Carroll, Endpoints@JPM20 (Jeff Rumans for Endpoints News)

UP­DAT­ED: Hunt­ing a block­buster, Bay­er forges an $875M-plus M&A deal to ac­quire women’s health biotech

Bayer has dropped $425 million in cash on its latest women’s health bet, bringing a UK biotech and its non-hormonal menopause treatment into the fold.

KaNDy Therapeutics had its roots in GlaxoSmithKline, which spun out several neuroscience drugs into NeRRe Therapeutics back in 2012. Five years later the team created a new biotech to focus solely on NT-814 — which they considered “one of the few true innovations in women’s health in more than two decades.”

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Giovanni Caforio, Bristol Myers Squibb CEO (Christopher Goodney/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

UP­DAT­ED: Bris­tol My­ers Squibb com­mits $300 mil­lion to com­bat racial dis­par­i­ties, but de­clines to re­lease own de­mo­graph­ic da­ta

After the police killing of George Floyd, a flurry of pharma and biotech companies, executives and investors jumped out to make statements, either expressing support for Black Lives Matter and the protests or condemning systemic racism.

Now, a Big Pharma company is publicly putting some teeth behind those statements. This morning, Bristol Myers Squibb announced they would spend $300 million on a broad effort to reduce racial health disparities, and diversify both their clinical trials and their own executive team and workforce.

Martin Shkreli (AP Images)

Mar­tin Shkre­li's in­fa­mous Dara­prim falls off top 20 most ex­pen­sive drugs list

Martin Shkreli incited a national uproar five years ago when he raised the price of Daraprim by a factor of 56 essentially overnight from $13.50 to $750 per pill. Now that the “Pharma Bro’s” high-priced project has received a generic, it no longer places among the most expensive drugs in the world.

GoodRx is back with the latest update of the top 20 most expensive drugs and Daraprim’s exclusion marks the biggest change. The drug had previously ranked seventh on the list’s last iteration, which came in February before the world went into quarantine. Another of Shkreli’s former companies, Retrophin, saw its Chenodal drug place in the top 10 again.

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Ian Nicholson (F2G)

No­vo backs 'break­through' an­ti­fun­gal play­er's $60M round — with a fo­cus on rare mold in­fec­tions

The plight of antibiotics developers has been well documented: chronically underfunded research, daunting scientific challenges, and little commercial upside even for the ones that make it to the market. But in an adjacent corner of the antimicrobial space, an antifungal player is out to paint a very different picture.

F2G, a UK-Austria hybrid, has raised $60.8 million for its final push toward the clinic. Clearing the test could pave the way for its drug to be the first new antifungal agent in 20 years.

VBL an­nounces pos­i­tive PhI­II da­ta for ovar­i­an can­cer drug; Gene­Cen­tric part­ners with Janssen on blad­der can­cer

VBL Therapeutics announced that it is on track in a Phase III trial of its drug VB-111 (ofranergene obadenovec) to treat platinum-resistant ovarian cancer in combination with paclitaxel.

After conducting its second interim analysis, the independent Data Safety Monitoring Committee (DSMC) recommended that Israel-based VBL continue full steam ahead. The committee looked at unblinded overall survival rate, which is the primary endpoint of the study, dubbed OVAL. The first analysis evaluated CA-125 response.

FDA ac­cepts pri­or­i­ty re­view for Re­gen­eron's evinacum­ab, which could join Pralu­ent in cho­les­terol mar­ket

Almost a year ago to the day, Regeneron announced solid Phase III testing results for evinacumab, a compound that’s designed to lower LDL cholesterol in patients who need treatment beyond a PCSK9 inhibitor. As that anniversary approaches, the biotech is potentially one step closer to putting it on the market.

The FDA has granted priority review and accepted a BLA for evinacumab as a supplement to other lipid-lowering therapies in individuals with homozygous familial hypercholesterolemia, Regeneron announced Wednesday morning. Regeneron’s target action date is next February 11.