Stan Wang, Thymmune CEO

Re­gen­er­a­tive cell biotech Thym­mune launch­es with back­ing from George Church, John Maraganore

Thym­mune Ther­a­peu­tics is go­ing af­ter “the most im­por­tant or­gan you’ve nev­er heard of,” ac­cord­ing to Pil­lar VC’s Thomas de Vlaam.

Thomas de Vlaam

The Cam­bridge, MA-based biotech has raised $7 mil­lion in seed fund­ing to push its thymic cell ther­a­py through pre­clin­i­cal stud­ies, it an­nounced Wednes­day. Thym­mune was found­ed in 2019 by famed Har­vard ge­neti­cist George Church’s lab alum­ni Stan Wang, who is al­so the biotech’s CEO.

Its seed round was led by Pil­lar VC, a firm that specif­i­cal­ly in­vests in founder-led biotechs, fol­lowed by New York Blood Cen­ter and oth­er biotech no­ta­bles like Mark Bam­forth, James Fordyce, Phil Reil­ly, Judy Pagli­u­ca, John Maraganore and Church.

Reil­ly, who was the first CMO at blue­bird bio and co-found­ed Voy­ager Ther­a­peu­tics, is al­so on the com­pa­ny’s board while Church serves as its sci­en­tif­ic ad­vi­sor.

George Church

Thym­mune spent its first few years trans­lat­ing Wang’s post­doc work in­to a plat­form. The biotech is com­bin­ing ma­chine learn­ing with in­duced stem cell en­gi­neer­ing. With the plat­form, the com­pa­ny wants to de­vel­op an off-the-shelf thymic cell ther­a­py. It first hopes to tack­le con­gen­i­tal athymia, in which ba­bies are born with­out a thy­mus. Wang said Thym­mune is aim­ing for an IND by 2025.

The thy­mus is a tiny or­gan in the cen­ter of the chest that helps train T cells to fight for­eign anti­gens.

Cur­rent­ly, ba­bies with athymia get a thy­mus im­plant from an­oth­er child, where their thymic tis­sue is har­vest­ed dur­ing their open heart surgery, cul­tured, and then graft­ed in­to the ba­by with athymia.

“It’s not a scal­able ap­proach,” Wang not­ed. “That’s where we come in with this plat­form to not on­ly mass pro­duce these cells for those ini­tial im­mune de­fi­cien­cies, but al­so all the oth­er ap­pli­ca­tions we can have over time for the tech­nol­o­gy across the spec­trum of im­munol­o­gy.”

Wang en­vi­sions the ther­a­py can be used for pa­tients who get ra­di­a­tion, chemo or a thymec­to­my who might not have func­tion­ing thy­mus­es. Even fur­ther down the road, he hopes Thym­mune can tack­le ag­ing, since peo­ple nat­u­ral­ly lose their thymic func­tion over time, mak­ing them more sus­cep­ti­ble to in­fec­tions.

“We’re imag­in­ing a fu­ture where once we all turn say 50, 60, 70, we can get a dose of these thymic cells in in our mus­cles — say in our thigh — and it gives us pret­ty much a new func­tion­ing thy­mus, and we’re able to re­ju­ve­nate our im­mune func­tion to give bet­ter re­spons­es against can­cer, vac­cines, pathogens, etc.,” Wang said. “So that’s a fas­ci­nat­ing long-term vi­sion we’re build­ing to­wards, but it’s go­ing to take time and even more cap­i­tal to­wards that end.”

Forge Bi­o­log­ics’ cGMP Com­pli­ant and Com­mer­cial­ly Vi­able Be­spoke Affin­i­ty Chro­matog­ra­phy Plat­form

Forge Biologics has developed a bespoke affinity chromatography platform approach that factors in unique vector combinations to streamline development timelines and assist our clients in efficiently entering the clinic. By leveraging our experience with natural and novel serotypes and transgene conformations, we are able to accelerate affinity chromatography development by nearly 3-fold. Many downstream purification models are serotype-dependent, demanding unique and time-consuming development strategies for each AAV gene therapy product1. With the increasing demand to propel AAV gene therapies to market, platform purification methods that support commercial-scale manufacturing of high-quality vectors with excellent safety and efficacy profiles are essential.

Feng Zhang (Susan Walsh/AP Images)

In search of new way to de­liv­er gene ed­i­tors, CRISPR pi­o­neer turns to mol­e­c­u­lar sy­ringes

Bug bacteria are ruthless.

Some soil bacteria have evolved tiny, but deadly injection systems that attach to insect cells, perforate them and release toxins inside — killing a bug in just a few days’ time. Scientists, on the other hand, want to leverage that system to deliver medicines.

In a paper published Wednesday in Nature, MIT CRISPR researcher Feng Zhang and his lab describe how they engineered these syringes made by bacteria to deliver potential therapies like toxins that kill cancer cells and gene editors. With the help of an AI program, they developed syringes that can load proteins of their choice and selectively target human cells.

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Luke Miels, GSK chief commercial officer

GSK picks up Scynex­is' FDA-ap­proved an­ti­fun­gal drug for $90M up­front

GSK is dishing out $90 million cash to add an antifungal drug to its commercial portfolio, in a deal spotlighting the pharma giant’s growing focus on infectious diseases.

The upfront will lock in an exclusive license to Scynexis’ Brexafemme, which was approved in 2021 to treat a yeast infection known as vulvovaginal candidiasis, except in China and certain other countries where Scynexis already out-licensed the drug.

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Jeff Bluestone (R), Sonoma Biotherapeutics CEO

Jef­frey Blue­stone brings his start­up haul to $400M+, join­ing forces with Re­gen­eron on cell ther­a­pies

These days, when Jeffrey Bluestone gets together with his contemporaries in science, the conversation often turns to retirement plans.

But a little more than three years ago, Bluestone reached a momentous turning point in his career, exiting a prestigious post at UCSF, where he had spent decades in the scientific pursuit of new therapies. And it had nothing to do with retirement anytime in the near future.

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Mathai Mammen, FogPharma's next CEO

Math­ai Mam­men hands in J&J's R&D keys to lead Greg Ver­dine’s Fog­Phar­ma 

In the early 1990s, Mathai Mammen was a teaching assistant in Greg Verdine’s Science B46 course at Harvard. In June, the former R&D head at Johnson & Johnson will succeed Verdine as CEO, president and chair of FogPharma, the same month the seven-year-old biotech kickstarts its first clinical trial.

After leading R&D at one of the largest drugmakers in the world, taking the company through more than half a dozen drug approvals in the past few years, not to mention a Covid-19 vaccine race, Mammen departed J&J last month and will take the helm of a Cambridge, MA biotech attempting to go after what Verdine calls the “true emperor of all oncogenes” — beta-catenin.

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CSL CEO Paul McKenzie (L) and CMO Bill Mezzanotte

Q&A: New­ly-mint­ed CSL chief ex­ec­u­tive Paul McKen­zie and chief med­ical of­fi­cer Bill Mez­zan­otte

Paul McKenzie took over as CEO of Australian pharma giant CSL this month, following in the footsteps of long-time CSL vet Paul Perreault.

With an eye on mRNA, and quickly commercializing its new, $3.5 million-per-shot gene therapy for hemophilia B, McKenzie and chief medical officer Bill Mezzanotte answered some questions from Endpoints News this afternoon about where McKenzie is going to take the company and what advances may be coming to market from CSL’s pipeline. Below is a lightly edited transcript.

UK gov­ern­ment, pri­vate in­vestors dole out $340M+ to drug, di­ag­nos­tic man­u­fac­tur­ers

The government of the United Kingdom is giving out grants to several manufacturers that have a presence in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

The government announced that four companies, including Ipsen, contract manufacturer Pharmaron, DNA manufacturer Touchlight and diagnostic test producer Randox, will receive a total of £277 million ($341.1 million). According to a release from the UK government, this represents the first portion of grants from the Life Sciences Innovative Manufacturing Fund.

Kourosh Davarpanah, Inato CEO

Big Phar­ma-part­nered clin­i­cal tri­al match­mak­er se­cures $20M to im­prove plat­form

A company with public links to Sanofi and Moderna has raised more money to expand its mission of improving diversity and enrollment in clinical trials.

Inato put the word out on Wednesday that it raised $20 million via an A2 round to advance its matching platform between pharma companies and potential clinical trial sites.

Inato CEO Kourosh Davarpanah told Endpoints News that with the $20 million in hand, it will pursue improvements to its diversity offerings, its focus on oncology and data collection.

Boehringer re­ports ro­bust sales led by type 2 di­a­betes and pul­monary drugs, promis­es more to come high­light­ing obe­si­ty

Boehringer Ingelheim reported human pharma sales of €18.5 billion on Wednesday, led by type 2 diabetes and heart failure drug Jardiance and pulmonary fibrosis med Ofev. Jardiance sales reached €5.8 billion, growing 39% year over year, while Ofev took in €3.2 billion, notching its own 20.6% annual jump.

However, Boehringer is also looking ahead with its pipeline, estimating “In the next seven years the company expects about 20 regulatory approvals in human pharma.”