Replimune adds a $55M round and some ex­pert help as it pur­sues next-gen on­colyt­ics R&D

Some of the pi­o­neers in on­colyt­ics drug de­vel­op­ment have gone back to the ven­ture well to fi­nance their lat­est play in the field. Replimune, which got start­ed in Ox­ford and is based in Woburn, MA, tanked up with $55 mil­lion in ven­ture cash. That mon­ey is be­ing used to po­si­tion the com­pa­ny for its first round of clin­i­cal work.

Howard Kauf­man, Replimune

Replimune is bring­ing in a rec­og­nized ex­pert in the im­muno-on­col­o­gy field as CMO along­side the round. The biotech re­cruit­ed Howard Kauf­man, who had been chief of the Di­vi­sion of Sur­gi­cal On­col­o­gy at the Rut­gers Robert Wood John­son Med­ical School and from 2014-2016 was pres­i­dent of the So­ci­ety for the Im­munother­a­py of Can­cer.

Replimune is one of sev­er­al up-and-com­ing biotechs that hope to do bet­ter than the first en­try in the field. The ap­proach us­es on­colyt­ic virus­es to specif­i­cal­ly in­fect can­cer cells and de­stroy them while flag­ging the im­mune sys­tem to send in the sen­tinels for a fol­lowup at­tack.

Robert Cof­fin

Com­pa­ny founder Robert Cof­fin was the CSO at BioVex when Am­gen scooped up the com­pa­ny and its lead drug, tal­imo­gene la­her­parepvec (T-VEC), now sold as Im­ly­g­ic. Philip Ast­ley-Sparke — a part­ner at For­bion — is the for­mer CEO at BioVex and is now ex­ec­u­tive chair­man at Replimune.

Ac­cord­ing to their web site, Am­gen has now paid off $675 mil­lion of the $1 bil­lion deal of­fered to snag that drug.

It’s no great sur­prise that For­bion was an ex­ist­ing in­vestor and came back for the B round, along with At­las Ven­ture and Omega Funds. Fore­site Cap­i­tal led the lat­est round with a group of new in­vestors in­clud­ing Bain Cap­i­tal Life Sci­ences, Red­mile Group, Cor­morant As­set Man­age­ment.

Brett Zbar from Fore­site Cap­i­tal will join Replimune’s board of di­rec­tors along with Kapil Dhin­gra, a Roche vet and well known can­cer ex­pert on sev­er­al biotech boards.

Aduhelm OK 'bit­ter­sweet' for ALS ad­vo­cates; Con­trast­ing Covid-19 vac­cine read­outs; GSK joins TIG­IT bat­tle; 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.

With the busiest days of June now behind us, we’re starting to think seriously about the second half of the year. In August, we have scheduled a special report where Endpoints will compile a list of the 20 most influential R&D executives in biopharma. Know a luminary who should definitely be included? Nominate them now.

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 109,800+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

In­side Track: Be­hind the Scenes of a Ma­jor Biotech SPAC

Dr. David Hung and Michelle Doig are no strangers to the SPAC phenomenon. As Founder and CEO of Nuvation Bio, a biotech company tackling some of the greatest unmet needs in oncology, Dr. Hung recently took the company public in one of this year’s biggest SPAC related deals. And as Partner at Omega Funds, Doig not only led and syndicated Nuvation Bio’s Series A, but is now also President of the newly formed, Omega-sponsored, Omega Alpha SPAC (Nasdaq: OMEG; oversubscribed $138m IPO priced January 6, 2021).

Who are the lu­mi­nar­ies dri­ving the biggest ad­vances in bio­phar­ma R&D? End­points News is ask­ing for your nom­i­na­tions for a spe­cial re­port

In biopharma, driving a drug to market is the ultimate goal — but none of that happens without a strong research and development program. At the most successful companies, those R&D efforts are spearheaded by true innovators in the field who are always looking for that next novel mechanism of action or breakthrough safety profile.

Now, Endpoints News is asking you to tell us who those guiding lights are.

Bris­tol My­ers breaks the bank on Ei­sai's fo­late re­cep­tor ADC drug, lay­ing out more than $3B+ for rights

For years, innovation in oncology has been a crapshoot with Big Pharma — the whales at the table — dropping the big bucks for the key to the next generation of tumor fighters. Bristol Myers Squibb hasn’t exactly made a name for being an innovator in the space, but that doesn’t mean it won’t splash in when it sees a potential winner.

Now, with a massive check in hand, the drugmaker is willing to put its intuition to the test.

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 109,800+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

Michael Chambers (L) and John Ballantyne

Dana­her strikes deal to buy boom­ing next-gen man­u­fac­tur­er Alde­vron for $9.6B

Life sciences conglomerate Danaher Corp. $DHR has struck a deal to buy the fast-growing Aldevron, one of the world’s top manufacturers of hotly sought-after plasmid DNA, mRNA and recombinant proteins for the burgeoning world of vaccine and drugmakers pushing some game-changing technologies.

Buyout talks set the stage for Danaher to settle on a $9.6 billion cash pact to acquire the private Fargo, ND-based company — a key supplier for a disruptive new Covid vaccine as well as a host of gene and cell therapy and CRISPR gene editing players — founded by Michael Chambers and CSO John Ballantyne as a crew of 2 back in 1998.

Endpoints Premium

Premium subscription required

Unlock this article along with other benefits by subscribing to one of our paid plans.

Christian Hogg, Hutchmed CEO

Hutchmed files for $600M+ IPO in Hong Kong as lead on­col­o­gy drug su­r­u­fa­tinib awaits FDA's good graces

In oncology, a flush of Chinese-developed drugs has the biopharma industry rethinking the poles of power in R&D as the blossoming nation continues to make a name for itself and pick up bundles of cash in the process. Now, as its lead drug faces a pivotal FDA review, the company formerly known as Chi-Med is planting its flag on home soil with a massive public offering.

Hutchmed — recently renamed from Chi-Med, or Hutchison China MediTech — will look to raise $603 million as part of a Hong Kong IPO that serves as a homecoming of sorts for the Chinese-based oncology player, which has listed on Nasdaq since 2016.

Leen Kawas, Athira CEO

Biotech founder placed on leave as $400M Alzheimer's start­up idea comes un­der scruti­ny

Athira Pharma, the Alzheimer’s biotech that emerged out of obscurity last year and raised nearly $400 million for a dark-horse approach to treating neurodegeneration, has found itself in sudden turmoil.

On Tuesday evening, the company released a terse statement announcing that CEO and founder Leen Kawas had been placed on administrative leave while an independent review board investigated “actions stemming” from her doctoral research at Washington State University. Mark Litton, who joined the company as COO two years ago, will take over day-to-day operations, they said.

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 109,800+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

Michel Sade­lain puts his name and new cell en­gi­neer­ing tech be­hind 'ag­nos­tic' CAR-T start­up chas­ing epi­ge­net­ic anti­gens

It felt natural for Alain Maiore and Sebastian Amigorena to bring in Michel Sadelain as a co-founder of Mnemo Therapeutics. A CAR-T pioneer, Sadelain had been involved as an advisor since the early days — enthusiastic about Amigorena’s work in a genetic knockout that could enhance T cell memory and a new class of potential targets he’s discovered — and could introduce some well-known technologies to the toolbox. So they got the initial cash from Sofinnova Partners to plant roots in Paris and New York in early 2019; within a few months, they began to see more clearly just what the antigen discovery platform might unlock.

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 109,800+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

Eef Schimmelpennink, Lenz CEO (Business Wire)

A re­place­ment for read­ing glass­es? An RA, Ver­sant-backed start­up thinks its eye­drops could solve far­sight­ed­ness

The brain trusts at RA Capital and Versant Ventures have developed an eye for winners in the red-hot biotech space, but every once in a while a candidate comes along with so much potential it makes for an obvious investment. That’s what the partners think they’ve found in San Diego biotech looking to challenge reading glasses for farsightedness.

Lenz Therapeutics launched its rebrand from Presbyopia Therapies with a $47 million Series A and backing from RA and Versant to advance its late-stage-ready small molecule for farsightedness, a market where the biotech thinks it could have a shot at 120 million US patients and 2 billion around the world, the company said.