Carolyn Magill, Aetion CEO

RWE up­start maps a new glob­al plan as in­vestors pour in the lat­est mega-round

As reg­u­la­tors con­tin­ue to re­ly more on re­al world ev­i­dence, New York-based RWE leader Ae­tion said Tues­day that it has closed a $110 mil­lion Se­ries C fund­ing round, led by War­burg Pin­cus.

The com­pa­ny said it will use the new funds to ex­tend the ca­pa­bil­i­ties of its RWE plat­form, used by many top bio­phar­ma com­pa­nies, ex­pand its Eu­ro­pean and Asian-Pa­cif­ic foot­print, and grow its com­mer­cial team to serve new clients. Ae­tion has now raised a to­tal of $212 mil­lion to date.

“In some in­stances it makes sense for us to have a plat­form bet­ter suit­ed for these re­gion­al needs, es­pe­cial­ly as it re­lates to Asia,” Ae­tion CEO Car­olyn Mag­ill told End­points News in an in­ter­view. “We’ll be build­ing out our team in both places.”

The last year has proven to be a suc­cess­ful one for the com­pa­ny as it near­ly dou­bled its rev­enue and se­cured 100% of cus­tomer re­newals.

Ae­tion ini­tial­ly made its name by es­tab­lish­ing a part­ner­ship with the FDA and more re­cent­ly be­came the first RWE com­pa­ny to es­tab­lish an Covid-19 re­search col­lab­o­ra­tion with the agency. With for­mer FDA com­mis­sion­er Scott Got­tlieb serv­ing on the com­pa­ny’s board, Ae­tion al­so re­cent­ly poached the FDA’s top pol­i­cy of­fi­cial, Low­ell Schiller. Mean­while, the In­sti­tute for Clin­i­cal and Eco­nom­ic Re­view al­so se­lect­ed Ae­tion to help pro­vide RWE for the in­sti­tute’s val­ue as­sess­ments of drugs.

In ad­di­tion to War­burg Pin­cus, B Cap­i­tal and Fore­site Cap­i­tal al­so joined in on the fund­ing in this round, as did Ae­tion’s ex­ist­ing back­ers New En­ter­prise As­so­ci­ates (an­oth­er Got­tlieb em­ploy­er) and Flare Cap­i­tal Part­ners.

So is an IPO in the cards for Ae­tion?

“We are fo­cused on sup­port­ing our cus­tomers, build­ing our busi­ness, build­ing glob­al stan­dards for trans­form­ing da­ta in­to ev­i­dence and do­ing this on such a scale that bio­phar­ma man­u­fac­tur­ers, pay­ers, providers, da­ta providers and reg­u­la­tors can all look to use RWE more rou­tine­ly in how they make these high-stakes de­ci­sions,” Mag­ill added. She al­so ex­plained how RWE is in­creas­ing­ly used by reg­u­la­tors.

In 2019, 48% of FDA drug ap­provals in­clud­ed RWE in sub­mis­sions, and in 2020, it was 75%, ac­cord­ing to Ae­tion analy­ses. “That’s an in­di­ca­tor of the in­creas­ing re­cep­tiv­i­ty and im­por­tance of re­al world ev­i­dence in reg­u­la­to­ry de­ci­sion mak­ing,” she said.

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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See­los Ther­a­peu­tics 'tem­porar­i­ly' stops study in rare neu­ro dis­or­der for busi­ness rea­sons

Microcap biotech Seelos Therapeutics is halting enrollment of its study in spinocerebellar ataxia type 3 (also known as Machado-Joseph disease) because of “financial considerations,” and in order to focus on other studies, the company said today, adding that the pause would be temporary.

The study will continue with the patients who have already enrolled, and the data from them will be used to decide whether to continue enrolling others in the future.

FDA ap­proves Nar­can opi­oid over­dose re­ver­sal spray for over-the-counter sale

The FDA today approved Emergent BioSolutions’ Narcan brand naloxone nasal spray for over-the-counter sales. The nod was expected and comes on the heels of a unanimous 19-0 advisory committee vote in favor of approval last month.

The move to OTC means the opioid overdose reversal agent will now be available on grocery, convenience and gas stations shelves, as well as potentially for purchase online.

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.