Scout­ing ear­ly-stage on­col­o­gy plays, bio­phar­ma vets Detlev Bin­iszkiewicz, Scott Chap­pel make VC de­but at MPM

Detlev Bin­iszkiewicz and Scott Chap­pel met at Sur­face On­col­o­gy, steer­ing the im­muno-on­col­o­gy up­start to­geth­er through a slate of pre­clin­i­cal pro­grams and a re­cent IPO. The ex­pe­ri­ence bring­ing an idea to life cap­ti­vat­ed both Bin­iszkiewicz — a Big Phar­ma vet — and Chap­pel, who held a streak of biotech ex­ec roles be­fore co-found­ing Sur­face. As the At­las-backed biotech got on track for hu­man stud­ies, both be­gan itch­ing to do it again. Now, af­ter a brief spell apart, they are back in the same of­fice as part of a larg­er team of “en­tre­pre­neur­ial en­gines” at MPM Cap­i­tal.

And their fo­cus re­mains clear: ear­ly-stage on­col­o­gy work.

“Most pa­tients with can­cer still don’t have a so­lu­tion. Most pa­tients with can­cer still would die with­in a fair­ly short times­pan. Fam­i­lies have of­ten no hope for those pa­tients,” Bin­iszkiewicz told me. “Un­til we have solved a dis­ease, there will be new ideas, there will be new op­por­tu­ni­ties, and there will be smart ideas. Our job is to find those op­por­tu­ni­ties.”

Eval­u­at­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties — and sup­port­ing MPM’s con­sid­er­able port­fo­lio of com­pa­nies — is half of the job, and it’s some­thing that Bin­iszkiewicz has been in­ti­mate­ly fa­mil­iar with since his No­var­tis days man­ag­ing a re­search and ear­ly de­vel­op­ment port­fo­lio. At As­traZeneca’s on­col­o­gy unit, he head­ed a group that eval­u­at­ed more than 500 li­cens­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties per year, some­thing he “tremen­dous­ly en­joyed.”

Scott Chap­pel

Mean­while, Chap­pel is jump­ing right in­to the oth­er part of their du­ty as ex­ec­u­tive part­ners by tak­ing up the chief sci­en­tif­ic of­fi­cer role at MPM-backed iTeos Ther­a­peu­tics. Hav­ing spent a good chunk of his ca­reer around the Boston/Cam­bridge hub — fea­tur­ing large and small biotechs like Gen­zyme, Serono and Arteaus — he now spends one week of every month at iTeos’ R&D op­er­a­tion just out­side of Brus­sels.

When it comes to pick­ing the com­pa­nies to in­vest in, both Bin­iszkiewicz and Chap­pel point­ed to good lead­er­ship as a key dif­fer­en­ti­at­ing fac­tor. That in­cludes both the man­age­ment team and the sci­en­tif­ic ad­vis­ers on board.

“There’s no short­age of good ideas,” Chap­pel said. “It’s re­al­ly the ex­e­cu­tion on those ideas and the fact that every plan, every re­search plan or busi­ness plan changes prob­a­bly with­in sec­onds af­ter the ink is dry. It’s re­al­ly up to an ex­pe­ri­enced man­age­ment team to be able to re­spond to bumps in the road, or changes, or new in­for­ma­tion that comes while you’re ex­e­cut­ing on that plan.”

The duo, who have start­ed work sev­er­al months ago, has joined MPM at a time an in­cred­i­ble amount of mon­ey is flow­ing in­to biotech and start­up val­u­a­tions are go­ing up. MPM it­self has been mak­ing head­lines with re­cent launch­es of 28-7 and Co­da Bio­ther­a­peu­tics. But ac­cord­ing to them, that doesn’t mean the stan­dards are any low­er.

“At least from the MPM per­spec­tive, I haven’t felt like ‘oh my God, it’s so much eas­i­er to get fund­ing than it was five years ago,’” Chap­pel said.

Af­ter all, it’s the sci­en­tif­ic and busi­ness rig­or each ex­ec­u­tive part­ner brings, com­pound­ed with the firm’s rep­u­ta­tion for high qual­i­ty, that drew both Bin­iszkiewicz and Chap­pel to MPM in the first place.

“It’s dif­fi­cult to de­scribe, but an en­vi­ron­ment where you en­cour­age each oth­er to de­vel­op new ideas and to ex­e­cute on ideas,” Bin­iszkiewicz said, “it’s quite spe­cial.”

Aerial view of Genentech's campus in South San Francisco [Credit: Getty]

Genen­tech sub­mits a big plan to ex­pand its South San Fran­cis­co foot­print

The sign is still there, a quaint reminder of whitewashed concrete not 5 miles from Genentech’s sprawling, chrome-and-glass campus: South Francisco The Industrial City. 

The city keeps the old sign, first erected in 1923, as a tourist site and a kind of civic memento to the days it packed meat, milled lumber and burned enough steel to earn the moniker “Smokestack of the Peninsula.” But the real indication of where you are and how much has changed both in San Francisco and in the global economy since a couple researchers and investors rented out an empty warehouse 40 years ago comes in a far smaller blue sign, resembling a Rotary Club post, off the highway: South San Francisco, The Birthplace of Biotech.

Here comes the oral GLP-1 drug for di­a­betes — but No­vo Nordisk is­n't dis­clos­ing Ry­bel­sus price just yet

Novo Nordisk’s priority review voucher on oral semaglutide has paid off. The FDA approval for the GLP-1 drug hit late Friday morning, around six months after the NDA filing.

Rybelsus will be the first GLP-1 pill to enter the type 2 diabetes market — a compelling offering that analysts have pegged as a blockbuster drug with sales estimates ranging from $2 billion to $5 billion.

Ozempic, the once-weekly injectable formulation of semaglutide, brought in around $552 million (DKK 3.75 billion) in the first half of 2019.

As Nas­daq en­rolls the fi­nal batch of 2019 IPOs, how have the num­bers com­pared to past years?

IGM Biosciences’ upsized IPO haul, coming after SpringWorks’ sizable public debut, has revved up some momentum for the last rush of biotech IPOs in 2019.

With 39 new listings on the books and roughly two more months to go before winding down, Nasdaq’s head of healthcare listings Jordan Saxe sees the exchange marking 50 to 60 biopharma IPOs for the year.

“December 15 is usually the last possible day that companies will price,” he said, as companies get ready for business talks at the annual JP Morgan Healthcare Conference in January.

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Oxitec biologist releases genetically modified mosquitoes in Piracicaba, Brazil in 2016 [credit: Getty Images]

In­trex­on unit push­es back against claims its GM mos­qui­toes are mak­ing dis­ease-friend­ly mu­tants

When the hysteria of Zika transmission sprang into the American zeitgeist a few years ago, UK-based Oxitec was already field-testing its male Aedes aegypti mosquito, crafted to possess a gene engineered to obliterate its progeny long before maturation.

But when a group of independent scientists evaluated the impact of the release of these genetically-modified mosquitoes in a trial conducted by Oxitec in Brazil between 2013 and 2015, they found that some of the offspring had managed to survive — prompting them to speculate what impact the survivors could have on disease transmission and/or insecticide resistance.

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[via AP Images]

Pur­due threat­ens to walk away from set­tle­ment, asks to pay em­ploy­ees mil­lions in bonus­es

There are two updates on the lawsuit against Purdue Pharma over its role in fueling the opioid epidemic, as the Sackler family threatens to walk away from their pledge to pay out $3 billion if a bankruptcy judge does not stop outstanding state lawsuits against them. At the same time, the company has asked permission to pay millions in bonuses to select employees.

Purdue filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy this week as part of its signed resolution to over 2,000 lawsuits. The deal would see the Sackler family that owns Purdue give $3 billion from their personal wealth and the company turned into a trust committed to curbing and reversing overdoses.

David Grainger [file photo]

'Dis­con­nect the bas­tard­s' — one biotech's plan to break can­cer cell­s' uni­fied de­fens­es

Chemotherapy and radiotherapy are the current gladiators of cancer treatment, but they come with well-known limitations and side-effects. The emergence of immunotherapy — a ferocious new titan in oncologist’s toolbox — takes the brakes off the immune system to kill cancer cells with remarkable success in some cases, but the approach is not always effective. What makes certain forms of cancer so resilient? Scientists may have finally pieced together a tantalizing piece of the puzzle, and a new biotech is banking on a new approach to fill the gap.

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A fa­vorite in Alex­ion’s C-suite is leav­ing, and some mighty sur­prised an­a­lysts aren’t the least bit hap­py about it

Analysts hate to lose a biotech CFO they’ve come to trust and admire — especially if they’re being blindsided by a surprise exit.

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Scott Gottlieb, AP Images

Scott Got­tlieb is once again join­ing a team that en­joyed good times at the FDA un­der his high-en­er­gy stint at the helm

Right after jumping on Michael Milken’s FasterCures board on Monday, the newly departed FDA commissioner is back today with news about another life sciences board post that gives him a ringside chair to cheer on a lead player in the real-world evidence movement — one with very close ties to the FDA.

Aetion is reporting this morning that Gottlieb is joining their board, a group that includes Mohamad Makhzoumi, a general partner at New Enterprise Associates, where Gottlieb returned after stepping out of his role at the FDA 2 years after he started.

Gottlieb — one of the best connected execs in biopharma — knows this company well. As head of FDA he championed the use of real-world evidence to help guide drug developers and the agency in gaining greater efficiencies, which helped set up Aetion as a high-profile player in the game.

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Tower Bridge in London [Shutterstock]

#UK­BIO19: Join GSK’s Hal Bar­ron and a group of top biotech ex­ecs for our 2nd an­nu­al biotech sum­mit in Lon­don

Over the past 10 years I’ve made a point of getting to know the Golden Triangle and the special role the UK biopharma industry plays there in drug development. The concentration of world class research institutes, some of the most accomplished scientists I’ve ever seen at work and a rising tide of global investment cash leaves an impression that there’s much, much more to come as biotech hubs are birthed and nurtured.