Sleuthy Google up­start Cal­i­co forges a rare biotech col­lab­o­ra­tion on ag­ing with No­var­tis-backed C4

Andy Phillips, C4

The elu­sive but wide­ly buzzed about Cal­i­co, a start­up bankrolled by Google to find new ther­a­pies for ag­ing, has hitched up with pro­tein de­gen­er­a­tion-fo­cused C4 Ther­a­peu­tics with plans to em­bark on a 5-year, cross coun­try re­search col­lab­o­ra­tion.

The deal an­nounce­ment is long on over­ar­ch­ing goals, such as a pre­clin­i­cal fo­cus on can­cer, among oth­er ar­eas, but with lit­tle in­sight in­to the num­bers or the work. And that’s just the way Cal­i­co likes to keep it, care­ful­ly cloak­ing its ac­tiv­i­ties more like an IT com­pa­ny than any av­er­age biotech.

We do know that the com­pa­nies will work to­geth­er on pre­clin­i­cal pro­grams, with Cal­i­co tak­ing charge of any clin­i­cal de­vel­op­ment work that may emerge.

“I’m not shar­ing how many things are be­ing worked on,” says Andy Phillips, pres­i­dent and CSO at C4. The goal here is to take a num­ber of projects for tar­get­ed pro­tein degra­da­tion through IND stage, on to the clin­ic and even­tu­al­ly peo­ple.

But Cal­i­co is stay­ing but­toned up. Says Phillips: “We’ve agreed with Cal­i­co that we can’t com­ment on their be­half in re­gards to these types of things.”

Cal­i­co, of course, is the brain­child of Google’s Lar­ry Page, who’s been keen­ly in­ter­est­ed in tak­ing a new ap­proach in de­vel­op­ing drugs that will add to our life spans. He brought in one of the best teams in biotech, start­ing with Genen­tech leg­end Art Levin­son and fol­low­ing up with his long­time col­league Hal Baron.

The deal is in­tend­ed to be “high­ly col­lab­o­ra­tive,” says Phillips, com­ing on top of some ag­gres­sive growth over the past year that re­cent­ly in­clud­ed their 53rd (or 54th) em­ploy­ee. And Phillips ex­pects that num­ber to grow in­to the 60s by the end of the year.

C4 launched a lit­tle more than a year ago with a $73 mil­lion round led by Co­bro Ven­tures and in­clud­ing No­var­tis along with a $750 mil­lion part­ner­ship with Roche. They’ve been work­ing on small mol­e­cule binders — dubbed de­gron­imids — that can tar­get, de­stroy and clear dis­ease-caus­ing pro­teins through the ubiq­ui­tin/pro­tea­some sys­tem.

C4 is ad­vanc­ing re­search work that Jay Brad­ner did on pro­tein degra­da­tion at Dana-Far­ber be­fore he took the high-pro­file head job at the No­var­tis In­sti­tutes for Bio­Med­ical Re­search, bet­ter known as NI­BR.

Cal­i­co, mean­while, is based in The Cove at Oys­ter Point all the way across the coun­try, a boom­ing biotech de­vel­op­ment that in­cludes biotechs like Cy­tomX and De­nali.

Over the four years since Cal­i­co launched, the com­pa­ny has been al­ly­ing it­self with some big labs. The Broad, The Buck, UCSF, and the Jack­son Lab­o­ra­to­ry have all signed on to do ba­sic bi­ol­o­gy re­search. But there have been few biotech al­liances, aside from a cou­ple of deals with low-pro­file com­pa­nies like QB3 and 2M.

Don’t ex­pect any com­ment from the stel­lar team at Cal­i­co, though. Like any Google start­up, mum’s the word.

The Advance Clinical leadership team: CEO Yvonne Lungershausen, Sandrien Louwaars - Director Business Development Operations, Gabriel Kremmidiotis - Chief Scientific Officer, Ben Edwards - Chief Strategy Officer

How Aus­tralia De­liv­ers Rapid Start-up and 43.5% Re­bate for Ear­ly Phase On­col­o­gy Tri­als

About Avance Clinical

Avance Clinical is an Australian owned Contract Research Organisation that has been providing high-quality clinical research services to the local and international drug development industry for 20 years. They specialise in working with biotech companies to execute Phase 1 and Phase 2 clinical trials to deliver high-quality outcomes fit for global regulatory standards.

As oncology sponsors look internationally to speed-up trials after unprecedented COVID-19 suspensions and delays, Australia, which has led the world in minimizing the pandemic’s impact, stands out as an attractive destination for early phase trials. This in combination with the streamlined regulatory system and the financial benefits including a very favourable exchange rate and the R & D cash rebate makes Australia the perfect location for accelerating biotech clinical programs.

Af­ter de­cou­pling from Re­gen­eron, Sanofi says it’s time to sell the $13B stake picked up in the mar­riage

With Regeneron shares going for a peak price — after doubling from last fall — Sanofi is putting a $13 billion stake in their longtime partner on the auction block. And Regeneron is taking $5 billion of that action for themselves.

Sanofi — which has been decoupling from Regeneron for more than a year now — bought in big in early 2013, back when Regeneron’s stock was going for around $165 a share. Small investors flocked to the deal, buzzing about an imminent takeover. The buyout chatter wound down long ago.

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 82,200+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

Covid-19 roundup: Janet Wood­cock steps aside — for now — as FDA drug czar; WHO hits the brakes on hy­droxy study af­ter lat­est safe­ty alarm

The biopharma industry will soon get a look at what the FDA will look like once CDER’s powerful chief Janet Woodcock retires from her post.

Long considered one of the most influential regulators in the agency, if not its single most powerful official when it counts, Woodcock is being detached to devote herself full time to the White House’s special project to fast-forward new drugs and vaccines for the pandemic. The move comes a week after some quick reshuffling as Woodcock and CBER chief Peter Marks joined Operation Warp Speed. Initially they opted to recuse themselves from any FDA decisions on pandemic treatments and vaccines, after consumer advocates criticized the move as a clear conflict of interest in how the agency exercises oversight on new approvals.

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 82,200+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

Janet Woodcock, director of the Center for Drug Evaluation and Research (AP Images)

Covid-19 roundup: Hit with new con­flict ac­cu­sa­tions, Janet Wood­cock steps out of the agen­cy's Covid-19 chain of com­mand

Two weeks ago, FDA drug chieftain Janet Woodcock was assuring a top Wall Street analyst that any vaccine approved for combating Covid-19 would have to meet high agency standards on safety and efficacy before it’s approved. But over the weekend, after she and Peter Marks took top positions with the public-private operation meant to speed a new vaccine to lightning-fast approvals — they both recused themselves from the review process after an advocacy group argued their roles close to the White House could pose a conflict of interest.

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 82,200+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

An­oth­er NASH de­lay for In­ter­cept frus­trates in­vestors, shares wilt

A previous FDA advisory committee delay for Intercept’s NASH drug may have dampened spirits, but investors perked up after French rival Genfit recently failed to best a placebo with its offering in a keenly anticipated pivotal study. In yet another twist on Friday, the New York drugmaker said the FDA is postponing its adcom again to accommodate the review of additional data it has asked the company to furnish.

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 82,200+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

FDA ap­proves the first gener­ic for Amar­in's Vas­cepa — but is a fish oil price war im­mi­nent?

Late last year, enthusiasm for Amarin’s fish-oil pill Vascepa burgeoned when the FDA signed off on expanding the cholesterol fighter’s label to include the drug’s beneficial impact on cardiovascular risk, but months later the exuberance for the blockbuster-to-be took a big hit when a judge invalidated key patents protecting Vascepa.

Despite Amarin’s $AMRN pledge to appeal — a process that could take months — the ruling opened the door for generic competition. Hikma Pharmaceuticals, one of three challengers in the Nevada suit, on Friday said that its generic copy of pure EPA, the omega-3 fatty acid that constitutes Vascepa, has been approved by the FDA.

Eric Edwards, Phlow president and CEO (PR Newswire)

BAR­DA of­fers a tiny start­up up to $812M to cre­ate a US-based drug man­u­fac­tur­er — and the CEO comes with a price goug­ing con­tro­ver­sy on his ré­sumé

BARDA has tapped a largely unknown startup to ramp up production of a list of drugs that may be at risk of running short in the US. And the deal, which comes with up to $812 million in federal funds, was inked by a CEO who found himself in the middle of an ugly price gouging controversy a few years ago.

The feds’ new partner — called Phlow — won a 4-year “base” contract of $354 million, with another $458 million that’s on the table in potential options to sustain the outfit. That would make it one of the largest awards in BARDA’s history.

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 82,200+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

Julie Grant, Day One CEO

A new biotech from a long­time de­vel­op­er wants to bring the tar­get­ed can­cer rev­o­lu­tion to the kids left be­hind

Daphne Haas-Kogan was treating and studying children’s brain tumors at the University of California San-Francisco, when she got a call that shook her. The pharma company whose drug she had been prepping for a trial had decided, despite all preclinical evidence, to not run any trials on kids, only adults. Haas-Kogan’s patients would not get the therapy.

“Ultimately the company had to make a decision for what trials they would support,” Haas-Kogan said. “I can still recall my blood pressure rising as I found out.”

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 82,200+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

Re­searchers de­fine ex­act­ly what they saw in the first pos­i­tive remde­sivir study for Covid-19. But what's that worth to Gilead?

Remdesivir can work in fighting Covid-19, particularly for patients with less severe cases, but this is just a first step in the journey to finding combos that can do the job much better,

That’s the bottom line from Gilead’s randomized study published in the New England Journal of Medicine. Analysts were quick to draw conclusions about how the big biotech could turn this into a profitable advantage — with widespread expectation of considerable pricing restraint on Gilead’s part. Anyone looking for a new mountain of cash to count as the world grapples with the pandemic is likely to come away disappointed.