Spy­Biotech cash­es in on Serum In­sti­tute deal, net­ting $32.5M round for its 'su­per­glue' VLP vac­cine tech

Rough­ly five months af­ter part­ner­ing with the Serum In­sti­tute of In­dia to de­vel­op Covid-19 vac­cines, Spy­Biotech is ready for its next big thing.

Su­mi Biswas

The British biotech pulled in a $32.5 mil­lion Se­ries A round last week, fun­nel­ing the suc­cess of its col­lab­o­ra­tion in­to a ven­ture-cap­i­tal raise. Spy­Biotech is plan­ning to de­vel­op its VLP vac­cine plat­form with the cash, but CEO Su­mi Biswas told End­points News that could go in any num­ber of di­rec­tions.

“Our plat­form is quite wide,” Biswas said. The plat­form tech “can be at­tached to lots of dif­fer­ent ar­eas and vac­cine de­liv­ery plat­forms.”

Spun out of Ox­ford back in 2017, Spy­Biotech launched from re­search in­to what they call a “su­per­glue” tech­nol­o­gy that showed promis­ing re­sults for a malar­ia vac­cine. The com­pa­ny’s plat­form us­es tech­nol­o­gy de­rived from the strep fam­i­ly of bac­te­ria, split­ting pro­teins in­to two parts — termed Spy­Catch­er and Spy­Tag. With each part re­tain­ing its at­trac­tive­ness, Spy­Biotech can es­sen­tial­ly plug and dis­play anti­gens on vac­cine de­liv­ery plat­forms like VLPs.

They got things rolling five months ago with the Serum In­sti­tute deal, mod­el­ing its Covid-19 shots off of the he­pati­tis B vac­cine by dis­play­ing the coro­n­avirus spike pro­tein. It’s an at­tempt to take ad­van­tage of the es­tab­lished safe­ty pro­file, Biswas said at the time.

But since launch­ing a Phase I/II study of their VLP vac­cine, Spy­Biotech has seen heavy in­vestor in­ter­est that helped lead to the Se­ries A. That will al­low Biswas and her team to build out the plat­form in oth­er ar­eas like on­col­o­gy.

“The su­per­glue tech­nol­o­gy is tai­lor made for plug-and-dis­play of anti­gens,” Biswas said.

Biswas isn’t look­ing right now at how long the cash will last the com­pa­ny, she added, and left the door open to an­oth­er raise some­time in the near fu­ture. The oth­er main goal, aside from de­vel­op­ing the plat­form, is to fund de­vel­op­ment of their lead pro­gram out­side Covid-19 — hu­man cy­tomegalovirus, or CMV.

The virus presents asymp­to­mati­cal­ly to most and is trans­mit­ted eas­i­ly through bod­i­ly flu­ids like sali­va, leav­ing it able to pass down con­gen­i­tal­ly with­out many par­ents aware they’re in­fect­ed. When it does pass down to chil­dren, there are sev­er­al com­pli­ca­tions that can oc­cur like child­hood hear­ing loss de­lays in neu­rode­vel­op­ment.

Right now Spy­Biotech is fo­cused on ramp­ing up man­u­fac­tur­ing, but Biswas hopes that one day a fi­nal prod­uct could be im­ple­ment­ed like the HPV vac­cine. The goal is to in­duce an­ti­bod­ies which could pre­vent in­fec­tion and trans­mis­sion from moth­er to ba­by.

Spy­Biotech plans to launch a Phase I tri­al of that can­di­date some­time in 2022, Biswas said.

New in­vestor Braavos In­vest­ment Ad­vis­ers led the round, with an­oth­er new in­vestor Ox­ford In­vest­ment Con­sul­tants chip­ping in. Found­ing in­vestors Ox­ford Sci­ences In­no­va­tion and GV al­so par­tic­i­pat­ed, along­side the UK Gov­ern­ment’s Fu­ture Fund.

Tar­get­ing a Po­ten­tial Vul­ner­a­bil­i­ty of Cer­tain Can­cers with DNA Dam­age Re­sponse

Every individual’s DNA is unique, and because of this, every patient responds differently to disease and treatment. It is astonishing how four tiny building blocks of our DNA – A, T, C, G – dictate our health, disease, and how we age.

The tricky thing about DNA is that it is constantly exposed to damage by sources such as ultraviolet light, certain chemicals, toxins, and even natural biochemical processes inside our cells.¹ If ignored, DNA damage will accumulate in replicating cells, giving rise to mutations that can lead to premature aging, cancer, and other diseases.

Fol­low biotechs go­ing pub­lic with the End­points News IPO Track­er

The Endpoints News team is continuing to track IPO filings for 2021, and we’ve designed a new tracker page for the effort.

Check it out here: Biopharma IPOs 2021 from Endpoints News

You’ll be able to find all the biotechs that have filed and priced so far this year, sortable by quarter and listed by newest first. As of the time of publishing on Feb. 25, there have already been 16 biotechs debuting on Nasdaq so far this year, with an additional four having filed their S-1 paperwork.

Steve Cutler, Icon CEO (Icon)

In the biggest CRO takeover in years, Icon doles out $12B for PRA Health Sci­ences to fo­cus on de­cen­tral­ized clin­i­cal work

Contract research M&A had a healthy run in recent years before recently petering out. But with the market ripe for a big buyout and the Covid-19 pandemic emphasizing the importance of decentralized trials, Wednesday saw a tectonic shift in the CRO world.

Icon, the Dublin-based CRO, will acquire PRA Health Sciences for $12 billion in a move that will shake up the highest rungs of a fragmented market. The merger would combine the 5th- and 6th-largest CROs by 2020 revenue, according to Icon, and the merger will set the newco up to be the second-largest global CRO behind only IQVIA.

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Tom Barnes (Orna)

The mR­NA era is here. MPM be­lieves the fu­ture be­longs to oR­NA — and Big Phar­ma wants a seat at the ta­ble

If the ultra-fast clinical development of Covid-19 vaccines opened the world’s eyes to the promises of messenger RNA, the subsequent delays in supply offered a crash course on the ultra-complex process of producing them. Even before the formulation and fill-finish steps, mRNA is the precious end product from an arduous journey involving enzyme-aided transcription, modification and purification.

For Bristol Myers Squibb, Novartis Institutes for Biomedical Research, Gilead’s Kite and Astellas, it’s time to rethink the way therapeutic RNA is engineered.

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Michael Rome (Foresite)

In search of 'house­hold health­care brands of the fu­ture,' Fore­site Cap­i­tal rais­es $969M to sa­ti­ate a tech-heavy ap­petite

Back in April 2018, just before Foresite Capital unveiled its $668 million Fund IV and a strategy to focus on tech-driven life science bets, one of its portfolio companies quietly made an announcement.

Fount Therapeutics, a drug discovery outfit backed by Foresite and Eshelman Ventures, had raised $22 million in Series A cash to hatch several fledgling spinouts. “The first ‘NewCo,’ Kinnate, will be focused on developing precision oncology treatments,” read a press release.

Masayoshi Son, SoftBank CEO (glen photo/Shutterstock)

Japan's Soft­Bank plots bil­lions in biotech in­vest­ments in move that could keep the val­u­a­tion flood ris­ing — re­port

The valuation crazy train in biotech continues to roll into the new year with more than a dozen companies taking a chance on Nasdaq and money flowing in from all sides. Now, a Japanese institutional investor is reportedly weighing an entry into the market in a big way — will it keep the bitcoin-esque flood rising?

Already a part-time investor in biotech, SoftBank could drop billions of dollars into the industry as part of helmsman Masayoshi Son’s plan to spend around $80 billion of the firm’s own assets, according to a report from Bloomberg citing people familiar with the plan.

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S&P ex­pects steady ero­sion in Big Phar­ma's cred­it pro­file in 2021 as new M&A deals roll in — but don't un­der­es­ti­mate their un­der­ly­ing strength

S&P Global has taken a look at the dominant forces shaping the pharma market and come to the conclusion that there will be more downgrades than upgrades in 2021 — the 8th straight year of steady decline.

But it’s not all bad news. Some things are looking up, and there’s still plenty of money to be made in an industry that enjoys a 30% to 40% profit margin, once you factor in steep R&D expenses.

Tal Zaks, Moderna CMO (AP Photo/Rodrique Ngowi, via still image from video)

CMO Tal Zaks bids Mod­er­na a sur­prise adieu as biotech projects $18.4B in rev­enue, plots post-Covid ex­pan­sion

How do you exit a company after six years in style? Developing one of the most lucrative and life-saving products in pharma history is probably not the worst way to go.

Tal Zaks, Moderna’s CMO since 2015, will leave the mRNA biotech in September, the biotech disclosed in their annual report this morning. The company has already retained the recruitment firm Russell Reynolds to find a replacement.

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Ken Frazier, Merck CEO (Bess Adler/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

UP­DAT­ED: Mer­ck takes a swing at the IL-2 puz­zle­box with a $1.85B play for buzzy Pan­dion and its au­toim­mune hope­fuls

When Roger Perlmutter bid farewell to Merck late last year, the drugmaker perhaps best known now for sales giant Keytruda signaled its intent to take a swing at early-stage novelty with the appointment of discovery head Dean Li. Now, Merck is signing a decent-sized check to bring an IL-2 moonshot into the fold.

Merck will shell out roughly $1.85 billion for Pandion Pharmaceuticals, a biotech hoping to gin up regulatory T cells (Tregs) to treat a range of autoimmune disorders, the drugmaker said Thursday.

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