Stan­ford spin­out Forty Sev­en ar­rives at AS­CO with a snap­shot of promis­ing CD47 da­ta — and a $115M IPO in hand

CHICA­GO — Here’s a neat trick for up-and-com­ing on­col­o­gy biotechs to con­sid­er.

Irv Weiss­man

Ex­ecs for Forty Sev­en, the CD47 star found­ed by Stan­ford’s leg­endary Irv Weiss­man, filed for a $115 mil­lion IPO on Fri­day and then — in­stead of hun­ker­ing down for the qui­et pe­ri­od — prompt­ly flew out to Chica­go to tout a promis­ing set of proof-of-con­cept da­ta for their lead drug at AS­CO.

Forty Sev­en has pre­lim­i­nary da­ta on 22 pa­tients tak­ing 5F9, with an im­pres­sive ini­tial snap­shot of ear­ly da­ta for the small group. Fif­teen of the pa­tients suf­fer from treat­ment re­sis­tant dif­fuse large B-cell lym­phoma (DL­B­CL) and the oth­er 7 have fol­lic­u­lar lym­phoma. In DL­B­CL in­ves­ti­ga­tors tracked an ob­jec­tive re­sponse rate of 40% with a third achiev­ing a com­plete re­sponse; in fol­lic­u­lar lym­phoma the ORR was 71% with 43% achiev­ing a CR.

It’s still too ear­ly to set a me­di­an rate on the du­ra­tion of re­sponse, but the re­searchers say that just 1 of the 22 saw their can­cer progress af­ter 6 months.

Mark Mc­Camish

5F9 is an an­ti­body that tar­gets the pop­u­lar CD47 re­cep­tor tar­gets, which has in­spired a slate of de­vel­op­ment ef­forts. Hit­ting that tar­get is in­tend­ed to scram­ble the “don’t-eat-me” sig­nal that can­cer cells re­ly on to avoid be­ing chewed up by macrophages. And the Men­lo Park, CA-based biotech has 6 stud­ies un­der­way in sol­id tu­mors, acute myeloid leukemia, non-Hodgkin’s lym­phoma and col­orec­tal car­ci­no­ma.

The biotech plans to push its stud­ies ahead as a mono ther­a­py as well as in com­bi­na­tions with PD-1/PD-L1 and CT­LA-4 check­point in­hibitors, start­ing with Genen­tech’s Tecen­triq.

Alan Troun­son

Forty Sev­en has an in­ter­est­ing past. The 78-year-old Weiss­man was able to wran­gle sub­stan­tial sup­port for his ear­ly re­search work on CD47 from the Cal­i­for­nia In­sti­tute for Re­gen­er­a­tive Med­i­cine, even launch­ing ear­ly hu­man stud­ies — a rare feat in aca­d­e­m­ic cir­cles. Weiss­man and for­mer CIRM chief Alan Troun­son en­joyed a tight re­la­tion­ship, which ex­tend­ed to Troun­son’s ap­point­ment to the board of an­oth­er start­up that Weiss­man had helped found — Stem­Cells —short­ly af­ter his de­par­ture from the agency. And Forty Sev­en is still get­ting mon­ey from CIRM un­der its lat­est $19 mil­lion grant.

So far the com­pa­ny has raised $149 mil­lion and spent $84 mil­lion of that, ac­cord­ing to the S-1.

Mark Mc­Camish, a No­var­tis vet who en­joyed a $3.7 mil­lion pay pack­age last year, is the CEO. He al­so has 3.6% of the stock. Light­speed Ven­tures Part­ners and Sut­ter Hill Part­ners each con­trol 16.8% of the stock, fol­lowed by Clarus at 15.8%. And Weiss­man has re­tained a hefty 9.5% of the eq­ui­ty, which could soon be worth a small for­tune.

Forty Sev­en in­cludes the fol­low­ing com­pa­nies on its list of ri­vals in the field: Cel­gene Cor­po­ra­tion, Tril­li­um Ther­a­peu­tics, Alexo Ther­a­peu­tics, Arch Ther­a­peu­tics, Sur­face On­col­o­gy, Novim­mune, OSE Im­munother­a­peu­tics and Au­ri­gene Dis­cov­ery Tech­nolo­gies.

Health­care Dis­par­i­ties and Sick­le Cell Dis­ease

In the complicated U.S. healthcare system, navigating a serious illness such as cancer or heart disease can be remarkably challenging for patients and caregivers. When that illness is classified as a rare disease, those challenges can become even more acute. And when that rare disease occurs in a population that experiences health disparities, such as people with sickle cell disease (SCD) who are primarily Black and Latino, challenges can become almost insurmountable.

The End­points 11: They've got mad mon­ey and huge am­bi­tions. It's time to go big or go home

These days, selecting a group of private biotechs for the Endpoints 11 spotlight begins with a sprint to get ahead of IPOs and the M&A teams at Big Pharma. I’ve had a couple of faceplants earlier this year, watching some of the biotechs on my short list choose a quick leap onto Nasdaq or into the arms of a buyer.

Vividion, you would have been a great pick for the Endpoints 11. I’m sorry I missed you.

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Dave Lennon, former president of Novartis Gene Therapies

So what hap­pened with No­var­tis Gene Ther­a­pies? Here's your an­swer

Over the last couple of days it’s become clear that the gene therapy division at Novartis has quietly undergone a major reorganization. We learned on Monday that Dave Lennon, who had pursued a high-profile role as president of the unit with 1,500 people, had left the pharma giant to take over as CEO of a startup.

Like a lot of the majors, Novartis is an open highway for head hunters, or anyone looking to staff a startup. So that was news but not completely unexpected.

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Jacob Van Naarden (Eli Lilly)

Ex­clu­sives: Eli Lil­ly out to crash the megablock­buster PD-(L)1 par­ty with 'dis­rup­tive' pric­ing; re­veals can­cer biotech buy­out

It’s taken 7 years, but Eli Lilly is promising to finally start hammering the small and affluent PD-(L)1 club with a “disruptive” pricing strategy for their checkpoint therapy allied with China’s Innovent.

Lilly in-licensed global rights to sintilimab a year ago, building on the China alliance they have with Innovent. That cost the pharma giant $200 million in cash upfront, which they plan to capitalize on now with a long-awaited plan to bust up the high-price market in lung cancer and other cancers that have created a market worth tens of billions of dollars.

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Maureen Hillenmeyer, Hexagon Bio CEO

Hexa­gon Bio rais­es $61M to con­tin­ue ef­forts to turn fun­gi in­to drugs

A year after raising a $47 million launch round, the fungi-loving drug hunters at Hexagon Bio have more than doubled their coffers.

Hexagon announced today that it raised another $61 million for its efforts to design cancer and infectious disease drugs based on insights mined from the DNA in millions of species of fungi. The new financing brings Hexagon’s committed funding to over $108 million.

Who are the women su­per­charg­ing bio­phar­ma R&D? Nom­i­nate them for this year's spe­cial re­port

The biotech industry has faced repeated calls to diversify its workforce — and in the last year, those calls got a lot louder. Though women account for just under half of all biotech employees around the world, they occupy very few places in C-suites, and even fewer make it to the helm.

Some companies are listening, according to a recent BIO survey which showed that this year’s companies were 2.5 times more likely to have a diversity and inclusion program compared to last year’s sample. But we still have a long way to go. Women represent just 31% of biotech executives, BIO reported. And those numbers are even more stark for women of color.

FDA+ roundup: Bs­U­FA III ready for show­time, court tells FDA to re-work com­pound­ing plan, new guid­ance up­dates and more

The FDA has now spelled out what exactly will be included in the third iteration of Biosimilar User Fee Act (BsUFA) from 2023 through 2027, which similarly to the prescription drug deal, sets fees that industry has to pay for submitting applications, in exchange for firm timelines that the agency must meet.

This latest deal includes several sweeteners for the biosimilar industry, which has yet to make great strides in the US market, with shorter review timelines for safety labeling updates and updates to add or remove an indication that does not contain efficacy data.

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Joshua Liang, Clover Biopharmaceuticals CEO

With world still in sore need of dos­es, Clover says its Covid-19 vac­cine is 67% ef­fec­tive in Phase III

With concerns about the Delta variant rising and much of the world still in desperate need of vaccine doses, a Chinese biotech announced Wednesday that a new shot has shown positive results in a large trial against Covid-19, including new variants.

Clover Biopharmaceuticals announced Wednesday that its vaccine candidate showed 79% efficacy against the Delta variant in a Phase II/III trial dubbed Spectra, and 67% effective against Covid-19 overall.

Jean Bennett (Brent N. Clarke/Invision/AP Images)

Lux­tur­na in­ven­tor Jean Ben­nett starts a new gene ther­a­py com­pa­ny to tack­le rare dis­eases left be­hind by phar­ma, VCs

A few years ago Jean Bennett found herself in a surprising place for a woman who invented the first gene therapy ever approved in the United States: No one, it seemed, wanted her work.

Bennett, who designed and co-developed Luxturna, approved in 2018 for a rare form of blindness, had kept building new gene therapies for eye diseases at her University of Pennsylvania lab. But although the results in animals looked promising, pharma companies and investors kept turning down the pedigreed ophthalmology professor.

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