Steve Kafka joins Section 32 as managing partner; Takeda auctions off $660M drug portfolio in bid to reduce post-Shire M&A debt load
→ Former Thrive CEO and partner at Third Rock Ventures, Steve Kafka, has hopped aboard Section 32 as a managing partner. Within his new role, Kafka “will focus on supporting and expanding the firm’s investment portfolio and presence in Boston.” Currently, Kafka serves as the executive chairman at Thrive and at ArcherDX and he will continue to serve within these roles. Kafka’s previous stints include roles as president and COO at Foundation Medicine and serving in positions at Aileron Therapeutics, Infinity Pharmaceuticals, Millennium Pharmaceuticals, Strategic Decisions Group and Forrester Research.
→ Takeda has grabbed $660 million to help pay down the big debt it took on to buy Shire. Germany’s Stada is picking up the portfolio of pharmaceuticals— including OTC products —in the deal, which marks Takeda’s 4th auction since closing the Shire buyout. Takeda has garnered $6.5 billion of the $10 billion it’s set its sights on for debt reduction.
→ High-flying Chinese biotech BeiGene $BGNE has licensed Asian rights to a preclinical cancer drug out of Seattle Genetics. There are no specifics on what this drug is, but Seattle Genetics stands to earn up to $160 million from BeiGene if it pans out. They didn’t break out the upfront. Seattle Genetics $SGEN is hanging on to US rights for this therapy.
→ Engitix, Inc has been awarded with a golden ticket —providing one year of lab bench space and shared laboratory and office space — to LabCentral by Takeda Pharmaceutical. The company says that the golden ticket will help further advance its “human extracellular matrix (ECM) research in fibrosis and solid tumors disease progression.”
→ CODA Biotherapeutics — developing a chemogenetic gene therapy platform to treat intractable neurological diseases — has closed its Series A financing round, bagging a total raised amount of $34 million. The company’s existing investor, Versant Ventures, led the round and was joined by existing investors MPM Capital and Astellas Venture Management.
→ Allogene and immune cell therapy company, Notch Therapeutics, have entered into an exclusive worldwide collaboration and license agreement to research and develop induced pluripotent stem cell (iPSC) AlloCAR therapy products for initial application in non-Hodgkin lymphoma, leukemia and multiple myeloma. Under the partnership, the companies “will create allogeneic cell therapy candidates from T cells or natural killer (NK) cells using Notch’s Engineered Thymic Niche (ETN) platform.” The collaboration comes two months after Allogene teamed up with researchers from Stanford University to investigate a nucleic acid delivery system that more effectively, safely and flexibly delivers intracellular RNA or DNA into lymphocytes, including T cells.
→ Black Belt TX and Praxis Biotech are teaming up in a strategic partnership to discover and develop new small molecule therapeutics to undisclosed targets which are aimed at modulating key control mechanisms in the stress response pathways in cancer.
→ As reported by Business Quarter (BQ), Oxford Drug Design has bagged £2.2 million in a financing round. The round was led by new and existing investors — the Angel CoFund and o2h Ventures — along with grant funding from the UK Department of Health and Social Care’s UK-China research competition. This brings the company’s total 2019 funding to over £9m.