SV joins CRUK on a $250M-plus fund with an eye on de­vel­op­ing new can­cer drugs

With its de­men­tia fund up and run­ning, SV Health In­vestors is kick­start­ing a new, spe­cial­ized $250 mil­lion-plus fund to gam­ble on new can­cer biotechs — dou­bling down on one of the hottest fields in bio­phar­ma. And they’re do­ing it with a big con­tri­bu­tion from Can­cer Re­search UK to help seed the ef­fort.

Kate Bing­ham Crick

CRUK is con­tribut­ing $25 mil­lion to the cause, and open­ing some doors for SV along the way. The non-prof­it re­search group has a pipeline of 30 drugs it’s col­lab­o­rat­ing on in pre­clin­i­cal or clin­i­cal de­vel­op­ment, build­ing on the 8 ap­proved ther­a­pies that have helped fu­el its sci­en­tif­ic mis­sion.

One of those ther­a­pies is Keytru­da, which has paid off hand­some­ly as Mer­ck pushed it to mega-block­buster sta­tus. And CRUK’s ex­ten­sive con­nec­tions in the on­col­o­gy field in the UK make it a good part­ner for SV, which has a long track record in ven­ture in­vest­ing. Now a flush CRUK will point out some po­ten­tial projects for SV to back with the SV7 fund, with plans to in­vest 60% of its cash in­to on­col­o­gy.

Iain Foulkes Crick

This isn’t the first time SV and CRUK have worked to­geth­er. They col­lab­o­rat­ed on the launch of Ku­dos Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals, which in­vent­ed ola­parib, the first PARP — now a ma­jor mar­ket play­er for As­traZeneca sold as Lyn­parza — and Ar­tios. And Kate Bing­ham, the man­ag­ing part­ner at SV, says she ex­pects to find more good drugs with­in the CRUK net­work.

CRUK ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor Iain Foulkes had this to say:

We need to en­cour­age more en­tre­pre­neuri­al­ism if we want to get more med­i­cines to pa­tients to beat can­cer. This was recog­nised in the UK Life Sci­ences Strat­e­gy and this new fund, in part­ner­ship with SV, will be a huge boost to ad­vanc­ing can­cer re­search here in the UK. The UK has some of the very best re­search in the world and part­ner­ing with a world lead­ing ven­ture group such as SV will ac­cel­er­ate progress and gen­er­ate new biotech to be es­tab­lished here.

Inside FDA HQ (File photo)

The FDA just ap­proved the third Duchenne MD drug. And reg­u­la­tors still don’t know if any of them work

Last year Sarepta hit center stage with the FDA’s controversial reversal of its CRL for the company’s second Duchenne muscular dystrophy drug — after the biotech was ambushed by agency insiders ready to reject a second pitch based on the same disease biomarker used for the first approval for eteplirsen, without actual data on the efficacy of the drug.

On Wednesday the FDA approved the third Duchenne MD drug, based on the same biomarker. And regulators were ready to act yet again despite the lack of efficacy data.

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Franz-Werner Haas, CureVac CEO

UP­DAT­ED: On the heels of a snap $1B raise, Cure­Vac out­lines plans to seek emer­gency OK for Covid-19 vac­cine -- shares rock­et up

CureVac is going from being one of the quietest players in the race to develop a new vaccine to fight the worst public health crisis in a century to a challenger for the multibillion-dollar market that awaits the first vaccines to make it over the finish line. Typically low-key at a time of brash comments and incredibly ambitious development timelines from the leaders, CureVac now is jumping straight into the spotlight.

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FDA ap­proves the third NSOMD drug in 18 months as Roche/Genen­tech beefs up its port­fo­lio of drugs for neu­ro­log­i­cal dis­or­ders

There were no FDA approved treatments for neuromyelitis optica spectrum disorder at the start of 2019. Now, as of Friday, there are three.

The latest entrant to the market is the Roche/Genentech drug satralizumab after US regulators gave it the thumbs up late Friday. An IL-6 inhibitor, the drug joins Alexion’s Soliris and AstraZeneca spinout Viela Bio’s Uplizna. The annual cost of satralizumab — which will hit the market as Enspryng — will be $190,000 for 13 doses, a Genentech spokesperson said, though the first year of treatment requires 15 doses and cost about $220,000.

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Stéphane Bancel speaks to President Donald Trump at the White House meeting on March 2 (AP Images)

UP­DAT­ED: Mod­er­na of­fers steep dis­count in US sup­ply deal — but still takes the crown with close to $2.5B in vac­cine con­tracts

The US pre-order for Moderna’s Covid-19 vaccine is in.

Operation Warp Speed is reserving $1.525 billion for 100 million doses of Moderna’s Phase III mRNA candidate, rounding out to about $15 per dose — including $300 million in incentive payments for timely delivery. Given that Moderna has a two-dose regimen, it’s good for vaccinating 50 million people. The US government also has the option to purchase another 400 million doses for a total of $6.6 billion, or $16.5 per dose.

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US gov­ern­ment re­port­ed­ly be­gins prepar­ing for Covid-19 chal­lenge tri­als. Are they eth­i­cal?

Controversial human challenge trials for potential Covid-19 vaccines reportedly have a new booster — the US government.

Scientists working for the government have begun manufacturing a strain of the novel coronavirus that could be used in such studies, Reuters reported Friday morning. The trials would enroll healthy volunteers to be vaccinated and then intentionally infected with a weakened coronavirus.

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Sanofi vet Kather­ine Bowdish named CEO of PIC Ther­a­peu­tics; As the world Terns: Liv­er dis­ease biotech makes ex­ec­u­tive changes

PIC Therapeutics hasn’t raised much money, yet. But the fledgling biotech has attracted a high-profile player to the helm.

The Boston-based biotech has handed the reins to Katherine Bowdish as its president and CEO. Bowdish will also join the board of directors of PIC. Bowdish joins from Sanofi where she served as VP and head of R&D strategy, as well as helping launch and lead Sanofi Sunrise, a venture investment and partnering vehicle at Sanofi. Before that, Bowdish held several exec roles at Permeon Biologics, Anaphore, Alexion Pharmaceuticals and Prolifaron (acquired by Alexion).

Charlie Silver (Mission Bio)

'We want to be every­where.' Mis­sion Bio rais­es $70M be­hind re­sis­tance-hunt­ing se­quenc­ing plat­form

Charlie Silver wants to look really, really closely at a lot of your cells. And he just got a lot of money to do so.

Silver’s startup, Mission Bio, raised $70 million in a Series C round Thursday led by Novo Holdings. The money, which brings Mission Bio to $120 million raised since its 2012 founding, will be used to advance the single-cell sequencing platform they built to detect early response or resistance to new cancer therapies.

A lab technician works during research on coronavirus at Johnson & Johnson subsidiary Janssen Pharmaceutical in Beerse, Belgium, Wednesday, June 17, 2020. (Virginia Mayo/AP Images)

UP­DAT­ED: End­points News ranks all 28 play­ers in the Covid-19 vac­cine race. Here's how it stacks up to­day

(This piece was last updated on August 14. Endpoints News will continue to track the latest developments through the FDA’s marketing decisions.)

The 28 players now in or close to the clinical race to get a Covid-19 vaccine over the finish line are angling for a piece of a multibillion-dollar market. And being first — or among the leaders — will play a big role in determining just how big a piece.

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Bayer's Marianne De Backer with Endpoints founder John Carroll, Endpoints@JPM20 (Jeff Rumans for Endpoints News)

Hunt­ing a block­buster, Bay­er forges an $875M-plus M&A deal to ac­quire women’s health biotech

Bayer has dropped $425 million in cash on its latest women’s health bet, bringing a UK biotech and its non-hormonal menopause treatment into the fold.

KaNDy Therapeutics had its roots in GlaxoSmithKline, which spun out several neuroscience drugs into NeRRe Therapeutics back in 2012. Five years later the team created a new biotech to focus solely on NT-814 — which they considered “one of the few true innovations in women’s health in more than two decades.”

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