Tande­mAI rais­es $35M in Se­ries A for small mol­e­cule dis­cov­ery, wet labs

Tande­mAI, a small mol­e­cule- and pre­clin­i­cal-fo­cused tech­nol­o­gy com­pa­ny, raised $35 mil­lion in a Se­ries A round of fi­nanc­ing a lit­tle over a year af­ter rais­ing an ini­tial $25 mil­lion to get start­ed.

Jeff He

CEO Jeff He says the com­pa­ny of­fers a three-in-one ap­proach for biotech and phar­ma com­pa­nies: a drug dis­cov­ery plat­form of small mol­e­cules, Chi­na-based wet labs, and ex­perts across var­i­ous fields in­clud­ing chem­istry and AI, all of whom work with clients to bring a drug can­di­date out of the pre­clin­i­cal stage.

“The com­pu­ta­tion­al re­sources are ex­pen­sive. It could eas­i­ly cost a biotech com­pa­ny mil­lions of dol­lars and you need the ex­perts, right?” He said. “You need a CADD or AI ex­pert to use these tools to work close­ly with your med­i­c­i­nal chemists or bi­ol­o­gists. So we pack­age them all to­geth­er and com­bine these with our wet lab ser­vices … and we don’t charge more than what a tra­di­tion­al CRO would charge for chem­istry syn­the­sis.”

Tande­mAI’s drug dis­cov­ery plat­form has a physics-based ap­proach to mol­e­cule and atom sim­u­la­tions. The plat­form al­lows sci­en­tists to look at the struc­ture ac­tiv­i­ty re­la­tion­ships (SAR) be­tween pro­teins and mol­e­cules. This then gives sci­en­tists ideas on how to re­fine the mol­e­cule struc­ture so that they can find the best mol­e­cule for the client.

While there are com­pa­nies that of­fer these tools, it’s usu­al­ly a sub­scrip­tion-based of­fer­ing. Tande­mAI hopes to break down bar­ri­ers to ac­cess, es­pe­cial­ly for star­tups, by of­fer­ing com­pu­ta­tion­al sim­u­la­tions, wet labs and ex­perts in both all at once to make the lat­er stages of drug de­vel­op­ment more suc­cess­ful.

Ac­cord­ing to He, Tande­mAI works large­ly with ven­ture-backed com­pa­nies that have just fin­ished a Se­ries A or Se­ries B fi­nanc­ing round.

Tande­mAI has two wet labs in Shang­hai and Suzhou with about 150,000 square feet of space. There are about 30 US-based em­ploy­ees that do method de­vel­op­ment and CADD sup­port, He said. The com­pa­ny plans to in­crease its wet lab ca­pac­i­ty to over 500 chemists and bi­ol­o­gists and con­tin­ue de­vel­op­ing the drug dis­cov­ery tech­nol­o­gy with this round of fi­nanc­ing. Tande­mAI launched in 2021 and cur­rent­ly has about 50 clients, ac­cord­ing to a press re­lease.

He said it does re­quire “large cap­i­tal” to build out a wet lab, but that in ad­di­tion to the raised funds, the com­pa­ny is al­ready gen­er­at­ing rev­enue.

While there have been re­port­ed ten­sions be­tween Chi­na and the US when it comes to tech­nol­o­gy, par­tic­u­lar­ly AI, He said that “sci­ence has no bound­aries.”

“We help com­pa­nies dis­cov­er best-in-class and first-in-class mol­e­cules, and even­tu­al­ly func­tion­al mol­e­cules will ben­e­fit the pa­tients,” He told End­points News. “It’s ear­ly-stage drug dis­cov­ery. There are no sup­ply is­sues in­volved or na­tion­al se­cu­ri­ty is­sues in­volved.”

Forge Bi­o­log­ics’ cGMP Com­pli­ant and Com­mer­cial­ly Vi­able Be­spoke Affin­i­ty Chro­matog­ra­phy Plat­form

Forge Biologics has developed a bespoke affinity chromatography platform approach that factors in unique vector combinations to streamline development timelines and assist our clients in efficiently entering the clinic. By leveraging our experience with natural and novel serotypes and transgene conformations, we are able to accelerate affinity chromatography development by nearly 3-fold. Many downstream purification models are serotype-dependent, demanding unique and time-consuming development strategies for each AAV gene therapy product1. With the increasing demand to propel AAV gene therapies to market, platform purification methods that support commercial-scale manufacturing of high-quality vectors with excellent safety and efficacy profiles are essential.

Luke Miels, GSK chief commercial officer

GSK picks up Scynex­is' FDA-ap­proved an­ti­fun­gal drug for $90M up­front

Editor’s note: This is a live story and will be updated.

GSK is dishing out $90 million cash to add an antifungal drug to its commercial portfolio, in a deal spotlighting the pharma giant’s growing focus on infectious diseases.

The upfront will lock in an exclusive license to Scynexis’ Brexafemme, which was approved in 2021 to treat a yeast infection known as vulvovaginal candidiasis, except in China and certain other countries where Scynexis already out-licensed the drug.

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Feng Zhang (Susan Walsh/AP Images)

In search of new way to de­liv­er gene ed­i­tors, CRISPR pi­o­neer turns to mol­e­c­u­lar sy­ringes

Bug bacteria are ruthless.

Some soil bacteria have evolved tiny, but deadly injection systems that attach to insect cells, perforate them and release toxins inside — killing a bug in just a few days’ time. Scientists, on the other hand, want to leverage that system to deliver medicines.

In a paper published Wednesday in Nature, MIT CRISPR researcher Feng Zhang and his lab describe how they engineered these syringes made by bacteria to deliver potential therapies like toxins that kill cancer cells and gene editors. With the help of an AI program, they developed syringes that can load proteins of their choice and selectively target human cells.

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See­los Ther­a­peu­tics 'tem­porar­i­ly' stops study in rare neu­ro dis­or­der for busi­ness rea­sons

Microcap biotech Seelos Therapeutics is halting enrollment of its study in spinocerebellar ataxia type 3 (also known as Machado-Joseph disease) because of “financial considerations,” and in order to focus on other studies, the company said today, adding that the pause would be temporary.

The study will continue with the patients who have already enrolled, and the data from them will be used to decide whether to continue enrolling others in the future.

Alec­tor cuts 11% of work­force as it dou­bles down on late-stage neu­ro pro­grams part­nered with GSK, Ab­b­Vie

A month after revealing plans to concentrate on its late-stage immuno-neurology pipeline, Alector is trimming its headcount by 11%.

The layoffs will impact around 30 employees across the organization, the company disclosed in an SEC filing, adding that the plan will “better align the company’s resources” with the new strategy. With $712.9 million in cash, cash equivalents and investments as of the end of 2022, Alector believes the reserves will now get it through 2025.

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Mathai Mammen, FogPharma's next CEO

Math­ai Mam­men hands in J&J's R&D keys to lead Greg Ver­dine’s Fog­Phar­ma 

In the early 1990s, Mathai Mammen was a teaching assistant in Greg Verdine’s Science B46 course at Harvard. In June, the former R&D head at Johnson & Johnson will succeed Verdine as CEO, president and chair of FogPharma, the same month the seven-year-old biotech kickstarts its first clinical trial.

After leading R&D at one of the largest drugmakers in the world, taking the company through more than half a dozen drug approvals in the past few years, not to mention a Covid-19 vaccine race, Mammen departed J&J last month and will take the helm of a Cambridge, MA biotech attempting to go after what Verdine calls the “true emperor of all oncogenes” — beta-catenin.

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Jeff Bluestone (R), Sonoma Biotherapeutics CEO

Jef­frey Blue­stone brings his start­up haul to $400M+, join­ing forces with Re­gen­eron on cell ther­a­pies

These days, when Jeffrey Bluestone gets together with his contemporaries in science, the conversation often turns to retirement plans.

But a little more than three years ago, Bluestone reached a momentous turning point in his career, exiting a prestigious post at UCSF, where he had spent decades in the scientific pursuit of new therapies. And it had nothing to do with retirement anytime in the near future.

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Hugo Peris, Spiral Therapeutics CEO

Hear­ing-fo­cused biotech grabs trio of pro­grams from Oton­o­my's fire sale

Otonomy may be shutting down, but the lessons learned there will live on at another biotech working on new treatments for hearing loss.

San Francisco-based Spiral Therapeutics has bought certain assets related to three of Otonomy’s programs, ranging from data, patent rights, and know-how to inventory. That includes data around Otonomy’s twice-failed lead program, OTO-104 (Otividex), a sustained-exposure formulation of dexamethasone.

CSL CEO Paul McKenzie (L) and CMO Bill Mezzanotte

Q&A: New­ly-mint­ed CSL chief ex­ec­u­tive Paul McKen­zie and chief med­ical of­fi­cer Bill Mez­zan­otte

Paul McKenzie took over as CEO of Australian pharma giant CSL this month, following in the footsteps of long-time CSL vet Paul Perreault.

With an eye on mRNA, and quickly commercializing its new, $3.5 million-per-shot gene therapy for hemophilia B, McKenzie and chief medical officer Bill Mezzanotte answered some questions from Endpoints News this afternoon about where McKenzie is going to take the company and what advances may be coming to market from CSL’s pipeline. Below is a lightly edited transcript.