How CAMP4 maps transcription [CAMP4TX]

Tar­get­ing the BF­Ps of the CNS, Bio­gen li­cens­es map of ge­net­ic neigh­bor­hoods in the brain

Search­ing for new meth­ods of at­tack­ing se­ri­ous cen­tral ner­vous sys­tem dis­eases, Bio­gen has signed a deal that could be run in­to the hun­dreds of mil­lions of dol­lars to es­sen­tial­ly li­cense a tran­scrip­tion­al map of the brain and scan it for new drug tar­gets.

The part­ner­ship, worth $15 mil­lion up­front and far more in mile­stones, is with a new bioin­for­mat­ics start­up called CAMP4 Ther­a­peu­tics.  Found­ed in 2018 year by the White­head In­sti­tute’s Richard Young and Har­vard Med­ical School’s Leonard Zon, CAMP4 takes genes con­sid­ered af­fil­i­at­ed with a dis­ease and maps out the var­i­ous ways cells ex­press those genes and turn them on or off.  They then take that map and – in the bi­o­log­i­cal equiv­a­lent of stretch­ing a war map across a ta­ble in a bunker —  mark up all the dif­fer­ent meth­ods of at­tack.

“The more we know about a gene, it doesn’t mean we can drug that gene,” CEO Josh Man­del-Brehm, who worked at Bio­gen be­fore join­ing CAMP4, told End­points News. “Many genes are not quote-un-quote drug­gable, so then we have an in­ter­est­ing prob­lem: I think I un­der­stand the ge­net­ics of the dis­ease, but how do I drug it?  And that’s where our map solves for this prob­lem.”

Along­side the $15 mil­lion up­front pay­ment, CAMP4 will be el­i­gi­ble for up to $96 mil­lion in mile­stones for each of the ini­tial tar­gets it sup­plies, and up to $173 mil­lion for each sub­se­quent one.

CEO Josh Man­del-Brehm

Bio­gen is not dis­clos­ing what genes or dis­eases they will tar­get, but the col­lab­o­ra­tion will fo­cus on mi­croglial cells. These macrophages are found in the cen­tral ner­vous sys­tem and have long been con­sid­ered a key fac­tor in neu­rode­gen­er­a­tive dis­eases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkin­son’s.

Bio­gen will bring CAMP4 the genes it be­lieves are cen­tral to dis­eases in the cen­tral ner­vous sys­tem, and CAMP4 will in­form them all the ways the gene is be­ing ex­pressed and where Bio­gen might go about turn­ing up or down the ex­pres­sion.

“So you say ‘hey I want to move this par­tic­u­lar gene for this dis­ease, how should I do that? I want to change the ex­pres­sion of it,'” Man­del-Brehm said, de­scrib­ing how they work with part­ners. “We’ll show you the dif­fer­ent ‘nodes,’ if you will: ‘hey you can drug this, you can drug this, you can drug this.’ It’s modal­i­ty ag­nos­tic.”

CAMP4, found­ed out of Po­laris Part­ners, is one of a cou­ple of new biotechs that build on a dis­cov­ery Young had back in 2015. The long­time tran­scrip­tion­al bi­ol­o­gist pub­lished work show­ing that cells mod­i­fy gene ex­pres­sion us­ing a se­ries of “in­su­lat­ed neigh­bor­hoods,” 3-D loops of DNA that con­trol gene ex­pres­sion with­in them. CAMP4 maps those (along with oth­er as­pects of the tran­scrip­tome). Flag­ship Pi­o­neer­ing’s new Omega Ther­a­peu­tics al­so tries to drug them.

Since launch­ing in 2018, CAMP4 has done ex­ten­sive work on map­ping genes for liv­er dis­eases, in­clud­ing NASH, as part of an in-house de­vel­op­ment pro­gram. They’ve al­so part­nered with syn­thet­ic RNAi com­pa­ny Al­ny­lam and are work­ing to ex­pand their maps of cells in the brain, heart, mus­cles, im­mune sys­tem, blood and kid­neys, which they could then li­cense out or use to de­vel­op drugs in-house.

“The way I think about the dis­eases we’re go­ing af­ter is BFP: Big Fuck­ing Prob­lems,” Man­del-Brehm said, cit­ing NASH and oth­er dis­eases that lack ef­fec­tive treat­ments. And “It’s well-val­i­dat­ed and un­der­stood: If you’re drug­ging some­thing that’s tied to the gene, you’re much more like­ly to be suc­cess­ful.”

Secretary of health and human services Alex Azar speaking in the Rose Garden at the White House (Photo: AFP)

Trump’s HHS claims ab­solute au­thor­i­ty over the FDA, clear­ing path to a vac­cine EUA

The top career staff at the FDA has vowed not to let politics overrule science when looking at vaccine data this fall. But Alex Azar, who happens to be their boss’s boss, apparently won’t even give them a chance to stand in the way.

In a new memorandum issued Tuesday last week, the HHS chief stripped the FDA and other health agencies under his purview of their rule making ability, asserting all such power “is reserved to the Secretary.” Sheila Kaplan of the New York Times first obtained and reported the details of the September 15 bulletin.

#ES­MO20: Push­ing in­to front­line, Mer­ck and Bris­tol My­ers duke it out with new slate of GI can­cer da­ta

Having worked in parallel for years to move their respective PD-1 inhibitors up to the first-line treatment of gastrointestinal cancers, Merck and Bristol Myers Squibb finally have the data at ESMO for a showdown.

Comparing KEYNOTE-590 and CheckMate-649, of course, comes with the usual caveats. But a side-by-side look at the overall survival numbers also offer some perspective on a new frontier for the reigning checkpoint rivals, both of whom are claiming to have achieved a first.

#ES­MO20: Bris­tol My­ers marks Op­di­vo's sec­ond ad­ju­vant win — eye­ing a stan­dard of care gap

Moving into earlier and earlier treatment lines, Bristol Myers Squibb is reporting that adjuvant treatment with Opdivo has doubled the time that esophageal or gastroesophageal junction cancer patients stay free of disease.

With the CheckMate-577 data at ESMO, CMO Samit Hirawat said, the company believes it can change the treatment paradigm.

While a quarter to 30% of patients typically achieve a complete response following chemoradiation therapy and surgery, the rest do not, said Ronan Kelly of Baylor University Medical Center. The recurrence rate is also high within the first year, Hirawat added.

Clay Siegall (Life Science Washington via YouTube)

#ES­MO20: Seat­tle Ge­net­ics eyes 4th ap­proval with new da­ta in a crowd­ed field

Does Seattle Genetics have another approval on its hands?

The last 12 months, not so great for the world, has been great for Seattle Genetics. The company landed two separate FDA approvals, signed a $4.5 billion deal with Merck and watched antibody-drug conjugates — the technology they spent years developing to broad industry skepticism — emerge suddenly as one of the most popular approaches in oncology. And on Monday at ESMO, the company and their partners at Genmab unveiled the data behind the ADC it hopes will provide its next major FDA approval.

Jonathan Rigby, Immune Regulation group CEO

Im­mune Reg­u­la­tion, tak­ing two clin­i­cal pro­grams to 're­set' the im­mune sys­tem, nets $53M+ Se­ries B

A little under two years after a company rebranding, Immune Regulation is taking an even bigger step toward advancing its goals.

Formerly known as Peptinnovate, the British biotech announced a $53.4 million Series B early Monday morning, helping to further advance two clinical programs in rheumatoid arthritis and asthma. Though those are the two initial indications the company is focusing on, CEO Jonathan Rigby told Endpoints News he hopes the candidates can be applied to a broad swath of autoimmune disorders.

Israel Lowy (Regeneron)

#ES­MO20: 'As good as any PD-1 out there': Re­gen­eron flash­es PD-(L)1 lung can­cer da­ta to ri­val Mer­ck

Regeneron entered the PD-(L)1 game late, so they devised a two-pronged strategy to catch up with Big Pharma rivals: They would push it into cancers where PD-1s had yet been tested, and they would prove that it’s as powerful in the big indications as any other on the market.

They cleared a hurdle on the first goal Friday, showing a 31% response in patients with the rare skin cancer basal cell carcinoma. And with the data they’re rolling out Monday, Regeneron cancer chief Israel Lowy is ready to declare success on the second.

UP­DAT­ED: Two wild weeks for Grail end in $8B Il­lu­mi­na buy­out

Grail’s whirlwind two weeks have ended in the wealthy arms of its former founder and benefactors.

Illumina has shelled out $8 billion to reacquire the closely-watched liquid biopsy startup they spun out just 5 years ago and sold off much of its shares just 3 years ago. The deal comes nearly two weeks after the well-heeled startup filed for a potentially massive IPO — one that was disrupted just a week later when Bloomberg reported that Illumina was in talks to buy their former spinout for up to $8 billion.

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Roche vaults to the front of the NL­RP3 clin­i­cal race, pay­ing $448M up­front to bag In­fla­zome

Roche is going all in on NLRP3.

The pharma giant is putting down $448 million (€380 million) upfront to snatch Novartis-backed Inflazome, which makes it a clinical player in the space overnight.

Dublin and Cambridge, UK-based Inflazome is the second NLRP3-focused biotech Roche has acquired in less than two years, and although no numbers were disclosed in the Jecure buyout, this is almost certainly a much larger deal.

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Eli Lilly CSO Dan Skovronsky (file photo)

UP­DAT­ED: #ES­MO20: Eli Lil­ly shows off the da­ta for its Verzenio suc­cess. Was it worth $18 bil­lion?

The press release alone, devoid of any number except for the size of the trial, added nearly $20 billion to Eli Lilly’s market cap back in June. Now investors and oncologists will get to see if the data live up to the hype.

On Sunday at ESMO, Eli Lilly announced the full results for its Phase III MonarchE trial of Verzenio, showing that across over 5,000 women who had had HR+, HER2- breast cancer, the drug reduced the odds of recurrence by 25%. That meant 7.8% of the patients on the drug arm saw their cancers return within 2 years, compared with 11.3% on the placebo arm.

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