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.”

Tar­get­ing a Po­ten­tial Vul­ner­a­bil­i­ty of Cer­tain Can­cers with DNA Dam­age Re­sponse

Every individual’s DNA is unique, and because of this, every patient responds differently to disease and treatment. It is astonishing how four tiny building blocks of our DNA – A, T, C, G – dictate our health, disease, and how we age.

The tricky thing about DNA is that it is constantly exposed to damage by sources such as ultraviolet light, certain chemicals, toxins, and even natural biochemical processes inside our cells.¹ If ignored, DNA damage will accumulate in replicating cells, giving rise to mutations that can lead to premature aging, cancer, and other diseases.

Fol­low biotechs go­ing pub­lic with the End­points News IPO Track­er

The Endpoints News team is continuing to track IPO filings for 2021, and we’ve designed a new tracker page for the effort.

Check it out here: Biopharma IPOs 2021 from Endpoints News

You’ll be able to find all the biotechs that have filed and priced so far this year, sortable by quarter and listed by newest first. As of the time of publishing on Feb. 25, there have already been 16 biotechs debuting on Nasdaq so far this year, with an additional four having filed their S-1 paperwork.

Tal Zaks, Moderna CMO (AP Photo/Rodrique Ngowi, via still image from video)

CMO Tal Zaks bids Mod­er­na a sur­prise adieu as biotech projects $18.4B in rev­enue, plots post-Covid ex­pan­sion

How do you exit a company after six years in style? Developing one of the most lucrative and life-saving products in pharma history is probably not the worst way to go.

Tal Zaks, Moderna’s CMO since 2015, will leave the mRNA biotech in September, the biotech disclosed in their annual report this morning. The company has already retained the recruitment firm Russell Reynolds to find a replacement.

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Steve Cutler, Icon CEO (Icon)

In the biggest CRO takeover in years, Icon doles out $12B for PRA Health Sci­ences to fo­cus on de­cen­tral­ized clin­i­cal work

Contract research M&A had a healthy run in recent years before recently petering out. But with the market ripe for a big buyout and the Covid-19 pandemic emphasizing the importance of decentralized trials, Wednesday saw a tectonic shift in the CRO world.

Icon, the Dublin-based CRO, will acquire PRA Health Sciences for $12 billion in a move that will shake up the highest rungs of a fragmented market. The merger would combine the 5th- and 6th-largest CROs by 2020 revenue, according to Icon, and the merger will set the newco up to be the second-largest global CRO behind only IQVIA.

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Tom Barnes (Orna)

The mR­NA era is here. MPM be­lieves the fu­ture be­longs to oR­NA — and Big Phar­ma wants a seat at the ta­ble

If the ultra-fast clinical development of Covid-19 vaccines opened the world’s eyes to the promises of messenger RNA, the subsequent delays in supply offered a crash course on the ultra-complex process of producing them. Even before the formulation and fill-finish steps, mRNA is the precious end product from an arduous journey involving enzyme-aided transcription, modification and purification.

For Bristol Myers Squibb, Novartis Institutes for Biomedical Research, Gilead’s Kite and Astellas, it’s time to rethink the way therapeutic RNA is engineered.

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Glax­o­SmithK­line re­thinks strat­e­gy for Covid-19 an­ti­body — not the Vir ones — af­ter tri­al flop. Is there hope in high-risk pa­tients?

In the search for a better Covid-19 therapeutic, GlaxoSmithKline and Vir have partnered up on two antibodies they hope have a chance. GSK is also testing its own in-house antibody, and early results may have shut the door on its widespread use.

A combination of GSK’s monoclonal antibody otilimab plus standard of care couldn’t best standard of care alone in preventing death and respiratory failure in hospitalized Covid-19 patients after 28 days, according to data from the Phase IIa OSCAR study unveiled Thursday.

S&P ex­pects steady ero­sion in Big Phar­ma's cred­it pro­file in 2021 as new M&A deals roll in — but don't un­der­es­ti­mate their un­der­ly­ing strength

S&P Global has taken a look at the dominant forces shaping the pharma market and come to the conclusion that there will be more downgrades than upgrades in 2021 — the 8th straight year of steady decline.

But it’s not all bad news. Some things are looking up, and there’s still plenty of money to be made in an industry that enjoys a 30% to 40% profit margin, once you factor in steep R&D expenses.

Mod­er­na's Stéphane Ban­cel plans to dou­ble down on vac­cine pro­duc­tion, new vari­ants as mR­NA rules in pan­dem­ic fight

Stéphane Bancel thought he’d be sleeping more by now.

The 48-year-old Moderna CEO figured that by 2021 he’d have his vaccine through the clinic, authorized, and in mass production — that the hard part would be over. Instead, he’s still working Saturdays and Sundays, talking with his lab and manufacturing teams and fielding calls with two to three world leaders a day to answer their concerns about supply and emerging new variants.

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Ken Frazier, Merck CEO (Bess Adler/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

UP­DAT­ED: Mer­ck takes a swing at the IL-2 puz­zle­box with a $1.85B play for buzzy Pan­dion and its au­toim­mune hope­fuls

When Roger Perlmutter bid farewell to Merck late last year, the drugmaker perhaps best known now for sales giant Keytruda signaled its intent to take a swing at early-stage novelty with the appointment of discovery head Dean Li. Now, Merck is signing a decent-sized check to bring an IL-2 moonshot into the fold.

Merck will shell out roughly $1.85 billion for Pandion Pharmaceuticals, a biotech hoping to gin up regulatory T cells (Tregs) to treat a range of autoimmune disorders, the drugmaker said Thursday.

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