Temasek, cor­po­rate VCs buy in­to pre­scrip­tion dig­i­tal med hopes in Ak­il­i's $55M Se­ries C

Just how hot is “pre­scrip­tion dig­i­tal med­i­cine” these days? Ask the in­vestors back­ing Ak­ili In­ter­ac­tive, who col­lec­tive­ly sank $55 mil­lion in a Se­ries C an­nounced this morn­ing.

Boston-based Ak­ili, a PureTech af­fil­i­ate, is de­vel­op­ing a late-stage video game for pe­di­atric at­ten­tion deficit/hy­per­ac­tiv­i­ty dis­or­der (AD­HD) along­side oth­er soft­ware pro­grams in autism, de­pres­sion and mul­ti­ple scle­ro­sis. Temasek led the lat­est round, with par­tic­i­pa­tion from cor­po­rate VCs like Am­gen Ven­tures and M Ven­tures (of Mer­ck KGaA) as well as Jazz Ven­ture Part­ners, Bail­lie Gif­ford and Canepa Ad­vanced Health­care Fund — a group that co-founder and CEO Ed­die Mar­tuc­ci de­scribes as bring­ing “suc­cess­ful long-term track records in in­no­v­a­tive tech­nol­o­gy, med­ical de­vice and phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal in­vest­ment.”

Fol­low­ing pub­li­ca­tion of piv­otal da­ta late last year, the com­pa­ny plans to seek FDA ap­proval for the AD­HD treat­ment (dubbed AKL-T01) in the com­ing months, un­der the med­ical de­vice path­way. AKL-T01 hit the pri­ma­ry end­point of im­prov­ing at­ten­tion and in­hibito­ry con­trol in chil­dren with AD­HD, though it fell short of beat­ing con­trol over sev­er­al be­hav­ioral sec­ondary end­points.

If ap­proved, part of the pro­ceeds will go to­ward com­mer­cial launch, in ad­di­tion to gen­er­al spend­ing on the pipeline.

The Se­ries C builds up­on a foun­da­tion laid by PureTech, which now owns slight­ly over 40% of Ak­ili. Weeks ago, the Lon­don-list­ed bio­phar­ma group snagged $100 mil­lion that it plans to chan­nel to its mul­ti­ple af­fil­i­ates, in­clud­ing Ak­ili, though it passed on the round.

Michel Vounatsos, Biogen CEO (via YouTube)

UP­DAT­ED: Bio­gen spot­lights a pair of painful pipeline set­backs as ad­u­canum­ab show­down looms at the FDA

Biogen has flagged a pair of setbacks in the pipeline, spotlighting the final failure for a one-time top MS prospect while scrapping a gene therapy for SMA after the IND was put on hold due to toxicity.

Both failures will raise the stakes even higher on aducanumab, the Alzheimer’s drug that Biogen is betting the ranch on, determined to pursue an FDA OK despite significant skepticism they can make it with mixed results and a reliance on post hoc data mining. And the failures are being reported as Biogen was forced to cut its profit forecast for 2020 as a generic rival started to erode their big franchise drug.

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 92,200+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

A new chap­ter in the de­cen­tral­ized clin­i­cal tri­al ap­proach

Despite the promised decentralized trial revolution, we haven’t yet moved the needle in a significant way, although we are seeing far bolder commitments to this as we continue to experience the pandemic restrictions for some time to come. The vision of grandeur is one thing, but operationalizing and execution are another and recognising that change, particularly mid-flight on studies, is worthy of thorough evaluation and consideration in order to achieve success. Here we will discuss one of the critical building blocks of a Decentralized and Remote Trial strategy: TeleConsent; more than paper under glass, it is a paradigm change and key digital enabler.

Stephen Hoge, Moderna president (Moderna)

On morn­ing of FDA Covid-19 ad­comm, Mod­er­na com­pletes PhI­II en­roll­ment, putting them neck-and-neck with Pfiz­er

Weeks away from a potential EUA application, Moderna announced they have completed enrollment in their 30,000-person Phase III Covid-19 vaccine trial, with over a third of volunteers non-white and a quarter over the age of 65.

The announcement caps what has been the most closely-watched recruitment race in the history of drug development, as Pfizer and Moderna rushed to get enough volunteers to prove whether or not experimental vaccines could actually protect people from contracting Covid-19. Pfizer reached that mark on Sept. 15. Moderna said around the same time that they would slow down enrollment to ensure they enrolled enough participants from minority and at-risk groups.

Can B cells break the bound­aries of cell ther­a­py? Long­wood start­up has $52M to prove a new en­gi­neer­ing tech

Back in December 2017, as the cell therapy world was still basking in the virtually back-to-back approvals of two pioneering CAR-Ts, researchers at Seattle Children’s Research Institute reported a scientific first in a different corner of the field: engineer B cells to treat disease.

The team, led by David Rawlings and Richard James, eventually worked with Longwood Fund to start a biotech around those findings. And now Atlas Venture and RA Capital Management are coming on board to lead a $52 million launch round, joined by Alta Partners, for Be Biopharma.

Pfiz­er scoops up an an­tibi­ot­ic in rare M&A deal, bag­ging a vir­tu­al start­up op­er­at­ing on a shoe­string bud­get

Pfizer is stepping up with a rare antibiotics buyout deal today, grabbing Palo Alto, CA-based Arixa Pharmaceuticals in a bid to add a new oral version of avibactam, a beta lactamase inhibitor — or BLI — approved back in 2015 as part of the IV treatment Avycaz.

The Arixa acquisition follows some encouraging Phase I responses demonstrating that 60% to 80% of the oral drug is absorbed into the bloodstream. Only 7% of the IV version is absorbed orally, far below the 30% threshold Arixa has pointed to as a therapeutic threshold. The buyout gives Pfizer’s hospital group a line on a new oral combo with antibiotics like ceftibuten to go after drug-resistant cases of urinary tract infections and other ailments.

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 92,200+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

Bo Cumbo, AavantiBio CEO (file photo)

Bo Cum­bo jumps from the top com­mer­cial post at Sarep­ta to the helm of a gene ther­a­py start­up with some in­flu­en­tial back­ers, big plans and $107M

After a 7-year stretch building the commercial team at Sarepta, longtime drug salesman Bo Cumbo is jumping to the entrepreneurial side of the business, taking the helm of a startup that’s got several deep-pocket investors. And he’s not just bringing his experience in selling drugs.

He tells me that when he told Sarepta CEO Doug Ingram about it, his boss got excited about the venture and opted to jump in with a $15 million investment from Sarepta to add to the launch money, alongside 3 of the busiest investors in biotech.

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 92,200+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

John Maraganore, Alnylam CEO (Scott Eisen/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

With lumasir­an on the FDA's doorstep, Al­ny­lam reads out new PhI­II da­ta in PH1

Just over a month away from its December PDUFA date, Alnylam flaunted new data from two Phase III studies to back lumasiran in primary hyperoxaluria type 1 (PH1), a rare liver condition.

The Cambridge, MA-based biotech snagged a priority review for the candidate back in June, and got positive feedback from the EMA’s Committee for Medicinal Products for Human Use just last week. Lumasiran uses RNA interference (RNAi) to silence the gene for glycolate oxidase, an enzyme used in the production of oxalate.

News brief­ing: UK biotech 4D phar­ma heads for Nas­daq via SPAC; Dr. Red­dy's shuts down man­u­fac­tur­ing af­ter cy­ber­at­tack

Another pharma company is intending to use a SPAC to join the Nasdaq.

4D pharma, a UK-based biotech, is reverse-merging with a blank check company in a deal worth up to $37.6 million. The move will give 4D pharma a new Nasdaq ticker, which will be $LBPS, using the American Depositary Share program.

As a result of the move, 4D pharma will gain $14.6 million in cash held by the blank check company, dubbed Longevity. The merger is expected to be completed in early 2021, after which shares will be immediately tradeable.

CEO Marc Gleeson (Azura)

Azu­ra Oph­thalmics gets a $20M boost for its R&D work on eye dis­eases

Three years after closing a $16 million Series B, the same group of investors are back to give Azura Ophthalmics a $20 million boost.

That brings the Tel Aviv-Yafo, Israel-based biotech’s total fundraise to $38 million, and should pave the way for a registration study of its lead candidate in Meibomian gland dysfunction (MGD) and related eye diseases, CEO Marc Gleeson told Endpoints News.

The topical candidate, dubbed AZR-MD-001, is designed to address abnormal hyperkeratinization, or the build-up and shedding of proteins at the opening of or within the Meibomian gland. When Meibomian glands become dysfunctional, rapid evaporation of the tear film can occur, leading to dry eye disease.