The ‘don’t eat me’ an­ti­dote: Glax­o­SmithK­line, Roche and No­vo back $86M start­up in high-stakes CD47 show­down

CD47 is a hot prospect in the im­muno-on­col­o­gy world. And Wash­ing­ton Uni­ver­si­ty spin­out Tioma Ther­a­peu­tics plans to be a play­er in that boom­ing R&D game.

It’s an old­er start­up, seed­ed for years to cov­er pre­clin­i­cal work but now prep­ping for a turn in the clin­i­cal spot­light. To­day the com­pa­ny land­ed an $86 mil­lion launch round and an ex­pe­ri­enced biotech hand who is now at the helm. River­Vest Ven­ture Part­ners co-led the round along with a trio of phar­ma heavy­weights: No­vo Ven­tures, Roche Ven­ture Fund and Glax­o­SmithK­line’s S.R. One.

John Dono­van, a co-founder of Alios, ac­quired by J&J, has tak­en over as CEO.

Dono­van will use the cash to ad­vance a port­fo­lio of an­ti­bod­ies de­signed to tar­get CD47, based on work from a group of sci­en­tif­ic founders that in­cludes William A. Fra­zier, PhD, pro­fes­sor of Bio­chem­istry, Mol­e­c­u­lar Bio­physics, Cell Bi­ol­o­gy, and Bio­med­ical En­gi­neer­ing at Wash­ing­ton Uni­ver­si­ty School of Med­i­cine. The com­pa­ny was orig­i­nal­ly found­ed as Vas­cu­lox and now has a cor­po­rate of­fice in the Bay Area and its re­search work close to its uni­ver­si­ty home in St. Louis.

The big idea here is that block­ing CD47 will help a T cell at­tack over­come tu­mor cells, mak­ing it an ide­al com­bi­na­tion to the com­bi­na­tion ther­a­pies tak­ing shape in the clin­ic.

“We’ve got three or four years of life now,” Dono­van tells me. He plans to use that time, and the cash, to ze­ro in on a proof-of-con­cept study that can start in H1 2017–look­ing to demon­strate that tar­get­ing CD47 can ben­e­fit pa­tients with blood can­cers as well as sol­id tu­mors. The plan is to build a sus­tain­able com­pa­ny, adds the CEO, who got start­ed with Tioma 6 months ago. And re­searchers will be ex­am­in­ing which of a num­ber of CD47 mech­a­nisms will work best, and which sub­sets of pa­tients will ben­e­fit the most.

Up to this point, says Dono­van, John McK­earn at River­Vest has been seed­ing the com­pa­ny, build­ing the syn­di­cate and es­tab­lish­ing the com­pa­ny foun­da­tion. In the next seg­ment of its ex­is­tence, Tioma can start con­sid­er­ing how it can best pair its drug with oth­ers in the on­col­o­gy field.

It’s not alone. Just a few months ago, Stan­ford spin­out Forty Sev­en gained a $75 mil­lion round to back the de­vel­op­ment of its own an­ti­bod­ies in the field, look­ing to si­lence a set of mol­e­cules on the sur­face of tu­mor cells that broad­cast a sim­ple “don’t eat me” sig­nal. That work was head­ed by Stan­ford’s leg­endary Irv Weiss­man. And Cana­da’s Tril­li­um Ther­a­peu­tics $TRIL has a lead ther­a­py, SIR­PαFc, that al­so tar­gets CD47.

Op­ti­miz­ing Cell and Gene Ther­a­py De­vel­op­ment and Pro­duc­tion: How Tech­nol­o­gy Providers Like Corn­ing Life Sci­ences are Spurring In­no­va­tion

Remarkable advances in cell and gene therapy over the last decade offer unprecedented therapeutic promise and bring new hope for many patients facing diseases once thought incurable. However, for cell and gene therapies to reach their full potential, researchers, manufacturers, life science companies, and academics will need to work together to solve the significant challenges facing the industry.

Amid mon­key­pox fears, biotechs spring to ac­tion; Mod­er­na’s CFO trou­ble; Cuts, cuts every­where; Craft­ing the right pro­teins; and more

Welcome back to Endpoints Weekly, your review of the week’s top biopharma headlines. Want this in your inbox every Saturday morning? Current Endpoints readers can visit their reader profile to add Endpoints Weekly. New to Endpoints? Sign up here.

It’s always a bittersweet moment saying goodbye, but as Josh Sullivan goes off to new adventures we are grateful for the way he’s built up the Endpoints Manufacturing section — which the rest of the team will now carry forward. If you’re not already, this may be a good time to sign up for your weekly dose of drug manufacturing news. Thank you for reading and wish you a restful weekend.

Bay­er sounds re­treat from a $670 mil­lion CAR-T pact in the wake of a pa­tient death

Two months after Atara Biotherapeutics hit the hold button on its lead CAR-T 2.0 therapy following a patient death, putting the company under the watchful eye of the FDA, its Big Pharma partners at Bayer are bowing out of a $670 million global alliance. And the move is forcing a revamp of Atara’s pipeline plans, even as research execs vow to continue work on the two drugs allied with Bayer 18 months ago, which delivered a $60 million cash upfront.

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Try­ing to shake up the Parkin­son's par­a­digm, Ab­b­Vie sub­mits NDA for con­tin­u­ous, 24-hour in­fu­sion ther­a­py

AbbVie is approaching the FDA with a new therapy to potentially treat Parkinson’s disease, using prodrugs of two medications commonly used for the condition.

The Big Pharma submitted its NDA for ABBV-951, a solution of levodopa and carbidopa prodrugs being evaluated in advanced Parkinson’s patients who don’t respond well to oral therapy, AbbVie announced Friday morning. Researchers are hoping a positive Phase III study that reads out in late October will help move things along quickly at the agency.

Sanofi and Re­gen­eron clear the fin­ish line in an in­flam­ma­to­ry esoph­a­gus dis­ease, leav­ing Take­da in the dust

With atopic dermatitis rivals breathing down Dupixent’s neck, Sanofi and Regeneron on Friday secured a first win in new territory in what Sanofi’s head of immunology and inflammation Naimish Patel called the fastest approval he’s ever seen.

The FDA approved Dupixent on Friday to treat patients 12 years and older with eosinophilic esophagitis (EoE), an inflammatory condition that causes swelling and scarring of the esophagus. The approval came just a couple months after regulators granted Dupixent priority review, and months ahead of its PDUFA date on Aug. 3.

Fu­ji­film con­tin­ues its biotech build­ing spree with new fa­cil­i­ty in Chi­na

A Japanese conglomerate is making a big play in China with the opening of a new facility, as it continues to expand.

Fujifilm Irvine Scientific has opened its new Innovation and Collaboration Center in Suzhou New District, China, an area in Jiangsu province specifically designated for technological and industrial development.

According to Fujifilm, the 12,000-square-foot site will be responsible for the company’s cell culture media optimization, analysis and design services. Cell culture media itself often requires customization of formulas and protocols to achieve the desired quantity and quality of therapeutic desired. Fujifilm Irvine Scientific is offering these services from its headquarters in California and Japan to its customers globally, as well as in China now.

Emer Cooke, EMA director (AP Photo/Geert Vanden Wijngaert)

Ahead of FDA, EMA rec­om­mends au­tho­riz­ing new gene ther­a­py treat­ment for ul­tra-rare dis­ease

Aromatic amino acid decarboxylase (AADC) deficiency is an ultra-rare genetic disease that leaves patients unable to produce certain hormones in the brain, such as dopamine and serotonin, usually leading to developmental delays, weak muscle tone and inability to control the movement of the limbs. It can also lead to multiple organ failure.

To date, there have been no treatments approved for AADC deficiency, which has been identified in less than 150 patients.

Ather­sys tries to post-hoc-an­a­lyze its way out of an­oth­er tri­al fail for stroke stem cell ther­a­py

Athersys’ stem cell therapy has failed yet again.

In a 206-person trial conducted in Japan, Athersys’ stem cell therapy for stroke failed its primary endpoint of “excellent outcome,” a combined measure of three stroke recovery scores.

While a greater percentage of patients in the treatment group reached the primary endpoint compared to placebo, that difference was not statistically significant.

Siddhartha Mukherjee (Brian Ach/Getty Images for The New Yorker)

All Blue's $733M bid to ac­quire Zymeworks turns hos­tile as board bat­tles back — af­ter a biotech celebri­ty jumps in

Yesterday, the team at All Blue Capital — bent on the takeover of a badly battered Zymeworks — brought in celebrated oncologist, Pulitzer prize-winning writer and biotech exec Siddhartha Mukherjee to add some glitz to their proposed board. But they’re still not winning over any converts.

This morning, Zymeworks’ board officially turned this acquisition offer into a hostile showdown, rejecting the unsolicited offer and marshaling its forces to prevent a buyout at $10.50 per share.

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