Greg Miller, Transition Bio CEO

The tar­get is the sys­tem: Con­den­sates biotech as­pires to ‘rewrite the rule­book’ on drug dis­cov­ery

An­oth­er biotech has burst in­to the buzzy but still bud­ding field of bio­mol­e­c­u­lar con­den­sates with $50 mil­lion in Se­ries A fund­ing.

Tran­si­tion Bio, based in both Cam­bridge, UK, and Cam­bridge, MA, is look­ing to bring con­den­sate drug dis­cov­ery, a field that orig­i­nat­ed in neu­ro­science, to can­cer. Co-found­ed by two bio­physics pro­fes­sors — David Weitz of Har­vard and Tuo­mas Knowles of the Uni­ver­si­ty of Cam­bridge — the 18-month-old biotech is build­ing a ma­chine learn­ing plat­form that maps out con­den­sates in what Knowles de­scribed as a “phase di­a­gram.”

First ob­served in worm cells in 2009, con­den­sates are tran­sient droplets that help or­ga­nize the in­sides of cells, “bring­ing to­geth­er what needs to be to­geth­er,” Knowles said. But un­like or­ganelles, which sep­a­rate out a cell’s con­tents with phys­i­cal bar­ri­ers, con­den­sates act like liq­uids, con­dens­ing (hence the name) and dis­solv­ing to bring pro­teins to­geth­er or set them apart.

Tuo­mas Knowles

“Typ­i­cal­ly a healthy con­den­sate would be formed in a high­ly re­versible man­ner, such that when it’s no longer re­quired it can dis­solve and not clog up any of the oth­er cel­lu­lar ma­chin­ery,” Knowles said.

How­ev­er, dis­ease-re­lat­ed con­den­sates can mal­func­tion in a num­ber of ways. In some cas­es, they may gel to­geth­er so they’re no longer liq­uid and dis­solv­able, Knowles said. In oth­ers, con­den­sates may bring to­geth­er the wrong com­bi­na­tion of mol­e­cules or ap­pear where they don’t in healthy cells.

Us­ing its plat­form, Tran­si­tion Bio plans on map­ping out the many dif­fer­ent con­di­tions that lead to con­den­sate for­ma­tion and func­tion in cells. By do­ing so, the biotech hopes it can use ma­chine learn­ing to fig­ure out how to reg­u­late con­den­sates.

“Ar­guably, much of what we know about what makes a drug-like mol­e­cule is based on drug­ging sin­gle pro­teins,” Knowles said, “so those rules are like­ly to look very dif­fer­ent once we start to drug these very high­ly mul­ti­mer­ic and dy­nam­ic sys­tems.

“So we re­al­ly have to — in some sense — rewrite and re­dis­cov­er the rule book,” Knowles added.

There are a hand­ful of oth­er con­den­sate biotechs out there, in­clud­ing Dew­point Ther­a­peu­tics and Nereid, found­ed by the bio­physi­cists that penned the ini­tial worm study. In Feb­ru­ary, Dew­point, which has part­ner­ships with Bay­er and Mer­ck, raised an­oth­er $150 mil­lion hop­ing to get in­to the clin­ic by the end of next year.

For Tran­si­tion Bio, the next step will be to gen­er­ate in vi­vo val­i­da­tion for their con­den­sate sys­tem tar­gets, CEO Greg Miller said.

The Se­ries A round was led by North­pond Ven­tures and in­clud­ed Tai­ho Ven­tures, Bris­tol My­ers Squibb, Mag­net­ic Ven­tures, and Life­force Cap­i­tal, which led Tran­si­tion Bio’s seed round.

Paul Hudson, Sanofi CEO (Cyril Marcilhacy/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

FDA side­lines Paul Hud­son's $3.7B MS drug af­ter es­tab­lish­ing link to liv­er dam­age

One of Sanofi CEO Paul Hudson’s top picks in the pipeline — picked up in a $3.7 billion buyout 2 years ago — has just been sidelined in the US by a safety issue.

The pharma giant put out word early Thursday that the FDA has put their Phase III studies of tolebrutinib in multiple sclerosis and myasthenia gravis on partial clinical hold, halting enrollment and suspending dosing for patients who have been on the drug for less than 60 days. Patients who have completed at least 60 days of treatment can continue therapy as researchers explore a “limited” — but unspecified in Sanofi’s statement — number of cases of liver injury.

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Phar­ma re­acts to post-Roe; Drug­mak­ers beef up cy­ber de­fense; Boehringer, Roche qui­et­ly axe drugs; 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.

As a reminder, we are off on Monday for the Fourth of July. I hope this recap will kick off your (long) weekend well and that the rest of it will be just what you need. See you next week for a shortened edition!

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Eric Hughes, incoming Teva EVP of global R&D and CMO

Te­va chief raids Ver­tex for his new glob­al head of re­search and de­vel­op­ment

Teva CEO Kåre Schultz has found his new R&D chief and CMO in Vertex’s ranks.

The global generics giant, which has some 3,500 staffers in the R&D group, has named Eric Hughes to the top research spot in the company. He’ll be replacing Hafrun Fridriksdottir, who held the role for close to five years, on Aug. 1.

Hughes hasn’t been at Vertex for long, though. He jumped from Novartis less than a year ago, after heading the immunology, hepatology & dermatology global development unit. Before that, he completed a five-year stint as head of early clinical research for the specialty discovery medicine department in the exploratory clinical & translational research group at Bristol Myers Squibb, according to his LinkedIn profile.

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#BIO22: Man­ag­ing a biotech in tur­bu­lent times. 'There's a per­fect shit­show out there'

On Tuesday, June 14, Endpoints News EIC John Carroll sat down with a group of biotech execs to discuss the bear market for industry stocks and how they were dealing with it. Here’s the conversation, which has been lightly edited for brevity.

Martin Meeson, sponsor opening:

Thank you, John. Hello everyone. My name’s Martin Meeson, I’m the CEO of Fujifilm Diosynth. For those of you who don’t know Fujifilm Diosynth, we operate in the development of clinical and commercial product scale up, we have facilities in Europe and the US, and around about 4,000 employees. We run on average about 150 programs, so when it comes to managing in turbulent times over the last two years, we’ve had quite a lot of experience of that. Not just keeping the clinical pipelines and the commercial pipelines open, but also our response to the pandemic and the molecules that we’ve had within there. One of the phrases that I coined probably about a year ago when we were talking at JP Morgan, was I talked about managing through turbulent times. Well, it’s become the fact that we are not managing and leading through these times, we are managing in them, which is why that’s really the purpose of and the topic that we’ve got today.

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On Friday, Lonza announced plans to construct a large-scale commercial drug product fill and finish facility in the town of Stein, Switzerland.

Lon­za to in­vest $500M+ on fill-fin­ish fa­cil­i­ty on its home turf

Lonza has been expanding its reach across the globe, bringing sites in China and the US online this year, but now they are looking closer to home for their next major investment.

The Swiss manufacturer on Friday announced plans to construct a large-scale commercial drug fill and finish facility in the town of Stein, Switzerland. The new facility will be delivered through an investment of approximately CHF 500 million, or $519 million, and is expected to be completed in 2026. The facility will also be constructed on the same campus as Lonza’s current clinical drug product facility.

Kate Haviland, Blueprint Medicines CEO

What bear mar­ket? Blue­print lines up $1.25B to ex­pand la­bels, maybe tack on more drugs

As it works to pad the case for expanding its Ayvakit and Gavreto labels, Blueprint Medicines has lined up $1.25 billion in funding, with some of that money seemingly earmarked for acquisitions or pipeline expansion projects.

Following the likes of BioCryst, Cytokinetics and MorphoSys, Blueprint is aiming to monetize the royalties of its RET+ non-small cell lung cancer and thyroid cancer drug Gavreto with Royalty Pharma. The investment group will dole out $175 million upfront and might tack on another $165 million in biobucks as part of Blueprint’s royalties receivable from net sales of the drug by Roche outside the US, sans China.

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Fu­ji­film in­vests an­oth­er $1.6B in­to its CD­MO arm to up­grade facil­lites in the US and Eu­rope

Fujifilm’s spending spree into its CDMO arm is not slowing down.

The multinational announced on Wednesday that it will invest $1.6 billion to enhance and expand the cell culture manufacturing services of the CDMO arm of the Japanese conglomerate Fujifilm Diosynth.

The investment will enhance Fujifilm Diosynth Biotechnologies’ sites in Hillerød, Denmark, and College Station, TX. The investment is expected to create approximately 450 jobs across both facilities.

Anand Parikh, Faeth Therapeutics CEO

Sid Mukher­jee, Lew Cant­ley be­hind new can­cer biotech with food+drug com­bo treat­ment am­bi­tions 

Famed oncologist Sid Mukherjee and repeat biotech co-founder Lew Cantley have teamed up to form Faeth Therapeutics, a startup aiming to treat cancer the way other conditions are addressed: pairing nutrition with therapeutics.

The goal is to transform cancer treatment with nutrition and make it the fourth “pillar” in the oncology regimen, which to date has centered on radiotherapy, surgery and drugs, Faeth CEO Anand Parikh told Endpoints News. Other conditions have already been addressed with a side of nutrients or diet, he said, pointing to diabetes, irritable bowel syndrome and other diseases.

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Amgen's taking social media followers around the globe as it introduces the many different

From Tam­pa to Mu­nich, Am­gen’s ‘Places’ cam­paign in­tro­duces its lo­ca­tions around the world

Amgen is taking social media followers around the world with its latest corporate campaign. Called “Places of Amgen,” the twice monthly posts highlight the biopharma’s different offices and sites – and the people who work there.

Each post runs on LinkedIn, Facebook and Instagram with details about the work Amgen does in that location, when it was established, comments from people who work there and other interesting facts. The most recent one about Paris, France, for example, notes that Amgen France last year signed a French association charter committed to the inclusion of LBGT+ people in the workplace.

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