Thiel-backed Com­pass adds $49M to A round, bring­ing to­tal to $132M

A Cam­bridge start­up that’s been try­ing — and fail­ing — to op­er­ate un­der the radar these past three years is now ready to step in­to the lime­light. Com­pass Ther­a­peu­tics says it’s fi­nal­ly wrapped its years-long quest to raise a Se­ries A mega-round to­tal­ing $132 mil­lion, and it’s head­ing to the clin­ic with a lead im­muno-on­col­o­gy drug.

Tom Schuetz

The com­pa­ny has been col­lect­ing chunks of mon­ey for this raise over the past three years, with word leak­ing rather ear­ly in the fundrais­ing process. Re­porters have dug up fundrais­ing up­dates sev­er­al times since (in­clud­ing a piece not­ing Pe­ter Thiel was a backer), shed­ding some light on the com­pa­ny be­fore it was quite ready, Com­pass CEO Tom Schuetz tells me.

The news to­day is that they added $49 mil­lion to a pre­vi­ous­ly-re­port­ed $83 mil­lion round. In­stead of call­ing it a small B round, they’re opt­ing to wrap it in­to one big A round (hey, Se­ries A mega-rounds are of­fi­cial­ly a thing).

You may have seen a Boston Busi­ness Jour­nal piece back in 2017 re­port­ing a $172 mil­lion cap­i­tal raise for Com­pass. To clear things up, Com­pass says that was pulled from SEC fil­ings that in­clud­ed war­rants that hadn’t been cashed in yet. The $132 mil­lion fig­ure is what the com­pa­ny has raised to­tal since its in­cep­tion — it is not in ad­di­tion to pre­vi­ous­ly-re­port­ed rounds. And those $60 mil­lion war­rants are still avail­able, but Schuetz tells me Com­pass doesn’t in­tend to pull them down — they have plen­ty of mon­ey to get in­to the clin­ic.

Fund­ing for this round was led by Or­biMed Ad­vi­sors and in­clud­ed F-Prime Cap­i­tal, Cowen Health­care In­vest­ments, and Thiel Cap­i­tal, among oth­ers.

The new $49 mil­lion that just closed will go to­ward two main ef­forts: push­ing its can­cer drug CTX-471 in­to hu­man tri­als in 2019 and choos­ing two more prod­uct can­di­dates for the clin­ic.

Schuetz wouldn’t name the tar­get for CTX-471, but said the com­pa­ny’s new ap­proach to mon­o­clon­al an­ti­body dis­cov­ery has al­lowed them to iden­ti­fy 30 tar­gets in can­cer, in­flam­ma­tion, and au­toim­mune dis­ease.

“We can take mil­lions or tens of mil­lions of in­di­vid­ual an­ti­bod­ies and we can dis­play those on the sur­face of hu­man cells, and that tech al­lows us to screen for an­ti­bod­ies that bind to the tar­get of in­ter­est,” Schuetz said. “The tech­nol­o­gy has al­lowed us to be ex­treme­ly rapid and ef­fi­cient in drug dis­cov­ery.”

Com­pass has more than 15 ther­a­peu­tic can­di­dates ad­vanc­ing through pre­clin­i­cal de­vel­op­ment now.

Scoop: Boehringer qui­et­ly shut­ters a PhII for one of its top drugs — now un­der re­view

Boehringer Ingelheim has quietly shut down a small Phase II study for one of its lead drugs.

The private pharma player confirmed to Endpoints News that it had shuttered a study testing spesolimab as a therapy for Crohn’s patients suffering from bowel obstructions.

A spokesperson for the company tells Endpoints:

Taking into consideration the current therapeutic landscape and ongoing clinical development programs, Boehringer Ingelheim decided to discontinue our program in Crohn’s disease. It is important to note that this decision is not based on any safety findings in the clinical trials.

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Vas Narasimhan (Photographer: Jason Alden/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

No­var­tis de­tails plans to axe 8,000 staffers as Narasimhan be­gins sec­ond phase of a glob­al re­org

We now know the number of jobs coming under the axe at Novartis, and it isn’t small.

The pharma giant is confirming a report from Swiss newspaper Tages-Anzeiger that it is chopping 8,000 jobs out of its 108,000 global staffers. A large segment will hit right at company headquarters in Basel, as CEO Vas Narasimhan axes some 1,400 of a little more than 11,000  jobs in Switzerland.

The first phase of the work is almost done, the company says in a statement to Endpoints News. Now it’s on to phase two. In the statement, Novartis says:

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Lina Gugucheva, NewAmsterdam Pharma CBO

Phar­ma group bets up to $1B-plus on the PhI­II res­ur­rec­tion of a once dead-and-buried LDL drug

Close to 5 years after then-Amgen R&D chief Sean Harper tamped the last spade of dirt on the last broadly focused CETP cholesterol drug — burying their $300 million upfront and the few remaining hopes for the class with it — the therapy has been fully resurrected. And today, the NewAmsterdam Pharma crew that did the Lazarus treatment on obicetrapib is taking another big step on the comeback trail with a €1 billion-plus regional licensing deal, complete with close to $150 million in upfront cash.

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How pre­pared is bio­phar­ma for the cy­ber dooms­day?

One of the largest cyberattacks in history happened on a Friday, Eric Perakslis distinctly remembers.

Perakslis, who was head of Takeda’s R&D Data Sciences Institute and visiting faculty at Harvard Medical School at the time, had spent that morning completing a review on cybersecurity for the British Medical Journal. Moments after he turned it in, he heard back from the editor: “Have you heard what’s going on right now?”

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Pearl Huang, Dunad Therapeutics CEO (Ken Richardson, PR Newswire)

Long­time biotech leader Pearl Huang takes the reins as CEO of No­var­tis-backed up­start

It has only been a few months since Pearl Huang exited the top seat at Cygnal Therapeutics, but now she’s back at the helm of another biotech.

After taking a few months off — passing an exam in that time to get her captain’s license from the US Coast Guard — she’s been named CEO of Dunad Therapeutics, a biotech focused on developing a small molecule covalent therapies that was founded in 2020. Huang told Endpoints News that two factors attracted her to going back to the c-suite: the company’s technology and its co-founders.

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(AP Photo/Gemunu Amarasinghe)

Some phar­ma com­pa­nies promise to cov­er abor­tion-re­lat­ed trav­el costs — while oth­ers won't go that far yet

As the US Department of Health and Human Services promises to support the millions of women who would now need to cross state lines to receive a legal abortion, a handful of pharma companies have said they will pick up employees’ travel expenses.

GSK, Sanofi, Johnson & Johnson, BeiGene, Alnylam and Gilead have all committed to covering abortion-related travel expenses just four days after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade and revoked women’s constitutional right to an abortion.

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Aurobindo Pharma co-founders P. V. Ram Prasad Reddy (L) and K. Nityananda Reddy

Au­robindo Phar­ma re­ceives warn­ing let­ter from In­di­a's SEC fol­low­ing more FDA ques­tion marks

Indian-based generics manufacturer Aurobindo Pharma has been in the crosshairs of the FDA for several years now, but the company is also attracting attention from regulators within the subcontinent.

According to the Indian business news site Business Standard, a warning letter was sent to the company from the Securities Exchange Board of India, or SEBI.

The letter is related to disclosures made by the company on an ongoing FDA audit of the company’s Unit-1 API facility in Hyderabad, India as well as observations made by the US regulator between 2019 and 2022.

New Charles River Laboratories High Quality (HQ) Plasmid DNA Centre of Excellence at Bruntwood SciTech’s Alderley Park in Cheshire, United Kingdom. (Charles River)

Charles Riv­er Lab­o­ra­to­ries to start cell and gene ther­a­py man­u­fac­tur­ing at UK site in Sep­tem­ber

While Massachusetts-based Charles River Laboratories has been on an acquisition spree, they are not against planting their flag. The latest move by the company sees them crossing the pond to establish a manufacturing site in the UK.

The company on Tuesday opened its cell and gene therapy manufacturing center at Bruntwood SciTech’s Alderley Park in Cheshire, United Kingdom. The expansion follows Charles River’s acquisition of Cognate BioServices and Cobra Biologics in 2021 for $875 million. Cognate is a plasmid DNA, viral vector and cell therapy CDMO.

Bristol Myers Squibb (Alamy)

CVS re­sumes cov­er­age of block­buster blood thin­ner af­ter price drop fol­lows Jan­u­ary ex­clu­sion

Following some backlash from the American College of Cardiology and patients, Bristol Myers Squibb and Pfizer lowered the price of their blockbuster blood thinner Eliquis, thus ensuring that CVS Caremark would cover the drug after 6 months of it being off the major PBM’s formulary.

“Because we secured lower net costs for patients from negotiations with the drug manufacturer, Eliquis will be added back to our template formularies for the commercial segment effective July 1, 2022, and patient choices will be expanded,” CVS Health said in an emailed statement. “Anti-coagulant therapies are among the non-specialty products where we are seeing the fastest cost increases from drug manufacturers and we will continue to push back on unwarranted price increases.”