Abbie Celniker (Third Rock)

Third Rock push­es newest fund over $1B line as it marks 15 years in ven­ture cap­i­tal

In 2016, Ab­bie Cel­niker was pro­mot­ed to part­ner at Third Rock Ven­tures as the firm raised just over $600 mil­lion for its fourth fund. Since then, Cel­niker has helped ush­er in an ad­di­tion­al fund and head­ed a few star­tups as in­ter­im CEO.

Com­ing on its 15th year, Third Rock Ven­tures an­nounced its sixth fund to­day — and largest one by far — at a whop­ping $1.1 bil­lion. Adding it all up, Third Rock has raised $3.8 bil­lion since its in­cep­tion. That mon­ey has gone to some 60 biotechs, much of it as ear­ly fund­ing.

“Over the years, there are as­pects of our ap­proach that we are ab­solute­ly com­mit­ted to stick­ing with,” Cel­niker said, not­ing some run­ning themes in the biotechs in which Third Rock in­vests — a fo­cus on dis­ease ar­eas of high un­met need, that they are al­most al­ways in­cu­bat­ed with­in the firm, and that they usu­al­ly be­gin with part­ners act­ing as in­ter­im man­age­ment (such as Cel­niker as CEO with Goldfinch Bio and Rheos Med­i­cines).

“That works, and we’re go­ing to con­tin­ue to do that,” she added.

But Third Rock may add some twists to the blue­print, Cel­niker not­ed, say­ing that this time around, the firm may in­vest more in lat­er se­ries of fund­ing and “op­por­tunis­ti­cal­ly in­vest” in com­pa­nies in­cu­bat­ed out­side Third Rock.

This newest fund has eight part­ners, all of whom were with Third Rock for Fund V, in­clud­ing Cel­niker and Reid Hu­ber. Last month, Third Rock part­ner Christoph Lengauer left to co-found, a ‘biotech ac­cel­er­a­tor’ in its own words, along­side for­mer part­ner Alex­is Borisy, who de­part­ed from Third Rock back in 2019.

Hu­ber, for­mer CSO at In­cyte, al­so not­ed how their views on the sci­ence were evolv­ing:

Our core fo­cus ar­eas will large­ly be main­tained — that in­cludes ar­eas of un­met need in on­col­o­gy, im­munol­o­gy, and rare ge­net­ic dis­eases, and neu­ro­science — but we’ll al­so be look­ing to start to ex­plore im­por­tant in­no­va­tions in an area we gen­er­al­ly call ‘en­gi­neer­ing bi­ol­o­gy’, and these are ther­a­peu­tics that are en­gi­neered as much as they are dis­cov­ered, and that in­cludes nu­cle­ic acid based ther­a­pies, gene ther­a­pies, cell ther­a­pies.

All in all, they have two fun­da­men­tal pil­lars: ad­dress­ing ar­eas of un­met need and en­sur­ing their com­pa­nies were “cap­tur­ing the di­ver­si­ty of modal­i­ties that ex­ist to­day,” Hu­ber added.

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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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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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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Matt Gline, Roivant CEO (John Sciulli/Getty Images for GLG)

Roivant chops sick­le cell gene ther­a­py, der­ma­tol­ogy drugs to fo­cus on 'high­er val­ue pro­ject­s'

Roivant is sweeping a suite of drugs, including a gene therapy for sickle cell disease already in the clinic, out of its pipeline.

Six programs from four of its “vants” are being wound down as part of “a company-wide cost optimization and pipeline reprioritization initiative to reduce our expected operating expenses and prioritize our capital resources.”

When reached by Endpoints News, a spokesperson said, “We don’t anticipate a material reduction in headcount but we will likely reassign some folks to higher value projects as part of winding down specific programs.”

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Laurence Reid, Decibel CEO

Still in pre­clin­i­cal test­ing for ear gene ther­a­pies, Deci­bel touts small snap­shot of chemo-in­duced hear­ing loss drug

Though Decibel Therapeutics has largely pivoted toward gene therapies for the inner ear, its lead clinical candidate simply aims to protect cancer patients from chemotherapy-induced hearing loss. On Tuesday, the biotech presented its first efficacy data for the program, and execs like what they see.

Decibel reported interim results from a Phase Ib study showing the experimental drug, dubbed DB-020, largely protected a small group of patients from losing their hearing. Researchers used a particularly unique study design, administering the compound in one of each patients’ ears before they received cisplatin chemotherapy and placebo in the other.

Alex­ion puts €65M for­ward to strength­en its po­si­tion on the Emer­ald Isle

Ireland has been on a roll in 2022, with several large pharma companies announcing multimillion-euro projects. Now AstraZeneca’s rare disease outfit Alexion is looking to get in on the action.

Alexion on Friday announced a €65 million ($68.8 million) investment in new and enhanced capabilities across two sites in the country, including at College Park in the Dublin suburb of Blanchardstown and the Monksland Industrial Park in the central Irish town of Athlone, according to the Industrial Development Agency of Ireland.

Members of the G7 from left to right: Prime Minister of Italy Mario Draghi, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, President Joe Biden, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Japan Fumio Kishida, French President Emmanuel Macron and European Council President Charles Michel (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

Biden and G7 na­tions of­fer funds for vac­cine and med­ical prod­uct man­u­fac­tur­ing project in Sene­gal

Amidst recently broader vaccine manufacturing initiatives from the EU and European companies, the G7 summit in the mountains of Bavaria has brought about some positive news for closing vaccine and medical product manufacturing gaps around the globe.

According to a statement from the White House, the G7 leaders have formally launched the partnership for global infrastructure, PGII. The effort will aim to mobilize hundreds of billions of dollars to deliver infrastructure projects in several sectors including the medical and pharmaceutical manufacturing space.

Ben Zimmer, Priovant CEO

Roivant un­veils lat­est spin­out as Pfiz­er en­trusts JAK1/TYK2 to Pri­o­vant

In November, Pfizer disclosed it’s spun out the Phase II dual JAK1/TYK2 inhibitor to a startup formed in collaboration with an unnamed, experienced partner.

We now know who the partner is. And as Pfizer and Roivant officially take the wraps off Priovant Therapeutics, the companies reveal that they have started two registrational trials of the drug, brepocitinib, as part of a broader plan to develop a big, first-in-class franchise spanning multiple orphan and specialty autoimmune diseases.

State bat­tles over mifepri­s­tone ac­cess could tie the FDA to any post-Roe cross­roads

As more than a dozen states are now readying so-called “trigger” laws to kick into effect immediate abortion bans following the overturning of Roe v. Wade on Friday, these laws, in the works for more than a decade in some states, will likely kick off even more legal battles as states seek to restrict the use of prescription drug-based abortions.

Since Friday’s SCOTUS opinion to overturn Americans’ constitutional right to an abortion after almost 50 years, reproductive rights lawyers at Planned Parenthood and other organizations have already challenged these trigger laws in Utah and Louisiana. According to the Guttmacher Institute, other states with trigger laws that could take effect include Arkansas, Idaho, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, and Wyoming.

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