Three biotechs raise $100M+ in fund­ing for gene ther­a­pies, can­cer vac­cines and more

→ An­oth­er day, an­oth­er gene ther­a­py de­vel­op­er. Pre­vail Ther­a­peu­tics, which leapt out of stealth mode in 2017 and raised $75 mil­lion in a Se­ries A last year for its dis­ease-mod­i­fy­ing ap­proach to neu­rode­gen­er­a­tive dis­eases, has se­cured an­oth­er $5o mil­lion in the bank. The New York-based com­pa­ny is run by Co­lum­bia Uni­ver­si­ty’s Asa Abe­liovich, who helped co-found Alec­tor, which is go­ing af­ter Alzheimer’s.

→ Found­ed at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Basel and spun off in 2014, Swiss au­toim­mune-fo­cused firm Polyneu­ron Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals has scored 22.5 mil­lion swiss francs (about $22.6 mil­lion) in Se­ries A fi­nanc­ing, led by Sofinno­va Part­ners and New En­ter­prise As­so­ci­ates (NEA). The in­jec­tion will be used to con­duct the first hu­man tri­al of its lead drug, PN-1007, for a rare ner­vous sys­tem dis­ease called an­ti-MAG neu­ropa­thy, as well as to shep­herd three oth­er pro­grams through pre­clin­i­cal de­vel­op­ment.

→ With dual ex­per­tise in ma­te­r­i­al sci­ence and bi­o­log­i­cal en­gi­neer­ing, Dar­rell Irvine of MIT has helped launch the T cell ther­a­py start­up Torque Ther­a­peu­tics. He’s now pi­o­neer­ing an­oth­er tu­mor fight­ing ap­proach Eli­cio Ther­a­peu­tics, a start­up born out of the ash­es of a gen­er­a­tion of failed can­cer vac­cines. The Cam­bridge, MA-based com­pa­ny us­es an am­phiphile plat­form to pre­cise­ly de­liv­er im­muno­gens to the lym­phat­ic sys­tem, it says, there­by “or­ches­trat­ing” an im­mune re­sponse to ag­gres­sive can­cers. Launch­ing with $30 mil­lion in fund­ing, Eli­cio plans to be­gin hu­man stud­ies in pan­cre­at­ic, col­orec­tal and head and neck can­cers in the first half of 2020.

→ In an­oth­er nod to re­al world da­ta and ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence — buzz­words that are tak­ing an ev­i­dent, if vague, hold of the in­dus­try — Bris­tol-My­ers Squibb has inked an agree­ment to in­te­grate a plat­form cre­at­ed by Con­cer­to HealthAI in­to its clin­i­cal de­vel­op­ment process. The pact fo­cus­es on pre­ci­sion on­col­o­gy.

Bio­mark­er 'roadmap­s' and the fu­ture of can­cer R&D; Cur­tain rais­es on #AS­CO22; Pfiz­er, No­var­tis tack­le drug ac­cess; 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.

While this was not a week for earth-shattering news, there were certainly a lot of interesting tidbits. If you found this recap helpful, please recommend it to your friends and colleagues. We’ll see you on the other side of the long weekend.

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Keep­ing pres­sure on Am­gen, Mi­rati draws mixed re­views on lat­est cut of KRAS da­ta

As the close runner-up to Amgen’s Lumakras in the KRAS race, any data cut from Mirati’s adagrasib continues to draw scrutiny from analysts. And the latest batch of numbers from ASCO is a decidedly mixed bag.

While a quick comparison suggests that adagrasib spurred slightly more responses and led to a longer overall survival than Lumakras among a group of non-small cell lung cancer patients, its duration of response appears shorter and the safety profile continues to spark concern.

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Ann is one of ViiV Healthcare's newest spokespeople as the retired school administrator speaks up about her HIV status.

GSK's Vi­iV de­buts next evo­lu­tion in HIV med Dova­to cam­paign with new spokes­peo­ple and new mes­sage

When Ann saw the first TV commercials for HIV medicine Dovato, she didn’t see herself represented. So the 74-year-old retired school administrator who’s been living with HIV since 1998, reached out to GSK’s ViiV Healthcare and asked why not?

Now Ann is one of three people starring in ViiV’s latest Dovato campaign called “Detect This.” The next-step evolution in the branded campaign plays on the word “detect” — often used in describing HIV status under control as undetectable — but in this case, uses the word as a directive for people to understand they can use fewer medicines.

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Tran­si­tion to new Eu­ro­pean clin­i­cal tri­als in­fo sys­tem starts slow­ly

At the end of January, the European Medicines Agency officially launched its new clinical trials info system (CTIS), although the migration to the new platform has only really just begun, and sponsors have until the end of January 2023 before all initial trial applications must be submitted through CTIS.

Overall, 56 clinical trial applications have been submitted in CTIS during the first 3 months since the launch of the system on Jan. 31, according to new data posted by the EMA. By comparison, about 4,000 new trials are authorized each year across Europe.

Switzer­land to de­stroy over 600,000 ex­pired dos­es of Mod­er­na Covid vac­cine

As concerns related to uptake and distribution continue to linger, Switzerland is among the first countries that plans to destroy hundreds of thousands of expired and unused Covid-19 vaccine doses.

The European country said it plans to destroy more than 600,000 doses of Moderna’s Spikevax Covid-19 vaccine as the doses have reached their expiration date.

However, Moderna CEO Stéphane Bancel told the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland that he’s in the process of throwing 30 million doses in the garbage, exclaiming, “We have a big demand problem.”

EU re­port­ed­ly eye­ing vac­cines deal for mon­key­pox out­break; Nas­daq tells Mereo to get stock price up or face delist­ing

The EU is reportedly working toward a centralized procurement deal for smallpox vaccines to tackle the rising number of cases of monkeypox, according to sources who spoke to the Financial Times.

Andrea Ammon, director of Europe’s CDC, told the FT that the European Commission is “definitely looking at what can be done centrally” and central procurement is “one of the options that are looked at but of course countries are also” looking into bilateral avenues.

Nassim Usman, Catalyst Biosciences CEO

Af­ter $60M Ver­tex deal, group of Cat­a­lyst share­hold­ers claims biotech could’ve sold as­sets three years ago

Catalyst Biosciences was down to five employees in March, and the biotech needed to do something after two rounds of layoffs, a nixed collaboration and a culling of its hemophilia program.

In came Vertex, with $60 million to buy up the South San Francisco biotech’s preclinical complement drugs, which target the system that bridges the body’s innate and adaptive immune response and a class most known for Ultomiris and Soliris. The deal includes CB 2782-PEG, the dry AMD drug that Biogen no longer wanted in March.

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Lina Khan, FTC chair (Graeme Jennings/Pool via AP Images)

Pile-on over PBMs con­tin­ues with FTC com­ments and a new bi­par­ti­san Sen­ate bill

More than 500 stakeholders sent comments to the FTC on whether the commission should look further into pharma middlemen, known as PBMs, with many of the commenters calling for more federal oversight.

Similar to the critical open comment period in a deadlocked FTC session last February, pharmacies and pharmacy groups are continuing to call out the lack of transparency among the top 3 PBMs, which control about 80% of the market.

Pharma brands are losing their shine with US consumers who are now thinking about the economy and inflation instead of Covid. (Credit: Shutterstock)

Phar­ma brands fade in an­nu­al Har­ris con­sumer vis­i­bil­i­ty poll: Mod­er­na drops off and Pfiz­er dips

As Covid-19 concerns are fading in the US, so is biopharma visibility. The annual Axios Harris Poll survey to determine and rank the 100 most top-of-mind brands in the US finds Moderna, which was No. 3 last year, not on the list at all for 2022, and Pfizer sinking 37 spots.

However, it’s not that Moderna or Pfizer did anything wrong, it’s just that Americans have moved on to other worries beyond Covid.

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