Two Genen­tech vets re­unite at Im­mune-Onc to help steer its $33M dri­ve to the clin­ic

Adri­an Jubb

Look for yet an­oth­er play­er work­ing in the im­muno-on­col­o­gy space to en­ter the clin­ic with a nim­ble team of ex­pe­ri­enced ex­ecs fo­cused on dis­man­tling im­muno­sup­pres­sion.

Pa­lo Al­to-based Im­mune-Onc an­nounced to­day that co-founder Char­lene Liao has wooed fel­low Genen­tech vets Adri­an Jubb and An Song to join her in prep­ping the start­up for first-in-hu­man stud­ies, fu­eled by $33 mil­lion in Se­ries B fund­ing. North­ern Light Ven­ture Cap­i­tal, Vi­vo Cap­i­tal and the Stan­ford-StartX Fund are tout­ed as the star in­vestors in the round.

An Song

For Jubb, the chief med­ical of­fi­cer, this marks a re­turn to on­col­o­gy af­ter a four-year stint at an­tibi­otics com­pa­ny Achao­gen. There, as head of ear­ly de­vel­op­ment, he had a di­rect hand in build­ing the case for the ex­per­i­men­tal pla­zomicin, which even­tu­al­ly gained ap­proval for one (but not the oth­er) in­di­ca­tion it filed for.

Song jumps di­rect­ly from Genen­tech, leav­ing be­hind a 16-year tenure and a se­nior di­rec­tor po­si­tion su­per­vis­ing the as­say de­vel­op­ment and tech­nol­o­gy group. She will now have broad au­thor­i­ty over the start­up’s trans­la­tion­al de­vel­op­ment, in­clud­ing “pre­clin­i­cal PKPD and tox­i­col­o­gy eval­u­a­tion, clin­i­cal phar­ma­col­o­gy, bio­an­a­lyt­i­cal and bio­mark­er/di­ag­nos­tic de­vel­op­ment and cer­tain an­a­lyt­i­cal as­pects of tech­ni­cal de­vel­op­ment.”

Char­lene Liao

“As we pre­pare to move from trans­la­tion­al re­search in­to the clin­ic, Adri­an and An’s decades of in­dus­try ex­per­tise in drug de­vel­op­ment will be crit­i­cal in ad­vanc­ing our mis­sion to de­vel­op nov­el bio­ther­a­peu­tics for hard-to-treat can­cers,” said Liao, who’s al­so pres­i­dent and CEO of Im­mune-Onc.

With 14 years of drug de­vel­op­ment ex­pe­ri­ence at Genen­tech un­der her belt, Liao struck out on her own in 2016 to start Im­mune-Onc with Guo-Liang Yu, who pre­vi­ous­ly found­ed and sold the an­ti­body com­pa­ny Epit­o­mics to Ab­cam. They got start­ed with a $7 mil­lion Se­ries A and are now pur­su­ing IND-en­abling stud­ies for the lead pro­gram, which might have ap­pli­ca­tions in acute myeloid leukemia as well as oth­er hema­to­log­ic and sol­id tu­mors.

Guo-Liang Yu

The com­pa­ny isn’t di­vulging much about the pro­gram, ex­cept that it tar­gets “an im­mune in­hibito­ry re­cep­tor.” That fits in­to Im­mune-Onc’s over­all strat­e­gy to dis­arm im­mune sup­pres­sion and tu­mor in­fil­tra­tion — a strat­e­gy ce­ment­ed on li­cens­ing and col­lab­o­ra­tion deals with lead­ing re­search in­sti­tu­tions like Al­bert Ein­stein Col­lege of Med­i­cine, Memo­r­i­al Sloan Ket­ter­ing Can­cer Cen­ter and The Uni­ver­si­ty of Texas South­west­ern Med­ical Cen­ter.

Tillman Gerngross, Adagio Therapeutics CEO

An­ti­body leg­end Till­man Gern­gross is el­bow­ing his way in­to the Covid-19 R&D cru­sade: 'I don’t see this end­ing any­time soon'

One of the most influential — and outspoken — scientists at work in the field of antibody discovery is jumping into the frenzied race to create new therapeutics to treat and prevent Covid-19. And he’s operating with the conviction that the current outbreak now once again spreading like wildfire will create plenty of demand for what he has in mind.

Dartmouth professor and Adimab CEO Tillman Gerngross tells me he’s raised $50 million from a group of close VCs to spin out a new company — Adagio Therapeutics — with a full C-suite team assembled to hire up a staff and keep rolling toward the clinic.

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Tal Zaks, Moderna CMO (Moderna via YouTube)

UP­DAT­ED: NI­AID and Mod­er­na spell out a 'ro­bust' im­mune re­sponse in PhI coro­n­avirus vac­cine test — but big ques­tions re­main to be an­swered

The NIAID and Moderna have spelled out positive Phase I safety and efficacy data for their Covid-19 vaccine mRNA-1273 — highlighting the first full, clear sketch of evidence that back-to-back jabs at the dose selected for Phase III routinely produced a swarm of antibodies to the virus that exceeded levels seen in convalescent patients — typically in multiples indicating a protective response.

Moderna execs say plainly that this first stage of research produced exactly the kind of efficacy they hoped to see in humans, with a manageable safety profile.

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Trans­port Sim­u­la­tion Test­ing for Your Ther­a­py is the Best Way to As­sure FDA Ex­pe­dit­ed Pro­gram Ap­proval

Modality Solutions is an ISO:9001-registered biopharmaceutical cold chain engineering firm with unique transport simulation capabilities that support accelerated regulatory approval for biologics and advanced therapeutic medicinal products (ATMP). Our expertise combines traditional validation engineering approaches with regulatory knowledge into a methodology tailored for the life sciences industry. We provide insight and execution for the challenges faced in your cold chain logistics network.

John Furey, Imvax CEO

A neu­ro­sur­geon spent the past 30 years de­vel­op­ing a neoanti­gen tu­mor vac­cine. Now he has $112M for a piv­otal test

As a neurosurgeon, David Andrews knew there wasn’t much he could do for his glioma patients after resecting — rarely fully — their tumor. Even with the best treatment and care available, median overall survival is just somewhere between 14 and 16 months.

Then in the 1990s, his mentor at Thomas Jefferson University introduced him to Renato Baserga, a pathologist who had been studying the effect of using antisense oligonucleotide to knock out the insulin-like growth factor type 1 receptor in cancers. As IGF-R1 drives tumor growth and metastasis, the preclinical reasoning went, implanting a molecule targeting the receptor together with the tumor material near lymph nodes can slow down the spread of the cancer.

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Mer­ck KGaA takes its I/O op­tion on F-star Ther­a­peu­tics; Nephron spends $215M, eye­ing spot in Covid-19 vac­cine chain

→Merck KGaA has taken an early option on an immuno-oncology program developed at F-star Therapeutics. This is their second option in the collaboration. And they added a pair of preclinical discovery programs to the alliance as well.

Any biotech going public these days wouldn’t feel right if they didn’t upsize the offering. And that’s just what Phase I biotech Pandion Therapeutics did. The autoimmune company is now selling 7 million shares, a 1.5 million share bump, for $16 to $18 a share.

Full Bril­in­ta study re­sults show the blood thin­ner re­duces rate of sec­ondary stroke

AstraZeneca once projected its Brilinta drug to peak at $3.5 billion in sales, and though the blood thinner never reached that lofty goal, it received the latest positive signs in a string of recent good news.

The pharma released full details from its THALES study Thursday morning, which measured the effects of Brilinta and aspirin against aspirin alone in treating patients who had an acute ischemic stroke or transient ischemic attack. When taken twice daily with once-a-day aspirin for 30 days, the Brilinta combo reduced the risk of stroke and death by 17 percent, meeting the primary endpoint of the study.

GSK’s Shin­grix leader Guil­laume Pfe­fer has jumped on board Flag­ship to helm a biotech hy­brid as Afeyan’s lat­est CEO-part­ner

After spending 4 years in a senior post with GlaxoSmithKline’s star team positioning Shingrix for a blockbuster approval, Guillaume Pfefer is headed back to the biotech world — in style.

Pfefer has signed on to join Noubar Afeyan’s busy group of partners at Flagship, and he’s taking the helm of an upstart — which today is being merged with another Flagship startup — with some grand plans of its own. The announcement this morning notes that Pfefer will run Kintai Therapeutics, one of the grads of the Flagship labs.

New biotech Exalys, seek­ing to pre­vent post­op­er­a­tive delir­i­um, launch­es with $15 mil­lion in Se­ries A

An old group of former colleagues will be reuniting to lead a new biotech venture aimed at cultivating a portfolio to treat neuroinflammatory disorders.

Led by Rick Orr, who ran the biotech Adynxx, the group is launching the startup Exalys on Thursday with $15 million in Series A funding from venture firms Catalys Pacific and Domain Associates. The nascent company’s first project will focus on preventing postoperative delirium, licensing a platform of EP4 receptors from Japanese pharma Eisai.

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Who are the women blaz­ing trails in bio­phar­ma R&D and lead­ing the fight against Covid-19? Nom­i­nate them for End­points' spe­cial re­port

One of the many inequalities the pandemic has laid bare is the gender imbalance in biomedical research. A paper examining Covid-19 research authorship wondered out loud: Where are the women?

It’s a question that echoes beyond our current times. In the biopharma world, not only are women under-represented in R&D roles (particularly at higher levels), their achievements and talents could also be undermined by stereotypes and norms of leadership styles. The problem is even more dire for women of color.