Rosamond Deegan (Omass)

Uni­ver­si­ty of Ox­ford spin­off nets a nine-fig­ure Se­ries B, but it won't bee­line to­ward the clin­ic

Four years af­ter com­plet­ing a Se­ries A, an Ox­ford spin­out has re­turned to the ven­ture well and gar­nered in­ter­est for how its tech­nol­o­gy is be­ing ap­plied to drug dis­cov­ery.

OMass Ther­a­peu­tics has raised $100 mil­lion in a Se­ries B round with par­tic­i­pants that in­clude GV, North­pond Ven­tures and Sanofi Ven­tures. Syn­cona, Ox­ford Sci­ence En­ter­pris­es and the Uni­ver­si­ty of Ox­ford, who were a part of the Se­ries A round, al­so par­tic­i­pat­ed this time around.

CEO Ros Dee­gan told End­points News the new fund­ing came in a rel­a­tive­ly quick turn­around, es­pe­cial­ly in the cur­rent mar­ket cli­mate.

Ac­cord­ing to Dee­gan, this round will be used to ad­vance OMass’s pipeline port­fo­lio to­ward clin­i­cal tri­als. This in­cludes the de­vel­op­ment of drugs for con­gen­i­tal adren­al hy­per­pla­sia, in­flam­ma­to­ry dis­eases, and in­flam­ma­to­ry bow­el dis­ease, as well as two ear­li­er-stage pro­grams tar­get­ing solute car­ri­ers.

But Dee­gan isn’t putting a time­line on any­thing yet, not­ing on­ly that she wants to push to the clin­i­cal stage by the time OMass is ready for the next round of fi­nanc­ing — when­ev­er that might come.

“So we’ve not set a time­line where we need more fi­nanc­ing in years,” she said. “What we are able to say is that we ex­pect to be in a clin­i­cal-stage when we need to raise more mon­ey. And al­so be­cause busi­ness de­vel­op­ment may well end up be­ing part of our op­er­a­tions dur­ing that time pe­ri­od too, we will ap­proach the next fund­ing round at the right time as ap­pro­pri­ate.”

The com­pa­ny uti­lizes mass spec­trom­e­try, as well as cus­tom chem­istry and oth­er nov­el tech­niques, for its pro­pri­etary drug dis­cov­ery plat­form called Odys­sION. Mass spec­trom­e­ters on their own usu­al­ly iden­ti­fy un­known com­pounds, quan­ti­fy them and de­ter­mine the struc­ture and chem­i­cal prop­er­ties of mol­e­cules.

In civil­ian us­age, it can be used to iden­ti­fy ex­plo­sives and oth­er pro­hib­it­ed items at se­cu­ri­ty check­points. But OMass wants to mea­sure the mass of in­di­vid­ual mol­e­cules to ad­vance its drug de­vel­op­ment ca­pa­bil­i­ties, claim­ing they can do so much more ac­cu­rate­ly than oth­er meth­ods.

“Our longer-term strat­e­gy is to build a com­pa­ny that can take its prod­ucts to mar­ket in rare dis­eases and spe­cial­ty im­munol­o­gy in­di­ca­tions,” Dee­gan said. “But we will look to do part­ner­ships for as­sets in broad im­munol­o­gy in­di­ca­tions and al­so strate­gic dis­cov­ery col­lab­o­ra­tions that al­low us to ex­tend the reach of the tech­nol­o­gy plat­form.”

For the type of drug dis­cov­ery the com­pa­ny is em­bark­ing on, it typ­i­cal­ly will take a cou­ple of years for drug de­vel­op­ment, with pre­clin­i­cal de­vel­op­ment tak­ing just over a year. OMass has both pro­grams in lead op­ti­miza­tion and oth­ers that will en­ter lead op­ti­miza­tion through­out the next cou­ple of years.

Dee­gan al­so not­ed that de­spite the mar­ket not be­ing the most ac­com­mo­dat­ing to biotechs at the mo­ment, she hopes it won’t have an im­pact on the com­pa­ny or its cur­rent strat­e­gy.

“We’re now well-fi­nanced so we set out to raise less than $100 mil­lion when we first set out, but there was high in­ter­est be­cause of the ca­pa­bil­i­ties (of the tech­nol­o­gy),” she said. “Now that we’ve raised that cap­i­tal, it gives us an abil­i­ty to re­al­ly fo­cus on the pipeline, rather than be seek­ing ad­di­tion­al cap­i­tal at this time, so it puts us in a great po­si­tion.”

The tech­nol­o­gy was de­vel­oped by pro­fes­sor Dame Car­ol Robin­son, the first fe­male pro­fes­sor of chem­istry at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Ox­ford. Her pi­o­neer­ing re­search in the field led to her cre­at­ing the com­pa­ny in 2016 along with her for­mer stu­dents.

OMass’ Se­ries A round came back in 2018, with an add-on to that round oc­cur­ring in 2020. That round saw the com­pa­ny raise $50.9 mil­lion to get its lead pro­gram in­to pre­clin­i­cal de­vel­op­ment.

Op­ti­miz­ing Cell and Gene Ther­a­py De­vel­op­ment and Pro­duc­tion: How Tech­nol­o­gy Providers Like Corn­ing Life Sci­ences are Spurring In­no­va­tion

Remarkable advances in cell and gene therapy over the last decade offer unprecedented therapeutic promise and bring new hope for many patients facing diseases once thought incurable. However, for cell and gene therapies to reach their full potential, researchers, manufacturers, life science companies, and academics will need to work together to solve the significant challenges facing the industry.

Amid mon­key­pox fears, biotechs spring to ac­tion; Mod­er­na’s CFO trou­ble; Cuts, cuts every­where; Craft­ing the right pro­teins; 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.

It’s always a bittersweet moment saying goodbye, but as Josh Sullivan goes off to new adventures we are grateful for the way he’s built up the Endpoints Manufacturing section — which the rest of the team will now carry forward. If you’re not already, this may be a good time to sign up for your weekly dose of drug manufacturing news. Thank you for reading and wish you a restful weekend.

Bay­er sounds re­treat from a $670 mil­lion CAR-T pact in the wake of a pa­tient death

Two months after Atara Biotherapeutics hit the hold button on its lead CAR-T 2.0 therapy following a patient death, putting the company under the watchful eye of the FDA, its Big Pharma partners at Bayer are bowing out of a $670 million global alliance. And the move is forcing a revamp of Atara’s pipeline plans, even as research execs vow to continue work on the two drugs allied with Bayer 18 months ago, which delivered a $60 million cash upfront.

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Rob Etherington, Clene CEO

Mary­land of­fers loan to Clene de­spite ALS tri­al bumps

Even after Utah-based Clene failed to hit its primary endpoints for its ALS drug last year, the state of Maryland is putting its money at least behind Clene’s manufacturing facility.

The Maryland Board of Public Works has finalized a $3 million, 60-month loan facility with Clene Nanomedicine. The loan was provided by the state’s Neighborhood BusinessWorks program within the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development.

Daisy Robinton, Oviva Therapeutics co-founder and CEO

A new spin­out wades in­to ovar­i­an ag­ing, armed with a seed round and ex­per­i­men­tal drugs from Mass Gen­er­al

There aren’t many biotechs emphasizing women’s health, but a new spinout is trying to change that.

Oviva Therapeutics, a pipeline company of New York-based Cambrian Biopharma, emerged from stealth earlier this week to dive into the idea of extending women’s “healthspans,” or what it says is the part of a person’s life spent in generally good health, with a specific focus on ovaries. The emergence comes both with a seed financing worth $11.5 million from Cambrian, and an in-licensing agreement with Massachusetts General Hospital for a trio of patents.

Shailesh Maingi, Inceptor founder and CEO

Not one, not two, but three — biotech claims it will pur­sue CARs T, M and NK all at once

An oncology startup is touting some really, really bold claims.

Inceptor Bio announced its latest round of funding Thursday at $37 million, which it plans on using to back preclinical programs in CARs T, M and NK. Not only will it be fleshing out its oncology programs, the company says it will also be putting some of that financing to building out its manufacturing facility in Gainesville, FL, which it bought from Massachusetts CDMO Arranta Bio late last year.

Sanofi and Re­gen­eron clear the fin­ish line in an in­flam­ma­to­ry esoph­a­gus dis­ease, leav­ing Take­da in the dust

With atopic dermatitis rivals breathing down Dupixent’s neck, Sanofi and Regeneron on Friday secured a first win in new territory in what Sanofi’s head of immunology and inflammation Naimish Patel called the fastest approval he’s ever seen.

The FDA approved Dupixent on Friday to treat patients 12 years and older with eosinophilic esophagitis (EoE), an inflammatory condition that causes swelling and scarring of the esophagus. The approval came just a couple months after regulators granted Dupixent priority review, and months ahead of its PDUFA date on Aug. 3.

Fu­ji­film con­tin­ues its biotech build­ing spree with new fa­cil­i­ty in Chi­na

A Japanese conglomerate is making a big play in China with the opening of a new facility, as it continues to expand.

Fujifilm Irvine Scientific has opened its new Innovation and Collaboration Center in Suzhou New District, China, an area in Jiangsu province specifically designated for technological and industrial development.

According to Fujifilm, the 12,000-square-foot site will be responsible for the company’s cell culture media optimization, analysis and design services. Cell culture media itself often requires customization of formulas and protocols to achieve the desired quantity and quality of therapeutic desired. Fujifilm Irvine Scientific is offering these services from its headquarters in California and Japan to its customers globally, as well as in China now.

Castle Creek Biosciences chair Jeff Aronin

Scoop: Af­ter pulling IPO am­bi­tions last De­cem­ber, Jeff Aron­in's Cas­tle Creek turns to pri­vate back­ers

Jeff Aronin’s cell and gene therapy biotech Castle Creek Biosciences has raised $112 million in equity, Endpoints News has learned.

The Exton, PA, biotech secured the financing from 54 investors, according to an SEC filing dated May 2. The late-stage startup had last year considered a $100 million Nasdaq debut, but in a sign of the bear market that has plagued hundreds of newly minted public biotechs, Castle Creek pulled those ambitions in the last few weeks of 2021.