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.

Biotech in­vestors and CEOs see two paths to growth, but are they equal­ly vi­able?

The dynamic in the biotech market has been highly volatile in the last few years, from the high peaks immediately after the COVID vaccine in 2021, to the lowest downturns of the last 20 years in 2022. This uncertainty makes calling the exact timing of the market’s turn something of a fool’s errand, according to Dr. Chen Yu, Founder and Managing Partner of TCG Crossover (TCG X). He speaks with RBC’s Noël Brown, Head of US Biotechnology Investment Banking, about the market’s road ahead and two possible paths for growth.

Casey McPherson shows his daughters Rose (left) and Weston around Everlum Bio, a lab that he co-founded to spark a treatment for Rose and others with ultra-rare conditions. (Ilana Panich-Linsman)

Fa­ther starts lab af­ter in­tel­lec­tu­al prop­er­ty is­sues stymie rare dis­ease drug de­vel­op­ment

Under bright lab lights, Casey McPherson holds his 6-year-old daughter, Rose. His free hand directs Rose’s gaze toward a computer screen with potential clues in treating her one-of-a kind genetic condition.

Gray specks on the screen show her cells that scientists reprogrammed with the goal of zeroing in on a custom medicine. McPherson co-founded the lab, Everlum Bio, to spark a treatment for Rose — and others like her. A regarded singer-songwriter, McPherson never imagined going into drug development.

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 150,500+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

Fireside chat between Hal Barron and John Carroll, UKBIO19

It’s time we talked about bio­phar­ma — live in Lon­don next week

Zoom can only go so far. And I think at this stage, we’ve all tested the limits of staying in touch — virtually. So I’m particularly happy now that we’ve revved up the travel machine to point myself to London for the first time in several years.

Whatever events we have lined up, we’ve always built in plenty of opportunities for all of us to get together and talk. For London, live, I plan to be right out front, meeting with and chatting with the small crowd of biopharma people we are hosting on October 12 at Silicon Valley Bank’s London headquarters. And there’s a lengthy mixer at the end I’m most looking forward to, with several networking openings between sessions.

Take­da to pull key hy­poparathy­roidism drug from the mar­ket af­ter years of man­u­fac­tur­ing woes

Takeda on Tuesday morning made an announcement that almost 3,000 people with the rare disease known as hypoparathyroidism were fearing.

Due to unresolved supply issues and manufacturing woes, Takeda said it will cut its losses and discontinue its hypoparathyroidism drug, known as Natpara (parathyroid hormone), halting all manufacturing of the drug by the end of 2024, but the entire inventory will be available until depleted or expired, a company spokesperson said via email.

Pfizer and BioNTech's original Marvel comic book links evolving Covid vaccine science to Avengers' evolving villain-fighting tools.(Source: Pfizer LinkedIn post)

Pfiz­er, BioN­Tech part­ner with Mar­vel for Avengers and Covid-fight­ing com­ic book

Pfizer and BioNTech are collaborating with Marvel to celebrate “everyday” people getting Covid-19 vaccines in a custom comic book.

In the “Everyday Heroes” digital comic book, an evolving Ultron, one of the Avengers’ leading villains, is defeated by Captain America, Ironman and others. The plotline and history of Ultron is explained by a grandfather who is waiting with his family at a clinic for Covid-19 vaccinations.

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 150,500+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

FDA+ roundup: Ad­comm date set for Cy­to­ki­net­ics heart drug; New gener­ic drug guid­ance to re­duce fa­cil­i­ty de­lays

The FDA on Wednesday set Dec. 13 as the day that its Cardiovascular and Renal Drugs Advisory Committee will review Cytokinetics’ potential heart drug, meaning regulators aren’t likely to meet the Nov. 30 PDUFA date that was previously set.

The drug, known as omecamtiv mecarbil, read out its first Phase III in November 2020, hitting the primary endpoint of reducing the odds of hospitalization or other urgent care for heart failure by 8%. But it also missed a key secondary endpoint analysts had pegged as the key to breaking into the market, failing to significantly differ in reducing cardiovascular death from placebo.

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 150,500+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

Valitor CEO Steven Lo (L) and president and CSO Wesley Jackson

A dozen years in the mak­ing, a UC Berke­ley spin­out nabs funds to take on the eye

Largely funded by government grants for the better part of its first decade, a UC Berkeley spinout has secured a new CEO and the funds to take its research into the clinic in early 2024.

The biotech, named by one of the co-founder’s daughters and originally scrapped together with NIH funds in the aftermath of the 2008-09 financial crisis, is also on a mission to upend the treatment of wet age-related macular degeneration, or AMD, with an injectable drug that it claims could be more durable than the “800-pound gorilla” in the room, Genentech’s Lucentis and Regeneron/Bayer’s Eylea.

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 150,500+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

Af­ter Covid set­back, Val­ne­va lines up $100M for Pfiz­er-al­lied Ly­me dis­ease PhI­II

Valneva has secured €102.9 million (around $99.9 million USD) in a share offering to push forward its Pfizer-partnered Lyme disease vaccine and a jab for chikungunya that awaits an FDA decision.

The French vaccine maker largely snagged the near $100 million from Deep Track Capital and local state-owned Bpifrance, the company said Tuesday night. The capital injection is nearly equal to the amount Pfizer paid to nab equity in the company earlier this summer as part of the duo’s vaccine tie-up.

Car­olyn Bertozzi (Illustration: Assistant editor Kathy Wong for Endpoints News)

Car­olyn Bertozzi, re­peat biotech founder and launch­er of a field, shares in chem­istry No­bel win

Carolyn Bertozzi, predicted by some to become a Nobel laureate, clinched one of the world’s top awards in the wee hours of Wednesday, winning the Nobel Prize in Chemistry alongside a repeat winner and a Copenhagen researcher.

The Stanford professor, Morten Meldal of University of Copenhagen and 2001-awardee K. Barry Sharpless of Scripps shared the prize equally. The Nobel is sometimes split in quarters and/or halves.