Protocols

Virtual biotech star Mark de Souza signs up to help lead the team on a new co launch; Takeda partners with RNA biotech Arcturus on NASH

Ervin Epstein, PellePharm. Credit: chori.org.

Ervin Epstein, PellePharm. Credit: chori.org.

Mark de Souza took Lotus Tissue Repair from startup to Shire buyout as its sole staffer, the ultimate in virtual biotech companies. But now he’s working with a team to launch PellePharm, which will be based in Menlo Park, CA as it focuses on a pair of Phase II studies for patidegib, a topical hedgehog inhibitor designed to treat basal cell carcinomas, including those in Gorlin Syndrome. BridgeBio Pharma is putting up the cash, which was not specified. Mark de Souza is the executive chairman of the team. “It made sense that a potent inhibitor of the hedgehog pathway should provide a therapeutic benefit for patients suffering from Gorlin Syndrome, but we needed an approach that would allow us to target the disease at its source without eliciting harmful toxicity reactions,” said Ervin Epstein, MD, co-founder of PellePharm. “We are hopeful that patidegib will provide the balance of targeted treatment without the adverse events associated with oral formulations.”

Takeda has extended its deal frenzy to include an RNA development pact with San Diego-based Arcturus Therapeutics, focusing in on the trendy NASH target and related GI ailments.

South Korea’s Eutilex has wrapped a $21 billion KRW (US $18.9M) Series A financing.

Northwest BIO is giving up on Nasdaq, or the other way around, depending on how you look at it. Suffice it to say that the troubled biotech is pulling out of Nasdaq and will take to the OTC market, where penny stocks go to flounder. It’s unlikely that influential UK investor Neil Woodford had this outcome in mind when he invested heavily in Northwest, which has a cancer vaccine in the pipeline. Northwest’s shares cratered again, dropping 30% to a mere 37 cents on Thursday morning.



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