Vow­ing to spark a rev­o­lu­tion in small mol­e­cule R&D, Vi­vid­ion equips it­self with an ex­tra $82M for the fi­nal stretch to the clin­ic

Vi­vid­ion Ther­a­peu­tics has come a long way in the lit­tle more than 2 years since the com­pa­ny of­fi­cial­ly launched with a $45 mil­lion A round in ear­ly 2017. CEO Diego Mi­ralles has been build­ing his San Diego-based team and bank­ing cash along the way, adding a $101 mil­lion deal with Cel­gene — in­clud­ing a $97 mil­lion up­front — for a soon-to-be-ac­quired biotech play­er with a big ap­petite for ex­ter­nal dis­cov­ery al­liances.

Last fall they brought in a pair of ex­pe­ri­enced biotech vets — Fred Aslan as pres­i­dent and head busi­ness guy and Lar­ry Burgess to run chem­istry — and to­day they’re tak­ing the wraps off a meaty $82 mil­lion B round that takes their to­tal raise to $228 mil­lion. 

They just don’t have any drugs in the clin­ic. But they do have plans to rec­ti­fy that in the not-too-dis­tant fu­ture.

Im­age: Diego Mi­ralles. VI­VID­ION

There are 3 pro­grams in the lead op­ti­miza­tion stage right now fo­cused on an adap­tor pro­tein, a tran­scrip­tion fac­tor and an E3 lig­ase which are cen­tered on im­munol­o­gy and on­col­o­gy. Mi­ralles is still keep­ing a lot of the de­tails about time­lines and such to him­self, but he sug­gests that any­one fa­mil­iar with small mol­e­cule R&D work should fig­ure that one out fair­ly re­li­ably.

I’ll leave that one to our read­ers. I’ve seen too much vari­abil­i­ty to think there’s a uni­ver­sal av­er­age here. But I could be wrong.

Vi­vid­ion’s claim to biotech fame rests on a broad and bold boast:

They say they can screen every pro­tein in a cell in ways that re­veal pre­vi­ous­ly un­known pock­ets of op­por­tu­ni­ty. These tar­gets can be used to in­hib­it pro­teins, de­grade them, and more with small mol­e­cules spot­light­ed by their tech, li­censed from the lab of Scripps’ Ben Cra­vatt. And they’re not talk­ing about nar­row win­dows of op­por­tu­ni­ty, but in­stead plan to open up a broad swath of R&D ter­ri­to­ry that can ex­pand small mol­e­cules’ reach far be­yond the rel­a­tive­ly nar­row scope they’ve been lim­it­ed to.

“The com­pa­ny was spun out as a rev­o­lu­tion­ary tech­nol­o­gy idea,” says the CEO, and they’ve been gain­ing speed fast, grow­ing from a hand­ful of staffers to a group of 70 now in­tent on noth­ing less than spark­ing a re­nais­sance in small mol­e­cule drug de­vel­op­ment. 

Fred Aslan

Aslan and Mi­ralles both give Cel­gene top marks for step­ping up as col­lab­o­ra­tors, and they’re ready to make the shift to Bris­tol-My­ers af­ter that ac­qui­si­tion deal comes through. Aslan is an ex­pe­ri­enced start­up ex­ec, with a stint as co-founder at Re­cep­tos. And he says that the biotech will like­ly bide its time in com­ing up with new col­lab­o­ra­tions. 

They have the mon­ey to wait for the right ones.

What about an IPO? Mi­ralles de­clined to com­ment on that one, but he says there’s am­ple cash to get at least one of the 3 to the proof-of-con­cept stage, which is the next stage they want to hit on the way to the rev­o­lu­tion. And they have a glob­al syn­di­cate at their back.

The on­col­o­gy spe­cial­ists at Nex­tech In­vest — which likes to get in ahead of an IPO — led the round, with new in­vestors BVF Part­ners, Cas­din Cap­i­tal, Mubadala Ven­tures, Trini­tas Cap­i­tal, Mi­rae As­set Cap­i­tal, Al­ti­tude Life Sci­ence Ven­tures and Alexan­dria Ven­ture In­vest­ments jump­ing on board. Ex­ist­ing in­vestors ARCH Ven­ture Part­ners, Ver­sant Ven­tures, Car­di­nal Part­ners and Cel­gene all came back for the ride as well.

How Pa­tients with Epilep­sy Ben­e­fit from Re­al-World Da­ta

Amanda Shields, Principal Data Scientist, Scientific Data Steward

Keith Wenzel, Senior Business Operations Director

Andy Wilson, Scientific Lead

Real-world data (RWD) has the potential to transform the drug development industry’s efforts to predict and treat seizures for patients with epilepsy. Anticipating or controlling an impending seizure can significantly increase quality of life for patients with epilepsy. However, because RWD is secondary data originally collected for other purposes, the challenge is selecting, harmonizing, and analyzing the data from multiple sources in a way that helps support patients.

$DNA is once again on NYSE; FDA clears Soliris chal­lenger for the mar­ket; Flag­ship’s think­ing big again with eR­NA; 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.

I still remember the uncertainty in the air last year when nobody was sure whether ASCO would cancel their in-person meeting. But it’s now back again for the second virtual conference, and Endpoints News is here for it. Check out our 2-day event reviewing the landscape of cancer R&D and send news our way.

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Michael Dell (Richard Drew, AP Images)

'Dude, you're get­ting a Del­l' — as a new deep-pock­et biotech in­vestor

What happens when you marry longtime insiders in the global biotech VC game with the family fund of tech billionaire Michael Dell, a synthetic biology legend out of MIT and Harvard and the former director of the NCI?

Today, the answer is a newly financed, $200 million biotech SPAC now cruising the industry for a top player interested in finding a short cut to Nasdaq.

Orion Biotech Opportunities priced their blank check company today, raising $200 million with Dell’s multibillion-dollar MSD group’s commitment on investing another $20 million in a forward-purchase agreement.

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Gene ther­a­py from Bio­gen's $800M buy­out flops in mid-stage study, deal­ing blow to new am­bi­tions

The #2 candidate from Biogen’s $800 million ocular gene therapy buyout has failed in a mid-stage trial, dealing an early blow to the big biotech’s plans to revitalize its pipeline with new technologies.

Biogen announced that the candidate, an experimental treatment for a rare and progressive form of blindness called X-linked retinitis pigmentosa (XLRP), failed to sufficiently improve vision in patients’ treated eye — patients only received an injection in one eye — after a year, on a standard scale, compared to their untreated eye. The company said they saw “positive trends” on several secondary endpoints, including visual acuity, but declined to say whether the trial actually hit any of those endpoints.

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Vas Narasimhan (Photographer: Simon Dawson/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

No­var­tis whiffs on En­tresto study af­ter heart at­tacks — but that does­n't mean it's go­ing down qui­et­ly

If Novartis learned one thing from its interaction with the FDA over its latest heart failure approval for Entresto, it was that missing a primary endpoint may not be the nail in the coffin. Now, Entresto has missed again on a late-stage study in high-risk heart patients, and it’s already sowing the seeds for a path forward regardless.

Novartis’ Entresto couldn’t best standard-of-care ramipril in staving off a composite of deaths and heart failure events in patients with left ventricular systolic dysfunction and/or pulmonary congestion who have had a prior heart attack, according to topline data from the Phase III PARADISE-MI study revealed Saturday at the virtual American College of Cardiology meeting.

Abbie Celniker (L) and Rob Sims (Flare)

A Third Rock-backed play­er charts a new course against tran­scrip­tion fac­tors. Do 'switch sites' hold the mag­ic sauce?

Long known for their role in guiding gene expression but considered “undruggable,” DNA binding transcription factors have long been a Holy Grail for drug developers. Now, a new startup from Third Rock Ventures thinks it could have the juice to get after transcription factors once and for all — and it all started with a “flare” of inspiration from an article out of an Oxford lab.

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Jason Kelly (Photographer: Kyle Grillot/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Gink­go nabs $DNA, biotech's most sought af­ter tick­er, for free in sweet­en­er from NYSE

When Ginkgo went comparison shopping for a financial market to list their now $15 billion company, the New York Stock Exchange had a back-pocket sweetener the Nasdaq couldn’t offer: The most sought-after ticker in biotech, $DNA.

DNA — the most famous three letters in biology and the ticker for the world’s first biotech, Genentech, from 1999 until it was bought out by Roche for $48 billion in 2009 — will now be the ticker for Ginkgo, a 12-year-old synthetic biology startup with grand ambitions to change not only how drugs, but also everyday products like meat and perfumes, are made.

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Lark­spur Health Ac­qui­si­tion files to go pub­lic as this year's SPAC flood surges over $14B

Editor’s note: Interested in following biopharma’s fast-paced IPO market? You can bookmark our IPO Tracker here.

Another day, another SPAC vying for a spot on Nasdaq.

On Wednesday, OncoSec Medical CEO Daniel O’Connor filed the S-1 paperwork for a new blank-check company he’s leading called Larkspur Health Acquisition. The former Advaxis chief penciled in a $75 million raise, with plans to offer 7.5 million shares at $10 apiece.

BAR­DA slows its $9B en­gine for new Covid-19 ther­a­peu­tics

The Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority is cooling its jets in looking for new, potential Covid-19 treatments, at least in the near term.

An HHS spokesperson told Endpoints News via email, “to date, BARDA has obligated more than $9 billion for the development and/or purchase of 13 therapeutics, beginning in February 2020 with support to develop Regeneron’s monoclonal antibody therapeutic. Therapeutics are an important element of the COVID-19 response, and we are focused on the programs currently underway and/or in negotiation using the funds available to us.”