vTv Ther­a­peu­tics cuts 65% of em­ploy­ees in shake­up; Freenome bags $300M in Se­ries D to ex­pand mul­ti­omics plat­form

vTv Ther­a­peu­tics has de­cid­ed to chop down its work­force by al­most two-thirds.

The High Point, NC biotech an­nounced Mon­day that it would piv­ot and now pri­or­i­tize its lead pro­gram, the oral glu­cok­i­nase ac­ti­va­tor TTP399, as it gears up for Phase III piv­otal tri­als.

The drug was grant­ed break­through ther­a­py des­ig­na­tion af­ter show­ing a 40% re­duc­tion in hy­po­glycemic episodes com­pared to place­bo, and back in Oc­to­ber vTv an­nounced pos­i­tive re­sults in a study show­ing no in­creased risk for ke­toaci­do­sis, a se­vere com­pli­ca­tion of di­a­betes.

And be­cause of that shift, vTv is un­der­go­ing the mas­sive re­struc­tur­ing, in­clud­ing cut­ting the work­force, adding “sev­er­al con­sul­tants” and paus­ing de­vel­op­ment on an­oth­er drug — a PDE4 in­hibitor for pso­ri­a­sis.

“It is al­ways dif­fi­cult to re­struc­ture but this al­lows us to fo­cus on TTP399 and our fu­ture growth,” said vTv CEO and pres­i­dent Deepa Prasad. “We con­tin­ue to en­gage with the FDA to map out a clear and pos­i­tive path for­ward on our Phase 3 piv­otal stud­ies with the goal of im­prov­ing qual­i­ty of life for pa­tients man­ag­ing this chron­ic, bur­den­some dis­ease.”

On­col­o­gy-fo­cused Freenome rais­es $300M in Se­ries D round

South San Fran­cis­co’s Freenome to­day an­nounced a mas­sive Se­ries D haul this morn­ing, bring­ing in $300 mil­lion and push­ing Freenome’s to­tal fund­ing to over $800 mil­lion since 2014.

This round of fi­nanc­ing was led by Per­cep­tive Ad­vi­sors and Pe­ter Kolchin­sky’s RA Cap­i­tal Man­age­ment, joined by ex­ist­ing in­vestors Ar­tis Ven­tures, Kaiser Per­ma­nente, No­var­tis and Ridge­back Cap­i­tal Man­age­ment. And with this kind of fund­ing, there were sev­er­al new in­vestors that tagged along: Lo­gos Cap­i­tal and Pure Vi­da In­vest­ments, to name two.

The fund­ing will go to­wards ad­vanc­ing Freenome’s col­orec­tal can­cer (CRC) screen­ing test and ex­pan­sion of its mul­ti­omics plat­form to oth­er can­cers. The com­pa­ny is al­so plan­ning to ex­tend its plat­form to de­vel­op tests for oth­er can­cers.

“We ap­pre­ci­ate the shared be­lief our in­vestors have in what is pos­si­ble when it comes to fight­ing can­cer,” said Freenome CEO Mike Nolan. “This fund­ing gets us clos­er to bring­ing our ear­ly can­cer de­tec­tion tests to every­one.”

IDC: Life Sci­ences Firms Must Em­brace Dig­i­tal Trans­for­ma­tion Now

Pre-pandemic, the life sciences industry had settled into a pattern. The average drug took 12 years and $2.9 billion to bring to market, and it was an acceptable mode of operations, according to Nimita Limaye, Research Vice President for Life Sciences R&D Strategy and Technology at IDC.

COVID-19 changed that, and served as a proof-of-concept for how technology can truly help life sciences companies succeed and grow, Limaye said. She recently spoke about industry trends at Egnyte’s Life Sciences Summit 2022. You should watch the entire session, free and on-demand, but here’s a brief recap of why she’s urging life sciences companies to embrace digital transformation.

Paul Hudson, Sanofi CEO (Eric Piermont/AFP via Getty Images)

Up­dat­ed: Hit by an­oth­er PhI­II flop, Sanofi culls breast can­cer drug — sound­ing alarm for the class

Sanofi is officially giving up on its oral SERD.

The French drugmaker put out word Wednesday morning that it will discontinue the global development program of amcenestrant, the selective estrogen receptor degrader once billed as a top late-stage prospect. Having already failed a Phase II monotherapy test earlier this year, a combo with the drug also missed the bar in a second trial for breast cancer, triggering the decision to drop the whole program.

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Tom Barnes, Orna Therapeutics CEO

UP­DAT­ED: 'We have failed to fail': Mer­ck gam­bles $250M cash on a next-gen ap­proach to mR­NA — af­ter punt­ing its big al­liance with Mod­er­na

Merck went in deep on its collaboration with Moderna on new mRNA programs, and dropped them all over time, including their RSV partnership. But after writing off what turned out as one of the most successful infectious disease players in the business, Merck is coming in this morning with a new preclinical alliance — this time embracing a biotech that hopes to eventually outdo the famously successful mRNA in a new run at vaccines and therapeutics.

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Bayer's first DTC ad campaign for chronic kidney disease drug Kerendia spells out its benefits

Bay­er aims to sim­pli­fy the com­plex­i­ties of CKD with an ABC-themed ad cam­paign

Do you know the ABCs of CKD in T2D? Bayer’s first ad campaign for Kerendia tackles the complexity of chronic kidney disease with a play on the acronym (CKD) and its connection to type 2 diabetes (T2D).

Kerendia was approved last year as the first and only non-steroidal mineralocorticoid receptor antagonist to treat CKD in people with type 2 diabetes.

In the TV commercial launched this week, A is for awareness, B is for belief and C is for cardiovascular, explained in the ad as awareness of the connection between type 2 and kidney disease, belief that something can be done about it, and cardiovascular events that may be reduced with treatment.

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James Mock, incoming CFO at Moderna

Mod­er­na taps new CFO from PerkinElmer af­ter for­mer one-day CFO oust­ed

When Moderna hired a new CFO last year,  it didn’t expect to see him gone after only one day. Today the biotech named his — likely much more vetted — replacement.

The mRNA company put out word early Wednesday that after the untimely departure of then brand-new CFO Jorge Gomez, it has now found a replacement in James Mock, the soon-to-be former CFO at diagnostics and analytics company PerkinElmer.

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Etleva Kadilli, director of UNICEF’s supply division

GSK lands first-ever UNICEF con­tract for malar­ia vac­cine worth $170M

GSK has landed a new first from UNICEF the first-ever contract for malaria vaccines, worth up to $170 million for 18 million vaccine doses distributed over the next three years.

The vaccine, known as Mosquirix or RTS,S, won WHO’s backing last October after a controversial start, but UNICEF said these doses will potentially save thousands of lives every year.

“We hope this is just the beginning,” Etleva Kadilli, director of UNICEF’s supply division, said. “Continued innovation is needed to develop new and next-generation vaccines to increase available supply, and enable a healthier vaccine market. This is a giant step forward in our collective efforts to save children’s lives and reduce the burden of malaria as part of wider malaria prevention and control programmes.”

Joe Jonas (Photo by Anthony Behar/Sipa USA)(Sipa via AP Images)

So­lo Jonas broth­er car­ries Merz's new tune in Botox ri­val cam­paign

As the lyrics of his band’s 2019 pop-rock single suggest, Joe Jonas is only human — and that means even he gets frown lines. The 33-year-old singer-songwriter is Merz’s newest celebrity brand partner for its Botox rival Xeomin, as medical aesthetics brands target a younger audience.

Merz kicked off its “Beauty on Your Terms” campaign on Tuesday, featuring the Jonas brother in a video ad for its double-filtered anti-wrinkle injection Xeomin.

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Marisol Peron, Genmab SVP of communications and corporate affairs

Gen­mab launch­es cor­po­rate cam­paign am­pli­fy­ing its ‘knock your socks off’ an­ti­bod­ies

Genmab often talks about its “knock-your-socks-off” antibodies — and now the term is getting its own logo and corporate campaign.

The teal and purple logo for the acronym KYSO — Genmab pronounces it “ky-so” — debuts on Wednesday and comes on the heels of Genmab’s newly announced 2030 vision. That aspiration aims to expand Genmab’s drug development beyond oncology to include other serious diseases, while also doubling down on its own drug development.

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Joel Dudley, new partner at Innovation Endeavors (Bosch Health Campus)

For­mer Google CEO’s VC is mak­ing a big­ger push in­to the biotech world, hir­ing promi­nent Ther­a­nos skep­tic

Venture capital firm Innovation Endeavors has mainly had its focus on investments across the tech space, but it has been slowly turning its attention to the biotech world. Now, a new partner is coming into the fold showing that its interest in biotech is likely to grow further.

The Silicon Valley-based company, which is headed up by former Google CEO Eric Schmidt, has brought on Joel Dudley as a partner. According to Dudley’s LinkedIn page, he is joining Innovation Endeavors after serving as the chief science officer of biotech startup Tempus Labs since 2020.

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