Bob Azelby, Eliem CEO

Weeks out from an $80M launch, a pain and CNS start­up is back with a fresh raise. Can an IPO be far be­hind?

Not two months af­ter launch­ing out of RA Cap­i­tal’s in­cu­ba­tor, Eliem Ther­a­peu­tics is re­turn­ing to the firm — and oth­ers — to raise an­oth­er heap of cash. And this time, an IPO could po­ten­tial­ly be in the works.

Eliem has put to­geth­er a $60 mil­lion Se­ries B round co-led by RA Cap­i­tal as it seeks to fur­ther ad­vance two lead clin­i­cal can­di­dates across four tri­als. The biotech de­clined an in­ter­view and fur­ther de­clined to com­ment on an emailed ques­tion re­gard­ing fi­nanc­ing plans, sug­gest­ing they may be hun­ker­ing down in prepa­ra­tion for an S-1 fil­ing with the SEC.

Though the Se­ries B proved to be small­er than the $80 mil­lion launch round in March, Eliem has an­nounced $140 mil­lion in funds be­tween the 60-day span of the two an­nounce­ments.

Eliem spawned out of con­ver­sa­tions from RA man­ag­ing di­rec­tor An­drew Levin and long­time pain re­searcher Va­lerie Moris­set, who had re­cent­ly re­tired from biotech to start a new chap­ter in the VC world. Dis­cus­sions re­volved around the pro­drug of an en­do­cannabi­noid known as palmi­toylethanolamide, or PEA, and af­ter ini­tial skep­ti­cism Moris­set agreed to hop on board as pres­i­dent and CSO.

The pro­drug, dubbed ETX-810, is the lead pro­gram in a pipeline of four neu­ro as­sets Eliem even­tu­al­ly hopes to bring to pa­tients. It’s part of a fam­i­ly of en­do­cannabi­noid hope­fuls that have thus far come up short for Big Phar­mas look­ing to in­vest in the area. Part of what drew Moris­set to the com­pa­ny, she told End­points News in March, was the sheer amount of clin­i­cal lit­er­a­ture show­ing how PEA could be used for chron­ic pain con­di­tions.

They’re hope­ful that the pro­drug ap­proach can lead to bet­ter re­sults. ETX-810 is cur­rent­ly in two Phase IIa stud­ies look­ing at di­a­bet­ic pe­riph­er­al neu­ro­path­ic pain and lum­bosacral radic­u­lar pain, and Eliem is now putting timeta­bles on the da­ta read­outs for the first half of 2022.

In ad­di­tion to the pain-re­lat­ed in­di­ca­tions, how­ev­er, Eliem is al­so work­ing on a host of oth­er CNS can­di­dates. Next up be­hind ETX-810 is a GA­BA-pos­i­tive al­losteric mod­u­la­tor, al­so from RA Cap­i­tal, which the com­pa­ny is call­ing ETX-155. Eliem plans to take this pro­gram in­to two Phase IIa stud­ies for ma­jor de­pres­sive dis­or­der and hor­mone-re­lat­ed de­pres­sive dis­or­ders, as well as a Phase Ib tri­al for epilep­sy.

Da­ta here are ex­pect­ed in the sec­ond half of 2022 and the first half of 2023, re­spec­tive­ly.

Fur­ther down the pipeline are two pre­clin­i­cal pro­grams: a Kv7.⅔ chan­nel open­er dis­cov­ered in-house, where Eliem hopes to go in­to pain and epilep­sy, and an­oth­er ear­ly-stage re­search pro­gram po­ten­tial­ly for gen­er­al­ized anx­i­ety and de­pres­sion.

In­ter­me­di­ate Cap­i­tal Group co-led the round with RA Cap­i­tal. Oth­er in­vestors in­clud­ed Ac­cess Biotech­nol­o­gy, Sam­lyn Cap­i­tal, Acorn Bioven­tures and LifeArc.

Health­care Dis­par­i­ties and Sick­le Cell Dis­ease

In the complicated U.S. healthcare system, navigating a serious illness such as cancer or heart disease can be remarkably challenging for patients and caregivers. When that illness is classified as a rare disease, those challenges can become even more acute. And when that rare disease occurs in a population that experiences health disparities, such as people with sickle cell disease (SCD) who are primarily Black and Latino, challenges can become almost insurmountable.

David Meek, new Mirati CEO (Marlene Awaad/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Fresh off Fer­Gene's melt­down, David Meek takes over at Mi­rati with lead KRAS drug rac­ing to an ap­proval

In the insular world of biotech, a spectacular failure can sometimes stay on any executive’s record for a long time. But for David Meek, the man at the helm of FerGene’s recent implosion, two questionable exits made way for what could be an excellent rebound.

Meek, most recently FerGene’s CEO and a past head at Ipsen, has become CEO at Mirati Therapeutics, taking the reins from founding CEO Charles Baum, who will step over into the role of president and head of R&D, according to a release.

Dave Lennon, former president of Novartis Gene Therapies

Zol­gens­ma patent spat brews be­tween No­var­tis and Re­genxbio as top No­var­tis gene ther­a­py ex­ec de­parts

Regenxbio, a small licensor of gene therapy viral vectors spun out from the University of Pennsylvania, is now finding itself in the middle of some major league patent fights.

In addition to a patent suit with Sarepta Therapeutics from last September, Novartis, is now trying to push its smaller partner out of the way. The Swiss biopharma licensed Regenxbio’s AAV9 vector for its $2.1 million spinal muscular atrophy therapy Zolgensma.

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Rafaèle Tordjman (Jeito Capital)

Con­ti­nu­ity and di­ver­si­ty: Rafaèle Tord­j­man's women-led VC firm tops out first fund at $630M

For a first-time fund, Jeito Capital talks a lot about continuity.

Rafaèle Tordjman had spotlighted that concept ever since she started building the firm in 2018, promising to go the extra mile(s) with biotech entrepreneurs while pushing them to reach patients faster.

Coincidentally, the lack of continuity was one of the sore spots listed in a report about the European healthcare sector published that same year by the European Investment Bank — whose fund is one of the LPs, alongside the American pension fund Teacher Retirement System of Texas and Singapore’s Temasek, to help Jeito close its first fund at $630 million (€534 million). As previously reported, Sanofi had chimed in €50 million, marking its first investment in a French life sciences fund.

Time for round 2: Il­lu­mi­na-backed VC snags $325M for its next fund

Illumina Ventures closed off its second investment fund with a total commitment of $325 million, offering fresh fuel to back a slate of startups that have already included a smorgasbord of companies, covering everything from diagnostics to biotech drug development and genomics.

Fund II brings the total investment under Illumina Ventures’ oversight to $560 million, which has been focused on early-stage companies. And it has a transatlantic portfolio that includes SQZ, Twist and Encoded Therapeutics.

Volker Wagner (L) and Jeff Legos

As Bay­er, No­var­tis stack up their ra­dio­phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal da­ta at #ES­MO21, a key de­bate takes shape

Ten years ago, a small Norwegian biotech by the name of Algeta showed up at ESMO — then the European Multidisciplinary Cancer Conference 2011 — and declared that its Bayer-partnered targeted radionuclide therapy, radium-223 chloride, boosted the overall survival of castration-resistant prostate cancer patients with symptomatic bone metastases.

In a Phase III study dubbed ALSYMPCA, patients who were treated with radium-223 chloride lived a median of 14 months compared to 11.2 months. The FDA would stamp an approval on it based on those data two years later, after Bayer snapped up Algeta and christened the drug Xofigo.

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Ex­elix­is pulls a sur­prise win in thy­roid can­cer just days ahead of fi­nal Cabome­tyx read­out

Exelixis added a thyroid cancer indication to its super-seller Cabometyx’s label on Friday — months before the FDA was expected to make a decision, and days before the company was set to unveil the final data at #ESMO21.

At a median follow-up of 10.1 months, differentiated thyroid cancer patients treated with Cabometyx (cabozantinib) lived a median of 11 months without their disease worsening, compared to just 1.9 months for patients given a placebo, Exelixis said on Monday.

Den­mark's Gubra to col­lab­o­rate with Bay­er on pep­tides; Sam­sung and Bio­gen re­ceive FDA ap­proval for Lu­cen­tis biosim­i­lar

Danish biotech Gubra announced a research collaboration and license agreement with Bayer to develop peptide therapeutics to treat cardiorenal diseases. The collaboration will utilize Gubra’s peptide drug discovery platform to identify potential candidates.

This is not the first time Gubra has partnered with a company on peptide therapeutics — they partnered with Boehringer Ingelheim back in 2017 to create peptide therapeutics to treat obesity.

Raju Mohan, Ventyx Biosciences CEO

Months af­ter a mam­moth raise, Ven­tyx Bio­sciences dips back in­to ven­ture well

Several months after emerging from what CEO Raju Mohan called “quiet mode” with a mammoth $114 million raise, Ventyx Biosciences is now making its plans for the clinic loud and clear.

The California-based immune modulation player kicked the week off with a $51 million Series B, while also naming some key hires ahead of its big clinical push.

The CMO slot is going to Jörn Drappa, former CMO at Viela Bio before it was bought out by Horizon Therapeutics earlier this year. The AstraZeneca vet stayed on at Horizon for a while as executive VP of R&D before making the jump to Ventyx.