Rainer Strohmenger (Credit: UroMems)

Welling­ton Part­ners tanks up with $237M for its next life sci fund — same strat­e­gy, but with more cash on hand

A year ago, when Philadel­phia-based Caris­ma Ther­a­peu­tics was rais­ing a $53 mil­lion A round to back their work on macrophages in im­muno-on­col­o­gy, Mu­nich-based Welling­ton Part­ners stepped in with the new crowd to take a ring­side seat.

That was a bit un­usu­al for the life sci­ences crew at Welling­ton, which tends to stay clos­er to home with in­vest­ments in the Ger­man-speak­ing re­gion of Eu­ro­pean biotech — con­cen­trat­ing on star­tups like Im­mat­ics. But then af­ter 22 years in the in­vest­ing game, there’s al­so a sense that they don’t want to be com­plete­ly tied down by too many self-im­posed rules.

“It’s a very hot area,” says Welling­ton man­ag­ing part­ner Rain­er Strohmenger, who was fa­mil­iar with the re­search on macrophages done in Eu­rope. And Caris­ma fit in­to the ba­sic pro­file of the kind of biotech they like to back: 3 to 5 years out from a po­ten­tial ex­it win­dow, with a shot at of­fer­ing a 5X to 10X re­turn on what they put in.

To­day, Welling­ton is dou­bling down on that ba­sic strat­e­gy, un­veil­ing a $237 mil­lion ven­ture round that is ful­ly two and a half times big­ger than its last fund. That won’t rank as one of the biggest life sci­ences funds to come out this year, but they’re a play­er which will have a sig­nif­i­cant role in the de­vel­op­ment of 15 to 20 life sci­ences com­pa­nies with this mon­ey — in­vest­ing on av­er­age around $5 mil­lion to $10 mil­lion in their port­fo­lio com­pa­nies. 

Strohmenger is par­tic­u­lar­ly chuffed that most of the in­vestors from his last fund have come in with larg­er sums on this turn. They like the strat­e­gy, and Welling­ton Part­ners is keep­ing to it — with a lit­tle tai­lor­ing on size.

“We can now de­ploy more mon­ey per com­pa­ny, but the in­vest­ment strat­e­gy will not re­al­ly change,” says Strohmenger, who counts Welling­ton as stage ag­nos­tic when it comes to their back­ing. “You’ll find com­pa­nies in ear­ly stages but al­so in growth stages that ful­fill these cri­te­ria,” with a fo­cus from biotech (about half) to de­vices, di­ag­nos­tics and dig­i­tal health.

I asked Strohmenger about the gen­er­al growth of ven­ture in­vest­ing around the biotech world, some­thing he watch­es every day. Megarounds that were once a rainy have now be­come quite com­mon.

“The mar­ket is still far from be­ing over­heat­ed,” he replies. “And in Eu­rope there’s still a scarci­ty of cap­i­tal.” 

That’s cre­at­ed some spe­cial op­por­tu­ni­ties in de­vices, where reg­u­la­to­ry hur­dles have raised the bar on fund­ing re­quire­ments. That in turn has cre­at­ed more at­trac­tive in­vest­ment op­por­tu­ni­ties, he adds, as the com­pa­nies that clear that hur­dle will be able to im­ple­ment high­er pric­ing for their prod­ucts, tap­ping bet­ter mar­kets for the work they do.

George Yancopoulos (Regeneron)

Re­gen­eron co-founder George Yan­copou­los of­fers a com­bat­ive de­fense of the po­lice at a high school com­mence­ment. It didn’t go well

Typically, the commencement speech at Yorktown Central School District in Westchester — like most high schools — is an opportunity to encourage students to face the future with confidence and hope. Regeneron president and co-founder George Yancopoulos, though, went a different route.

In a fiery speech, the outspoken billionaire defended the police against the “prejudice and bias against law enforcement” that has erupted around the country in street protests from coast to coast. And for many who attended the commencement, Yancopoulos struck the wrong note at the wrong time, especially when he combatively challenged someone for interrupting his speech with a honk for “another act of cowardness.”

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 84,700+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

Elias Zerhouni (Photo by Vincent Isore/IP3/Getty Images)

Elias Zer­houni dis­cuss­es ‘am­a­teur hour’ in DC, the de­struc­tion of in­fec­tious dis­ease R&D and how we need to prep for the next time

Elias Zerhouni favors blunt talk, and in a recent discussion with NPR, the ex-Sanofi R&D and ex-NIH chief had some tough points to make regarding the pandemic response.

Rather than interpret them, I thought it would be best to provide snippets straight from the interview.

On the Trump administration response:

It was basically amateur hour. There is no central concept of operations for preparedness, for pandemics, period. This administration doesn’t want to or has no concept of what it takes to protect the American people and the world because it is codependent. You can’t close your borders and say, “OK, we’re going to be safe.” You’re not going to be able to do that in this world. So it’s a lack of vision, basically just a lack of understanding, of what it takes to protect the American people.

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 84,700+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

Pfiz­er shares surge on pos­i­tive im­pact of their mR­NA Covid-19 vac­cine — part­nered with BioN­Tech — in an ear­ly-stage study

Pfizer and their partners at the mRNA specialist BioNTech have published the first glimpse of biomarker data from an early-stage study spotlighting the “robust immunogenicity” triggered by their Covid-19 vaccine, which is one of the leaders in the race to vanquish the global pandemic.

Researchers selected 45 healthy volunteers 18-55 years of age for the study. They were randomized to receive 2 doses, separated by 21 days, of 10 µg, 30 µg, or 100 µg of BNT162b1, “a lipid nanoparticle-formulated, nucleoside-modified, mRNA vaccine that encodes trimerized SARS-CoV-2 spike glycoprotein RBD.” Their responses were compared against the effect of a natural, presumably protective defense offered by a regular infection.

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 84,700+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

Randy Schatzman, Bolt CEO (Bolt Biotherapeutics)

Bolt Bio­ther­a­peu­tics nabs $93.5M to push Provenge in­ven­tor's new idea deep­er in the clin­ic

A cancer-fighting concept from the inventor of the first cancer vaccine is nearing prime time, and its biotech developer has received a significant new infusion of cash to get it there.

Bolt Biotherapeutics announced a $93.5 million Series C round led by Sofinnova Investments and joined by more than 9 others, including Pfizer Ventures and RA Capital Management. That money will go toward pushing the San Francisco biotech’s platform of innate immune-boosting warheads through its first trial on metastatic solid tumors and into several more.

Josh Cohen, Justin Klee

Armed with pos­i­tive ALS da­ta, Amy­lyx scores $30M in fresh fund­ing to com­plete Alzheimer's PhII

Four years after announcing themselves to the biotech world with a new idea for drugging neurodegeneration, backing by the late Henri Termeer and $5 million from Morningside Venture, the young entrepreneurs at Amylyx are back for round 2.

Morningside continued to lead the $30 million Series B, with participation from Termeer’s widow, Belinda, and other unnamed investors. Having celebrated a topline Phase II win for its lead program in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, Amylyx expects the cash to fund talks with regulators as well as a separate trial for the same drug in Alzheimer’s — for which they had just finished enrolling.

An ex­pe­ri­enced biotech is stitched to­geth­er from transpa­cif­ic parts, with 265 staffers and a fo­cus on ‘new bi­ol­o­gy’

Over the past few years, different teams at a pair of US-based biotechs and in labs in Japan have labored to piece together a group of cancer drug programs, sharing a single corporate umbrella with research colleagues in Japan. But now their far-flung operations have been knit together into a single unit, creating a pipeline with 10 cancer drug development programs — going from early-stage right into Phase III — and a host of discovery projects managed by a collective staff of some 265 people.

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 84,700+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

New stan­dard of care? FDA hands Pfiz­er, Mer­ck KGaA an OK for Baven­cio in blad­der can­cer

The breakthrough therapy designation Pfizer and Merck KGaA notched for Bavencio in bladder cancer has quickly paved way for a full approval.

The PD-L1 drug is now sanctioned as a first-line maintenance treatment for patients with locally advanced or metastatic urothelial carcinoma, applicable in cases where cancer hasn’t progressed after platinum-containing chemotherapy.

Petros Grivas, the principal investigator of the supporting Phase III JAVELIN Bladder 100, called the approval “one of the most significant advances in the treatment paradigm in this setting in 30 years.”

Sec­ond death trig­gers hold on Astel­las' $3B gene ther­a­py biotech's lead pro­gram, rais­ing fresh con­cerns about AAV

Seven months after Astellas shelled out $3 billion to acquire the gene therapy player Audentes, the biotech company’s lead program has been put on hold following the death of 2 patients taking a high dose of their treatment. And there was another serious adverse event recorded in the study as well, with a total of 3 “older” patients in the study affected.

The incidents are derailing plans to file for a near-term approval, which had been expected right about now.

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 84,700+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

Anthony Johnson, Goldfinch Bio CEO (Goldfinch via YouTube)

Gilead-part­nered Goldfinch Bio lands $100M as it piv­ots to clin­i­cal stage biotech

A year after landing $109 million in cash for an early-stage discovery deal with Gilead, Goldfinch Bio has scored a similar bounty from investors, raising $100 million in the biotech’s first financing round since its 2016 launch.

The new round, led by Eventide Asset Management and joined by 8 other firms, confirms that last year’s Gilead deal began a new, busier, more vocal era for the company. After launching out of Third Rock with $55 million and a plan to tackle kidney disease, they focused on preclinical research and made few material announcements. But the latest press release is full of plans, including their first Phase II study and a new therapy scheduled to enter the clinic next year.