Gary Glick, Keith Flaherty

What can a biotech en­tre­pre­neur and a top sci­en­tist come up with on a cou­ple of shared flights? Well...

Just weeks be­fore the pan­dem­ic hit the states, Gary Glick and Kei­th Fla­her­ty had a chance to spend 12 hours to­geth­er, talk­ing craft and trade on board shared flights as they head­ed to and from a board meet­ing to­geth­er.

It may have been the most fruit­ful 12 hours of Glick’s pro­duc­tive life. They cer­tain­ly found plen­ty to talk about.

Glick, a well known biotech en­tre­pre­neur and in­flam­ma­to­ry spe­cial­ist, had bumped up to ex­ec­u­tive chair at IFM Ther­a­peu­tics just weeks be­fore, af­ter run­ning through a slate of siz­able deals with some ma­jor phar­ma play­ers like No­var­tis.

Kei­th Fla­her­ty is one of the lead­ing on­col­o­gy sci­en­tists in the Boston area, which is say­ing a lot. A Har­vard med pro­fes­sor and di­rec­tor of clin­i­cal re­search at the Mass­a­chu­setts Gen­er­al Hos­pi­tal Can­cer Cen­ter, he co-found­ed Loxo, which Eli Lil­ly bought out for $8 bil­lion.

To­geth­er, they’ve hatched a new biotech in Boston with a wicked name — Scor­pi­on — and plans to make waves in the can­cer field. And At­las — which was well re­ward­ed by Glick’s run at IFM — is step­ping up to help lead a $108 mil­lion mega launch round to get them on their way.

Now, about that name…

“We’re putting the sting to can­cer, so to speak,” Glick tells me. He adds: “We have a pipeline. We have a num­ber of pro­grams that we’re look­ing on that we’re very ex­cit­ed about.”

Gad­dy Getz

The mis­sion state­ment is big and bold:

[That new mon­ey] will be used to ad­vance Pre­ci­sion On­col­o­gy 2.0., the next wave in pre­ci­sion med­i­cine, with the goal of de­liv­er­ing best- and first-in-class small mol­e­cule drugs that are safe and well-tol­er­at­ed and that can pro­vide deep­er, more durable re­spons­es to many more peo­ple with can­cer.

But de­tails are in short sup­ply. Like a lot of star­tups, even with mon­ey in the bank, there’s no up­side in be­ing too spe­cif­ic too ear­ly. Not with this com­pet­i­tive land­scape.

Aside from Fla­her­ty, Glick has sur­round­ed him­self with sev­er­al top play­ers, in­clud­ing:

Gad­dy Getz: Di­rec­tor of the Can­cer Genome Com­pu­ta­tion­al Analy­sis Group at the Broad In­sti­tute of MIT and Har­vard. He di­rects bioin­for­mat­ics re­search and holds an en­dowed chair at the Mass­a­chu­setts Gen­er­al Hos­pi­tal Can­cer Cen­ter.

Liron Bar-Peled

Liron Bar-Peled: An as­sis­tant pro­fes­sor of med­i­cine at Har­vard Med­ical School and the Can­cer Cen­ter at Mass­a­chu­setts Gen­er­al Hos­pi­tal. His lab has made key con­tri­bu­tions to un­der­stand­ing how cells sense and re­spond to ox­ida­tive stress and de­vel­op­ing small mol­e­cule in­hibitors against dif­fi­cult-to-drug can­cer dri­vers.

And that all helped loop in the mon­ey peo­ple. Jean-François Formela at At­las is back for Glick, chip­ping in new mon­ey. Ar­jun Goy­al, co-founder and man­ag­ing di­rec­tor at Vi­da Ven­tures, is on board as a co-lead. Vi­da has plen­ty of on­col­o­gy spe­cial­ists in the mix, in­clud­ing Arie Bellde­grun. They joined up with Omega.

Pauli­na Hill

“Scor­pi­on’s de­liv­ery of Pre­ci­sion On­col­o­gy 2.0 is smart and sys­tem­at­ic. Even in the midst of the COVID-19 pan­dem­ic, the com­pa­ny has as­sem­bled a renowned team, built a cut­ting edge dis­cov­ery en­gine, and es­tab­lished a ro­bust pre­clin­i­cal pipeline,” said Pauli­na Hill at Omega Funds.

Abing­worth and Part­ners Health­Care In­no­va­tion al­so con­tributed to the round.

We’ll find out more about what Glick, Fla­her­ty & Co. have in mind for can­cer. Right now, the scor­pi­on is keep­ing its stinger un­der wraps. But with $100 mil­lion to play with, the game plan has to be quite de­tailed.

Illustration: Assistant Editor Kathy Wong for Endpoints News

How Pur­due's $272M ad­dic­tion pay­out fund­ed a new home for its dis­card­ed non-opi­oid re­search

Don Kyle spent more than 20 years working for Purdue Pharma, right through the US opioid epidemic that led to the company’s rise and eventual infamy. But contrary to Purdue’s focus on OxyContin, Kyle was researching non-opioid painkillers — that is, until the company shelved his research.

As the company’s legal troubles mounted, Kyle found an unlikely way to reboot the project. In 2019, he took his work to an Oklahoma State University center that’s slated to receive more than two-thirds of the state’s $272 million settlement with Purdue over claims that the drugmaker’s behavior ignited the epidemic of opioid use and abuse.

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President Joe Biden at the State of the Union address with Vice President Kamala Harris and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (Patrick Semansky/AP Images)

The drug pric­ing pres­i­dent: Biden warns of ve­to for any IRA re­peal at­tempts

President Joe Biden made clear in his “finish the job” State of the Union address last night that one of those jobs to be finished is insulin prices.

Biden’s push again to tackle insulin prices, after Republicans rebuffed the idea last summer and just after Biden won Medicare drug price negotiations/caps via the Inflation Reduction Act, shows how heavily he’s leaning into this work.

Rupert Vessey, Bristol Myers Squibb head of research and early development

Up­dat­ed: R&D tur­bu­lence at Bris­tol My­ers now in­cludes the end of a $650M al­liance and the de­par­ture of a top re­search cham­pi­on

This morning biotech Dragonfly put out word that Bristol Myers Squibb has handed back all rights to its IL-12 clinical-stage drug after spending $650 million to advance it into the clinic.

The news arrives amid a turbulent R&D stage for the pharma giant, which late last week highlighted Rupert Vessey’s decision to depart this summer as head of early-stage R&D following a crucial three-year stretch after he jumped to Bristol Myers in the big Celgene buyout. During that time he struck a series of deals for Bristol Myers, and also shepherded a number of Celgene programs down the pipeline, playing a major role for a lineup of biotechs which depended on him to champion their drugs.

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Bill Haney, Dragonfly CEO (Dave Pedley/Getty Images for SXSW)

Drag­on­fly chief: Bris­tol My­ers shouldn’t blame IL-12’s clin­i­cal per­for­mance for de­ci­sion to scrap the deal — eco­nom­ics played a key role

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But Bill Haney, the CEO of Dragonfly, is taking issue with that.

The early-stage drug, still in Phase I development, has passed muster with Bristol Myers’ general clinical expectations, advancing successfully while still in Phase I, he says.

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Utpal Koppikar, new Verily CFO

Ex­clu­sive: Ver­i­ly wel­comes Atara Bio­ther­a­peu­tics vet­er­an as new CFO

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Utpal Koppikar joins Verily after a nearly five-year stint as CFO and senior VP at Atara, though his résumé also boasts roles at Gilead and Amgen.

The news follows a major reshuffling at Verily, including several senior departures earlier this year and a round of layoffs.

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Singer Nick Jonas is back at work for Dexcom, this time for its new G7 glucose monitor.

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Jonas’ sleight-of-hand tricks populate the commercial — he pinches his empty fingers together and pops them open to reveal the small CGM — even as he ends the ad, saying, “It’s not magic. It just feels that way.” Jonas then disappears in a puff of smoke.

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Richard Francis, newly-appointed Teva CEO (Novartis via Facebook)

New Te­va CEO Richard Fran­cis repri­or­i­tizes to 'get back to growth'

Six weeks into his new role at the helm of Teva Pharmaceutical, Richard Francis said it’s time to “get back to growth,” starting with a good look at the company’s priorities.

The chief executive has kicked off a strategic review, he announced during Teva’s quarterly call, which will continue over the next several months and produce results sometime in the middle of 2023. That means some pipeline cuts may be in store, he told Endpoints News, while declining to offer much more detail.

FDA Commissioner Robert Califf on Capitol Hill, Feb. 8, 2023 (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

FDA com­mis­sion­er floats ideas on how to bet­ter han­dle the pan­dem­ic

FDA Commissioner Rob Califf joined the heads of the CDC and NIH in the hot seat today before a key House subcommittee, explaining that there needs to be a much faster, more coordinated way to oversee vaccine safety, and that foreign biopharma inspections, halted for years due to the pandemic, are slowly ramping up again.

Califf, who stressed to the House Energy and Commerce’s Subcommittee on Health that the CDC also needs better data, made clear that the FDA’s ability to monitor the safety of vaccines “would also benefit greatly by a coordinated federal public health data reporting authority.”

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Sanofi is highlighting people’s dreams — both big and small — to make the point that vaccines make them possible.

The renewed “Dream Big” global social media campaign’s newest dreamer is Juan, a teacher in the Misiones rainforest in Argentina whose story is told through videos on Instagram and Sanofi’s website with the hashtag #VaccinesForDreams.

The campaign ties to Sanofi’s broader umbrella initiative “Vaccine Stories” to promote the value of vaccines and drive awareness of the need for improved vaccination coverage.

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