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.

Paul Hudson, Sanofi CEO (Cyril Marcilhacy/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

FDA side­lines Paul Hud­son's $3.7B MS drug af­ter es­tab­lish­ing link to liv­er dam­age

One of Sanofi CEO Paul Hudson’s top picks in the pipeline — picked up in a $3.7 billion buyout 2 years ago — has just been sidelined in the US by a safety issue.

The pharma giant put out word early Thursday that the FDA has put their Phase III studies of tolebrutinib in multiple sclerosis and myasthenia gravis on partial clinical hold, halting enrollment and suspending dosing for patients who have been on the drug for less than 60 days. Patients who have completed at least 60 days of treatment can continue therapy as researchers explore a “limited” — but unspecified in Sanofi’s statement — number of cases of liver injury.

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Phar­ma re­acts to post-Roe; Drug­mak­ers beef up cy­ber de­fense; Boehringer, Roche qui­et­ly axe drugs; 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.

As a reminder, we are off on Monday for the Fourth of July. I hope this recap will kick off your (long) weekend well and that the rest of it will be just what you need. See you next week for a shortened edition!

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Eric Hughes, incoming Teva EVP of global R&D and CMO

Te­va chief raids Ver­tex for his new glob­al head of re­search and de­vel­op­ment

Teva CEO Kåre Schultz has found his new R&D chief and CMO in Vertex’s ranks.

The global generics giant, which has some 3,500 staffers in the R&D group, has named Eric Hughes to the top research spot in the company. He’ll be replacing Hafrun Fridriksdottir, who held the role for close to five years, on Aug. 1.

Hughes hasn’t been at Vertex for long, though. He jumped from Novartis less than a year ago, after heading the immunology, hepatology & dermatology global development unit. Before that, he completed a five-year stint as head of early clinical research for the specialty discovery medicine department in the exploratory clinical & translational research group at Bristol Myers Squibb, according to his LinkedIn profile.

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#BIO22: Man­ag­ing a biotech in tur­bu­lent times. 'There's a per­fect shit­show out there'

On Tuesday, June 14, Endpoints News EIC John Carroll sat down with a group of biotech execs to discuss the bear market for industry stocks and how they were dealing with it. Here’s the conversation, which has been lightly edited for brevity.

Martin Meeson, sponsor opening:

Thank you, John. Hello everyone. My name’s Martin Meeson, I’m the CEO of Fujifilm Diosynth. For those of you who don’t know Fujifilm Diosynth, we operate in the development of clinical and commercial product scale up, we have facilities in Europe and the US, and around about 4,000 employees. We run on average about 150 programs, so when it comes to managing in turbulent times over the last two years, we’ve had quite a lot of experience of that. Not just keeping the clinical pipelines and the commercial pipelines open, but also our response to the pandemic and the molecules that we’ve had within there. One of the phrases that I coined probably about a year ago when we were talking at JP Morgan, was I talked about managing through turbulent times. Well, it’s become the fact that we are not managing and leading through these times, we are managing in them, which is why that’s really the purpose of and the topic that we’ve got today.

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Susan Galbraith, AstraZeneca EVP, oncology R&D

Catch­ing up with Bris­tol My­ers and Mer­ck, As­traZeneca de­clares neoad­ju­vant win for PD-L1/chemo com­bo

When AstraZeneca started the Phase III AEGEAN trial for Imfinzi in 2018, it was, alongside several Big Pharma brethren, hoping to push the use of PD-(L)1 therapies into earlier lines of treatment. Three and a half years later, the British drugmaker has nabbed promising data in a type of lung cancer.

Topline results from an interim analysis showed that adding Imfinzi to chemotherapy before surgery spurred a “statistically significant and meaningful” improvement in pathologic complete response for patients with resectable non-small cell lung cancer compared to chemotherapy alone.

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Nassim Usman, Catalyst Biosciences CEO

Fac­ing set­backs for months and an ac­tivist at­tack, Cat­a­lyst Bio­sciences pre­pares to call it quits

After downsizing for several months, Catalyst Biosciences is getting ready to tap out.

The San Francisco biotech announced Wednesday that it would be liquidating and distributing cash back to shareholders, with total proceeds expected to reach $65 million. Catalyst intends to return the money “as soon as practicable,” the company said, as it has ceased all R&D activities, CEO Nassim Usman said in a statement.

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Amgen's taking social media followers around the globe as it introduces the many different

From Tam­pa to Mu­nich, Am­gen’s ‘Places’ cam­paign in­tro­duces its lo­ca­tions around the world

Amgen is taking social media followers around the world with its latest corporate campaign. Called “Places of Amgen,” the twice monthly posts highlight the biopharma’s different offices and sites – and the people who work there.

Each post runs on LinkedIn, Facebook and Instagram with details about the work Amgen does in that location, when it was established, comments from people who work there and other interesting facts. The most recent one about Paris, France, for example, notes that Amgen France last year signed a French association charter committed to the inclusion of LBGT+ people in the workplace.

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On Friday, Lonza announced plans to construct a large-scale commercial drug product fill and finish facility in the town of Stein, Switzerland.

Lon­za to in­vest $500M+ on fill-fin­ish fa­cil­i­ty on its home turf

Lonza has been expanding its reach across the globe, bringing sites in China and the US online this year, but now they are looking closer to home for their next major investment.

The Swiss manufacturer on Friday announced plans to construct a large-scale commercial drug fill and finish facility in the town of Stein, Switzerland. The new facility will be delivered through an investment of approximately CHF 500 million, or $519 million, and is expected to be completed in 2026. The facility will also be constructed on the same campus as Lonza’s current clinical drug product facility.

Credit: Shutterstock

Bio­haven takes mi­graine cam­paign to pa­tients' Twit­ter feeds, months ahead of Pfiz­er takeover

Two weeks ago, Biohaven hit an all-time high in weekly Nurtec prescriptions. CEO Vlad Coric attributes at least some of that success to a new interactive Twitter campaign that encourages patients to free their feed of potential migraine triggers.

Earlier this month, Biohaven in partnership with Twitter launched the #RelieveYourFeed campaign that allows users to customize their app settings based on their migraine triggers.