Gerry Brunk (Lumira)

What will Lu­mi­ra Ven­tures do with $220M? Stay out of the com­fort zone and off the beat­en biotech path

Lu­mi­ra Ven­tures closed its largest fund on Mon­day, rak­ing in $220 mil­lion to pump in­to the life sci­ences — but in­stead of tar­get­ing biotech hubs like San Fran­cis­co and Boston, the com­pa­ny is rolling the dice on “un­der­served ge­o­gra­phies” in the US and Cana­da.

“We find of­ten­times com­pa­nies lo­cat­ed in places like Mon­tre­al, or Fort Laud­erdale, FL, or Kansas City or Phoenix, AZ just have more cap­i­tal ef­fi­cien­cy and bet­ter val­u­a­tions, with­out hav­ing to com­pro­mise any­thing at all in the qual­i­ty of the in­no­va­tion and the man­age­ment tal­ent,” co-founder and man­ag­ing part­ner Ger­ry Brunk told End­points News. 

The lat­est fund — dubbed Lu­mi­ra Ven­tures IV — is 55% larg­er than the com­pa­ny’s last raise and will al­low the team to bring on 15 to 20 new port­fo­lio com­pa­nies, Brunk said. Lu­mi­ra has 30 com­pa­nies in its cur­rent port­fo­lio, in­clud­ing gene ther­a­py play­er Xy­lo­Cor Ther­a­peu­tics (which re­cent­ly raised a $22.6 mil­lion Se­ries A ex­ten­sion), and ra­dio­phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals-fo­cused Fu­sion Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals (which last month en­tered a lease agree­ment with Hamil­ton, On­tario-based Mc­Mas­ter Uni­ver­si­ty for a 27,000-square-foot man­u­fac­tur­ing fa­cil­i­ty).

“We’re re­al­ly bal­anced by stage,” Brunk said. “We will in­vest in com­pa­ny cre­ation ac­tiv­i­ties and seed stage in­vest­ing, all the way through growth eq­ui­ty, pri­vate trans­ac­tions as well as PIPE in­vest­ments in pub­lic com­pa­nies.”

In more than two decades, the firm has in­vest­ed over $1 bil­lion in 100-plus com­pa­nies, ac­cord­ing to the web­site. And it isn’t afraid to go bold. Back in 2018, the team helped launch Medexus Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals, which was cre­at­ed by merg­ing one pub­lic and two pri­vate com­pa­nies: Pe­di­apharm, Medexus, and Medac Phar­ma, re­spec­tive­ly.

“We’re a lit­tle unique rel­a­tive to some ven­ture firms in that we’ve got a com­fort lev­el do­ing very cre­ative spe­cial sit­u­a­tion types of op­por­tu­ni­ties,” Brunk said.

While this marks Lu­mi­ra’s fourth flag­ship fund, the team has al­so man­aged sev­er­al spe­cial pur­pose funds, in­clud­ing a new $35 mil­lion strate­gic fund in part­ner­ship with an phar­ma com­pa­ny, which will be an­nounced lat­er this week. With roots in Cana­da, the firm says its mis­sion is to “skate where the puck is go­ing to be,” tar­get­ing com­pa­nies ad­dress­ing un­met needs in cost-ef­fi­cient ways.

In­vestors in Lu­mi­ra Ven­tures IV in­clude Kens­ing­ton Cap­i­tal Part­ners, Fonds de Sol­i­dar­ité FTQ, North­leaf Cap­i­tal Part­ners, Caisse de dépôt et place­ment du Québec, the Busi­ness De­vel­op­ment Bank of Cana­da, Teralys Cap­i­tal, the On­tario Cap­i­tal Growth Cor­po­ra­tion, Roy­al Bank of Cana­da, In­vestisse­ment Québec, Fon­dac­tion, Alexan­dria Ven­ture In­vest­ments, An­geli­ni Phar­ma, Chi­na Grand Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal and Health­care Hold­ings, Vanci­ty, and Amana Glob­al Part­ners.

“We’ve seen a num­ber of our peers suc­cess­ful­ly raise new funds over the past year,” Brunk said. “Un­for­tu­nate­ly, it took a glob­al health care cri­sis to el­e­vate the val­ue of the in­dus­try, I think, to a lot of folks. But we feel very priv­i­leged to have the new cap­i­tal to back that next set of en­tre­pre­neurs.”

M&A: a crit­i­cal dri­ver for sus­tain­able top-line growth in health­care

2021 saw a record $600B in healthcare M&A activity. In 2022, there is an anticipated slowdown in activity, however, M&A prospects remain strong in the medium to long-term. What are future growth drivers for the healthcare sector? Where might we see innovations that drive M&A? RBC’s Andrew Callaway, Global Head, Healthcare Investment Banking discusses with Vito Sperduto, Global Co-Head, M&A.

15 LGBTQ lead­ers in bio­phar­ma; Paul Stof­fels’ Gala­pa­gos re­vamp; As­traZeneca catch­es up in AT­TR; 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.

A return to in-person conferences also marks a return to on-the-ground reporting. My colleagues Beth Synder Bulik and Nicole DeFeudis were on-site at Cannes Lions, bringing live coverage of pharma’s presence at the ad festival — accompanied by photos from Clara Bui, our virtual producer, that bring you right to the scene. You can find a recap (and links to all the stories) below.

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Abortion-rights protesters regroup and protest following Supreme Court's decision to overturn Roe v. Wade. (AP Photo/Gemunu Amarasinghe)

Fol­low­ing SCO­TUS de­ci­sion to over­turn abor­tion pro­tec­tions, AG Gar­land says states can't ban the abor­tion pill

Following the Supreme Court’s historic decision on Friday to overturn Americans’ constitutional right to an abortion after almost 50 years, Attorney General Merrick Garland sought to somewhat reassure women that states will not be able to ban the prescription drug sometimes used for abortions.

Following the decision, the New England Journal of Medicine also published an editorial strongly condemning the reversal, saying it “serves American families poorly, putting their health, safety, finances, and futures at risk.”

AstraZeneca's new Evusheld direct to consumer campaign aims to reach more immunocompromised patients.

As­traZeneca de­buts first con­sumer cam­paign for its Covid-19 pro­phy­lac­tic Evusheld — and a first for EUA drugs

AstraZeneca’s first consumer ad for Evusheld is also a first for drugs that have been granted emergency use authorizations during the pandemic.

The first DTC ad for a medicine under emergency approval, the Evusheld campaign launching this week aims to raise awareness among immunocompromised patients — and spur more use.

Evusheld nabbed emergency authorization in December, however, despite millions of immunocompromised people looking for a solution and now more widespread availability of the drug.

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Yong Dai, Frontera Therapeutics CEO

Scoop: Lit­tle-known Or­biMed-backed biotech clos­es $160M round to start gene ther­a­py tri­al

Frontera Therapeutics, a China and US biotech, has closed a $160 million Series B and received regulatory clearance to test its first gene therapy stateside, Endpoints News has learned.

Led by the largest shareholder, OrbiMed, the biotech has secured $195 million total since its September 2019 founding, according to an email reviewed by Endpoints. The lead AAV gene therapy program is for an undisclosed rare eye disease, according to the source.

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Spanish Prime Minister Pédro Sanchez and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen (AP Photo/Geert Vanden Wijngaert)

EU to launch vac­cine de­vel­op­ment and man­u­fac­tur­ing part­ner­ship with Latin Amer­i­can and Caribbean coun­tries

While European companies, including BioNTech, are focused on increasing vaccine access to African countries by setting up vaccine manufacturing facilities, the European Union is looking westward to Latin America and the Caribbean.

Speaking at a press conference with Spanish Prime Minister Pédro Sanchez, EU Commission president Ursula von der Leyen said that the EU is launching a new initiative for vaccines and medicines manufacturing in Latin America, to get drugs to Latin America and the Caribbean faster.

DEM BioPharma CEO David Donabedian (L) and executive chair Jan Skvarka

Long­wood sets an­oth­er 'don't eat me' biotech in­to gear with help of for­mer Tril­li­um CEO Jan Skvar­ka

Jonathan Weissman and team are out with a cancer-fighting biotech riding the appetite for those so-called “don’t eat me” and “eat me” signals.

The scientific co-founder — alongside fellow Whitehead Institute colleague Kipp Weiskopf and Stanford biologist Michael Bassik — has launched DEM BioPharma with incubator Longwood Fund and a crop of other investors.

In all, the nascent, 10-employee biotech has $70 million to bankroll hematology- and solid tumor-based programs, including a lead asset that could enter human trials in two to three years, CEO David Donabedian told Endpoints News.

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GSK says its drug for chron­ic hep B could ‘lead to a func­tion­al cure’ — but will it be alone or in com­bi­na­tion?

GSK, newly branded and soon-to-be demerged, shared interim results from its Phase II trial on its chronic hepatitis B treatment, one that it says has the “potential to lead to a functional cure.”

At a presentation at the EASL International Liver Congress, GSK shared that in around 450 patients who received its hep B drug bepirovirsen for 24 weeks, just under 30% had hepatitis B surface antigen and viral DNA levels that were too low to detect.

De­spite a slow start to the year for deals, PwC pre­dicts a flur­ry of ac­tiv­i­ty com­ing up

Despite whispers of a busy year for M&A, deal activity in the pharma space is actually down 30% on a semi-annualized basis, according to PwC’s latest report on deal activity. But don’t rule out larger deals in the second half of the year, the consultants said.

PwC pharmaceutical and life sciences consulting solutions leader Glenn Hunzinger expects to see Big Pharma companies picking up earlier stage companies to try and fill pipeline gaps ahead of a slew of big patent cliffs. Though a bear market continues to maul the biotech sector, Hunzinger said recent deals indicate that pharma companies are still paying above current trading prices.