Tyra co-founders Todd Harris (L) and Daniel Bensen

Why do some tar­get­ed can­cer ther­a­pies stop work­ing? For Tyra, that's the $106M ques­tion

Tar­get­ed can­cer ther­a­pies can be quite ef­fec­tive. Un­til, for some pa­tients, the can­cer mu­tates, and the treat­ment stops work­ing.

“It’s not un­like re­sis­tance in an­tibi­otics,” said Todd Har­ris, an MIT grad and for­mer NIH fel­low. “The can­cer is mu­tat­ing a lot. It’s un­der a lot of pres­sure.”

Of­ten­times, that mu­ta­tion can be as sim­ple as a sin­gle amino acid shift­ing, es­sen­tial­ly block­ing the bind­ing site of a drug. And when that hap­pens, Har­ris said, you need new chem­istry that binds to the pro­tein dif­fer­ent­ly, avoid­ing the mu­tat­ed site.

That’s what Har­ris launched Tyra Bio­sciences to do — and on Wednes­day, the two-year-old biotech un­veiled a $106 mil­lion Se­ries B round for its push to­ward the clin­ic.

“Our goal is to de­sign drugs that are re­al­ly ef­fec­tive against the pro­tein and are still ef­fec­tive when that mu­ta­tion oc­curs,” said Har­ris, the com­pa­ny’s co-founder and CEO.

To do so, Tyra — named af­ter Tyr, the Norse god of war — us­es its x-ray crys­tal­log­ra­phy plat­form dubbed SNAP. The tech­nique isn’t new, Har­ris said. It in­volves shoot­ing x-ray beams to dis­cov­er the three-di­men­sion­al struc­ture of a par­tic­u­lar pro­tein. What dif­fer­en­ti­ates Tyra, though, is an in-house team that col­lects the so-called SNAP­shots two to five times a week — giv­ing the team an atom-by-atom look at how a drug is bind­ing to a spe­cif­ic pro­tein.

“We can lit­er­al­ly look at the types of in­ter­ac­tions that are mak­ing one mol­e­cule work bet­ter than an­oth­er, and then con­tin­ue to op­ti­mize and re­fine the de­signs of new mol­e­cules to ex­ploit, you know, a find­ing or a sur­prise that we get when we look at how this is ex­act­ly bind­ing to the pro­tein,” Har­ris said.

Har­ris has yet to re­lease which tar­gets the team is go­ing af­ter, but said they plan on nom­i­nat­ing a can­di­date this year which they hope to en­ter in­to the clin­ic next year. He plans on us­ing the Se­ries B funds to ad­vance the lead pro­gram and “sev­er­al fol­low-on pro­grams.”

When Tyra reeled in a $50 mil­lion Se­ries A in Jan­u­ary 2020, the team com­prised four peo­ple. Now, the com­pa­ny has 15 full-time staffers. Up­on an­nounc­ing the Se­ries B, Har­ris al­so shared news of two new C-suite ap­point­ments and the pro­mo­tion of Robert Hud­kins to CTO.

Hi­roo­mi Ta­da, whose re­sume in­cludes roles at In­cyte, Glax­o­SmithK­line and As­traZeneca, is join­ing Tyra as CMO. And Piyush Pa­tel, who worked with Hud­kins for a num­ber of years at Cephalon, is com­ing aboard as chief of de­vel­op­ment.

“We’re hav­ing a lot of fun. It’s re­al­ly an ex­cep­tion­al team, and a re­al­ly im­por­tant prob­lem we’re seek­ing to solve,” Har­ris said.

The ar­ti­cle has been up­dat­ed to clar­i­fy that x-ray crys­tal­log­ra­phy in­volves x-ray beams.

The DCT-OS: A Tech­nol­o­gy-first Op­er­at­ing Sys­tem - En­abling Clin­i­cal Tri­als

As technology-enabled clinical research becomes the new normal, an integrated decentralized clinical trial operating system can ensure quality, deliver consistency and improve the patient experience.

The increasing availability of COVID-19 vaccines has many of us looking forward to a time when everyday things return to a state of normal. Schools and teachers are returning to classrooms, offices and small businesses are reopening, and there’s a palpable sense of optimism that the often-awkward adjustments we’ve all made personally and professionally in the last year are behind us, never to return. In the world of clinical research, however, some pandemic-necessitated adjustments are proving to be more than emergency stopgap measures to ensure trial continuity — and numerous decentralized clinical trial (DCT) tools and methodologies employed within the last year are likely here to stay as part of biopharma’s new normal.

Ron DePinho (file photo)

A 'fly­over' biotech launch­es in Texas with four Ron De­Pin­ho-found­ed com­pa­nies un­der its belt

In his 13 years at Genzyme, Michael Wyzga noticed something about East Coast drugmakers. Execs would often jet from Boston or New York to San Francisco to find more assets, and completely miss the work being done in flyover states, like Texas or Wisconsin.

“If it doesn’t come out of MGH or MIT or Harvard, probably not that interesting,” he said of the mindset.

Now, he and some well-known industry players are looking to change that, and they’ve reeled in just over $38 million to do it.

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Onno van de Stolpe, Galapagos CEO (Thierry Roge/Belga Mag/AFP via Getty Images)

Gala­pa­gos chops in­to their pipeline, drop­ping core fields and re­or­ga­niz­ing R&D as the BD team hunts for some­thing 'trans­for­ma­tive'

Just 5 months after Gilead gutted its rich partnership with Galapagos following a bitter setback at the FDA, the Belgian biotech is hunkering down and chopping the pipeline in an effort to conserve cash while their BD team pursues a mission to find a “transformative” deal for the company.

The filgotinib disaster didn’t warrant a mention as Galapagos laid out its Darwinian restructuring plans. Forced to make choices, the company is ditching its IPF molecule ’1205, while moving ahead with a Phase II IPF study for its chitinase inhibitor ’4617.

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Stéphane Bancel, Getty

Mod­er­na CEO brush­es off US sup­port for IP waiv­er, eyes more than $19B in Covid-19 vac­cine sales in 2021

Moderna is definitively more concerned with keeping pace with Pfizer in the race to vaccinate the world against Covid-19 than it is with Wednesday’s decision from the Biden administration to back an intellectual property waiver that aims to increase vaccine supplies worldwide.

In its first quarter earnings call on Thursday, Moderna CEO Stéphane Bancel shrugged off any suggestion that the newly US-backed intellectual property waiver would impact his company’s vaccine or bottom line. Still, the company’s stock price fell by about 9% in early morning trading.

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Ad­comm splits slight­ly in fa­vor of FDA ap­prov­ing Chemo­Cen­tryx’s rare dis­ease drug

The FDA’s Arthritis Advisory Committee on Thursday voted 10 for and 8 against the approval of ChemoCentryx’s $CCXI investigational drug avacopan as a treatment for adults with a rare and serious disease known as anti-neutrophil cytoplasmic autoantibody (ANCA)-vasculitis.

The vote on whether the FDA should approve the drug was preceded by a split vote of 9 to 9 on whether the efficacy data support approval, and 10 to 8 that the safety profile of avacopan is adequate enough to support approval.

Gold­man Sachs jumps aboard Bain-backed 503(b) com­pound­ing phar­ma­cy with a $275M debt loan to sup­ply hos­pi­tals

Long the bane of the FDA’s existence, compounding pharmacies have seen a minor resurgence in the past year as short-term saviors for hospital drug shortages. Now, a 503(b) company specializing in hospital meds has earned a big backer to keep expanding its 200-drug strong portfolio.

Goldman Sachs and Owl Rock Capital Partners have doled out a $275 million debt loan to QuVa Pharma, a 503(b)-certified outsourcing facility providing compounded drugs to hospitals, the company said Thursday.

Bill Lis, Jasper Therapeutics

Jasper and its stem cell con­di­tion­ing an­ti­body earn a tick­et to Nas­daq in lat­est SPAC re­verse merg­er

Editor’s note: Interested in following biopharma’s fast-paced IPO market? You can bookmark our IPO Tracker here.

Another biotech SPAC deal has landed as the glut of blank-check companies continues to make waves in the industry.

Thursday’s winner is Jasper Therapeutics, joining forces with Amplitude Healthcare Acquisition Corp. in a $100 million reverse-merger, Jasper announced. The deal also comes with a PIPE financing of an additional $100 million, setting Jasper up with a $490 million market cap once the merger closes in the third quarter.

Brent Saunders (Richard Drew, AP Images)

OcuWho? Star deal­mak­er turned aes­thet­ics czar Brent Saun­ders flips back in­to biotech. But who’s he team­ing up with now?

Brent Saunders went on a tear of headline-blazing deals building Allergan, merging and rearranging a variety of big companies into one before an M&A pact with Pfizer blew up and sent him on a bout of biotech drug deals. That didn’t work so well, so under pressure, he got his buyout at AbbVie — which needed a big franchise like Botox. And it was no big surprise to see him riding the SPAC wave into a recent $1 billion-plus deal that left him in the executive chairman’s seat at an aesthetics outfit — now redubbed The Beauty Health Company — holding a big chunk of the equity.

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Drug pric­ing watch­dog joins the cho­rus of crit­ics on Bio­gen's ad­u­canum­ab: What about charg­ing $2,560 per year?

As if Biogen’s aducanumab isn’t controversial enough, the researchers at drug pricing watchdog ICER have drawn up the contours of a new debate: If the therapy does get approved for Alzheimer’s by June, what price should it command?

Their answer: At most $8,290 per year — and perhaps as little as $2,560.

Even at the top of the range, the proposed price is a fraction of the $50,000 that Wall Street has reportedly come to expect (although RBC analyst Brian Abrahams puts the consensus figure at $11.5K). With critics, including experts on the FDA’s advisory committee, making their fierce opposition to aducanumab’s approval loud and clear, the pricing pressure adds one extra wrinkle Biogen CEO Michel Vounatsos doesn’t need as he orders full-steam preparation for a launch.