With $58M in hand, the start­up team at Pan­dion sets their sights on a next-gen ap­proach to im­munol­o­gy

An­tho­ny Coyle start­ed Pfiz­er’s Cen­ters for Ther­a­peu­tic In­no­va­tion with an eye to chang­ing the way the phar­ma gi­ant went about the busi­ness of drug dis­cov­ery. And then af­ter leav­ing last sum­mer and join­ing the great mi­gra­tion out of Big Phar­ma, he switched in­to a new role as biotech CEO — where he gets to take a more hands-on role in that strug­gle.

Coyle is at the helm of a new start­up called Pan­dion Ther­a­peu­tics, one of the lat­est ar­rivals in the bustling Cam­bridge, MA hub, where Po­laris seed­ed a group of about 12 re­searchers who have been look­ing to take some of the many lessons learned from im­muno-on­col­o­gy and then re­verse en­gi­neer­ing the tech­nol­o­gy for an­ti-in­flam­ma­to­ry or au­toim­mune drugs.

Jo Viney

“There have been tremen­dous ad­vances in un­der­stand­ing how the im­mune sys­tem in­ter­plays with the tu­mor,” Coyle tells me. And Pan­dion’s ob­jec­tives, in­spired in part by co-founder and im­munol­o­gy ex­pert David Sachs, “res­onat­ed with (chief sci­en­tist) Jo Viney and my­self.”

Viney was pre­vi­ous­ly se­nior vice pres­i­dent of drug dis­cov­ery and VP of im­munol­o­gy re­search for Bio­gen, and had ear­li­er worked at Am­gen.

“It will be fas­ci­nat­ing if we can shift the par­a­digm on de­vel­op­ing new drugs,” says the CEO.

The big idea here is that the com­pa­ny be­lieves it can cre­ate a set of bis­pe­cif­ic an­ti­bod­ies that will al­low for tar­get­ed, lo­cal­ized mod­u­la­tion of the im­mune sys­tem, with one arm of the bis­pe­cif­ic bind­ing to mol­e­cules ex­pressed at the site of in­flam­ma­tion.

That kind of work has ap­pli­ca­tions for in­flam­ma­to­ry bow­el dis­ease as well as au­toim­mune dis­eases of the liv­er, to start with.

Alan Crane

Po­laris en­tre­pre­neur­ship part­ner Alan Crane helped arrange the seed mon­ey and gath­ered the syn­di­cate to­geth­er for to­day’s an­nounce­ment of the $58 mil­lion launch round. Po­laris is in the co-lead po­si­tion with Ver­sant Ven­tures and Roche Ven­ture Fund. Glax­o­SmithK­line’s SR One and BioIn­no­va­tion Cap­i­tal al­so chipped in on the round.

The mon­ey should be enough to get be­yond the first 2 or 3 years of the start­up phase, says Coyle, with enough cash to move pro­grams out of the pre­clin­i­cal stage and in­to the clin­ic. And he wouldn’t be sur­prised to see the first part­ner­ship come to­geth­er this year, as the team dou­bles up in size.

Up­dat­ed: FDA re­mains silent on or­phan drug ex­clu­siv­i­ty af­ter last year's court loss

Since losing a controversial court case over orphan drug exclusivity last year, the FDA’s Office of Orphan Products Development has remained entirely silent on orphan exclusivity for any product approved since last November, leaving many sponsors in limbo on what to expect.

That silence means that for more than 70 orphan-designated indications for more than 60 products, OOPD has issued no public determination on the seven-year orphan exclusivity in the Orange Book, and no new listings of orphan exclusivity appear in OOPD’s searchable database, as highlighted recently by George O’Brien, a partner in Mayer Brown’s Washington, DC office.

Tim Pearson, Carrick Therapeutics CEO

Pfiz­er backs $60M in­fu­sion in­to Car­rick, teams up on breast can­cer treat­ment

In a big week for Carrick Therapeutics, the company announced $60 million in funding for its lead breast cancer drug and development of a second program, as well as a collaboration with Pfizer for combo development.

The $35 million from Pfizer comes with an agreement under which Pfizer will support Carrick’s Phase II study of samuraciclib in combination with Pfizer’s Faslodex for advanced breast cancer. Along with the investment, Adam Schayowitz, vice president and development head of breast cancer, colorectal cancer and melanoma at Pfizer global product development, will join Carrick’s scientific advisory board.

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Thomas Gad, Y-mAbs Therapeutics founder and interim CEO

FDA re­jects Y-mAbs’ neu­rob­las­toma drug af­ter tak­ing is­sue with clin­i­cal tri­al de­sign

Uncertainty about clinical trial evidence has led the FDA to hand down a complete response letter for Y-mAbs’ neuroblastoma drug, casting a cloud on the future of a candidate that had gone through a long development journey in a rare pediatric cancer.

Y-mAbs said it’s disappointed “but not surprised” given that the agency’s oncology drug advisory committee had voted 16-0 against its drug’s approval a few weeks ago.

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Paul Hudson, Sanofi CEO (Romuald Meigneux/Sipa via AP Images)

Sanofi and Am­gen are bring­ing cash to cov­er the ta­ble stakes for the Hori­zon M&A game

With the market cap on Horizon Therapeutics $HZNP pushed up to the $23 billion mark today, one of the Big Pharmas in the hunt for a major league buyout deal signaled it’s playing the M&A game with cash.

Paris-based Sanofi, where CEO Paul Hudson has been largely focused on some risky biotech acquisitions to win some respect for its future pipeline prospects, issued a statement early Friday — complying with Rule 2.12 of the Irish takeover rules — making clear that while the certainty or size of an offer can’t be determined, any offer “will be solely in cash.” And Amgen CEO Robert Bradway came right in behind him, filing a statement on the London Stock Exchange overnight that any offer they may make will “likely” be in cash as well.

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Illustration: Assistant Editor Kathy Wong for Endpoints News

As mon­ey pours in­to dig­i­tal ther­a­peu­tics, in­sur­ance cov­er­age crawls

Talk therapy didn’t help Lily with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD. But a video game did.

As the 10-year-old zooms through icy waters and targets flying creatures on the snow-capped planet Frigidus, she builds attention skills, thanks to Akili Interactive Labs’ video game EndeavorRx. She’s now less anxious and scattered, allowing her to stay on a low dose of ADHD medication, according to her mom Violet Vu.

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Eli Lil­ly’s Alzheimer’s drug clears more amy­loid ear­ly than Aduhelm in first-ever head-to-head. Will it mat­ter?

Ahead of the FDA’s decision on Eli Lilly’s Alzheimer’s drug donanemab in February, the Big Pharma is dropping a first cut of data from one of the more interesting trials — but less important in a regulatory sense — at an Alzheimer’s conference in San Francisco.

In the unblinded 148-person study, Eli Lilly pitted its drug against Aduhelm, Biogen’s drug that won FDA approval but lost Medicare coverage outside of clinical trials. Notably, the study didn’t look at clinical outcomes, but rather the clearance of amyloid, a protein whose buildup is associated with Alzheimer’s disease, in the brain.

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Philip Tagari switch­es Am­gen's dis­cov­ery lab for in­sitro's ma­chine learn­ing tools; CEO Joaquin Du­a­to to chair J&J's board

In February, Philip Tagari will take a few days of retirement and then immediately return to industry. He won’t be leading the therapeutics discovery unit for a large biopharma, though.

He’ll trade in his Amgen hat for chief scientist at a machine learning startup that has reeled in hundreds of millions in capital to lay the groundwork for a much-hyped new model of drug discovery that aims to speed up the time to new clinical assets.

Raul Rodriguez, Rigel Pharma CEO

Rigel Phar­ma scores FDA ap­proval for leukemia, kick­ing off show­down with Servi­er in IDH1

When Rigel Pharma bought olutasidenib from Forma Therapeutics, it acquired a drug that already secured a PDUFA date at the FDA — for February 2023. But regulators are ready to give their OK sooner than that.

The FDA has approved the IDH1 inhibitor as a treatment for adult patients with relapsed or refractory acute myeloid leukemia who have a susceptible IDH-1 (isocitrate dehydrogenase-1) mutation as detected by an FDA-greenlit test. Rigel will market it as Rezlidhia.

Uğur Şahin, BioNTech CEO (ddp images/Sipa USA/Sipa via AP Images)

BioN­Tech bets on dif­fi­cult STING field via small mol­e­cule pact with a Pol­ish biotech

BioNTech is beefing up its relatively thin small molecule pipeline by adding weight to a clinically difficult corner of oncology R&D: STING agonists. To do so, BioNTech is teaming up with a 15-year-old Polish biotech and doling out €40 million, about $41.5 million, to start.

The deal is broken into two parts: First, BioNTech obtains an exclusive global license to develop and market Ryvu Therapeutics’ STING agonist portfolio as small molecules, whether alone or in combination with other agents.

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