With a new HQ un­der con­struc­tion and Ab­b­Vie as a part­ner, Alec­tor grabs $133M round to fund a move in­to the clin­ic

Sabah Oney

When Sabah Oney joined Alec­tor three years ago, the two-year-old com­pa­ny helmed by CEO Arnon Rosen­thal had a lean, 15-staffer op­er­a­tion tight­ly packed in­to one small space.

To­day, it’s 65 peo­ple — head­ed to 90 by the end of the year — and the chief busi­ness of­fi­cer can look for­ward to much more space with a new and ex­pan­sive 100,000-square foot HQ un­der con­struc­tion in South San Fran­cis­co.

So as the com­pa­ny po­si­tions its first three drugs for neu­rode­gen­er­a­tive dis­eases to en­ter hu­man stud­ies for the first time, this is a great time for a $133 mil­lion Se­ries E mega-round.

“Our goal is to re­ju­ve­nate the im­mune sys­tem,” says Oney. But in­stead of the adap­tive im­mune sys­tem, where you can rev up a tar­get­ed re­sponse, think in­nate, where the im­mune sys­tem can play a crit­i­cal sup­port­ive role in cleans­ing — or pre­vent­ing the ac­cu­mu­la­tion of — tox­ic ma­te­r­i­al in the brain.

Arnon Rosen­thal

At this stage of the game, Alec­tor has now raised $420 mil­lion, in­clud­ing $205 mil­lion gained in an up­front from its com­pa­ny-mak­ing al­liance with Ab­b­Vie.

The biotech is one of the new com­pa­nies that want to move past the amy­loid be­ta- or tau-fo­cused com­pa­nies, where there have been far more miss­es than hits in hu­man stud­ies. By con­cen­trat­ing on more nar­row, ge­net­i­cal­ly fo­cused tar­gets, Alec­tor be­lieves that it can start mak­ing a dif­fer­ence with monother­a­pies, as the play­ers in the field move to­ward more com­plex cock­tail ther­a­pies that can hit their tar­gets from mul­ti­ple sides.

Robert Paul

Their lead drug AL001 is ex­cit­ing, says chief med­ical of­fi­cer Robert Paul. Ze­ro­ing in on a very nar­row, ge­net­i­cal­ly de­fined pop­u­la­tion with good bio­mark­ers to guide them along the way, Paul be­lieves their drug can ac­com­plish the very sim­ple task of bring­ing pro­gran­ulin back up to nor­mal.

And there are good rea­sons to be­lieve that once they do that, they can make a very dis­tinct dif­fer­ence in the lives of pa­tients with rare cas­es of fron­totem­po­ral de­men­tia.

Two oth­er tar­gets are TREM2 and SIGLEC-3 for Alzheimer’s.

Check out the syn­di­cate:

Deer­field Man­age­ment, Ab­b­Vie Ven­tures, Fed­er­at­ed Kauf­mann Fund, Sec­tion 32, Eu­clid­ean Cap­i­tal, Fore­site Cap­i­tal, Lil­ly Asia Ven­tures, New Leaf Ven­ture Part­ners, Per­cep­tive Ad­vi­sors, Cas­din Cap­i­tal, Po­laris Part­ners, Or­biMed, MRL Ven­tures, GV, the De­men­tia Dis­cov­ery Fund, Mis­sion Bay Cap­i­tal, Am­gen Ven­tures, and oth­ers.

With that group Alec­tor moves one step clos­er to an IPO. And some­where up ahead the com­pa­ny hopes to even­tu­al­ly make it to a piv­otal tri­al, when the biotech can con­sid­er its prospects in adding a com­mer­cial op­er­a­tion.

Im­ages: Muham­mad Al­hawa­gri/ALEC­TOR

Hal Barron, GSK

Break­ing the death spi­ral: Hal Bar­ron talks about trans­form­ing the mori­bund R&D cul­ture at GSK in a crit­i­cal year for the late-stage pipeline

Just ahead of GlaxoSmithKline’s Q2 update on Wednesday, science chief Hal Barron is making the rounds to talk up the pharma giant’s late-stage strategy as the top execs continue to woo back a deeply skeptical investor group while pushing through a whole new R&D culture.

And that’s not easy, Barron is quick to note. He told the Financial Times:

I think that culture, to some extent, is as hard, in fact even harder, than doing the science.

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Some Big Phar­mas stepped up their game on da­ta trans­paren­cy — but which flunked the test?

The nonprofit Bioethics International has come out with their latest scorecard on data transparency among the big biopharmas in the industry — flagging a few standouts while spotlighting some laggards who are continuing to underperform.

Now in its third year, the nonprofit created a new set of standards with Yale School of Medicine and Stanford Law School to evaluate the track record on trial registration, results reporting, publication and data-sharing practice.

Busy Gilead crew throws strug­gling biotech a life­line, with some cash up­front and hun­dreds of mil­lions in biobucks for HIV deal

Durect $DRRX got a badly needed shot in the arm Monday morning as Gilead’s busy BD team lined up access to its extended-release platform tech for HIV and hepatitis B.

Gilead, a leader in the HIV sector, is paying a modest $25 million in cash for the right to jump on the platform at Durect, which has been using its technology to come up with an extended-release version of bupivacaine. The FDA rejected that in 2014, but Durect has been working on a comeback.

In­tec blitzed by PhI­II flop as lead pro­gram fails to beat Mer­ck­'s stan­dard com­bo for Parkin­son’s

Intec Pharma’s $NTEC lead drug slammed into a brick wall Monday morning. The small-cap Israeli biotech reported that its lead program — coming off a platform designed to produce a safer, more effective oral drug for Parkinson’s — failed the Phase III at the primary endpoint.

Researchers at Intec, which has already seen its share price collapse over the past few months, says that its Accordion Pill-Carbidopa/Levodopa failed to prove superior to Sinemet in reducing daily ‘off’ time. 

Cel­gene racks up third Ote­zla ap­proval, heat­ing up talks about who Bris­tol-My­ers will sell to

Whoever is taking Otezla off Bristol-Myers Squibb’s hands will have one more revenue stream to boast.

The drug — a rising star in Celgene’s pipeline that generated global sales of $1.6 billion last year — is now OK’d to treat oral ulcers associated with Behçet’s disease, a common symptom for a rare inflammatory disorder. This marks the third FDA approval for the PDE4 inhibitor since 2014, when it was greenlighted for plaque psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis.

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Francesco De Rubertis

Medicxi is rolling out its biggest fund ever to back Eu­rope's top 'sci­en­tists with strange ideas'

Francesco De Rubertis built Medicxi to be the kind of biotech venture player he would have liked to have known back when he was a full time scientist.

“When I was a scientist 20 years ago I would have loved Medicxi,’ the co-founder tells me. It’s the kind of place run by and for investigators, what the Medicxi partner calls “scientists with strange ideas — a platform for the drug hunter and scientific entrepreneur. That’s what I wanted when I was a scientist.”

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Af­ter a decade, Vi­iV CSO John Pot­tage says it's time to step down — and he's hand­ing the job to long­time col­league Kim Smith

ViiV Healthcare has always been something unique in the global drug industry.

Owned by GlaxoSmithKline and Pfizer — with GSK in the lead as majority owner — it was created 10 years ago in a time of deep turmoil for the field as something independent of the pharma giants, but with access to lots of infrastructural support on demand. While R&D at the mother ship inside GSK was souring, a razor-focused ViiV provided a rare bright spot, challenging Gilead on a lucrative front in delivering new combinations that require fewer therapies with a more easily tolerated regimen.

They kept a massive number of people alive who would otherwise have been facing a death sentence. And they made money.

And throughout, John Pottage has been the chief scientific and chief medical officer.

Until now.

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Vlad Coric (Biohaven)

In an­oth­er dis­ap­point­ment for in­vestors, FDA slaps down Bio­haven’s re­vised ver­sion of an old ALS drug

Biohaven is at risk of making a habit of disappointing its investors.

Late Friday the biotech $BHVN reported that the FDA had rejected its application for riluzole, an old drug that they had made over into a sublingual formulation that dissolves under the tongue. According to Biohaven, the FDA had a problem with the active ingredient used in a bioequivalence study back in 2017, which they got from the Canadian drugmaker Apotex.

Apotex, though, has been a disaster ground. The manufacturer voluntarily yanked the ANDAs on 31 drugs — in late 2017 — after the FDA came across serious manufacturing deficiencies at their plants in India. A few days ago, the FDA made it official.

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Chas­ing Roche's ag­ing block­buster fran­chise, Am­gen/Al­ler­gan roll out Avastin, Her­ceptin knock­offs at dis­count

Let the long battle for biosimilars in the cancer space begin.

Amgen has launched its Avastin and Herceptin copycats — licensed from the predecessors of Allergan — almost two years after the FDA had stamped its approval on Mvasi (bevacizumab-awwb) and three months after the Kanjinti OK (trastuzumab-anns). While the biotech had been fielding biosimilars in Europe, this marks their first foray in the US — and the first oncology biosimilars in the country.