CEO Jeremy Bender (Day One)

With 'rapid' progress of pe­di­atric brain can­cer treat­ment, Day One sees broad ex­cite­ment in new crossover round

Rough­ly nine months af­ter emerg­ing from stealth, Day One Bio­phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals re­turned to the ven­ture cap­i­tal well and came away with a nine-fig­ure prize. And with the hefty crossover round, it rais­es the big ques­tion of whether they’re prep­ping an S-1 to en­ter a hot biotech IPO mar­ket.

Day One raised $130 mil­lion in a Se­ries B, the biotech an­nounced Wednes­day, with the fund­ing led by RA Cap­i­tal. The funds will help sup­port a va­ri­ety of pipeline projects, in­clud­ing the de­vel­op­ment of their lead com­pound DAY101 in prepa­ra­tion for a po­ten­tial com­mer­cial launch in 2023.

The rapid progress of that pro­gram ul­ti­mate­ly led to the ex­cite­ment for the round, CEO Je­re­my Ben­der told End­points News, and Day One has now raised a to­tal of $190 mil­lion since late 2019.

“As a re­sult of both some pub­li­ca­tion of da­ta that un­der­pinned the de­vel­op­ment plan, as well as build­ing out the full team in­clud­ing my­self, we start­ed hav­ing dis­cus­sions with in­vestors in Q4,” Ben­der said. “Those ac­cel­er­at­ed over time.”

Day One’s mis­sion is cen­tered around im­prov­ing the land­scape for pe­di­atric can­cers, an area that the com­pa­ny says phar­ma has left be­hind over the last sev­er­al years. Chil­dren rep­re­sent a much small­er pa­tient pool than adults, giv­ing the in­dus­try less mar­ket in­cen­tive, and for years ex­perts have said the bi­ol­o­gy has not been prop­er­ly un­der­stood.

With ad­di­tion­al con­cerns over safe­ty, many pe­di­atric treat­ments end up be­ing re­for­mu­la­tions of adult ther­a­pies like ra­di­a­tion and chemo. But that can come with heavy long-term side ef­fects. Day One aims to fill that gap, bring­ing ef­fec­tive and safe treat­ment specif­i­cal­ly with chil­dren in mind, Ben­der said.

They got start­ed with an old Take­da pro­gram in DAY101, for­mer­ly named TAK-580. The com­pound it­self is a pan-RAF in­hibitor that can cross the blood-brain bar­ri­er, block­ing mu­ta­tions that dri­ve can­cer in both child­hood and adult gliomas.

Day One has made sig­nif­i­cant progress with this pro­gram since it came out of stealth mode last May, Ben­der said, re­cent­ly launch­ing a piv­otal Phase II study in the most com­mon brain tu­mor in chil­dren — pe­di­atric low-grade glioma. Cur­rent­ly, pe­di­atric pa­tients with pLGG don’t have much in the way of ef­fec­tive treat­ment, uti­liz­ing typ­i­cal plat­inum-based chemother­a­py in the front­line set­ting with no clear fa­vorite be­yond that.

About a third of pa­tients see their tu­mors ef­fec­tive­ly cured through biop­sies and sur­gi­cal re­moval, Ben­der said, but the “vast ma­jor­i­ty” of the rest go on to re­ceive these sys­temic chemo treat­ments. “It’s hard on pa­tients and par­ents, but the on­ly clear stan­dard of care,” he said.

The com­pa­ny is look­ing to en­roll 60 pa­tients in a sin­gle-arm, open-la­bel tri­al, which would form the ba­sis for an ap­proval pack­age once the da­ta read out topline re­sults in the sec­ond half of 2022. The ex­per­i­men­tal drug al­so re­ceived break­through ther­a­py des­ig­na­tion from the FDA in the fall, and it was around that time when Se­ries B in­ter­est from VCs start­ed ramp­ing up.

With Wednes­day’s fund­ing, Day One has enough run­way to get through the end of 2022 and through the Phase II read­out “at min­i­mum,” Ben­der said. Should every­thing go well with the study, a com­mer­cial launch of DAY101 could be in the cards as ear­ly as 2023.

Day One is al­so look­ing at test­ing this pro­gram in adult sol­id tu­mors with RAF-al­tered mu­ta­tions, and ex­pects to launch a Phase II study with the fund­ing. The can­di­date had pre­vi­ous­ly been test­ed in melanoma, but not yet in the adult brain can­cer set­ting.

But the main mis­sion re­mains fo­cused on chil­dren, and there is clear en­thu­si­asm sur­round­ing DAY101 as ev­i­denced by Wednes­day’s raise, Ben­der said.

In ad­di­tion to RA Cap­i­tal, oth­er new in­vestors in­clud­ed Box­er Cap­i­tal, BVF Part­ners, Franklin Tem­ple­ton, Janus Hen­der­son In­vestors, Per­cep­tive Ad­vi­sors, T. Rowe Price and As­so­ci­ates and Viking Glob­al In­vestors. Ex­ist­ing in­vestors in Canaan, Ac­cess Biotech­nol­o­gy and At­las Ven­ture al­so par­tic­i­pat­ed in the round.

At the In­flec­tion Point for the Next Gen­er­a­tion of Can­cer Im­munother­a­py

While oncology researchers have long pursued the potential of cellular immunotherapies for the treatment of cancer, it was unclear whether these therapies would ever reach patients due to the complexity of manufacturing and costs of development. Fortunately, the recent successful development and regulatory approval of chimeric antigen receptor-engineered T (CAR-T) cells have demonstrated the significant benefit of these therapies to patients.

Tillman Gerngross (Adagio)

Till­man Gern­gross on Omi­cron: 'It is a grim sit­u­a­tion...we’re go­ing to see a sig­nif­i­cant drop in vac­cine ef­fi­ca­cy'

Tillman Gerngross, the rarely shy Dartmouth professor, biotech entrepreneur and antibody expert, has been warning for over a year that the virus behind Covid-19 would likely continue to mutate, potentially in ways that avoid immunity from infection and the best defenses scientists developed. He spun out a company, Adagio, to build a universal antibody, one that could snuff out any potential mutation.

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In­cor­po­rat­ing Ex­ter­nal Da­ta in­to Clin­i­cal Tri­als: Com­par­ing Dig­i­tal Twins to Ex­ter­nal Con­trol Arms

Most drug development professionals are familiar with the nerve-racking wait for the read-out of a large trial. If it’s negative, is the investigational therapy ineffective? Or could the failure result from an unforeseen flaw in the design or execution of the protocol, rather than a lack of efficacy? The team could spend weeks analyzing data, but a definitive answer may be elusive due to insufficient power for such analyses in the already completed trial. These problems are only made worse if the trial had lower enrollment, or higher dropout than expected due to an unanticipated event like COVID-19. And if a trial is negative, the next one is likely to be larger and more costly — if it happens at all.

Iain McGill, Quell CEO

Eu­ro­pean in­vestors pour $156M to beat Blue­stone, Third Rock and RA Cap­i­tal in multi­bil­lion-dol­lar race to the clin­ic

Amid burgeoning efforts to create a new type of cell therapy out of regulatory T cells — whether by channeling or blocking their immunosuppressive power — Quell Therapeutics wants to shoot for a first.

If everything goes well, the Syncona-backed biotech will be in the clinic early next year, marking what it calls the historic feat of dosing a patient with a CAR-Treg with multiple edited genes.

Like the flu vac­cine every year, the FDA could move quick­ly on a vari­ant-tar­get­ed Covid vac­cine

In the same way that the FDA signs off on flu vaccines every year without requiring large clinical trials to measure their efficacy, the FDA may employ a similar strategy in authorizing variant-focused versions of the mRNA vaccines.

As the world braces for more data on the latest variant Omicron, which may reduce vaccine efficacy, top vaccine developers like Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech have promised they can pull together a new vaccine targeted against a specific Covid variant in about 100 days. Since Omicron emerged last week, Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna and J&J have all said they’ve begun work on Omicron-specific vaccines, if needed.

Jonathan Montagu (L) and Gerry Harriman, HotSpot co-founders

HotSpot gets hot­ter with $100M raise to push to­ward clin­ic

HotSpot Therapeutics, the allostery-focused biotech that works on what it calls “natural hotspots” — hence the name — is getting a bit hotter in its valuation from investors. And to that end they’ve raised $100 million.

The four-year-old AI computational biotech started by two former Nimbus execs announced this morning that it closed its Series C round right at the line of a 9-figure investment, courtesy of some big investors.

Thanks­giv­ing edi­tion: Top 15 End­points sto­ries of 2021; Can you name that vac­cine?; Mer­ck­'s Covid an­tivi­ral dis­ap­points; FDA nom­i­nee's in­dus­try ties; 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.

Happy Thanksgiving to all those who are celebrating it — although, if we are being honest, this week’s abbreviated edition is really for those who are not. Wherever you’re tuning in from, we appreciate your support, hope you find this recap helpful and we wish you a wonderful weekend.

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What were End­points read­ers tun­ing in­to this year? Here’s a look at our 15 most pop­u­lar re­ports of the year (so far)

At the beginning of this year, I laid out a basic objective for Endpoints News as we headed to our 5th anniversary. We’ve long been doing a fine job covering the breaking news in R&D — if I do say so myself — but we needed to expand our horizons on industry coverage, increase the staff and go much, much deeper when the stories demanded it.

In a phrase: broader and deeper.

It’s safe to say, based on our daily web traffic, that you all seemed to like this idea. We’ve doubled the staff — thanks to a growing group of paid subscribers — ramped up the daily report and now publish a regular slate of in-depth articles. And traffic — those clicks you always read about — have gone up in volume too. Monthly sessions are up 43%, to close to 1.5 million. Unique readers are up 63%, to 874,480 in October, after setting a record of close to a million the month before. Page views are running at 3 million-plus a month. And the overall number of subscribers has surged to 124,000.

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Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission

Omi­cron: Re­searchers scram­ble as new coro­n­avirus mu­ta­tion takes flight around the globe — Pfiz­er/BioN­Tech, Mod­er­na vow swift re­sponse

As Americans were waking up for their Black Friday rituals, they were greeted with the news that a new mutation of the Covid-19 virus has appeared and been sequenced — after it caught an international flight to Hong Kong. And two of the leading Covid-19 vaccine developers promised delivery of a new vaccine “within 100 days” if necessary while a third spelled out its 3-prong strategy hours later.

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