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.

Qual­i­ty Con­trol in Cell and Gene Ther­a­py – What’s Re­al­ly at Stake?

In early 2021, Bluebird Bio was forced to suspend clinical trials of its gene therapy for sickle cell disease after two patients in the trial developed cancer. As company scientists rushed to assess whether there was any causal link between the therapy and the cancer cases, Bluebird’s stock value plummeted – as did those of multiple other biopharma companies developing similar therapies.

While investigations concluded that the gene therapy was unlikely to have caused cancer, investors and the public may be more skittish regarding the safety of gene and cell therapies after this episode. This recent example highlights how delicate the fields of cell and gene therapy remain today, even as they show great promise.

Brad Bolzon (Versant)

Ver­sant pulls the wraps off of near­ly $1B in 3 new funds out to build the next fleet of biotech star­tups. And this new gen­er­a­tion is built for speed

Brad Bolzon has an apology to offer by way of introducing a set of 3 new funds that together pack a $950 million wallop in new biotech creation and growth.

“I want to apologize,” says the Versant chairman and managing partner, laughing a little in the intro, “that we don’t have anything fancy or flashy to tell you about our new fund. Same team, around the same amount of capital, same investment strategy. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

But then there’s the flip side, where everything has changed. Or at least speeded into a relative blur. Here’s Bolzon:

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Law pro­fes­sors call for FDA to dis­close all safe­ty and ef­fi­ca­cy da­ta for drugs

Back in early 2018 when Scott Gottlieb led the FDA, there was a moment when the agency seemed poised to release redacted complete response letters and other previously undisclosed data. But that initiative never gained steam.

Now, a growing chorus of researchers are finding that a dearth of public data on clinical trials and pharmaceuticals means industry and the FDA cannot be held accountable, two law professors from Yale and New York University write in an article published Wednesday in the California Law Review.

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Novavax CEO Stanley Erck at the White House in 2020 (Andrew Harnik, AP Images)

As fears mount over J&J and As­traZeneca, No­vavax en­ters a shaky spot­light

As concerns rise around the J&J and AstraZeneca vaccines, global attention is increasingly turning to the little, 33-year-old, productless, bankruptcy-flirting biotech that could: Novavax.

In the now 16-month race to develop and deploy Covid-19 vaccines, Novavax has at times seemed like the pandemic’s most unsuspecting frontrunner and at times like an overhyped also-ran. Although they started the pandemic with only enough cash to last 6 months, they leveraged old connections and believers into $2 billion and emerged last summer with data experts said surpassed Pfizer and Moderna. They unveiled plans to quickly scale to 2 billion doses. Then they couldn’t even make enough material to run their US trial and watched four other companies beat them to the finish line.

FDA of­fers scathing re­view of Emer­gent plan­t's san­i­tary con­di­tions, em­ploy­ee train­ing af­ter halt­ing pro­duc­tion

The FDA wrapped up its inspection of Emergent’s troubled vaccine manufacturing plant in Baltimore on Tuesday, after halting production there on Monday. By Wednesday morning, the agency already released a series of scathing observations on the cross contamination, sanitary issues and lack of staff training that caused the contract manufacturer to dispose of millions of AstraZeneca and J&J vaccine doses.

Jenny Rooke (Genoa Ventures)

Ear­ly Zymer­gen in­vestor Jen­ny Rooke re­flects on 'chimeras' in biotech, what it takes to spot a $500M gem

When Jenny Rooke first heard of Zymergen back in 2014, she knew she was looking at something different and exciting. The Emeryville, CA biotech held the promise of blending biology and technology to solve a huge unmet need for cost-effective chemicals — of all things — and a stellar founding team to boot.

But back then, West Coast venture capitalists didn’t see in Zymergen the one thing they were looking for in a winning biotech: therapeutic potential. Rooke, however, saw an opportunity and made her bets. Seven years later, that bet is paying off in a big way.

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Saurabh Saha at Endpoints News' #BIO19

On the heels of $250M launch, Centes­sa barges ahead with an IPO to fu­el its 10-in-1 Medicxi pipeline

Francesco De Rubertis made no secret of IPO plans for Centessa, his 10-in-1 legacy play. Barely two months later, the S-1 is in.

The hot-off-the-press filing depicts the same grand vision that the longtime VC touted when he did the rounds in February: Take the asset-centric mindset that he’s been preaching at Medicxi over the years, and roll up a bunch of biotech upstarts, with unrelated risk profiles, into 1 pharma company that can carry on the development at scale.

Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) (Graeme Sloan/Sipa USA/Sipa via AP Images)

Sen­a­tors to NIH: Do more to pro­tect US bio­med­ical re­search from for­eign in­flu­ence

Although Thursday’s Senate health committee hearing was focused on how foreign countries and adversaries might be trying to steal or negatively influence biomedical research in the US, the only country mentioned by the senators and expert witnesses was China.

Committee chair Patty Murray (D-WA) made clear in her opening remarks that the US cannot “let the few instances of bad actors” overshadow the hard work of the many immigrant researchers in the US, many of which have won Nobel prizes for their work. But she also said, “There is more the NIH can be doing here.”

Steffen Schuster, ITM CEO

Ra­dio­phar­ma re­mains hot as Ger­many's ITM rais­es $109M to ad­vance neu­roen­docrine can­cer pro­gram

The world of radiopharmaceuticals has been heating up over the last few years, and Thursday saw another company focused on the field pull in a new nine-figure raise.

Germany’s ITM, or Isotopen Technologien München, scored a $109 million round of loan financing to push forward its precision oncology pipeline and fund late-stage development for its lead program. As part of the agreement, the loan will convert to shares in the event of future financial or corporate transactions, ITM said.