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Bio Roundup: Blackstone’s Billions, Biogen Finishes Filing, Novavax at “Warp Speed” & More

Cash flowed throughout the life sciences ecosystem this week as Blackstone (NYSE: BX) raised a record-setting life sciences fund, companies of all stages announced new financings, and money continued to find its way to those working on efforts to treat or prevent COVID-19.Financiers poured $100 million or more into at least three biotechs, a trio of financings complemented by smaller rounds raised despite the disruption caused by the ongoing pandemic. Not to be outdone, the federal government’s...
Tags: Startups, Trends, Venture Capital, Astrazeneca, Fda, National, Pfizer, Biotech, Blackstone, Life Sciences, Reata Pharmaceuticals, Clinical Trials, Gilead Sciences, Medtronic, Sanofi, Biogen


VelosBio Tacks on $137M to Advance Its ROR1-Targeting Cancer Antibody Drugs

Dave Johnson has known UC San Diego physician and cancer reseacher Thomas Kipps for nearly 20 years. Now Johnson, CEO of San Diego-based cancer drug developer VelosBio, has secured $137 million to accelerate the company’s goal of developing targeted therapies based on an antibody program developed by Kipps that homes in on tumors with a specific genetic signature.Johnson said it was Kipps’ work, which identified ROR1 as a promising cancer protein to target and developed a drug candidate that ap...
Tags: Startups, Cancer, Funding, Trends, Venture Capital, San Diego, Astrazeneca, Abbvie, Johnson, Biotech, Financing, Life Sciences, Clinical Trials, Gilead Sciences, Citadel, UC San Diego


Code for Cures: Life Sciences Thrives on San Francisco’s Software Heritage

A growing population of people with software experience plus an interest in life sciences is boosting drug development in the San Francisco Bay Area, according to panelists at an Xcelerating event.Innovation in the San Francisco Bay Area may first bring to mind tech behemoths like Facebook and Google. But some drug development companies in the region say its openness to new ideas and the combination of software experience and life sciences expertise are boosting their prospects.“For us inside t...
Tags: Google, Startups, Facebook, San Francisco, Trends, Tech, People, Innovation, Biotech, Life Sciences, Healthtech, San Francisco Bay Area, Daphne Koller, San Francisco blog main, SanFranciscoVC, TwoXAR


La Jolla Pharma Steps In With Better Offer, Wins Tetraphase Bidding War

It’s common for antibiotics developers to run into financial trouble these days but what’s unusual is seeing a bidding war erupt for one of them. The competition for Tetraphase Pharmaceuticals now has a new winner: La Jolla Pharmaceutical.San Diego-based La Jolla (NASDAQ: LJPC) has pledged to pay Tetraphase shareholders $43 million in cash now plus another $16 million tied to sales goals for Tetraphase (NASDAQ: TTPH) antibiotic eravacycline (Xerava). That beats the $39 million in upfront cash a...
Tags: Deals, Trends, San Diego, Fda, Biotech, Antibiotics, Life Sciences, Clinical Trials, National blog main, Boston blog main, San Francisco blog main, Boston top stories, San Diego blog main, San Diego top stories, Urinary Tract Infections, LJPC


AsclepiX Emerges With $35M and an Eye Drug Challenger to Eylea, Lucentis

The body’s natural process for healing wounds has led AsclepiX Therapeutics to a novel approach to treating diseases of the eye. The startup is now gearing up to test its technology in humans, and it has raised $35 million in Series A financing to support its research.Cuts and scrapes in the skin spark the formation of new blood vessels and connective tissue that fills the wound. But this process, called angiogenesis, does not continue indefinitely. Within days the body returns to a state of eq...
Tags: Deals, Startups, Trends, Investing, It, Software, National, Biotech, Life Sciences, Bayer, Clinical Trials, Roche, Johns Hopkins University, Ranibizumab, Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, Diabetic Macular Edema


Invitae Makes a Precision Oncology Push With $886M Deal for ArcherDx

Cancer treatment is increasingly moving toward targeted therapies based on the genetics of a patient’s tumor and Invitae is ensuring it gets its share of this growing market with a deal to acquire precision oncology startup ArcherDx.San Francisco-based Invitae announced Monday that it has agreed to pay $886 million for ArcherDx—$325 million in cash plus $561 million in Invitae shares at $18.71 apiece, which was Friday’s closing price. Shareholders of privately held ArcherDx could earn up to $50...
Tags: Deals, Startups, Cancer, San Francisco, Trends, Investing, Astrazeneca, Biotech, Illumina, Life Sciences, Casdin Capital, National blog main, National top stories, San Francisco blog main, San Francisco top stories, Jason Myers


Bio Roundup: A Royal IPO, Akili Arrives, Orca Bio Surfaces & More

The biggest life sciences deal this week involves a company that doesn’t discover or develop drugs, or even sell them. Yet its mark is found on pharmaceutical products spanning the entire sector.Royalty Pharma (NASDAQ: RPRX) acquires the royalty rights for drugs. Most of those royalties are for products that are already approved, but the company has also been striking deals for compounds still in development. The biotechs forking over royalty rights get cash right away to continue the expensive...
Tags: Deals, Startups, Ipo, Trends, Neuroscience, Investing, Merck, Inflammatory Bowel Disease, National, GlaxoSmithKline, Allergan, Abbvie, Oxford University, Biotech, Vaccines, Liver disease


Shattuck Labs Nabs $118M for Cancer Drugs Like Keytruda, But Better

Checkpoint inhibitors do one thing: release the molecular brake that keeps immune cells from recognizing and targeting tumors. This cancer immunotherapy approach has saved countless lives and turned drugs from Merck and Bristol Myers Squibb into blockbuster products.But what if a single drug could block checkpoint proteins while simultaneously sparking an anti-tumor response? That’s what Shattuck Labs aims to do. Its lead asset is in development under a partnership with Takeda Pharmaceutical (N...
Tags: Deals, Startups, Cancer, Trends, Investing, Merck, GlaxoSmithKline, Biotech, Life Sciences, Clinical Trials, Amgen, Bristol-myers Squibb, Gilead Sciences, Laurene Powell Jobs, Takeda Pharmaceutical, National blog main


Engrail Therapeutics Launches With $32M to Develop New Neuro Drugs

Typically a new biotech assembles a group of investors that collectively puts in the money a fledgling company requires to develop or acquire potential therapies.Engrail Therapeutics, which emerged from stealth Thursday with $32 million in outside financing, landed its entire Series A funding from a sole source: Nan Fung Life Sciences, a subsidiary of Hong Kong property developer Nan Fung Group.The round, raised by an eight-person company with one preclinical asset, is a bet on Del Mar, CA-base...
Tags: Startups, Hong Kong, Funding, Trends, Neuroscience, Investing, Venture Capital, San Diego, Deal, Astrazeneca, Novartis, Allergan, Abbvie, Biotech, Financing, Life Sciences


Orca Bio Surfaces With $192M and Recipes for “Custom” Cell Therapies

The cancer cell therapies available today are made by tweaking a patient’s own immune cells to better recognize and fight the disease. Orca Bio is developing what it says is the next generation of cell therapy: custom preparations made without modifying cells or genes.Orca is already testing its technology in humans, though it has kept that research mostly under wraps. As the startup prepares to reveal its preliminary findings and ramp up its manufacturing capability, the Menlo Park, CA-based b...
Tags: Deals, Startups, Cancer, San Francisco, Trends, Investing, Novartis, Biotech, Stem Cell, Lightspeed Venture Partners, Stanford University, Life Sciences, Clinical Trials, Gilead Sciences, Menlo Park CA, Irv Weissman


Frazier Launches Lassen to Advance Antibodies Against Fibrosis, Cancer

Lassen Therapeutics, a biotech that is developing antibodies as potential treatments for fibrosis, rare diseases, and cancer, debuted Wednesday with $31 million in Series A financing.The San Diego-based company says it will use the money to accelerate its antibody programs, including asking the FDA for the green light to move its lead drug candidate into the clinic sometime next year. Lassen was started last year within Frazier Healthcare Partners; Mark Barrett, an entrepreneur in residence at ...
Tags: Deals, Startups, Cancer, Funding, Trends, Venture Capital, San Diego, Fda, Biotech, Financing, Lassen, Life Sciences, Northern California, Frazier, CSL, Frazier Healthcare Partners


GSK Expands Synthetic Lethality Scope With $120M Ideaya Bio Alliance

GlaxoSmithKline got its first taste of synthetically lethal cancer therapies via an acquisition. Now it’s trying for a bigger bite of this emerging drug class through a research alliance with Ideaya Biosciences that spans three of the biotech’s programs, all slated to reach clinical trials in the next three years.According to deal terms announced Tuesday, GSK (NYSE: GSK) has agreed to pay Ideaya (NASDAQ: IDYA) $100 million in cash up front. The pharmaceutical giant is also making a $20 million ...
Tags: Deals, Cancer, San Francisco, Trends, Fda, GlaxoSmithKline, Biotech, Life Sciences, Clinical Trials, GSK, National blog main, Boston blog main, National top stories, San Francisco blog main, San Francisco top stories, Boston top stories


Verve Therapeutics Adds $63M to Edit Heart Attack Risk Out of Genes

Verve Therapeutics aims to use gene editing to address heart attacks by targeting the liver, not the heart. And it wants to make its edits inside the patient. The startup’s approach raises a lot of questions. Verve has some answers now, and it has raised $63 million to learn more.The new financing announced Thursday was led by GV, the same investor that led the Cambridge, MA-based company’s Series A round of funding last year. With the additional cash, Verve CEO Sekar Kathiresan says Verve coul...
Tags: Deals, Startups, Boston, Trends, Investing, Fda, Allergan, Abbvie, Biotech, Crispr, Life Sciences, Editas Medicine, Clinical Trials, Biomatics Capital, ARCH Venture Partners, Gene Editing


Bio Roundup: Race and Pharma, ASCO Recap, Warp Speed Ahead & More

Race is not a topic that often comes up in pharmaceutical discussions but perhaps it should. Disease doesn’t discriminate by race, but health and economic disparities put some groups at higher risk than others. And yet clinical trials fail to reflect the broad spectrum of patients that drug makers aim to treat.Racial disparities are evident in the COVID-19 pandemic, which is hitting the African American community hardest. Inequality has been thrust front and center following the death of George...
Tags: Deals, Startups, Cancer, Trends, Investing, Merck, Prostate Cancer, Multiple Sclerosis, Alzheimer's Disease, National, Epilepsy, Pfizer, Vaccine, Abbvie, Biotech, Novo Nordisk


Pliant Therapeutics Prices IPO, Lands $144M to Test Fibrosis Drugs

Pliant Therapeutics is now a public company, raising $144 million from its IPO, plus more from a separate transaction with partner Novartis.South San Francisco-based Pliant priced its offering of 9 million shares at $16 apiece, which was the high end of its revised price range. When the biotech initially set IPO terms last week, it planned to sell 6.9 million shares in the range of $14 to $16 per share. On Tuesday, Pliant boosted the number of shares in the IPO but kept the price range. Pliant’...
Tags: Deals, Ipo, San Francisco, Trends, Novartis, Biotech, Life Sciences, Clinical Trials, National blog main, National top stories, San Francisco blog main, San Francisco top stories, Fibrosis, Nonalcoholic Steatohepatitis, Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis, Pliant Therapeutics


Grail Plants a Seed in RTP, Pledges $100M Investment in New Site

Grail, a clinical-stage company developing cancer tests intended to detect early signs of the disease from a small blood sample, has agreed to invest $100 million in a new outpost planned for Research Triangle Park, NC.The new Grail site will have a laboratory and warehouse space, Gov. Roy Cooper announced Tuesday after an agreement was reached regarding an incentives package from the state. Menlo Park, CA-based Grail says the planned building will house a commercial laboratory focused on proce...
Tags: Deals, Startups, Cancer, Trends, Biotech, North Carolina, Illumina, Life Sciences, Clinical Trials, Guardant Health, Becton Dickinson, Menlo Park CA, Roy Cooper, Advanced Animal Diagnostics, National blog main, National top stories


Bio Roundup: ASCO Opens, Merck Takes On COVID, Evofem’s Approval & More

A year ago about 40,000 people gathered in Chicago for the annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology. Today a virtual version of the ASCO conference, the cancer field’s largest, kicks off, with oncologists and others tuning in from throughout the country and around the world to check out the latest in cancer research.ASCO 2020 won’t be the Windy City gathering it usually is, but drug and diagnostics developers are still raring to share fresh data from their efforts in cancer i...
Tags: Startups, Ipo, Funding, Trends, Merck, Chicago, Alzheimer's Disease, Incubator, Stem Cells, Venture Capital, Machine Learning, Fda, National, Contraception, GlaxoSmithKline, Ai


Gilead Gains Foothold in Solid Tumors With $375M, 10-Year Arcus Bio Pact

With the year’s biggest oncology conference days away, Gilead Sciences is signaling now what its cancer immunotherapy pipeline could look like in the years to come. The drug maker is entering a partnership with Arcus Biosciences that spans the biotech’s four clinical-stage compounds, plus additional programs that may come out of the 10-year alliance.The Arcus (NASDAQ: RCUS) assets put Gilead (NASDAQ: GILD) on a path to develop and potentially commercialize treatments for solid tumors. Those dru...
Tags: Deals, Breast Cancer, Cancer, San Francisco, Trends, Merck, Prostate Cancer, Colorectal Cancer, Fda, Biotech, Pancreatic Cancer, Life Sciences, Clinical Trials, American Society of Clinical Oncology, Roche, Gilead Sciences


Generation Bio Leads a Trio of Biotech Companies Aiming for the Nasdaq

COVID-19 has ravaged the economy, and it was expected to quash the IPO market, too. But the biotech sector is defying the pandemic with crossover financings and freshly minted public companies. On Friday, three firms added their names to the list of life science companies preparing to join the public markets.Gene therapy company Generation Bio, vaccines developer Vaxcyte, and cancer diagnostics maker Burning Rock Biotech each filed IPO paperwork just ahead of the Memorial Day weekend. The filin...
Tags: Deals, Cancer, Trends, Investing, IPOs, Astrazeneca, Fda, National, Vaccine, Biotech, Life Sciences, Bayer, Clinical Trials, Renaissance Capital, Fidelity Investments, Gene Therapy


Bio Roundup: mRNA Vaccine Data, Rise of Rallybio, Roche’s Protein Play & More

As the nation started to reopen this week following two months of closed businesses and stay-at-home orders, public health officials and economists cautioned that society won’t truly return to anything resembling a pre-pandemic normal without a COVID-19 vaccine.Moderna (NASDAQ: MRNA) moved one step closer to filling that need with the release of preliminary Phase 1 data for its messenger RNA vaccine candidate. No major safety problems were reported and there were some indications that the injec...
Tags: Deals, Startups, Trends, Investing, Merck, Prostate Cancer, European Commission, Astrazeneca, National, GlaxoSmithKline, Parkinson's Disease, Biotech, Vaccines, Galapagos, Life Sciences, Roche


With $30M, Octant Launches Synthetic Bio Search for Multi-Target Drugs

Octant, a new drug discovery company, launched Wednesday with millions in backing from tech investors to push ahead plans to leverage advances in science and in tech—including genomics, synthetic biology, and big data computation—to map out the relationships between chemicals, drug receptors, and diseases.On Wednesday the Emeryville, CA-based startup announced it raised $30 million in a Series A financing led by venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz (a16z), which earlier this year raised $75...
Tags: Google, Startups, San Francisco, Trends, Tech, Dropbox, Andreessen Horowitz, Biotech, Financing, Synthetic Biology, Series A, Sv Angel, Life Sciences, Emeryville, George Church, National blog main


Bio Roundup: FDA Dings BMS, Genfit’s Fall, Alexion’s Activist & More

This was a disappointing week for at least two major drug makers. French firm Genfit reported a trial failure in an intensely competitive indication, and New York-based Bristol Myers Squibb encountered a delay when the FDA declined to review its experimental multiple myeloma treatment.Genfit (NASDAQ: GNFT) was developing a treatment for nonalcoholic steatohepatitis, or NASH, but the drug fell short of expectations in a Phase 3 trial, stymieing the company’s hopes of continuing to advance it tow...
Tags: Startups, New York, Ipo, Cancer, Trends, Merck, Venture Capital, Fda, National, Novartis, Biotech, Financing, Life Sciences, Bristol-myers Squibb, Gilead Sciences, BARDA


Biotech “Mapmaker” Immunai Launches With $20M to Chart the Immune System

It may seem like an unlikely link but the body’s response to arthritis may hold answers for better cancer drugs, says Luis Voloch, chief technology officer of startup Immunai. Immune cells respond to both conditions, but in different ways. Insights into the response for one disease could inform the treatment of the other, he says.“We believe that the right way to understand many diseases, and specifically diseases that have an immune component, is by looking at all of them at once or from the t...
Tags: Startups, New York, Microsoft, Trends, Mit, Harvard University, Machine Learning, University of Pennsylvania, University Of Arizona, Biotech, Stanford University, Life Sciences, Palantir Technologies, New York University, Adaptive Biotechnologies, National blog main


Boehringer Ingelheim Acquires Northern Biologics’ Preclinical Pipeline

Two preclinical programs developed by Canadian biotech Northern Biologics have been acquired by privately held German company Boehringer Ingelheim, which is looking to bolster its cancer immunology portfolio.The assets acquired from Northern Biologics in the deal, announced Thursday, are designed to target two aspects of what’s known as the tumor microenvironment: stroma, or connective tissue made up of different cell types, and myeloid cells.Financial terms weren’t disclosed, although the comp...
Tags: Startups, New York, Trends, Venture Capital, M&a, Deal, Biotech, Financing, University of Toronto, Acquisition, Life Sciences, Northern, Boehringer Ingelheim, Versant Ventures, National blog main, New York blog main


Bio Roundup: Acquisitive Alexion, CRISPR on COVID, C. diff Success & More

Alexion Pharmaceuticals CEO Ludwig Hantson has made no secret that he wants to diversify his company’s drug portfolio and he has shown willingness to open the corporate checkbook to accomplish that goal.Last October, Alexion (NASDAQ: ALXN) struck a $930 million deal to acquire Achillion Pharmaceuticals, a biotech whose lead drug complements the Boston company’s own therapies for rare blood diseases. This week, Alexion agreed to pay $1.4 billion for Portola Pharmaceuticals, whose main product tr...
Tags: Startups, Boston, Cancer, Trends, Investing, Astrazeneca, National, Epilepsy, Novartis, Pfizer, Abbvie, Biotech, Microbiome, Crispr, Chemotherapy, Federal Trade Commission


Ventus Launches With $60M to Shine Light on Innate Immune System Drugs

The innate immune system has become a hot area for drug development, and for good reason. As the body’s first line of defense, its function (or dysfunction) plays a role in many diseases. The problem, says Ventus Therapeutics CEO Marcelo Bigal, is that drug developers have been working in the dark.Scientists don’t know the structure of many of the innate immune system proteins they’re trying to target and they also lack the tools to work with them in the lab, Bigal says. That leads to a lot of ...
Tags: Google, Deals, Startups, Boston, Cancer, Trends, Investing, Venture Capital, Novartis, Biotech, Immunology, Alphabet, Life Sciences, Yale University, Genentech, Roche


Alexion Pharma Boosts Blood Drug Lineup With $1.4B Deal for Portola

Alexion Pharmaceuticals has agreed to buy Portola Pharmaceuticals in a $1.4 billion deal that brings it a first-in-class therapy for treating life-threatening bleeding.According to financial terms announced Tuesday, Boston-based Alexion (NASDAQ: ALXN) will pay $18 for each outstanding share of Portola (NASDAQ: PTLA). That price is a a nearly 132 percent premium to Monday’s closing price. But even though the offer values the South San Francisco-based biotech at $1.4 billion, it’s still a relativ...
Tags: Deals, Boston, Trends, Fda, Pfizer, Biotech, Life Sciences, Clinical Trials, South San Francisco, Alexion Pharmaceuticals, Andexanet Alfa, Portola, Paroxysmal Nocturnal Hemoglobinuria, Alexion Pharma, National blog main, National top stories


Bio Roundup: Fast FDA Approvals, Biogen Delays, ORIC’s IPO & More

COVID-19’s spread has clamped down on a lot of economic activity, including the work of developing and testing new medicines. But the FDA isn’t showing signs of slowing down, at least when it comes to drugs filed for accelerated approval. The regulator signed off on three such drugs in the past week.These approvals are for cancers that have few, if any, treatment options. The FDA says it is committed to expediting the review of such drugs, even under COVID conditions. But can the agency keep up...
Tags: Startups, Ipo, Politico, Cancer, Trends, Vc, Alzheimer's Disease, Venture Capital, World Health Organization, Fda, National, Novartis, Biotech, Vaccines, Financing, National Venture Capital Association


Affinivax Lands $120M to Take MAPS Tech Into New Vaccine Territory

Affinivax has a lead program with early clinical data showing the potential to best a pharmaceutical giant’s blockbuster vaccine. The startup now has $120 million in financing to see just how much further its technology can go.The Series B round of funding announced Thursday was led by Viking Global Investors.Cambridge, MA-based Affinivax develops bacterial vaccines. But to understand how the company’s technology works, it’s best to start with the vaccine technology it’s trying to beat. Vaccine...
Tags: Deals, Boston, Trends, Investing, Merck, Harvard, Venture Capital, GlaxoSmithKline, Pfizer, Infectious Disease, Biotech, Vaccines, Meningitis, Pneumonia, Life Sciences, Clinical Trials


Why 2020 Is Pivotal for Microbiome Drug R&D (Or Maybe 2021, Given COVID-19)

The start of a potentially big biomedical breakthrough is blooming within all of us. Drug research aiming to turn bacteria into microbiome therapies now spans programs aiming to address gut disorders, autism, cancer, and more.Given the number of late-stage and mid-stage studies expected to report data in 2020—assuming they stay on track amid the COVID-19 pandemic—this could be a pivotal year for the field, said Isabelle de Cremoux, CEO and managing partner of Seventure Partners. Positive result...
Tags: Deals, Startups, Cancer, Trends, Investing, Inflammatory Bowel Disease, Ulcerative Colitis, Autism, Fda, National, Biotech, Antibiotics, Microbiome, Chemotherapy, Life Sciences, Clinical Trials