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Updated: 3 hours 26 min ago

Kronos Bio Reels In $105M for Drugs That Hit “Undruggable” Targets

6 hours 54 min ago

Kronos Bio has raised $105 million in financing to develop therapies intended to target disease-causing proteins that have so far eluded the best efforts of drug hunters.

The Series A round of funding announced Thursday was led by Vida Ventures and Omega Funds.

Drugs typically work by either binding to a target site on a molecule or blocking it. But San Mateo, CA-based Kronos notes that most of the currently available therapies address the minority of the proteins in the body—those that can be targeted by traditional small molecule drugs. Most of the body’s proteins are considered “undruggable” because they don’t... Read more »

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Genmab, Mirum Pharma & Fulcrum Raise $653M in Wall Street Debuts

10 hours 47 min ago

Initial public offerings took a brief summer break the week of Independence Day, but healthcare IPO activity resumed this week as three more companies joined the US public markets. Here’s a recap of the biotech companies that priced IPOs Wednesday evening.

—Genmab is different from the other life science companies that joined the public markets this week. The Denmark-based biopharmaceutical company is a large, international organization whose commercialized products contributed to its $455 million-plus in 2018 revenue. It’s also already familiar with the public markets: Genmab shares trade on the Nasdaq Copenhagen, and they’ve been available over the counter in the... Read more »

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Pandion Therapeutics Picks Corvidia’s Rahul Kakkar for CEO

Wed, 07/17/2019 - 15:41

Rahul Kakkar is the new CEO of Pandion Therapeutics. He has also joined the Cambridge, MA, company’s board of directors. Kakkar was most recently chief medical officer and chief strategy officer of Corvidia Therapeutics. He succeeds Pandion founder Anthony Coyle, who is leaving the company. In other moves, Jo Viney, a founder and chief scientific officer of Pandion, was promoted to president and chief scientific officer. Last year, Pandion raised $58 million in Series A funding to support development of bispecific antibody drugs.

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Immusoft Taps Phylogica’s Robert Hayes as Chief Scientific Officer

Wed, 07/17/2019 - 15:33

Robert Hayes has been appointed chief scientific officer of Seattle-based Immusoft. Hayes joins the cell therapy developer from Phylogica, where he was chief scientific officer for the past two years. His experience also includes positions at Amgen (NASDAQ: AMGN) and Johnson & Johnson (NYSE: JNJ). Immusoft, which is developing therapies based on modifying a patient’s B cells, raised $20 million in Series B financing earlier this year.

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Gilead Chief Scientific Officer McHutchison and Two More to Depart

Wed, 07/17/2019 - 07:05

John McHutchison, chief scientific officer and head of research and development at Gilead Sciences (NASDAQ: GILD), is leaving next month, the Foster City, CA, company announced Wednesday. Gilead gave no reason for McHutchison’s decision to depart other than to say it was voluntary. McHutchison joined Gilead in 2010 and was appointed CSO in 2018, succeeding longtime executive Norbert Bischofberger. In a securities filing, Gilead said McHutchison’s last day will be Aug. 2 and he’ll receive a $1.1 million lump sum payment if he complies with a transition agreement. The company said it is searching for McHutchison’s successor.

In... Read more »

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Navitor Pharmaceuticals Names Randy Owen Chief Medical Officer

Wed, 07/17/2019 - 06:54

Navitor Pharmaceuticals has appointed James Randall “Randy” Owen to serve as its chief medical officer, the same position he held at Acadia Pharmaceuticals. Owen’s experience also includes roles at Lundbeck, Abbott (NYSE: ABT), Merck (NYSE: MRK), and Bristol-Myers Squibb (NYSE: BMY). Cambridge, MA-based Navitor is developing drugs that target a cellular signaling pathway known as mTORC1 in order to treat age-related diseases.

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San Antonio to Honor Regenerative Medicine Pioneer Stephen Badylak

Tue, 07/16/2019 - 22:01

San Antonio — Ah, to be able to regrow a missing limb like a slimy salamander—a trick long dreamed of by youngsters and scientists alike.

Research into such regenerative abilities has increasingly excited the scientific community during the past 30 years as it has gained further insight into the potential of the extracellular matrix, a part of all biological tissue that acts like the scaffolding for cells. In particular, researchers are interested in the potential that extracellular matrices (ECM) may have in signaling and regulating stem cells, something that someday could be used to repair and regenerate human tissues. Science... Read more »

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Trefoil Therapeutics Raises $28M and Eyes the Clinic for Cornea Drug

Tue, 07/16/2019 - 13:20

Trefoil Therapeutics, which is developing treatments for diseases that affect the cornea, the outermost layer of the eye, has raised $28 million to move its lead drug candidate into human testing.

The company is developing an engineered form of fibroblast growth factor-1 proteins (FGF-1) as a treatment for corneal diseases such as Fuchs’ dystrophy, which gradually causes endothelial cells within the cornea to die, leading to blurred vision that can eventually necessitate a corneal transplant. It’s designed to stimulate the growth and movement of those cells, potentially reversing the vision loss experienced by patients.

Corneal endothelial diseases, including Fuchs’... Read more »

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Skyhawk Inks Deal With Genentech for Cancer and Neuro Drug Discovery

Tue, 07/16/2019 - 07:31

Skyhawk Therapeutics has added Genentech to the growing list of companies it’s working with to find new drugs.

The deal with Genentech, a Roche subsidiary, calls for Cambridge, MA-based Skyhawk to use its technology to discover and develop RNA-targeting drugs for cancer and neurological diseases. Under the deal announced Tuesday, Genentech receives an exclusive license to further develop and commercialize compounds that emerge from the partnership. Skyhawk gets an unspecified upfront payment, plus milestone payments tied to the progress of the programs. If any of them reach the market, Skyhawk would receive royalties from sales.

The companies did not disclose... Read more »

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With $17M, Illumina Ties, Prenatal Tests Firm Cradle Genomics Debuts

Tue, 07/16/2019 - 06:00

Another company headed by former Illumina executives has launched, fueled with a $17 million Series A round from investors including a local venture capital firm.

The new firm, Cradle Genomics, is seeking to commercialize improved non-invasive prenatal tests, which analyze blood from a pregnant person to determine whether a fetus will be born with an atypical genetic makeup. Such tests can, for example, detect an extra copy of chromosome 21, which causes Down syndrome.

The team at Cradle says it plans to use the money it has raised to launch prenatal testing products that it claims will be able to... Read more »

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Kymera CEO Laurent Audoly Departs, Nelllo Mainolfi Named President

Mon, 07/15/2019 - 07:58

Laurent Audoly, president and CEO of Kymera Therapeutics, is leaving “to pursue new entrepreneurial opportunities,” the Cambridge, MA, company announced Monday. Co-founder and chief scientific officer Nello Mainolfi has been appointed president, overseeing all company operations. He will also continue as CSO. Kymera said a search for a new CEO is underway. In other moves, Bruce Jacobs was appointed chief financial officer, joining from Boston investment firm Westfield Capital Management. Kymera is developing therapies based on protein degradation, a process that cells use to get rid of damaged or unneeded proteins.

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Sanofi’s Alison Schecter Tapped as Selecta Bio Chief Medical Officer

Mon, 07/15/2019 - 07:52

Selecta Biosciences (NASDAQ: SELB) has appointed Alison Schecter to serve as chief medical officer. Schecter joins Watertown, MA-based Selecta from Sanofi (NYSE: SNY) where she was global project head in rare diseases. Her experience also includes positions at Baxalta, the Northeast J&J Innovation Center, and the Novartis Institutes of Biomedical Research. Lead Selecta drug candidate SEL-212, an experimental biological drug for gout, is currently in mid-stage clinical testing.

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Gilead Ups Stake in Galapagos With $5B Deal to Jumpstart Its R&D

Mon, 07/15/2019 - 04:21

Gilead Sciences on Sunday looked to another firm to rejuvenate its research capabilities, agreeing to put more than $5 billion in cash into Galapagos NV and get access to a slew of experimental drugs in return.

Gilead (NASDAQ: GILD) will pay Galapagos (NASDAQ: GLPG) a whopping $3.95 billion in cash and make a $1.1 billion equity investment in the Belgian firm at €140.59 per share ($158.62 per share). The 10-year collaboration gives Gilead rights or options to six drugs in human trials and 20 more in preclinical testing.

For each of those drugs, Gilead will have an option... Read more »

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Neon’s Early Vaccine Study is a Peek at Immunotherapy’s Third Wave

Mon, 07/15/2019 - 02:55

In this new age of cancer immunotherapy, two versions have been approved. The first are checkpoint inhibitors, which have begun to change the way skin, lung, and other cancers are treated. The second are CAR-T cell therapies, which have shown promise in blood cancers. A third type of cancer immunotherapy is just now reaching clinical studies, and some early returns are in.

Neon Therapeutics (NASDAQ: NTGN) today is disclosing results from an early study of a personalized vaccine that, for manufacturing, first requires extracting a sample of a patient’s own tumor. The process currently takes a few months... Read more »

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Athira Taps Alder Ex-Alder Bio Exec Litton as Chief Operating Officer

Fri, 07/12/2019 - 13:34

Mark Litton has been appointed chief operating officer of Seattle-based Athira Pharma. Litton is the co-founder of Alder BioPharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: ALDR), and was chief business officer at that company until last July. Athira, previously known as M3 Biotechnology, is developing treatments for neurodegenerative disorders. The company is currently enrolling patients in a Phase 1b study testing lead drug NDX-1017 as a treatment for Alzheimer’s disease.

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Bio Roundup: Michael Becker, Suzanne Eaton, Gene Therapy Moves & More

Fri, 07/12/2019 - 03:00

The life science and healthcare worlds are vast. We often talk about impact in terms of millions of patients and billions of dollars. But these worlds can be small, too. It seems at times we’re never far removed from any one person, through their published papers, social media connections, friends, colleagues, or people they’ve mentored.

We had terrible news this week of the deaths of two people whose lives and work touched many people. Let’s start by pausing to thank Michael Becker, a biotech executive-turned-patient advocate who fought to raise awareness of the role of the human papillomavirus in cancers such... Read more »

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Amgen, Novartis BACE Inhibitor Joins List of Failed Alzheimer’s Drugs

Thu, 07/11/2019 - 17:07

Amgen and Novartis are stopping work on an experimental Alzheimer’s disease drug after an early look at clinical data showed worsening cognitive function in patients.

The interim results announced Thursday were part of a pre-planned review of data from two pivotal clinical trials testing the drug, umibecestat. Based on that review, Amgen (NASDAQ: AMGN) and Novartis (NYSE: NVS) said that they are discontinuing further development of the drug because its potential benefit does not outweigh the risks.

Umibecestat’s fate deals another blow to the hypothesis that Alzheimer’s can be treated by targeting the buildup of plaques of amyloid protein... Read more »

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Tizona Therapeutics Taps Joyson Karakunnel as Chief Medical Officer

Thu, 07/11/2019 - 14:13

Joyson Karakunnel has been appointed senior vice president and chief medical officer of Tizona Therapeutics. Karakunnel joins South San Francisco-based Tizona from Arcus Biosciences (NASDAQ: RCUS), which he was vice president and head of clinical development. Privately held Tizona is developing cancer immunotherapies. In January, the company received $105 million up front plus an equity investment from AbbVie (NYSE: ABBV) in a partnership to develop Tizona’s lead drug candidate, TTX-030.

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Proclara’s Suzanne Bruhn Named CEO of Tiaki Therapeutics

Thu, 07/11/2019 - 14:03

Suzanne Bruhn has been appointed CEO and president of Tiaki Therapeutics. She is also joining the Cambridge, MA, company’s board of directors. Bruhn succeeds interim CEO Barbara Tate, who will remain on the Tiaki board. Bruhn was most recently president and CEO of Proclara Biosciences. Her experience also includes roles at Promedior, Shire, and Cytotherapeutics. Tiaki is developing treatments addressing neuroinflammation that drives cognitive decline in dementia patients.

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Annexon Bio Brings On Rheos Exec Sanjay Keswani as Chief Medical Officer

Thu, 07/11/2019 - 13:50

Sanjay Keswani has left the president and CEO post at Rheos Medicines to become chief medical officer of Annexon Biosciences. Keswani’s experience also includes positions at Roche, Bristol-Myers Squibb (NYSE: BMY), and Eli Lilly (NYSE: LLY). In other moves, South San Francisco-based Annexon named Jennifer Lew chief financial officer and Lesley Stolz chief business officer. Annexon is developing drugs to treat autoimmune and neurodegenerative diseases.

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