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Top 20 Life Science Startups to Watch in the U.S.



1/26/2016 7:46:23 AM

Top 20 Life Science Startups 2016
January 26, 2016
By Mark Terry, BioSpace.com Breaking News Staff

BioSpace (DHX) is pleased to present its NextGen Bio “Class of 2016.” This list contains 20 life science companies that launched no earlier than 2013 and are headquartered in the United States. Once BioSpace sorted the companies into that group, they were then weighted by a number of different categories and ranked in a cumulative fashion based on the points awarded for each category. These categories are: Finance, Collaborations, Pipeline, Sales and Editorial (view methodology).

The NextGen Bio Class of 2016 is a stellar group of companies that are already making an enormous impact on the industry now and in the future. Congratulations!

California led the way in the NextGen Bio “Class of 2016” with half of the companies in the Top 20, followed by Massachusetts with five, and one company each in New Jersey, Texas, New York, Washington and North Carolina.

Top 20 Life Science Startups To Watch

1. Corvus Pharma
Points: 21
Founded: 2014
Location: Burlingame, Calif.
Notable:
• Corvus Pharma is a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company focused on immuno-oncology. The company currently has a Checkpoint inhibitor in Phase I clinical trials, which is expected to move into Phase IB in early 2016. It has another Checkpoint inhibitor in preclinical development as well as a T cell reprograming drug in preclinical development.
• In December 2014, Corvus closed on a $33.5 million Series A funding round led by OrbiMed Advisors.
• On September 29, 2015, the company closed on a $75 million Series B financing, led by Rock Springs Capital Management, and included Fidelity Management and Research Company, Blackrock, funds and accounts managed by T. Rowe Price, Jennison Associates, Roche Venture Fund, Cormorant Asset Management, Sphera Funds Management, venBio Select and Cowen Private Investments. Also participating were founding investors Orbimed, Novo Ventures and Adams Street Partners. Cowen and Company acted as advisors.

2. NantCell
Points:16
Founded: 2014
Location: Culver City, Calif.
Notable:
• NantCell is a subsidiary of NantWorks, LLC. The company focuses on the research and development of immunology-based innovative treatments for diseases through cell-based treatments at the molecular level.
• NantCell has a licensing agreement with Amgen (AMGN) for an oncology antibody.
• In June, NantCell announced that VBC Holdings, LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of NantWorks, has completed the acquisition of privately held VivaBioCell SpA, a biotechnology company, located in Udine Northern Italy. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed.
• NantCell has also completed a funding round worth $75 million.

3. CRISPR
Points: 15
Founded: 2013
Location: Cambridge, Mass.
Notable:
• CRISPR Therapeutics is a biopharma company created to translate CRISPR-Cas9, a breakthrough genome-editing technology, into transformative medicines for serious human diseases.
• The company completed a $35 million Series A round and a $89 million Series A and B round.
• In October, CRISPR signed a strategic research collaboration deal with Boston-based Vertex Pharmaceuticals (VRTX) worth $105 million up front. The deal will offer up to $420 million in milestone and royalty payments for six possible in-licensed treatments.

4. PrEP Biopharm
Points: 15
Founded: 2015
Location: Rumson, N.J.
Notable:
• PrEP Biopharm is a spinout of Johnson & Johnson (JNJ). The company has a prophylactic drug for the cold and flu, a weekly nasal spray that “arms the innate immune system against cold- and flu-causing viruses.” Proof of concept was demonstrated in a double-blind, placebo-controlled, challenge trial using human rhinovirus 16 (HRV16) in healthy volunteers. The trial showed a three-fold reduction in clinical illnesses compared to placebo. The idea is to activate the innate immune system, specifically the TLR3 and Mdi receptors in the nose, which causes a localized interferon response. It has also shown preclinical efficacy against MERS and SARS. To date, the only notable side effects were nosebleeds, which were caused by the device, not the drug.
•The company has completed Phase Ib and IIa trials, is planning to expand its Phase Ia and will launch a Phase IIb clinical trial. The company expects the expanded Phase IIa trial to be completed in 2016.
•PrEP has raised $25M in a Series A round.

5. Ovid Therapeutics, Inc.
Points: 12
Founded: 2014
Location: New York, N.Y.
Notable:
• Ovid is privately held and focuses on rare and orphan diseases of the brain.
• In April 2015, Ovid signed a worldwide licensing deal with H. Lundbeck A/S for gaboxadol, which is being studied for Angelman Syndrome and Fragile X syndrome. Gaboxadol (OV101) is the only small molecule, highly selective extrasynaptic GABA(A) receptor agonist (SEGA) that has been tested in clinical trials.
• The company plans to start a Phase II trial for Angelman Syndrome in 2016, followed by a Phase II trial for Fragile X Syndrome. Under the deal, Ovid obtained exclusive worldwide development and commercialization rights for gaboxadol. Lundbeck became a minority shareholder in Ovid, and will receive milestone payments and royalties on sales. Ovid is responsible for all future development and commercialization for gaboxadol.
• In August 2015, Ovid completed a Series B financing round totaling $75 million, led by Fidelity Management and Research Co., and joined by Cowen Private Investments, Sanofi-Genzyme BioVentures, Tekla Capital Management, Sphera Global Healthcare Fund, Hennison Associates, Remile Group, and Cormorant Asset Management, as well as others. Its venture round in March was for $5.06 million. Existing investors include DoubleLine Equity Healthcare Fund, LLC. The money will be used to advance the gaboxadol clinical trials, as well as to advance other compounds into clinical testing.
• The company currently has gaboxadol Phase II ready for Angelman and Fragile X, and OV102 (intravenous) in preclinical studies. Forthcoming programs including OV201 for Lewy body dementia as well as OV301 and OV 401 for undisclosed orphan pediatric indications.

6. Arivale
Points: 11
Founded: 2015
Location: Seattle, Wash.
Notable:
• Arivale provides a scientific wellness program that analyzes four critical areas of the participant’s body and life—DNA, blood and saliva, gut microbiome and lifestyle. These millions of data points create a 360-degree view of the program participant, who is also connected with an Arivale Coach. The coach interprets the data and provides ongoing, actionable recommendations—based on the participant’s unique goals and objectives.
• The company is partnered with The Institute for Systems Biology, a nonprofit, biomedical research organization in Seattle.
• In July 2015, the company closed on a $36 million Series B financing round led by ARCH Venture Partners and Polaris Partners, with participation from consumer-only venture fund Maveron.
• Arivale launched in Seattle in 2015 and will expand into additional markets in 2016.
Lee Hood is one of the company’s co-founders. He founded or co-founded 15 different biotech companies, including Amgen, Applied Biosystems (ABI), Rosetta, Darwin, Integrated Diagnostics and Indi Molecular. He is recipient of the National Medal of Science in 2011 and the Kyoto Prize in Advanced Technology in 2002.

7. Spero Therapeutics
Points: 10
Founded: 2014
Location: Cambridge, Mass.
Notable:
• Spero Therapeutics is focused on the development of new antibiotics, exclusively on gram-negative bacteria. It utilizes the Spero Potentiator program, which works to enhance existing drugs by increasing their potency against multi-drug resistant gram-negative bacteria. Its MvfR inhibitor program targets a pathway involved in critical bacterial processes, virulence and persistence.
• Investors include Atlas Venture, SR One, The Partners Innovation Fund, Lundbeckfond Ventures, Merck Research Ventures and The Kraft Group. It closed on a $30 million Series A round in June 2015.
• In April 2014, it entered into a partnership with Roche (RHHBY), which provided non-dilutive research and development funding and an option to acquire its compound at the IND phase.

8. Aeglea BioTherapeutics
Points: 9
Founded: 2013
Location: Austin, Tex.
Notable:
• Aeglea was founded in December 2013 to develop engineered human enzymes invented in the laboratory of George Georgiou of The University of Texas at Austin.
• Four drug candidates that degrade specific amino acids in the circulation are in development for the treatment of cancer and inborn errors of metabolism.
• In January 2014, the company closed on a $12 million Series A round.
• In March 2015, it closed on a $44 million Series B round.
• The company has filed an investigational new drug (IND) application with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for AEB1102 for the treatment of solid tumors. It initiated a Phase I dose escalation study.

9. True North Therapeutics
Points: 8
Founded: 2013
Location: South San Francisco, Calif.
Notable:
• True North is working to develop novel therapies that selectively inhibit the complement system to treat diseases of high unmet clinical need. The company’s lead monoclonal antibody, TNT009, selectively targets the classical complement pathway, enabling inhibition of downstream phagocytosis, inflammation and cell lysis. True North is advancing a pipeline of novel monoclonal antibodies. for complement-mediated rare diseases in the hematologic, kidney transplant, and skin therapeutic areas.
• In April 2014, the company closed on a Series B financing round worth $35 million.
• In June 2014, it closed on a Series A round worth $22 million.
• TrueNorth is a spinout of iPierian

10. Zymergen
Points: 8
Founded: 2013
Location: Emeryville, Calif.
Notable:
• Zymergen focuses on genetically engineering microbes for industrial fermentation.
• It raised $44 million in 2015 and $2 million in seed funding in 2013. The Series A was led by Data Collective, joined by AME Cloud Ventures, Draper Fisher Jurvetson, HVF, Innovation Endeavors, Obvious Ventures, True Ventures and Two Sigma Ventures.
• Zymergen’s approach involves automation and bioinformatics approaches, in what has been described as a combination of Darwinian selection of genetically engineered microbes combined with machine learning, analysis and automation.

11. Semma Therapeutics
Points: 6
Founded: 2015
Location: Cambridge, Mass.
Notable:
• Semma Therapeutics focuses on diabetes research utilizing stem cells.
• It has announced an agreement with Novartis Pharmaceuticals, but has not revealed details.
• In March 2015, the company closed on a $44 million Series A funding round.

12. Adrenergics
Points: 5
Founded: 2014
Location: La Jolla, Calif.
Notable:
• Adrenergics is developing novel therapeutics to treat dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) in patients who do not respond to existing therapies. DCM is a disease of the muscle of the heart, which usually starts in the left ventricle—the chamber of the heart responsible for pumping activity. Thinning of the left ventricle causes it to not pump blood effectively, resulting in inefficient blood supply throughout the body.
• Adrenergics was launched as one of several collaborations between Avalon Ventures and GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) with $10 million from a Series A financing round, and research and development support from Avalon and GSK. It is located at COI Pharmaceuticals in San Diego, which is a community of innovation founded by Avalon to provide operational support, a fully equipped R&D facility and an experienced leadership team.

13. Alzheon
Points: 5
Founded: 2013
Location: Framingham, Mass.
Notable:
• Alzheon is focused on developing treatments for patients with Alzheimer’s disease and other neurological and psychiatric disorders. The company’s lead clinical product candidate, ALZ-801, is an oral inhibitor of amyloid aggregation and neurotoxicity—hallmarks of Alzheimer’s disease. ALZ-801 is an optimized, novel prodrug that builds on the safety and efficacy profile of the active compound.
• Alzheon completed a $10 million Series A round of financing in April 2015 and has started a Phase I clinical trial for ALZ-801.

14. CadheRx
Points: 5
Founded: 2014
Location: La Jolla, Calif.
Notable:
• Launched as one of several collaborations between Avalon Ventures and GlaxoSmithKline, CadheRx received $10 million in a Series A financing round and R&D support from Avalon and GSK. It is located at COI Pharmaceuticals in San Diego, a community of innovation founded by Avalon.
• CadheRx is developing therapeutic antibodies targeting soluble E-cadherin (sEcad) for the treatment of solid tumors that are resistant to other treatments, particularly Cetuximab and Herceptin-resistant epithelial cancers. sEcad levels are increased in many epithelial cancers and result in increased tumor cell proliferation, migration, invasion and angiogenesis.
• CadheRx was founded on intellectual property in-licensed from the laboratory of Sabine Brouxhon, MD, clinical associate professor, Department of Emergency Medicine in the School of Medicine at Stony Brook University.

15. Calporta
Points: 5
Founded: 2014
Location: La Jolla, Calif.
Notable:
• Calporta is developing selective small molecule agonists of TRPML1 (transient receptor potential cation channel, mucolipin subfamily, member 1) for the treatment of Niemann-Pick C Disease (NPC) and other lysosomal storage diseases.
• Calporta's approach is based on research from the lab of Haoxing Xu at the University of Michigan.
• Calporta launched as one of several collaborations between Avalon Ventures and GlaxoSmithKline. It received $10 million in a Series A financing round and R&D support from Avalon and GSK. It is located at COI Pharmaceuticals in San Diego, a community of innovation founded by Avalon. GSK has the option to acquire the company upon the identification of a clinical candidate. Should GSK elect not to exercise its option on any of the companies, ownership of those companies will remain with Avalon, and Avalon will be free to enter into other strategic transactions.

16. Silarus Therapeutics
Points: 5
Founded: 2014
Location: La Jolla, Calif.
Notable:
• Silarus Therapeutics is developing therapeutics targeting erythroferrone for the treatment of iron deficiency and iron overload disorders, such as anemia. Erythroferrone is a recently discovered hormone that regulates the iron supply for red blood cell production.
• Silarus was founded based on intellectual property in-licensed from the University of California, Los Angeles, that was discovered by investigators Tomas Ganz, professor of Medicine, Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine and Elizabeta Nemeth, professor of Medicine, Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care, both of the UCLA David Geffen School of Medicine.
• Launched as one of several collaborations between Avalon Ventures and GlaxoSmithKline, Silarus received $10 million in a Series A financing round and R&D support from Avalon and GSK. It is located at COI Pharmaceuticals in San Diego, a community of innovation founded by Avalon.

17. Thyritope Biosciences
Points: 5
Founded: 2014
Location: La Jolla, Calif.
Notable:
• Thyritope Biosciences is focused on drugs that target thyroid stimulating auto-antibodies, which are linked to Graves’ hyperthyroidism and Graves’ orbitopathy. Graves’ disease is an autoimmune disorder caused by antibodies that over-stimulate the thyroid, causing excessive thyroid hormone production. There is currently no approved treatment for Graves’ orbitopathy.
• Thyritope was founded based on molecular evolution technology developed by Patrick Daugherty, professor of Chemical Engineering, and Biomolecular Science and Engineering at the University of California, Santa Barbara and commercialized by Serimmune.
• Thyritope was launched as one of several collaborations between Avalon Ventures and GSK. Thyritope received $10 million in a Series A financing round and R&D support from Avalon and GlaxoSmithKline. It is located at COI Pharmaceuticals in San Diego, a community of innovation founded by Avalon.

18. Checkmate Pharmaceuticals
Points: 4
Founded: 2014
Location: Cambridge, Mass.
Notable:
• Checkmate is a privately held, immuno-oncology company focused on checkpoint inhibitors, Toll-like receptor 9 (TLR9) agonist CpG DNA.
• In August 2014, Checkmate closed on a $20 million Series A financing round from Sovinnova Ventures and venBio.
• In the same month, the company exclusively licensed a clinically validated virus-like particle (VLP) platform from Cytos Biotechnology Ltd. for oncology, which includes the clinical product CYT003 and technologies related to oligonucleotide synthesis and VLP delivery. CYT003 has demonstrated a good safety profile and evidence of immune activity in over 700 patients so far.
• Its Series A funds will be used to advance the CYT003 into oncology clinical development. It will also help the company develop additional generations of oligonucleotide-based products in immuno-oncology.

19. Metacrine
Points: 4
Founded: 2015
Location: San Diego, Calif.
Notable:
• Metacrine is privately held and based on technology licensed from the laboratory of Ronald Evans of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute at the Salk Institute. The company plans to leverage two mechanistically distinct programs to target diabetes, steatohepatitis, and other metabolic and liver disorders.
• In August 2015, Metacrine raised $36M in a Series A financing. Participants included Arch Venture Partners, EcoR1 Capital, Polaris Partners and venBio.

20. Qura Therapeutics
Points: 4
Founded: 2015
Location: Chapel Hill, N.C.
Notable:
• Qura Therapeutics is a joint venture company of The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and GlaxoSmithKline. In May 2015, the university announced the creation of the dedicated HIV Cure center and a jointly owned new company that will focus on discovering a cure for HIV/AIDS. The HIV Cure center will be located on the UNC-Chapel Hill campus and will focus exclusively on finding a cure for HIV/AIDS.
• The new company, Qura Therapeutics, will handle the business side of the partnership, including intellectual property, commercialization, manufacturing and governance. Together, the HIV Cure center and Qura Therapeutics will serve as a catalyst for additional partners and public funding to eradicate HIV worldwide. The collaboration is also expected to recruit and attract top talent from around the world.

Check out last year's top 30 life science startups: NextGen Bio "Class of 2015."

Top 20 Life Science Startups To Watch


Read at BioSpace.com


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