Biopharma Money on the Move: November 18-24
A recap of biopharma companies thankful for more cash this week.
SR One officially moved out from parent company GlaxoSmithKline’s house, closing its first independent fund of $500 million. The funds will be used to build “elite biotechnology companies developing innovative medicines that address significant unmet needs.” As with many parents, GSK remains the largest contributor to the fund but with backing from others as well. Since its birth in 1985, SR One has invested over $680 million in biotech groups, most recently supporting Decibel Therapeutics Series D to support gene therapy hoping to restore hearing in children with congenital deafness due to a gene deficiency.
With big plans and big-name execs behind it, RESILIENCE launched with $800 million in capital to revolutionize the world of biopharma manufacturing. The new company dreams of democratizing access to new, cutting edge therapies and medicines by overcoming the hangups of traditional manufacturing. By providing high-tech, end-to-end manufacturing solutions, RESILIENCE will maximize production capacity and free up their partners to focus on important R&D. “COVID-19 has exposed critical vulnerabilities in medical supply chains, and today’s manufacturing can’t keep up with scientific innovation, medical discovery and the need to rapidly produce and distribute critically important drugs at scale. We are committed to tackling these huge problems with a whole new business model,” said Robert Nelsen, RESILIENCE founder, Chairman of the Board, and managing director at ARCH Venture Partners.
Originally pitched as a $100 million IPO, Olema’s entrance onto the Nasdaq ballooned into $240.4 million in aggregate gross proceeds. Olema’s big push is drug development for women’s cancer, with an estrogen receptor antagonist as the star of their pipeline. Preclinical studies have supported advancing OP-1250 into its current Phase 1/2 development stages for estrogen receptor-positive, HER2-negative metastatic breast cancer. Initial data is anticipated in the second half of 2021. With these proceeds, Olema helps to prove the efficacy of their drug, offering a better option for breast cancer patients.
Atai Life Sciences
Dissatisfied by the limited efficacy and side effects of existing SSRI therapies, this Berlin start-up is attempting to make psychedelic drugs to treat mental health disorders. Thanks to a $125 million Series C round, Atai is now poised to fund pre-clinical and clinical development of ATAI’s existing mental health programs. The company anticipates the proceeds to provide the runway to key clinical milestones - a Phase II data readout for arketamine in treatment resistant depression at Perception Neuroscience and ibogaine in opioid use disorder at DemeRx.
The COVID-19 pandemic has pushed multiple industries to find innovative ways to increase accessibility with shifts to innovative contactless, socially distanced and digital options. The clinical trial field is no different. Medable is a decentralized and remote trial platform connecting patients, sites and clinical trial teams. An infusion of $91 million in new funding brings Medable’s total capital raise to more than $136 million to support its critical role in enabling clinical trials amidst a global pandemic. “The pandemic has made the world aware of the importance of clinical drug development,” said Dr. Michelle Longmire, CEO and co-founder of Medable. “We need transformative technologies that break down critical barriers to improve patient access, experience and outcomes. This new funding will enable Medable to continue our aggressive pursuit of new technologies that improve clinical trials to benefit all patients.”
Following a $66 million financing round last fall, Pharvaris raised the bar with an oversubscribed $80 million Series C this week. The funds will go towards their pipeline of compounds for the treatment of hereditary angioedema (HAE) and other bradykinin-B2-receptor-mediated indications. The goal is completing Phase I assessments in healthy volunteers by the end of the year to announce the data in 2021. "Our team is committed to developing and delivering differentiated products to patients – the oversubscription of our Series C highlights broad enthusiasm for our vision for HAE and beyond," said Berndt Modig, Chief Executive Officer and co-founder of Pharvaris.
Doubling its Series B raise last year, clinical-stage pharmaceutical company Imago Biosciences raked in $80 million this week to take their lead candidate through a Phase III trial. Bomedemstat is a lysine specific demethylase 1 inhibitor. The current Phase III study is for the treatment of myeloproliferative neoplasms – blood cancers that occur when the body makes too many white or red blood cells or platelets. There’s also a Phase IIb trial investigating the drug for the treatment of myelofibrosis and essential thrombocythemia. Imago has hopes for an IPO in 2021 to bring in enough cash to take the second trial to Phase III. Full enrollment for both is anticipated by the middle of next year.
Elevation Oncology is raising the bar on cancer treatment with individualized, purpose-built precision medicines. Elevation’s core belief is that patients deserve the right clinical team and the right genomics test to match the best therapeutics to the unique genomic profile of each tumor. Their precision medicine approach has a lead program in Phase II study to evaluate the HER3 monoclonal antibody seribantumab for the treatment of patients with tumors harboring an NRG1 gene fusion. Funds from the $65 million Series B financing round will be used to complete enrollment on the study.
Reinforcing their cross-company collaboration, OMRON Corporation led the round of investing in this week’s $65 million Series E funding. "OMRON is committed to developing life-saving cardiovascular health technologies in pursuit of our 'Going for Zero' vision to eliminate heart attacks and strokes. It is a lofty goal and, as we said when we evolved our vision, we cannot do it alone. That is why we seek like-minded partners, like AliveCor, to advance our initiatives and work together to save lives," said Isao Ogino, president and CEO of OMRON Healthcare.
Launching with $53 million, Umoja takes on a new approach to T-cell engineering immunotherapy. Rather than removing T-cells from patients, modifying them in the lab and returning them to the patient, Umoja delivers the genetic payload to T-cells directly in the patient to attack and destroy hematologic and solid, organ-based tumors. This allows the cells to expand and respond in a more natural manner, making it not only a faster and more accessible approach, but also safer and more effective. The company is slated for its first clinical trial to initiate in 2021 targeting pediatric osteosarcoma.
Eluminex Biosciences Limited
China-based Eluminex is committed to the discovery and development of first-in-class and best-in-class therapies in the ophthalmic field. With a $50 million Series A in their pocket, Eluminex is building an innovative pipeline to address critical unmet medical needs in vision-threatening diseases for patients worldwide. The company is also eyeing future plans for establishing a global clinical and registration center in the San Francisco Bay Area.
Seizing an opportunity to take a different approach to the development of allogeneic cell therapies, Catamaran launched this week with $42 million to get them off the ground. Off-the-shelf therapies are the next frontier of immune therapies. Instead of using CAR T-cells, Catamaran is utilizing CAR-NK (natural killer) cells to develop potent therapies capable of reaching solid tumors. The company’s proprietary TAILWIND platform programs their therapy with NK cell-specific CAR architectures and potency-boosting switches to neutralize the hostile tumor microenvironment and enable efficacy against diverse cancer types. Catamaran’s therapies are made using healthy donor cells that are engineered and manufactured for off-the-shelf use, unlike current CAR-T therapies that take multiple weeks to manufacture.
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