BioSpace Global Roundup, July 23
Locate Bio – Spine-focused Locate Bio, located in Nottingham, U.K., completed a £2.25m funding round led by Mercia Asset Management to help to continue its ground-breaking research and bring its first products to market. Together with earlier funding rounds from Mercia and MEIF, it brings the total raised by the company to over £8m. The first product from Locate Bio, a spin-out from the University of Nottingham, is in preclinical development to help patients who require spinal fusion surgery, where bones are permanently joined together to overcome low back pain. It uses a type of bone protein to remove the need for a bone graft.
Liminal BioSciences – Canada’s Liminal BioSciences Inc. acquired all of the issued and outstanding shares in the capital of Fairhaven Pharmaceuticals Inc., providing the company with a preclinical research program of small molecule antagonists. Investigational therapies developed in this program target a key chemoattractant and activator of eosinophils, which play a key role in Type 2 inflammation-driven diseases through tissue repair and resolution of inflammation. Eosinophil-related diseases represent a significant area of unmet need in global health. Several biologics have been approved for the treatment of eosinophil-related diseases with combined drug sales in 2018 exceeding $3 billion. In addition, a number of other biologics and small molecules are under active clinical development for eosinophilic-driven diseases, including antolimab.
4D Medicine -- The Universities of Birmingham and Warwick have created a new spinout company, 4D Medicine Ltd, to commercialize a new class of materials – liquid resins that can be printed into solid 3D scaffolds to help patients recover from major medical procedures more quickly. The company has secured a £197k grant from Innovate UK and pre-seed investment of £281k from SFC Capital to develop a range of implantable medical devices that will improve patient quality of life by accelerating healing and recovery after common surgical procedures. 4D Medicine Ltd, trading as 4D Biomaterials, will be headed by Chief Executive Officer Philip Smith, a University start-up veteran with a background in polymeric devices, scaling up production, and raising early stage funding for technology ventures.
Sphere Fluidics – U.K.-based Sphere Fluidics and Scotland’s Heriot-Watt University have been awarded a Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) grant from Innovate UK, the UK’s innovation agency. The grant will facilitate the development of novel droplet generator instrumentation, which will be used to expand Sphere Fluidics’ portfolio of microfluidic instruments for advanced biologics discovery and therapeutic cell line development. The two-year project will develop next-generation intelligent instrumentation and advance research across a range of picodroplet techniques, allowing scientists to discover rare cell phenotypes and to help to solve a range of biological questions ranging from antibody discovery to antimicrobial resistance, enzyme evolution and synthetic biology.
Valneva SE – A vaccine research company based in France, Valneva confirmed its participation in the UK government COVID-19 vaccine response program. Valneva has reached an agreement with the UK government to provide up to 100 million doses of its SARS-CoV-2 vaccine candidate, to be manufactured at its facilities in Livingston, Scotland. The UK government is expected to contribute to UK clinical studies costs and is negotiating funding to expand Valneva’s Scottish facility. As part of its broader COVID-19 response, Valneva plans to further invest in its manufacturing facility in Livingston, Scotland and also in Solna, Sweden. Valneva is developing VLA2001, an inactivated whole virus vaccine candidate against the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2. The company is also collaborating with Dynavax to evaluate the potential use of its CpG 1018 adjuvant as part of the VLA2001 vaccine. This vaccine is expected to enter clinical studies by the end of 2020 and to potentially reach regulatory approval in the second half of 2021.
DarioHealth – Based in Wales, DarioHealth entered into a new strategic partnership with Williams Medical to make the DarioHealth Remote Patient Monitoring (RPM) digital therapeutics platform available to Healthcare Professionals (HCPs) across the United Kingdom and Ireland. Dario's digital solution is intended to provide relief for primary and secondary care providers challenged by the COVID-19 pandemic and facing potential serious winter pressures in the healthcare system.
Tubulis – Germany’s Tubulis closed a €10.7 million Series A financing round to accelerate the development of a new class of highly stable and efficient antibody-drug conjugates (ADCs) and to support the further growth of the company. The financing round was co-led by BioMedPartners and High-Tech Gründerfonds (HTGF) with support from Seventure Partners, coparion, Bayern Kapital, and OCCIDENT. Tubulis was spun out in 2019 from the Leibniz-Forschungsinstitut für Molekulare Pharmakologie in Berlin and the Ludwig Maximilians University in Munich with the aim of expanding the therapeutic potential of ADCs for cancer and other disease indications.
BioNTech– BioNTech announced plans for a proposed public offering of its stock. Certain new and existing investors, including Pfizer Inc. have indicated an interest in purchasing up to an aggregate of $200 million in the Underwritten Offering. J.P. Morgan, BofA Securities and Berenberg are acting as lead joint book-running managers for the Underwritten Offering and intend to act as joint dealer-managers and subscription agents for the Rights Offering.
Cresset Discovery Services – Contract Research Organization Cresset, based in the U.K., used computational tools to work with ZEAB Therapeutic, a company developing treatments for colorectal cancer, to design models for treatment of this disease. The first rounds of modeling have provided valuable working hypothesis models, called ZEAB 1-8, which will stimulate further research activities and exploitation for ZEAB. Being the third most common cancer globally, bowel cancer is one of the most common causes of death in the world. It is anticipated that this will increase by over 60% in the next 10 years, resulting in 2.2 million new cases and 1.1 million deaths.