Life Sciences Dollars Flow Despite Global Recession
The global economy has experienced massive recession amidst a pandemic, the likes of which our current society has never seen. Yet the investment dollars continue to flow in the life sciences industry. Here are a few catching our eye this week.
Reverie Labs is a pharmaceutical startup using AI to develop next-gen small molecule, brain-penetrating kinase inhibitors for cancer patients. The company scooped up $25 million in a Series A round to advance its drug discovery platform – both internal and partnered – add scientist and engineering talent to its team.
Reverie believes an arsenal of targeted therapies will give clinicians the tools they need to improve patient outcomes from modest survival benefits to complete responses. The company’s lead program is zooming toward the clinic, targeting a well-validated disease mechanism.
"Too often in the pharmaceutical industry, data is treated as a by-product of doing drug discovery, not an intentionally generated asset for the purpose of improving one's platform. This capital will allow us to prioritize data generation and double down on the personnel and technology needed to develop our best-in-class computational kinase platform," said Ankit Gupta, Reverie's co-founder and CTO.
Last July the company announced a multi-target collaboration agreement with Roche and Genentech. Reverie will utilize its AI platform to perform virtual screening and lead optimization on kinase inhibitor discovery programs.
This startup certainly has a unique pitch – monitoring heart health through your toilet seat. Formerly known as Heart Health Intelligence, Casana raised $14 million in a Series A for its “Heart Seat.”
The Heart Seat bring the convenience of portable heart monitoring right to patient’s homes without the risk of them taking off the device, forgetting to use or accidentally changing settings. With a built in ECG, ballistocardiogram and photoplethysmogram, the sensors collect a wide range of metrics that upload to a cloud network thanks to built-in Wi-Fi and LTE. The battery lasts several years between charges. Now that is one smart toilet seat!
Casana is currently in the process of taking its Heart Seat through to FDA clearance and onto the market.
While merging with Nicoya Health, Coya Therapeutics completed a $10 million Series A this week. Funds will be used to advance the company’s lead candidate, ALS001. The program is an off-the-shelf, autologous Treg cell therapy for ALS patients. Additionally, Coya will introduce pipeline candidates targeting Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, FTD and other autoimmune diseases.
“Patients with neurodegenerative diseases are in desperate need of transformative therapeutic options; harnessing the neuro-protective effects of Treg cell therapy shows great potential in unlocking a new treatment paradigm and may enable us to revolutionize care for patients with devastating neurodegenerative diseases,” said Dr. Stanley H. Appel. “We have successfully demonstrated, in a phase 1 trial, the safety and tolerability of autologous infusions of expanded Tregs in ALS patients, with the potential of slowing or halting disease progression.”
Out to democratize cell sequencing, Split Biosciences is developing a single-cell sequencing kit that doesn’t require custom instrumentation. In addition to a $7 million Series A funding, Split changed its name to Parse Biosciences, as the company’s goals have outgrown its initial SPLiT-seq focus.
“Parse Bio’s first products enable widely available DNA sequencers to be used as multi-channel oscilloscopes for thousands of genes in each of hundreds of thousands of individual cells and sets a new standard for low error measurement,” he added. “These products meet fundamental needs as we build out the infrastructure for healthcare and biological engineering in the 21st century. We are excited to participate in bringing this new capability to labs worldwide.”
Established last January to develop novel mesenchymal stem cell therapies, AffyXell closed a Series A for $7.3 million to develop its pipeline of next-gen cell and gene therapies. The biotech combines Avacta Therapeutics' Affimer platform with Daewoong Pharmaceutical’s MSC platform to genetically modify stem cells to secrete Affimer proteins that enhance the therapeutic effects of the MSC.
Funds from the series will be used for further development of therapies that will suppress immune response and restore balance for inflammatory and autoimmune diseases.
Acutely aware of the national opioid crisis, Bexson Biomedical is developing a unique formula of ketamine for chronic and acute pain disorders. The company closed a $4.8 million Series A round to support its preclinical and GMP manufacturing scale up for its lead candidate. BB106 is a proprietary ketamine formula as effective as oral methadone for chronic pain and more effective than demerol.
Offering non-addictive pain treatments is Bexson’s goal. The drug has already been granted orphan status by the FDA for the treatment of Complex Regional Pain Syndrome.
Bexson is looking to create new compounds targeting the NMDA receptor, similar to ketamine, for pain management and CNS disorders. An agreement with Stevanato will produce a customized, wearable, programmable device to deliver subcutaneous doses of ketamine for patients. A massive time and cost savings for those who currently receive regular ketamine infusions.