Evan Feinberg could have picked a better time to launch his AI biotech, Genesis. He announced a $4.1 million round last November; by March, South San Francisco, California was under lockdown.
Still, a year later, he can look back at his early tenure with a certain degree of satisfaction.
“To see the things we’ve accomplished, all from my couch?” Feinberg told Endpoints News. “It’s really bizarre.”
As with most early-stage biotechs, it’s difficult to verify precisely what they’ve accomplished, but Genesis Therapeutics has managed to check some key boxes: They’ve expanded the team from 5 members to 12. In October, James Sabry and Aviv Regev at Genentech tapped them to help discover new molecules. And with some internal proof-of-concept data to show investors, they announced today a $52 million Series A round to help them land more big-name partners and advance an internal pipeline of small molecule drugs.
The round was led by Rock Springs, with old pals at Andreessen Horowitz and Felicis Ventures, among others, chipping in.
Genesis belongs to a raft of biotechs now trying to use machine learning and neural networks to sift through billions of small molecules and find the best ones to hit a given target. The $52 million raise is a sizeable starting round, although not out of step with the cash that has recently begun to flow into the space; Atomwise, arguably the flashiest name in the field, recently raised a $123 million Series C.
Atomwise and others have also notably attracted criticism for over-hyping what their algorithms can do and how quickly they can speed up drug development.
Feinberg and a16z’s Vijay Pande, who mentored Feinberg when he was a graduate student at Pande’s Stanford lab, have sought to distinguish themselves by pointing to the team that has been assembled. It’s not just software engineers, Feinberg said, but also dyed-in-the-wool medicinal chemists — the traditional human algorithms of drug discovery — such as CSO Peppi Prasit, a Versant advisor and veteran of Merck and Amira Pharmaceuticals, and VP Nick Scott, another Amira veteran.
“They don’t really have patience for the sort of nebulous claims that often proliferate in the computational space,” Feinberg said. “They want to see data, they want to see experiments in the laboratory verifying computational predictions being useful for real drug targets, otherwise it’s just not interesting to them.”
Feinberg also points to their algorithms, the basis of which has been published in prominent chemistry journals, and which he says has improved substantially over the past years.
The company is one of just a handful in the AI small molecule space looking to build an internal pipeline. For now, what those candidates are and what they will target remain entirely under wraps.
In 2006, a clinical trial called ILLUMINATE halted abruptly. Trial subjects treated with an investigational drug called torcetrapib started experiencing unexpected cardiovascular problems, in some cases resulting in death. After 15 years and nearly 1 billion dollars, the development of torcetrapib froze.
Nine years later, a paper published in the journal Circulation explained how the ILLUMINATE disaster could have been predicted and prevented if just 9 proteins had been measured in clinical trial participants following initial treatments.
In the oncology world, there’s no better hunting ground for cancer R&D execs than Genentech. The biotech franchise at Roche has worked on some of the leading drugs in the field, proven themselves with blockbuster returns, and carries weight for whatever it says and does.
The exodus of R&D talent out of the South San Francisco hub is a testament to their success.
Now one of their top research execs has been raided by a top China biotech player to satisfy not just their need for an oncology R&D chief as they build up their muscle in discovery and drug development, but also add a spotter for new cancer drug deals.
Pfizer and BioNTech have scored a historic OK for their Covid-19 vaccine in the UK, where the first doses are expected to be delivered within days.
Days after the British government authorized its Medicines & Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency to make a call independent of the European Union — from which it’s in the process of exiting — the regulators gave the green light for emergency use of BNT162b2.
After recording close to a billion dollars in investment earnings over 9 months, driven mostly by Moderna’s soaring stock, Merck is cashing out.
The company sold its stake in $MRNA — which it’s held since 2015 — in the first half of the quarter, causing a temporary 2.5% dip in Moderna’s share price before the market opened on Wednesday. By late morning, the stock was back up 3.4%. The news comes just two weeks before an FDA advisory committee meeting to discuss Moderna’s application for emergency use of its Covid-19 vaccine.
Eighteen months after Exelixis signed on to partner with Iconic Therapeutics on an antibody-drug conjugate, more money is flowing.
Exelixis is picking up its exclusive option on the tissue factor-targeting ADC now known as XB002 (formerly ICON-2), Iconic’s lead program. Exelixis is adding $20 million to the $7.5 million it paid upfront. Part of that goes to ZymeWorks, which assisted with their ZymeLink ADC tech.
Six years after Merck and Bristol Myers Squibb captured the attention of the oncology world with the first approval of their PD-1 drugs Keytruda and Opdivo, sales revenue has started to level off after a host of rivals joined the hunt for new OKs for metastatic conditions, where the FDA has proven quick to act.
But a key analyst covering biopharma believes that there’s a vast, still largely untapped frontier for new approvals to come in the adjuvant setting that could once again ignite the growth of these leading cancer franchises. And once again, he’s pointing to the 2 leaders in the field as the most likely players to come out ahead — way, way ahead.
Roughly five weeks after buying out Asklepios — also known as AskBio — for up to $4 billion, Bayer is hammering home its focus on cell and gene therapies.
The Big Pharma announced Wednesday that it is establishing a cell and gene therapy platform within its pharmaceuticals division in order to consolidate all of its related projects under one umbrella. Researchers will continue working and developing experimental drugs on their own, Bayer said, while the execs will lay out and define the overall strategy and look to swing some more deals.
Two years after tiptoeing into the protein degradation space with a discovery pact centered on neurodegeneration, AbbVie is wading deeper to explore the more common applications in cancer and immunological diseases.
The pharma giant is handing Frontier Medicines $55 million upfront to get things started while promising to reimburse its preclinical R&D costs. In addition to drug candidates that target E3 ligases — a key member of the body’s natural degradation system — Frontier will also be scouting small molecule binders to targets.
Just weeks after MeiraGTx touted their latest update on data emerging from their gene therapy alliance with J&J on inherited retinal diseases, the pharma giant is back with an acquisition tailored to beef up their R&D efforts in the field.
This deal is focused on HMR59, an early-stage gene therapy at a small biotech called Hemera Biosciences. They’re keeping the terms under wraps for now, but J&J is grabbing a once-and-done gene therapy that is designed to protect levels of CD59, a key protein that guards the retina.
就像大多数处于初级阶段的生物技术一样，很难预先确定他们已经完成了什么，但基因技术人员已经开始检查一些关键的问题:他们已经将团队从5名成员扩充到12名。去年，Genentech的James Sabry和Aviv Regev利用他们帮助设计新的模型。为了向投资者展示一些内部的概念证明，他们今天宣布一轮投资5200万美元，以帮助他们获得更多的大牌配角，并为内部的小分子药物提供支持。
这轮比赛由Rock Springs牵头，Andreessen Horowitz和Felicis Venctures等老友也参与了进来。
范伯格和A16Z的Vijay Pande（范伯格还是潘德的斯坦福特实验室的研究生时曾对范伯格施以毒手）试图通过指出已经被削弱的团队来自我解构。费恩伯格说，这不仅仅是软件工程师，而是彻头彻尾的医学化学家--药品销售的真正的人--比如Merck和Amira Pharma ceuticals公司的副总裁兼兽医CSO Pep Pi Pra-sit，以及Amira兽医VP Nick Scott。