Money on the Move: January 15-20
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New year, new investments! Here’s a brief rundown of the biopharma companies that brought in the cash the past week.
After what must’ve been an inspiring presentation at J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference last week, Verve secured $94 million in a Series B. The cardiac gene-editing company demonstrated durable preclinical results for its lead therapy, VERVE-101. It’s a combination of base editor messenger RNA and guide RNA delivered just once via lipid nanoparticle to deactivate PCSK9 in the livers of in nonhuman primates with heterozygous familial hypercholesterolemia. The funding should take VERVE-101 into the clinic in 2022 and advance the rest of Verve’s preclinical cardiovascular pipeline.
Pivoting from gene-editing to making retooled fusion proteins, Vera rounded up $80 million to take a drug licensed from Merck KGaA into a Phase IIb trial. Atacicept is a recombinant fusion protein designed to selectively inhibit B cells. Although the drug has failed multiple autoimmune clinical trials, Vera’s exec team is banking on its future in IgA nephropathy based on a Phase II trial completed in 2017 by Merck. The Phase IIb is anticipated to ramp up mid-year.
Right on schedule, Neurent closed a $25 million Series B and is ready for FDA clearance and commercialization of its proprietary in-office treatment for chronic rhinitis. One in four Americans suffer from the condition with symptoms like congestion, runny nose, sneezing and itchy nose. Neuront’s NEUROMARK Rhinitis Neurolysis Therapy applies low-power radio frequency energy to disrupt the nerves that drive underlying nasal inflammation safely and comfortably for the patient. The company raised $11.2 million in May of 2018 with a target of commercialization in three years.
Going after an old target with a new discovery, AltPep launched with a $23 million Series A to take on Alzheimer’s Disease. The Seattle-based company is working with a new, nonstandard protein structure they discovered called α-sheet. Discovered at University of Washington, the lab’s computer simulations showed it to be associated with toxicity of amyloid proteins. Amyloid diseases go even beyond Alzheimer’s patients, affecting over a billion people worldwide. The financing will take AltPep’s platform to development for three targets: early diagnostic for Alzheimer’s Disease (AD), anti-biofilm therapies and coatings and disease-modifying therapeutics for AD.
Taking personalized cancer care to a new dimension, OncoHost secured $8 million in a Series B to advance its platform. Lead investor OurCrowd’s CEO said, “As the renowned entrepreneur Marc Andreesen said, ‘Software is eating the world,’ and OncoHost is proving that software will help eat cancer.” The funding will finance ongoing clinical trials and prep for upcoming launch of PROphet, the company’s machine learning-based Host Response Profiling platform that combines proteomic analysis with AI to predict patient response to immunotherapy, providing clinicians with potential combination strategies to overcome treatment resistance. Trials are currently focused on melanoma and NSCLC patients.
Massive Investment Dollars in IPOs
After a record-breaking 2020, biotech IPOs started off this year with a bang as well. Check out BioSpace’s coverage of who’s lining up to ring the Nasdaq bell here.