Biotech Briefing: Gates Foundation Supports Sirenas’ Marine Drug Discovery

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January 10, 2018 Comments (0) Views: 208 Biotech, Biotech Briefing, Blog

Biotech Briefing: Local Researchers Map Brain Disorders for Better Drug Development

Plus: Celgene buys Impact cancer drug, and Expansion Therapeutics plans to develop RNA-targeting drugs

Reports + Research

Celgene to Buy Impact Biosciences’ Cancer Drug for $1.1 Billion Upfront

Celgene made a deal to acquire a second chance drug in development to treat myelofibrosis, a form of bone marrow cancer. The deal could fetch Impact Biosciences as much as $7 billion, if fedratinib reaches approval and sales milestones.  The drug was first developed by TargeGen who had a deal with Sanofi, who returned the drug when the FDA put a clinical hold after a few patients developed a neurological disorder, Wernicke’s encephalopathy, even though some patients had durable remissions.


Former Receptos Founders Launch Gossamer Bio with $100 Million Series A

Co-founded by Faheem Hasnain and Sheila Gujrathi, M.D., Gossamer Bio plans to in-license assets to build a pipeline. They discussed a lead program, a Ph2b/3 oral, once-daily therapy but did not disclose the indications, only suggesting multiple opportunities for a “pipeline within a product.”  The capital was provided by Omega Funds and a Series A Preferred Stock round co-led by ARCH Venture Partners and Omega Funds.


Expansion Therapeutics Launches with $55 Million to Develop RNA-Targeting Drugs

For Expansion, the RNA is the target instead of the drug.  The company plans to develop small molecule drugs targeting key human disease-driving RNAs.  The initial focus is on expansion repeat disorders, such as myotonic dystrophy.  Repeat disorders include “a set of approximately 30 genetic diseases that currently have no satisfactory treatments.”  The Series A financing was co-led by 5AM Ventures, Kleiner Perkins, Novartis Venture Fund, and Sanofi Ventures with participation from RA Capital Management and Alexandria Venture Investments.


Local Researchers Launch Brain Map to Understand Neurological Diseases

Researchers at Sanford Burnham Prebys, UC San Diego, and Harvard Medical School have identified 35 different subtypes of neurons and glial cells, and discovered which of these subtypes are most susceptible to common risk factors for different brain diseases.  By using new single-cell sequencing methods, they are mapping the cell origins of various brain disorders, including Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, schizophrenia, and bipolar disorder.  This info could be used to develop better targeted drugs.


Read + Listen

POW!  Podcast of the Week

What’s up for biotech in 2018? See this three-part review/preview series of podcasts, which includes a sit-down with Adam Feuerstein, senior biotech writer for STAT, to discuss the year that was in biotech and what to look for in 2018.

BOW!  Book of the Week

Siddhartha Mukherjee was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for his book The Emperor of All Maladies, a “biography” of cancer. His next book is a biography of the gene, from discovery to today’s current manipulations.  The Gene: An Intimate History ethically and philosophically challenges our conception of what constitutes being human.



It’s Happening Here

January 11
SDVG Venture Outlook 2018 just announced keynote speaker Ian Sigalow, partner and cofounder of Greycroft.  The event will take place Thursday, January 11, from 5:30-8:30 p.m. at Qualcomm, Building N.

February 3–7
SLAS2018 will be held February 3-7 downtown at the San Diego Convention Center. The conference will include an expansive educational program focused on life sciences discovery and technology.

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