SAN DIEGO – It is equally fair to say that lung cancer treatment has come a long way, and that it has a long way to go. Speaking at a joint conference by the International Association for the Study of Lung Cancer and the American Association for Cancer Research on lung cancer translational research, William Pao remembered the stark realities of being an oncology fellow at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center just 20 years ago, when the main lung cancer “procedure” done by trainees was to get a DNR, or do-not-resuscitate order, from their patients. However, the advent of targeted therapy options – along with smokers kicking the habit by the millions – is one reason that lung cancer rates are not just dropping, but dropping at increasing rates, and driving an overall decrease in cancer mortality, according to a report released last week by the American Cancer Society.
Emendo $61M series B for gene-editing efforts led by Japanese firm Anges
New York-based Emendo Biotherapeutics Inc. pulled down $61 million for its work with next-generation gene editing. The series B round was led by Anges Inc., of Osaka, Japan, which has an interest in working with Emendo’s approach. Other investors include Orbimed Advisors, Orbimed Israel Partners and Takeda Ventures. Emendo is developing Omni, an allele-specific strategy that uses synthetic biology. Last year, the firm granted an option to Takeda Pharmaceutical Co. Ltd., of Tokyo, to use the Omni for a pair of R&D targets.
Newco news: Kyverna Therapeutics has a $25M series A and a $587M Gilead agreement
Not only did newly emergent Kyverna Therapeutics Inc. burst out of the gate with a $25 million series A but it enhanced its entrance with a deal from Gilead Sciences Inc., one of the company’s initial funders, potentially worth $587.5 million. The company plans to use the series A to develop T-cell therapies for suppressing and eliminating autoreactive immune cells that cause inflammatory disease. The target is the same in the Gilead deal, a collaboration and license agreement with Kyverna conducting research and clinical studies through proof of concept. Gilead has an option to take on the remaining clinical development plus the commercialization. Berkeley, Calif.-based Kyverna gets an up-front fee of $17.5 million and $570 million in development and commercialization milestones. In addition to Gilead, Kyverna’s series A backers are Vida Ventures and Westlake Village Biopartners.
Shanghai Miracogen expands deal with Synaffix for a second ADC candidate
HONG KONG – In less than a year, China-based Shanghai Miracogen Inc. has extended its partnership with Oss, the Netherlands based Synaffix BV for a second antibody-drug conjugate (ADCs) candidate. The new deal is similar to one signed last year in that it gives Miracogen nonexclusive rights to Synaffix’s Glycoconnect and Hydraspace ADC technologies for use in a second clinical candidate. Once again, Synaffix is eligible to receive up-front, milestone and royalty payments tied to the new program.
Guardant embraces biopharma research, screening to maintain momentum
SAN FRANCISCO - Guardant Health Inc. has set the standard for liquid biopsy. That success has catapulted the Redwood City, Calif., company from an IPO in the fall of 2018 to a current valuation in excess of $7 billion. It has made its name – and much of its revenue – with its Guardant360 test, a molecular diagnostic test that assesses 74 cancer-related genes from the circulating tumor DNA to aid in designing the best treatment for advanced cancer patients with solid tumors. Use of Guardant360 remains in the single-digits for most solid tumors, except for in lung cancer where adoption is about 10% in the U.S., but Guardant is working to move beyond that first foray into working more elaborately with biopharmaceutical companies to support their clinical research via its Guardantomni test, which is a broader 500-gene panel that includes genes associated with homologous recombination repair deficiency as well as immuno-oncology biomarkers such as tumor mutational burden and microsatellite instability.
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