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17 July 2024

  • Health AI startup Huma gets $80m at near $1bn value – Bloomberg
  • Orum scores potential $945m deal with Vertex for novel DACs – BioWorld
  • DIY kits may see million more cervical-cancer tests – BBC News
  • The questions behind the Ozempic baby boom – Financial Times
  • Cardio-focused Cardurion closes hearty $260m Series B to challenge statin-dominated status quo – FierceBiotech
  • Scorpion raises $150m with sights on the next wave of targeted therapies –  Endpoints
  • Sotio taps Biocytogen to create bispecific ADCs in $326m deal – FierceBiotech
  • Revolution Medicine gets set for phase 3 after pancreatic cancer results – Scrip
  • Loci Orthopaedics announces €12.8m Series A financing 
  • Sobi, angling to become a major haematology player, touts momentum across several brands – FiercePharma
Saritha Rai of Bloomberg reports that Huma Therapeutics has raised $80m, valuing the startup at nearly $1bn in the increasingly crowded healthcare AI arena. The Series D financing includes investments by AstraZeneca, Bayer, Hitachi Ventures and Hat Technology Fund. Huma uses generative AI to help developers cut costs, speed up development and comply with regulations worldwide when building health-care apps. Customers can use its features to configure disease management tools for patients and hospitals can use it to reduce administrative tasks.

Bloomberg >>

Marian (YoonJee) Chu of BioWorld reports that Orum Therapeutics has struck a potential $945m deal with Vertex Pharmaceuticals to discover novel degrader antibody conjugates as targeted conditioning agents for use with gene editing, including Vertex’s Casgevy. Orum will receive an up-front payment of $15m from Vertex and is eligible to receive additional option payments and milestones totalling up to $310m per target for up to three targets. Orum also stands to gain tiered royalties on potential global annual net sales.

BioWorld >>

James Gallagher of BBC News reports that more than one million extra women could have life-saving cervical-cancer checks if the NHS adopted do-it-yourself testing, researchers estimate. The team at King’s College London said the results of its self-testing trial were “fantastic” and “gave power to women”. The kits are like a COVID swab but longer and are posted to a lab for analysis. The NHS called the findings extremely positive and is assessing whether to roll out the scheme.

BBC News >>

Anjana Ahuja of the Financial Times reports that not only does the anti-diabetes drug Ozempic lead to weight loss, but in recent months it has also been linked to a surprise baby boom. Scientists are trying to unpick the mechanism behind the “Ozempic babies” phenomenon, which has also been reported by users of similar medications. This matters: the drugs were never tested for use by women who were pregnant or trying to conceive, and animal studies on Ozempic’s key ingredient, semaglutide, suggest an association with birth defects. 

Financial Times >>

Darren Incorvaia of FierceBiotech reports that Cardurion Pharmaceuticals was made flush in 2021 thanks to a $300m investment from Bain Capital. Now, the biotech is looking to challenge the statin-dominated cardiovascular status quo with a $260m Series B fundraising round led by Ascenta Capital. Cardurion plans to harness the funds to support later-stage clinical trials of its two leading drug candidates, a phosphodiesterase-9 inhibitor called CRD-750 and a calcium–calmodulin-dependent protein kinase II inhibitor called CRD-4730.

FierceBiotech >>

Lei Lei Wu of Endpoints reports that Scorpion Therapeutics has a fresh $150m to work with as it moves an experimental breast cancer drug through clinical trials in an effort to best Novartis’ targeted therapy Piqray which was approved in 2019. This latest megaround was co-led by Frazier Life Sciences and Lightspeed Venture Partners. The raise comes about three and a half years after the company’s back-to-back $162m Series B and $108m Series A rounds. Scorpion’s lead asset is an inhibitor of PI3Kα, a prominent driver of breast cancer and other tumours.

Endpoints >>

Nick Paul Taylor of FierceBiotech reports that Sotio has struck a deal to fuse bispecifics with its antibody-drug conjugate (ADC) capabilities, agreeing to pay Biocytogen up to $325.5m in upfront and milestone fees for rights to targeting molecules. Biocytogen uses mice to generate bispecific antibodies which can be more effective, with reduced off-target toxicity. Sotio has built out its ADC capabilities over the past eight years through deals with NBE-Therapeutics, LegoChem Biosciences and Synaffix.

FierceBiotech >>

Andrew McConaghie of Scrip reports that results from Revolution Medicines’ RMC-6236 have lifted hopes of progress in one of the hardest-to-treat tumours, pancreatic cancer. RMC-6236 is a potential first-in-class multi-RAS inhibitor, hitting a broader range of mutations than currently available treatments. Revolution is preparing a pivotal study after it significantly prolonged progression-free survival in previously treated pancreatic cancer patients. An update from its Phase 1 study in non-small cell lung cancer is also expected this year, with a phase 3 design waiting in the wings.

Scrip >>

Loci Orthopaedics today announced the successful closing of a €12.8m Series A financing. The oversubscribed financing round was led by new investors Seroba, Johnson & Johnson Innovation and the European Innovation Council Fund. The company’s primary device, its patented InDx Implant System, is an innovative implant for thumb base joint arthritis. The Series A funding will enable Loci Orthopaedics to expand its clinical programs, submit regulatory approval applications in the US and EU and accelerate efforts towards future commercialisation.

Loci Orthopaedics >>

Zoey Becker of FiercePharma reports that with several launches underway and partnerships driving sales growth, Sobi is gaining momentum in its quest to become a force in haematology. During the second quarter, the Swedish drugmaker saw the most growth from its haematology profile, which reported a 13% year-over-year sales increase to $363m. Meanwhile, Sobi’s immunology franchise generated sales growth of 7% last quarter, and its specialty care sales increased by 12% compared with the same period in 2023.

FiercePharma >>

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