Naveris, Inc. | September 20, 2022
Naveris, Inc., a commercial-stage life sciences company dedicated to improving patient care through earlier detection of viral-driven cancers, today announced a $33.4 million expansion of its Series A financing, bringing the total investment in Naveris to $51 million. The financing was led by Gurnet Point Capital, joined by TechU Ventures and BrightEdge, the impact and venture capital arm of the American Cancer Society.
Naveris’ blood tests for earlier cancer detection use proprietary patented DNA fragmentomics technology to distinguish between viral DNA arising from cancers versus infection. Proceeds from this financing will be used to advance commercialization of NavDx, Naveris’ flagship blood test for the early detection of cancers caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV), and to generate the clinical data needed to expand into other cancer types and indications.
“We are delighted to have the continued support of Gurnet Point Capital and TechU Ventures, and to welcome Alice Pomponio and the rest of the BrightEdge team, who collectively bring a deep understanding of both the oncology space and commercial-stage businesses. We founded Naveris on the belief that advances in molecular diagnostics will play a vital role in improving cancer outcomes. This new investment underscores NavDx’s commercial success and potential, and our experienced team’s ability to transform this vision into a reality for patients and oncologists.”
Piyush B. Gupta, Ph.D., Naveris founder and Chief Executive Officer
"Since our initial investment in 2020, we have been impressed by the Naveris team's vision and their ability to commercially execute on a differentiated strategy in the rapidly developing field of blood-based cancer detection,” said Travis Wilson, Partner at Gurnet Point Capital. “We are pleased to be providing additional capital to ensure that their transformative technology for early cancer detection will benefit as many patients as possible."
“We could not be more excited to back Piyush and his team as Naveris works to increase access to diagnose, detect, and monitor viral cancers” said Alice Pomponio, BrightEdge Managing Director. “We understand the burden of HPV related cancers on patients. And we seek to build on the years of research and advocacy of the American Cancer Society to support the next generation of mission aligned companies reducing patient burden.”
Along with Naveris' commercial activities, more than 25 medical institutions have partnered with the company to conduct clinical studies and trials utilizing its technology. The company has also partnered with biotechnology companies developing immunotherapies for HPV-related cancers.
About Naveris, Inc.
Founded in 2017, Naveris is a privately held biotechnology company with facilities in Massachusetts and North Carolina. The company’s mission is to improve outcomes for the millions of people at risk of developing viral cancers through novel molecular diagnostics that enable earlier cancer detection. Naveris’ clinical laboratory is certified for high complexity testing under CLIA, and is accredited by the College of American Pathologists and the New York State Department of Health Wadsworth Center.
About Gurnet Point Capital
Gurnet Point Capital is a leading healthcare fund that invests in de-risked life sciences companies. Gurnet Point primarily focuses on businesses that have high growth potential in the late product development and commercialization stages of their evolution. These companies become partners not just because of their capacity to generate economic value, but also because of their potential to deliver social impact. Gurnet Point’s team of highly experienced industry executives work closely with its portfolio companies, with an active approach driving operational transformation and outsized returns.
CELL AND GENE THERAPY
Alnylam Pharmaceuticals | September 22, 2022
Alnylam Pharmaceuticals, Inc. the leading RNAi therapeutics company, announced the appointment of two new members to the management team – Piyush Sharma as Chief Ethics & Compliance Officer and Evan Lippman in the newly created role of Chief Corporate Development and Strategy Officer. Both executives will report to Chief Executive Officer, Yvonne Greenstreet.
“Attracting and retaining top talent is one of my top priorities, and I’m thrilled that Piyush and Evan are joining our team. Piyush brings valuable experience building robust compliance programs and infrastructure for global companies across a variety of industries. Evan brings deep corporate development and strategy expertise from his work across the pharmaceutical and other industries. In each case, their expertise will be invaluable as we continue to execute on our Alnylam P5x25 strategy. I look forward to their counsel and contributions in the years ahead.”
Yvonne Greenstreet, MBChB, Chief Executive Officer of Alnylam
Mr. Sharma is an accomplished compliance executive with over 20 years of experience building best-in-class compliance programs across the pharmaceutical, energy, and technology industries. He joins Alnylam from Alexion Pharmaceuticals where he served as the Head of Compliance. Prior to Alexion, Mr. Sharma led anti-corruption compliance at Cognizant Technology Solutions and at Hess Corporation. He also held various compliance positions at Pfizer, including Chief Compliance Counsel for the Oncology and Emerging Markets Business.
Mr. Lippman brings a wealth of experience in corporate finance, business development, operational, and commercial roles for both large pharmaceutical and emerging biotechnology companies. He joins Alnylam from Intima Bioscience where he served as President and Chief Operating Officer. Prior to Intima, Mr. Lippman was Senior Vice President, Head of Corporate Development, M&A and Valuation for Takeda Pharmaceuticals. Prior to Takeda, he was Chief Business and Financial Officer of Aileron Therapeutics, a pre-IPO oncology company. His commercial and operational experience comes from EMD Serono and AstraZeneca, as General Manager, leading three multi-billion-dollar revenue generating business units for Rebif, Crestor, and Nexium, and at Pfizer as a senior business development executive.
RNAi is a natural cellular process of gene silencing that represents one of the most promising and rapidly advancing frontiers in biology and drug development today. Its discovery has been heralded as “a major scientific breakthrough that happens once every decade or so,” and was recognized with the award of the 2006 Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine. By harnessing the natural biological process of RNAi occurring in our cells, a new class of medicines known as RNAi therapeutics is now a reality. Small interfering RNA (siRNA), the molecules that mediate RNAi and comprise Alnylam's RNAi therapeutic platform, function upstream of today’s medicines by potently silencing messenger RNA (mRNA) – the genetic precursors – that encode for disease-causing or disease pathway proteins, thus preventing them from being made. This is a revolutionary approach with the potential to transform the care of patients with genetic and other diseases.
About Alnylam Pharmaceuticals
Alnylam has led the translation of RNA interference into a whole new class of innovative medicines with the potential to transform the lives of people afflicted with rare and prevalent diseases with unmet need. Based on Nobel Prize-winning science, RNAi therapeutics represent a powerful, clinically validated approach yielding transformative medicines. Since its founding 20 years ago, Alnylam has led the RNAi Revolution and continues to deliver on a bold vision to turn scientific possibility into reality. Alnylam’s commercial RNAi therapeutic products are ONPATTRO® GIVLAARI® OXLUMO® AMVUTTRA® and Leqvio® being developed and commercialized by Alnylam’s partner, Novartis. Alnylam has a deep pipeline of investigational medicines, including multiple product candidates that are in late-stage development. Alnylam is executing on its “Alnylam P5x25” strategy to deliver transformative medicines in both rare and common diseases benefiting patients around the world through sustainable innovation and exceptional financial performance, resulting in a leading biotech profile. Alnylam is headquartered in Cambridge, MA.
CELL AND GENE THERAPY
Puma Biotechnology | September 21, 2022
Puma Biotechnology, Inc. a biopharmaceutical company, announced an agreement with Takeda to license the worldwide research and development and commercial rights to alisertib, a selective, small-molecule, orally administered inhibitor of aurora kinase A. Alisertib is an adenosine triphosphate–competitive and reversible inhibitor of aurora kinase A and results in disruption of mitosis leading to apoptosis of rapidly proliferating tumor cells that are dependent on aurora kinase A. Alisertib has been tested in clinical trials in patients with metastatic cancers including breast cancer, small cell lung cancer, head and neck cancer, ovarian cancer, peripheral T cell lymphoma and acute myeloid leukemia.
Under the terms of the agreement, Puma will assume sole responsibility for the global development and commercialization of alisertib. Takeda will receive an upfront license fee of $7 million and is eligible to receive potential future milestone payments of up to $287.3 million upon Puma’s achievement of certain regulatory and commercial milestones over the course of the agreement, as well as tiered royalty payments for any net sales of alisertib.
Puma initially intends to focus the development of alisertib on the treatment of patients with metastatic estrogen receptor-positive HER2-negative breast cancer, triple-negative breast cancer and small cell lung cancer. In ER-positive HER2-negative breast cancer, alisertib has previously been tested in a Phase II clinical trial as a single agent in a Phase II randomized clinical trial as a single agent compared to a combination with fulvestrant and in a Phase II randomized clinical trial in combination with paclitaxel compared to paclitaxel monotherapy. In triple-negative breast cancer, alisertib has previously been tested in a Phase II clinical trial as a single agent and in a randomized clinical trial in combination with paclitaxel compared to paclitaxel monotherapy. Alisertib has demonstrated meaningful clinical activity in these populations and most notably in ER-positive breast cancer patients who have been previously treated with a CDK4/6 inhibitor (JAMA Network Open 2021). Alisertib has also been previously tested in small cell lung cancer in a Phase II clinical trial as a single agent and in a Phase II randomized clinical trial in combination with paclitaxel compared to paclitaxel monotherapy.
“There continues to be a need for new drugs for the treatment of metastatic ER- positive, HER2-negative breast cancer and triple negative breast cancer,” said Joyce A. O’Shaughnessy, M.D., the Celebrating Women Chair in Breast Cancer Research at Baylor University Medical Center, Texas Oncology, and Chair of Breast Cancer Research for the US Oncology Network in Dallas, Texas. “The results from the clinical trials of alisertib in these two indications are encouraging and suggest that the drug may be able to provide a clinical benefit to these patient populations, and, due to its novel mechanism, alisertib may be able to provide a benefit in patients who have developed resistance to other treatments modalities,” said Dr. O’Shaughnessy.
“Treatment options for patients with small cell lung cancer that has progressed on or after platinum-based chemotherapy are limited, and there is an urgent need for new drugs to treat this patient population,” said Taofeek K. Owonikoko, MD, PhD, Chief of the Division of Hematology/Oncology and Associate Director for Translational Research and Co-Leader of the Cancer Therapeutics Program at the UPMC Hillman Cancer Center. “The results from the clinical trials of alisertib in small cell lung cancer suggest that the drug may represent a potentially promising treatment option for these patients and more specifically for patients with molecularly defined tumors that are likely to respond to an aurora kinase A inhibitor such as alisertib,” said Dr. Owonikoko.
“We are pleased to be able to complete this licensing agreement with Takeda for alisertib. To date, alisertib has demonstrated strong evidence of antitumor activity, both as a single agent and in combination with other anticancer drugs, in patients with metastatic ER-positive and triple negative breast cancer, as well as in small cell lung cancer. We look forward to the continued development of alisertib.”
Alan H. Auerbach, Chief Executive Officer, President and Founder of Puma
About Puma Biotechnology
Puma Biotechnology, Inc. is a biopharmaceutical company with a focus on the development and commercialization of innovative products to enhance cancer care. Puma in-licenses the global development and commercialization rights to PB272 PB272 and PB357. Neratinib, oral was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in 2017 for the extended adjuvant treatment of adult patients with early stage HER2-overexpressed/amplified breast cancer, following adjuvant trastuzumab-based therapy, and is marketed in the United States as NERLYNX® tablets. In February 2020, NERLYNX was also approved by the FDA in combination with capecitabine for the treatment of adult patients with advanced or metastatic HER2-positive breast cancer who have received two or more prior anti-HER2-based regimens in the metastatic setting. NERLYNX was granted marketing authorization by the European Commission in 2018 for the extended adjuvant treatment of adult patients with early stage hormone receptor-positive HER2-overexpressed/amplified breast cancer and who are less than one year from completion of prior adjuvant trastuzumab-based therapy. NERLYNX is a registered trademark of Puma Biotechnology, Inc.