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Biotechs hit 3Q with coolers full of cash; plus Distillery on Tap: a BioCentury podcast

Jul 7, 2021 | 1:39 AM GMT

The slowdown in biopharma financings and M&A has provided some buysiders a welcome relief from the breakneck pace of the past year and a half, and with many companies’ coffers full, the pressure to raise money is low. In the latest BioCentury This Week podcast, BioCentury’s editors discuss the 3Q21 Financial Markets Preview, as well as the latest in translational news and a neurology deal for GSK.

Biotech has finally hit a pause in the market after a cash-rich 15-month ride, says Associate Editor Stephen Hansen, who notes that companies may hardly notice as that ride has left the sector flush with capital. Hansen does say that the pace of IPOs is unlikely to slow given that insiders continue to drive the deals even as follow-on financings have fallen from 125 in Q1 to fewer than 40 last quarter.

BioCentury This Week’s new monthly feature Distillery on Tap highlights Senior Editor Karen Tkach Tuzman’s picks among the latest translational news out of academia. BioCentury scans about 30 top biomedical journals for papers with immediate translational relevance, with a focus on either new targets for an indication, or new technology to get at established targets.

“The idea is that we’re identifying potential licensing opportunities and very early stage company activity,” Tkach Tuzman says.

She highlights one paper in cancer, and one in infectious disease.

In cancer, she homes in on a Cell study from Omar Abdel-Wahab at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center and Robert Bradley at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, showing that inhibiting the RNA splicing factor RBM39 or protein arginine methyltransferases, which modify RNA splicing factors, promote the expression of immunogenic tumor neoantigens via alternative splicing. 

Then in infectious diseases, she flags a paper about patient-derived mAbs for malaria targeting the Plasmodium circumsporozoite protein (CSP), one of which bound a conserved functional site in the N terminus, and reduced parasite burden in mouse livers. That was published in Science Translational Medicine by Joshua Tan and Peter Crompton at NIH,

In this week’s Deal in Focus, Cranmer, Tkach Tuzman and Hansen spotlight a newly announced partnership between GlaxoSmithKline plc (LSE:GSK; NYSE:GSK) and Alector Inc. (NASDAQ:ALEC) that will give the pharma rights to two programs targeting SORT1 for neurodegenerative disorders, and the South San Francisco-based biotech a refreshed balance sheet as it prepares to advance clinical studies of the molecules and bring three new programs into human trials next year.

SORT1 – Sortilin 1

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