Curia | June 10, 2022
Curia, formerly AMRI, a leading contract research, development and manufacturing organization, and Replicate Bioscience, a company pioneering ways to prevent drug resistance in cancer and to treat autoimmune and inflammatory disorders and other diseases using self-replicating RNA (srRNA), today announced that they will collaborate on a robust development platform for Replicate’s srRNA therapeutics.
As part of the collaboration, Curia’s experienced process development team will support the GMP production of Replicate Bioscience’s srRNA vectors up to eight-liter scale (8L), which can be used in Phase 1 through pivotal clinical trials. Curia’s global mRNA development and manufacturing facility is ISO-13485 certified and located near Boston, Massachusetts. This facility also supports innovators engaged in vaccine and other mRNA therapy development and manufacture through Phase 2 and 3, including GMP assays. Additional Curia facilities support manufacture of srRNA through commercial production scales.
“Replicate’s approach to srRNA is unique, in that we create our own virally-derived synthetic vectors to customize srRNAs to deliver specific proteins,” said Replicate Co-founder and Chief Development Officer Andrew Geall, Ph.D., who previously has set up srRNA CMC frameworks for companies including Novartis, Synthetic Genomics, and Precision Nanosystems. “This customization has important therapeutic. advantages—versatility of application, lower dosing, and longer duration of therapeutic effect compared to other RNA modalities—but requires built-for-purpose processes to solve the challenges of manufacturing longer RNAs. Curia’s unprecedented expertise in process development and end-to-end integration of longer RNAs makes them a perfect partner for us as we transition from research into clinical development and the production of our srRNA for trials in patients.”
“The manufacture of these longer mRNAs is more technically challenging than non-replicating mRNAs and to date we have succeeded with mRNAs up to 16,000 bases. Curia’s platform offers versatility and streamlined manufacturing times that can handle such complex molecules. Our collaboration with Replicate Bioscience is enabling us to create entirely new methods of manufacturing longer RNAs. We have built our platform from the ground up, using our combined experience in biologics and chemistry to create end-to-end solutions covering mRNA synthesis, lipid synthesis, formulation, and liquid nanoparticle fill-finish. We are proud to apply our capabilities and expertise to support the Replicate Bioscience team and its innovative approach.”
Norman Garceau, Ph.D., Vice President, Global R&D Technology, Curia
Curia, formerly AMRI, is a leading contract research, development and manufacturing organization providing products and services from R&D through commercial manufacturing to pharmaceutical and biopharmaceutical customers. Curia’s 3,700 employees at 29 locations across the U.S., Europe and Asia help its customers advance from curiosity to cure. Learn more at CuriaGlobal.com.
About Replicate Bioscience
Replicate Bioscience, an ATP company, is designing and delivering srRNA immunotherapies to revolutionize the practice of medicine and improve and save lives. Replicate applies advanced srRNA technology in its work to prevent drug resistance in cancers. The company is also developing srRNA injections for sustained therapeutic protein expression to treat autoimmune and inflammatory disorders and other conditions. Replicate believes that srRNA will bring about the next big breakthroughs in RNA therapeutics and is working to realize the promise of srRNA for all patients.
Silverback Therapeutics and ARS Pharmaceuticals | July 22, 2022
Silverback Therapeutics, Inc. and ARS Pharmaceuticals, Inc. announced that the companies have entered into a definitive agreement under which ARS will merge with Silverback in an all-stock transaction. The combined company will focus on the potential regulatory approval and commercialization of neffy, ARS’s investigational epinephrine nasal spray for the treatment of Type I allergic reactions including anaphylaxis. The combined company is expected to have approximately $265M in cash, cash equivalents and marketable securities at closing. Upon stockholder approval, the combined company is expected to operate under the name ARS Pharmaceuticals and trade on the Nasdaq Capital Market under the ticker symbol “SPRY.” The merger is currently expected to close in the fourth quarter of 2022.
Type I severe allergic reactions are serious and potentially life-threatening events that can occur within minutes of exposure to an allergen and require immediate treatment with epinephrine, the only FDA-approved medication for these reactions. While epinephrine autoinjectors have been shown to be highly effective, there are well published limitations that result in many patients and caregivers delaying or not administering treatment in an emergency situation. These limitations include fear of the needle, lack of portability, needle-related safety concerns, lack of reliability, and complexity of the devices. There are approximately 25 million people in the United States who experience Type I severe allergic reactions. Of those, only 3.3 million currently have an active epinephrine autoinjector prescription, and of those, only half consistently carry their prescribed autoinjector. Even if patients or caregivers carry an autoinjector, more than half either delay or do not administer the device when needed in an emergency.
ARS designed neffy to provide injection-like absorption of epinephrine, in a small, easy-to-carry, easy-to-use, rapidly administered, and reliable nasal spray device. With its needle-free administration, neffy may help eliminate the anxiety and hesitation associated with using an autoinjector.
“We are extremely pleased to announce this proposed merger with Silverback, which we believe enables ARS to maximize the paradigm-changing opportunity of neffy. neffy is on the cusp of achieving what has not been possible before – the ability to deliver epinephrine with comparable pharmacokinetics to an intramuscular injection, but with a simple to administer nasal spray. We have completed a comprehensive registration program with neffy and based on a favorable pre-NDA meeting with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (“FDA”), we are preparing to submit our New Drug Application (“NDA”) in the third quarter of 2022. This merger positions ARS and our experienced team to execute on the potential launch of neffy in 2023 by providing the requisite capital needed for launch. ARS was founded with a mission of solving many of the issues that patients and caregivers express about their epinephrine autoinjectors. Today is an important step toward bringing this novel treatment to patients and caregivers to improve their treatment options for these serious and potentially life-threatening allergic reactions.”
Richard Lowenthal, M.Sc., MSEL, co-founder and chief executive officer of ARS
Data across three registration studies supports that neffy should meet all clinical endpoints recommended by regulators and that its pharmacokinetics are within the range of approved efficacious epinephrine injection products. In addition, neffy has been well-tolerated to date with more than 500 individuals having received at least one dose, and many with repeat administration. The majority of adverse events in clinical trials were mild in nature and comparable to injection products. Based on the totality of data, ARS is preparing to submit its NDA for neffy for use in adults and pediatric patients who are 30 kg or greater in the third quarter of 2022. If approved, ARS is planning to launch neffy in the United States in 2023.
“This transaction represents the result of a thorough and thoughtful strategic review process by Silverback,” said Laura Shawver, Ph.D., chief executive officer of Silverback. “ARS is an exciting late-stage company with compelling clinical data demonstrated with neffy, a path to near-term commercialization in a large and dissatisfied market, and an expert team with proven experience in launching and commercializing market-leading nasal spray products, such as NARCAN. I believe we have found the optimal partner to provide value for our stockholders, and even more so, the potential to transform treatment for millions of people with or at-risk for Type I severe allergic reactions.”
About the Proposed Merger
Under the terms of the merger agreement, assuming that Silverback’s net cash at closing is $240 million, Silverback equity holders are expected to own approximately 37% of the combined company and pre-merger ARS equity holders are expected to own approximately 63% of the combined company on a fully-diluted basis on a treasury stock method. The percentage of the combined company that Silverback’s equity holders will own as of the close of the transaction is subject to certain adjustments as described in the merger agreement, including the amount of Silverback’s net cash at closing.
Upon closing of the transaction, Silverback will be renamed ARS Pharmaceuticals, Inc. and will be headquartered in San Diego, California. Richard Lowenthal, M.S., MBA, will serve as chief executive officer and president of the combined company. The merger agreement provides that the Board of Directors of the combined company will be comprised of ten members, including seven from ARS and three from Silverback. The merger agreement has been approved by the Board of Directors of each company, and the transaction is expected to close in the fourth quarter of 2022, subject to approvals by the stockholders of each company and other customary closing conditions.
About Silverback Therapeutics, Inc.
Silverback Therapeutics, Inc. is a biopharmaceutical company focused on leveraging its proprietary ImmunoTAC technology platform to develop systemically delivered and tissue targeted therapeutics for the treatment of chronic viral infections, cancer, and other serious diseases. Silverback’s platform enables the strategic pairing of proprietary payloads that modulate key disease modifying pathways with monoclonal antibodies directed at specific disease sites. Silverback Therapeutics is located in Seattle, Washington.
Septerna | July 29, 2022
Septerna, a biotechnology company discovering and advancing novel small molecule medicines targeting G protein-coupled receptors announced the addition of Liz Bhatt, MS, MBA, as Chief Operating Officer, and Ran Xiao as Vice President of Finance and Business Operations to its leadership team. Septerna launched in January 2022 and is growing a pipeline of differentiated products using its GPCR Native Complex™ platform to unlock the vast untapped potential of GPCR drug targets for a wide range of diseases.
We are thrilled to welcome Liz and Ran as we continue to build our exceptional team. Together, they bring deep experience in corporate, commercial, and business strategy. They also have significant operational expertise building and supporting both private and public companies,” said Jeffrey Finer, MD, PhD, Chief Executive Officer and Co-founder of Septerna and Venture Partner at Third Rock Ventures. “Since our launch in January, we’ve made rapid progress advancing our platform and early discovery programs, and now expanding our focus to strategic growth and operational excellence is absolutely critical so that we can fully realize the untapped opportunity space for new GPCR medicines.”
“Septerna launched with the ambitious plan to expand the GPCR target landscape by developing and industrializing new drug discovery technologies and processes that can convert this target-rich superfamily of proteins into impactful new therapies for patients across a range of therapeutic areas. I’m excited to be working with a team of talented GPCR scientists and drug hunters and look forward to using my experience leading teams and developing corporate and product strategies to build Septerna into a robust company poised for long-term growth.”
Liz Bhatt brings more than 25 years of strategy, deal-making and company-building experience across a range of biotech and pharmaceutical companies. Liz was previously Chief Business & Strategy Officer at Applied Molecular Transport where she oversaw corporate development, portfolio and project management, and commercial strategy. Prior to AMT, Liz was Chief Operating Officer at Achaogen where she held various strategic and operational roles. Liz spent over a decade at Gilead Sciences as VP, Corporate Development leading deals across all therapeutic areas and as Senior Director, Commercial Strategy leading long-term global commercial and strategic planning, and supporting the launch of several products. Liz also held management roles at Eli Lilly and Maxygen and started her career in research at Affymax. She currently serves as an independent director on the board of eFFECTOR Therapeutics. Liz earned a BA in chemistry from Pomona College, an MS in biomedical sciences from the University of California San Diego, and an MBA from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University.
Ran Xiao has more than 20 years of experience in corporate accounting, finance, and business operations in the biotech industry. Prior to Septerna, Ran was the VP of Finance and Corporate Controller at Ambys Medicines, Inc, where she supported the company launch and managed various general and administrative functions through a rapid growth period. Before joining Ambys, Ran was the Corporate Controller at Corvus Pharmaceuticals, where she played a key role in the company’s initial public offering. Prior to Corvus, Ran held various managerial positions at Intermune, Natus Medical, Celera Genomics and CV Therapeutics. Ran has a BS in accounting from Shanghai University of Finance and Economics and an MBA from the Illinois Institute of Technology. Ran is a Chartered Financial Analyst.
G protein-coupled receptors are the largest and most diverse family of cell membrane receptors, and humans have hundreds of different GPCRs, each involved in controlling specific biological functions. GPCRs on the surface of each cell bind a wide range of external signaling molecules from throughout the body, and the GPCR transmits the signal across the cell membrane to drive internal cellular mechanisms. GPCRs have been widely studied as drug targets and are the largest family of proteins targeted by approved drug products. An estimated 700 approved drugs target GPCRs, representing approximately one-third of all currently approved drugs. Despite the pharmacological success of GPCRs as a drug class to date, the large majority of potential therapeutic GPCR targets remain undrugged.
Septerna, Inc., is a biotechnology company creating broad new drug discovery opportunities across many disease areas for the abundant drug target class of G protein-coupled receptors. The company’s Native Complex™ Platform recapitulates GPCRs with their native structure, function, and dynamics outside of the cellular environment to enable new technologies for industrial-scale drug discovery for the entire GPCR target class for the first time. Septerna has an emerging pipeline of GPCR-targeted small molecule drug discovery programs, along with growth potential to reach many GPCRs that have been undruggable and unexploited to date. Septerna was launched in 2022 by scientific founders who have made groundbreaking GPCR discoveries and by founding investor Third Rock Ventures.