Good day. RNA-drug startup Laronde's new $440 million
fundraising reflects investors' search for the next Moderna
Flagship Pioneering formed Moderna in 2010 to use messenger RNA
to program patients' cells to make disease-fighting proteins.
Moderna, which went public in 2018, fulfilled that promise by
developing its Covid-19 vaccine.
BioNTech SE, which joined with Pfizer Inc. to develop an mRNA
coronavirus vaccine, has prospered since its 2019 IPO, while
publicly traded mRNA company Translate Bio Inc. agreed in August to
be acquired for $3.2 billion by Sanofi SA. Sanofi in April also
purchased Tidal Therapeutics, which seeks to use mRNA to reprogram
immune cells, for up to $470 million in payments.
Flagship, which launched Cambridge, Mass.-based Laronde in 2017,
initially provided it with $50 million to fund its development of
novel RNA drugs and vaccines. Laronde, which expects to start
clinical trials in 2023, sped through this latest financing, the
first opened to new backers, raising it in six weeks.
For investors, waiting for Laronde to secure clinical data would
mean missing an opportunity to build a stake in what could be the
next great RNA company. Laronde cashed in on that sentiment,
raising enough capital to build a broad pipeline that should give
it several opportunities to prove itself.
And now on to the news...
Apple Watch. Apple Inc. is working on new health-related
features for its smartwatch, including a tool to tell users when
their blood pressure is increasing and a thermometer to help with
fertility planning, according to people familiar with the plans and
internal company documents, The Wall Street Journal's Rolfe Winkler
The fertility feature could be available as soon as next year,
along with potential improvements to its irregular-heartbeat
monitoring and an upgrade to how it tracks sleep patterns, the
people said and the documents show.
The company is expected to release its seventh version of the
Apple Watch in the coming weeks, according to analysts, but most of
its more ambitious health-related improvements aren't expected
Beyond next year, Apple wants its smartwatch to be able to
detect sleep apnea, provide medical guidance when it senses low
blood oxygen levels and, perhaps one day, spot diabetes, according
to the documents and some of the people. Features, especially those
being studied for release in later years, might never be rolled out
to consumers or timing could change, cautioned people familiar with
the company's plans.
The amount of Series B financing raised by Laronde, an RNA
drugmaker founded by Flagship Pioneering.
Catalent to Buy Supplement Maker Bettera Holdings for $1
Contract drug manufacturer Catalent Inc. has agreed to buy
closely held Bettera Holdings LLC for $1 billion, the latest deal
involving nutritional supplement companies, WSJ's Jared S. Hopkins
reports. The all-cash deal expands Catalent's manufacturing
capabilities for vitamins, minerals and supplements to make them in
gummy form. The transaction is expected to close by the end of the
fourth quarter. Bettera, based in Plano, Texas, and backed by
private-equity firm Highlander Partners LP, manufactures gummy,
soft-chew and lozenge forms of vitamins and supplements. Bettera
has about 500 employees.
Cities Add Emergency Facilities for Mental-Health Patients
Emergency facilities dedicated to mental-health patients are
sprouting up across the U.S. to handle psychological trauma
exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic, WSJ's Laura Cooper reports.
Some new facilities dedicated to mental health act like urgent-care
centers, allowing people to receive services without appointments.
Others receive patients brought in by police and other first
responders, who otherwise often have little choice but to drop
those experiencing mental-health crises at emergency rooms or
European life sciences venture capital firm Forbion appointed
Nanna Lüneborg as a general partner, where she will work on the
EUR360 million ($426 million) Forbion Growth Opportunities Fund.
Ms. Lüneborg was previously a partner at Novo Ventures.
Digital musculoskeletal-care platform Kaia Health named Gemma
Wenstrom as chief operations officer, CJ Mark as chief revenue
officer and Manu Diwakar as chief financial officer. Ms. Wenstrom
joins the company from Veradigm. Ms. Mark was most recently chief
commercial officer at Vida Health. Earlier in his career, Mr.
Diwakar was at Riot Games. New York-based Kaia Health earlier this
year raised a $75 million Series C round from investors including
Optum Ventures, Eurazeo, 3VC, Balderton Capital, Heartcore Capital
and Symphony Ventures.
Everly Health, the parent company of digital health company and
at-home lab testing brand Everlywell, appointed Chris Bishko to the
post of chief financial officer and Kristina Omari as the company's
first executive vice president of finance. Mr. Bishko was most
recently CFO of Tubi. Ms. Omari joins Everly from Lyft. Austin,
Texas-based Everly Health, which earlier this year was valued at
$2.9 billion, has raised over $325 million to date from investors
including Goodwater Capital, Highland Capital Partners, Next Coast
Ventures, Greenspring Associates, Lux Capital and Morningside
ImmunOs Therapeutics AG, a Swiss company developing a new class
of biologics for the treatment of cancer and autoimmune diseases,
named Jeffrey Abbey as chief operating officer. He was previously
chief executive of Novadip Biosciences and Argos Therapeutics.
ImmunOs Therapeutics is backed by Pfizer Ventures, BioMed Partners
and Redalpine, among others.
VectivBio Holding AG, a company developing novel treatments for
severe rare conditions, plans to acquire Comet Therapeutics Inc., a
developer of drugs to treat inherited metabolic diseases. Terms
weren't disclosed. Comet Therapeutics is backed by investors
including Sofinnova Partners, Inkef Capital, Canaan and Mission
BioLife Solutions Inc., a provider of bioproduction products and
services for cell and gene therapies, acquired peer company Sexton
Biotechnologies for an undisclosed amount. Sexton was founded in
2019 and had raised funding from BioLife Solutions, along with
Casdin Capital, BioCrossroads and Cook Regentec.
Asher Biotherapeutics, a South San Francisco, Calif.-based
startup developing precisely targeted immunotherapies for cancer,
autoimmune and infectious diseases, completed a $108 million Series
B round led by Wellington Management. New investors RA Capital
Management, Janus Henderson Investors, Logos Capital and Alexandria
Venture Investments also participated in the funding, along with
existing backers Third Rock Ventures, Mission BioCapital and
Quip, a Brooklyn, N.Y.-based provider of oral-care products and
professional dental-care services, scored $100 million in growth
funding from Cowen Sustainable Investments. Artem Mariychin,
managing director at CSI, will join the company's board.
Oviva, a Switzerland-based provider of diet and lifestyle
coaching, secured $80 million in Series C financing. Sofina and
Temasek Holdings co-led the round, which included contributions
from AlbionVC, Earlybird Venture Capital, Eight Roads, F-Prime
Capital, MTIP and others.
Versanis Bio, an Oakland, Calif.-based startup developing a
treatment for obesity, closed a $70 million Series A round. Lead
investors Atlas Venture and Medicxi were joined by Aditum Bio in
ARS Pharmaceuticals Inc., a San Diego-based startup developing
an intranasal epinephrine spray for people at risk of severe
allergic reactions, raised $55 million in Series D funding. SR One
led the round, which saw additional participation from RA Capital
Management, Deerfield Management and others. SR One's Rajeev Dadoo
and RA Capital's Peter Kolchinsky will join the board.
Doctor Anywhere, a Singapore-based digital health platform,
landed 88 million Singapore dollars ($65.7 million) in Series C
funding. Asia Partners led the investment, which included support
from Novo Holdings, OSK-SBI Venture Partners and EDBI.
DnaNudge Ltd., a London-based consumer genetics testing and
medical diagnostics provider, fetched a $60 million Series A round
led by Ventura Capital.
Genome Medical Inc., a South San Francisco, Calif.-based genomic
care delivery startup, picked up $60 million in Series C funding
and will acquire GeneMatters, a telehealth genetic counseling and
software services provider. Terms of the purchase weren't
disclosed. Casdin Capital led the investment, and was joined by GV,
Amgen Ventures, Perceptive Advisors, Canaan, Kaiser Permanente
Ventures, Illumina Ventures, LRVHealth, Echo Health Ventures,
Revelation Partners, HealthInvest Equity Partners, Avestria
Ventures, Flywheel Ventures, Dreamers Fund and Blue Ivy Ventures.
Casdin Capital's Eli Casdin and Shaun Rodriguez, along with
GeneMatters' Jill Davies, will join the company's board.
Alma, a New York membership-based network for mental-health-care
providers to build and scale their practices, collected $50 million
in Series C funding. Insight Partners led the round, which included
contributions from Optum Ventures, Tusk Venture Partners, Primary
Venture Partners, Sound Ventures, BoxGroup and Rainfall
Ellipsis Health, a San Francisco-based startup that uses a quick
speech test to quantify anxiety and depression severity, raised $26
million in Series A financing. Lead investor SJF Ventures was
joined by AblePartners, Alumni Ventures, Gaingels, Generator
Ventures, Greycroft, Khosla Ventures, Luminous Ventures, TIME
Ventures, SpringTide Ventures, What If Ventures and others in the
Wellbe Inc., a Madison, Wis.-based digital care management
platform provider, secured more than $2 million in a funding round
led by HealthX Ventures, with participation from WISC Partners.
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Around the Web
The 10 power players to watch on Democrats' drug-pricing push.
Hidden Covid risk: lingering kidney problems. (New York
What's next in the messenger-RNA pipeline after Covid-19
vaccines. (Fierce Biotech)
(END) Dow Jones Newswires
September 02, 2021 09:49 ET (13:49 GMT)
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