Biotech Financing Roundup: Belharra, NextPoint, Pathalys & More

Financial conditions continue to make it difficult for biotech companies to raise money. Despite the tough market, some startups are securing the cash they need to advance drug research in cancer, immunology, rare disease, and more. Here’s a recap of some recent financings of note:

Belharra Therapeutics emerged from stealth with $50 million in Series A financing and a partnership with Genentech that comes with an $80 million upfront payment. The startup, a spinout of Scripps Research, has technology that analyzes the human proteome to find ways small molecules that can bind to disease-causing proteins long thought to be undruggable. Belharra was formed by venture capital firm Versant Ventures.

—Pathalys Pharma raised $150 million to finance two Phase 3 tests of upacicalet, a potential treatment for dialysis patients who develop secondary hyperparathyroidism. This condition leads to lower levels of calcium in the blood, causing the thyroid glands to work harder. Treatment includes calcimimetics, which reduce secretions of parathyroid hormone. Upacicalet is an intravenously administered small molecule that may control intact parathyroid hormone levels. The new cash for Raleigh, North Carolina-based Pathalys, a combination of product financing and equity investment, was led by Abingworth.

—The Cystic Fibrosis Foundation committed up to $15 million to ReCode Therapeutics to support one of the biotech’s programs. Menlo Park, California-based ReCode develops lipid nanoparticle-delivered messenger RNA therapies. The foundation’s investment will support the startup’s work developing an inhaled mRNA therapy for cystic fibrosis. Last summer, Leaps by Bayer co-led a $120 million extension of ReCode’s Series B round of financing.

—Aethon Therapeutics launched with a $30 million Series A round of financing. The New York-based startup is developing bispecific antibody drugs intended to overcome the ability of tumors to develop drug resistance. Aethon’s technology, called HapImmune, is based on research from NYU Langone Health. The financing coincided with the publication of a paper in the journal Cancer Discovery describing the HapImmune platform. Most of Aethon’s financing comes from venture capital firm Apple Tree Partners, which co-founded Aethon with scientists from NYU Langone.

—Leaps by Bayer and Sanofi Ventures co-led NextPoint Therapeutics’ $80 million Series B round. The Cambridge, Massachusetts-based startup said it will use the capital to reach the clinic with its two lead immuno-oncology programs, both of which activate anti-tumor responses by targeting the newly discovered HHLA2 pathway.

—Speaking of Sanofi Ventures, the venture fund now has an additional $750 million. French pharmaceutical giant Sanofi has committed that sum to its namesake venture fund, which invests in innovative new companies. Last year, Sanofi Ventures closed 10 investments in therapeutic and digital areas of interest to Sanofi.

—Ensoma Therapeutics closed an $85 million Series B financing to support its in vivo cell therapy platform, Engenious, and to continue development of its genetic medicines pipeline. The Boston-based company also announced the acquisition of Twelve Bio ApS, a CRISPR gene-editing company. Arix Bioscience and 5AM Ventures co-led the new financing. Ensoma launched in 2021, unveiling a $70 million Series A round and a partnership with Takeda Pharmaceutical.

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