Interview with Nancy Briefs, CEO at Cambridge, MA-based Altrix Bio Finalist at the Featured Company Pitch Session at RESI San Francisco

6 Feb

Nancy Briefs

An interview with Nancy Briefs, CEO of Altrix Bio

– By Greg Mannix, VP of International Business Development, LSN

Greg Mannix

RESI has recently added an all-day pitch track in which entrepreneurs can deliver their short presentation to an investor audience and get instant feedback and questions from investors. In January at RESI SF, Altrix Bio was selected as one of the pitch session finalists. You can now apply to pitch at RESI Europe. You can also apply for a poster spot in the RESI Innovation Challenge.

Nancy Briefs, CEO of Altrix Bio

trategic business leader with extensive experience creating value, driving strategy and launching product commercialization in diverse life science companies. Deep general management and fundraising expertise having raised over $500 M in equity including IPO. Innovative, collaborative and entrepreneurial, strong communicator and tenacious. Energized by turning innovation into commercial reality, working with creative scientists, and communicating value to partners and investors.

Greg Mannix: Nancy, congratulations on being a finalist in the first ever Featured Company Pitch Session dedicated to women CEOs. What are your thoughts on this focus?

Nancy Briefs: I think it was timely and important. Especially being in California, one of the first places to really push for more diversity. I thought it was a refreshing change!

GM: What can be done to increase gender diversity in leadership roles at life sciences companies?

NB: I think a lot of women fall off the path between senior management positions and the C-suite, partly because of family commitments and other factors. Another thing might be the lack of role models to look up to when they are coming up the corporate ladder.  And finally, it doesn’t help that the large majority of investors are also men, and are probably more prone to invest in people that look like them.  Events like this RESI pitch session dedicated to women in CEO roles, which gives visibility to women role models and successful leaders, is a good thing. It is a fact that women make most of the healthcare decisions in their families, so it would seem to make sense that they play a more prominent role in healthcare companies.

GM: How did the Pitch Session go?

NB: It was well attended; I think there were 100 to 120 people in the auditorium. The moderator did a good job keeping everyone on schedule. It was a well run session.

GM: And how did you do in this new pitch format at RESI?

NB: Really well! I love to pitch and we got really positive feedback from several people. We got great visibility for the company and two of the investors in the audience reached out to me afterward. We are currently in conversations with them, so we are pleased with the result.

GM: Why do you think Altrix got traction with investors?

NB: I think Type 2 diabetes it is such a huge global problem, and our solution LuCI™ AJN 003 is an elegant drug without any systemic effects.  That is important for the 50% of patients who do not reach glycemic control.   And our experienced team really knows what it will take to get us through Phase II clinical trials.   Also, Dennis Ford (Founder & CEO, Life Science Nation; Creator of RESI Conference Series), who we’ve been working with on our fundraise, really helped us focus our story. That made a difference as well.

GM: So you would pitch again at RESI?

NB: You bet!

AltrixBio has developed LuCI™, a novel substance that transiently coats the GI mucosa to block nutrient absorption, independent of the pH environment, temporarily mimicking the effects of Gastric Bypass (RYGB). LuCI is comprised of a sucrose octasulfate aluminum complex engineered into a complex coacervate formulation linked via pH-independent electrostatic interactions. When exposed to gastrointestinal fluid, LuCI forms a sticky paste that binds to the mucosa to form a coating on the site of GI tract. LuCI 1) can be orally administered, 2) rapidly binds to the luminal surface of the stomach, duodenum, and small intestine, 3) forms a continuous barrier coating to block nutrient contact, 4) has shown in vivo efficacy in a rodent model to significantly lower postprandial glucose response, and 5) has shown no systemic absorption or toxicity, thus minimizing the risk profile. Furthermore, by adjusting viscosity and dosing of the drug, we can alter duration of exposure, thus creating a family of drug formulations to coat the intestine and alter glucose homeostasis for different periods of time. The company is advancing AJN 003 for the treatment of type 2 Diabetes. Additionally, LuCI’s unique attributes may provide an ideal platform for delivery of drugs to the GI tract.

Analysing Pharma Deal Data Shows the Importance of Early Partnering

6 Feb

By Lucy Parkinson, VP of Investor Research, LSN

In addition to maintaining the LSN Investor Platform, LSN also provides access to the LSN Business Development platform, which tracks tens of thousands of early stage companies and new life science technologies all over the world.  This platform includes a licensing deals dataset that provides crucial information on valuations, milestones, upfront payments, and everything else you’d need to build valuation comparators for your assets.  By taking a look at all the 2019 data as a whole, we can reveal what’s really happening in pharma dealmaking.

We have recently expanded our deals records and due to the change in the way we compile this data, year-over-year comparisons are difficult.  But here are the key facts that emerge from the 2019 deals data.

Partnering Starts Early

While 2019 saw a good deal of horse-trading of assets that were already on the market (including many deals for regional rights in Asia), we continue to see a lot of early stage companies locking in deals at the Research, Preclinical or Phase I stages.  As you can see by the chart, about a third of 2019’s deals that pertained to a specific therapeutic asset happened prior to Phase II.

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Oncology, Oncology, Oncology

In 2019, dealmakers continued their hunt for new targets and treatments for cancer. Many assets were licensed that did not specify an indication or did not pertain to a specific disease area (this is often true of new drug platforms or delivery technologies), but among those that did, oncology continued to have an outsized presence.  However, we saw an uptick in interest in infectious diseases and in gastroenterology.  In the infectious space, there were several deals for HIV treatments, and in gastroenterology, there was interest in Crohn’s disease, NASH and IBS.  Neurology also remained an active field for deals, with in-licensing efforts related to multiple sclerosis and epilepsy, among other disease areas.

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There are hundreds of potential licensees out there, and they have deep pockets

Every time we take a look into licensing deals data, we find deals being made with a huge variety of organizations all over the world.  From traditional big pharmas and global conglomerates to rising biotechs and even philanthropic foundations that are making co-development deals with startups – there’s no shortage of dealmakers out there, and if you’re looking for a partner for your early stage asset you should spread your net wide.  We captured a total of over 170 organisations that made an in-licensing deal in 2019.  About half of all deals included a stated upfront payment, and over half also stated a milestone payment – sometimes in the billions of dollars.

While not all deals are made public, within our data set the most highly active dealmakers in 2019 were AstraZeneca and Gilead.  We’ll keep our eyes peeled during 2020 for in-licensing activity from these firms and hundreds more.

Sales & Marketing 102: Develop A Product, Get Initial Data, And Start Telling Your Story

6 Feb

By Dennis Ford, Founder & CEO, Life Science Nation; Creator of RESI Conference Series

Last week I wrote about why every entrepreneur needs to build a fundraising campaign that utilizes comprehensive marketing collateral and includes a strategy for getting in front of the right partners to help move your company forward. However, equally as important is an innovative technology, a compelling story and sufficient data to prove how effective your product is.

Early stage innovators need to get their products developed through prototyping for a target market, then get out of the building and go after that market (investors, end users, channel partners) with their product info and validating data. The key is emphasizing and differentiating their technology, proving why they are different and telling the story of what that difference will mean.  You have to start telling the story early.  Preclinical and IND stages are where you want to be talking about how your technology will impact the existing landscape, and you must deliver a prototype with data to prove it.

The lean company model, in which LSN believes, is to get your technology going and take it to the potential partners in your space (LSN can identify them) that would be interested, and build momentum and relationship value through early stage interaction. Attending RESI, which is held every few months, allows you to regularly meet your potential partners face to face and develop deeper relationships as the products iterate, instead of meeting once or twice a year. This is why RESI is so pivotal: because all the different but relevant players are at every RESI. LSN provides the tactical aspect of how to engage partners in discussion and where to find them.

Ultimately, a company cannot succeed without using all of these pieces to put together a complete picture: a product that continues to meet important milestones, a compelling story backed up by a complete marketing collateral package, and on-going relationships with investors and strategic partners to move it forward. However, the product and the validation data is the foundation on which everything stands, and it needs to be solid to avoid crashing to the ground.

Hot Investor Mandate: Corporate Venture Arm of Large Company Invests Up to $6M in Therapeutics & Therapeutic Platforms with Strategic Fit

6 Feb

A corporate venture capital arm of a global company invests to further the parent company’s future strategic position, rather than purely for financial returns.  The firm looks to make equity investments into emerging biotech companies with typical investments ranging from $1 million to $6 million, with additional capital reserved for follow on investments. The firm has no set allocations it plans to make over the next year but is actively reviewing new opportunities. The firm considers opportunities located around the globe.

The firm is looking for biopharmaceutical companies developing therapeutics and therapeutic platforms generally at the preclinical stage and is open to considering both small molecules, biologics, nucleic acid, and gene and cellular therapeutic approaches. The firm is interested in various indications including immunology and autoimmune diseases (rheumatology, dermatology and gastroenterology), neuroscience (only neurodegenerative diseases) and oncology. The firm is not investing in diagnostics, devices or healthcare IT.

The firm is looking for companies with experienced management teams with domain expertise. The firm strongly prefers board representation following investment.

If you are interested in more information about this investor and other investors tracked by LSN, please email mandates@lifesciencenation.com.

Hot Investor Mandate: USA & China-Based VC Firm Highly Interested in Pre-Clinical to Phase II Novel Therapeutics, and Medical Devices

6 Feb

Founded in 2016, the firm has offices in USA and China. The firm has two RMB funds and one USD fund: The two RMB funds focus on the local Chinese market; while the USD fund invests in Hong Kong and non-China market. The firm’s USD Fund has invested in 7 companies, half of which are in the novel drugs area, and will continue to invest in Seed to pre-Series A. The typical allocation size will be $0.5MM to $1 MM, and up to $3.5 MM.

The firm is mainly interested in the Therapeutics innovations including orphan drugs, that are in pre-clinical to Phase II stage, especially CAR-T, small molecules and CRISPR. The firm is also open to medical devices companies, which are in development or clinical stage, but holds a strict valuation on diagnostics companies. The firm is not interested in Healthcare IT.

The firm has no specific company & management Team Requirements.

If you are interested in more information about this investor and other investors tracked by LSN, please email mandates@lifesciencenation.com.

Hot Investor Mandate: Investment Firm in Korea Seeks Therapeutics & Diagnostics Technologies in CNS, Oncology/Immuno-Oncology

6 Feb

A holding company based in South Korea is actively seeking global early-stage investment opportunities in bio/healthcare sectors, and actively invest in biotech VC funds as well. Initial size of investment largely depends on a deal-by-deal basis.

With regards to life sciences, the firm is most interested in therapeutics or diagnostics companies with a particular interest in platform technologies. The firm is most interested in CNS, oncology, and immuno-oncology opportunities. While the firm is open to investing in medical devices or digital health, these are not a priority for the firm.

The firm does not have specific company or management team requirements. The firm does not require companies to have a Korea angle or market potential in Korea, but the firm can provide strategic value add if the companies were interested in Asia market expansion.

If you are interested in more information about this investor and other investors tracked by LSN, please email mandates@lifesciencenation.com.

Hot Investor Mandate: USA Family Office Invests Up to $10M in Life Science & Healthcare Companies that Target Oncology & Ophthalmology

6 Feb

A family investment group based in the USA is looking to invest in technologies related to ophthalmology and oncology that are in the pre-clinical to Ph I stages. The firm will invest in seed and series A rounds up to $10M. The firm is willing to invest globally, with a special interest in companies based in North America, Europe and China.

The firm is interested in therapeutics, medical device and diagnostics companies with technologies in the ophthalmology and oncology spaces. The firm may consider digital health companies as well. For ophthalmology-related companies, Halcyon is most interested in small molecules or combination devices. For oncology-related companies, the firm prefers I/O technologies or diagnostics.

The firm prefers to take a board seat after investing.

If you are interested in more information about this investor and other investors tracked by LSN, please email mandates@lifesciencenation.com.

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