New Haven Biz-September 2021

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n e w h a v e n b i z . c o m | S e p t e m b e r 2 0 2 1 | n e w h a v e n B I Z 17 T e c h 2 5 W hat do TV personalities Whoopi Goldberg and Khloe Khardasian have in common with NASCAR team owner Rick Ware? ey all suffer from migraines and have become spokespeople for Nurtec, the flagship drug of New Haven's Biohaven Pharmaceuticals. Dr. Vlad Coric, Biohaven's CEO, seems almost as pleased with the marketing strategy of using celebrities who use Nurtec as he is with the hot start of the drug. Publicly-traded Biohaven reported $93 million in product net revenue for the second quarter as demand for the 18-month-old migraine drug continues to accelerate. Product net revenue in the year- ago quarter totaled $9.7 million. Nurtec is the only product approved for both acute and preventative treatment of the debilitating headaches that affect 40 million Americans. Rapidly rising operating and marketing costs, however, resulted in a net loss of $210 million for the quarter, or $3.23 per share. e market capitalization is about $7.6 billion. While Nurtec is the first commercial drug for Biohaven, there are others in clinical trials. Most notable are a glutamate platform for impulse control and neurological disorders and another platform for treatment of inflammation and neurodegeneration. While Nurtec has competitors in the migraine market, the new drugs would arrive as the first treatments for the designated conditions. Biohaven's roots are intertwined with Coric's career as a physician, researcher and drug developer. He grew up not far from the former Norwich State Hospital and developed an interest in neurosciences. Aer earning his medical degree at Wake Forest University, he returned to Connecticut and served as chief of the Yale Clinical Neuroscience Research Unit, and director of the Yale Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder Research Clinic. Later he worked in research and drug development. In founding Biohaven, Coric said he was filling a void le by big pharma in the development of drugs to treat neurological conditions. Working in late-stage clinical trials is an expensive field where bringing one drug to market oen costs more than $100 million, he explains. A 2017 IPO provided some of the necessary funding for Nurtec and an offering of additional common stock this spring raised another $200 million for future products. All in all, Biohaven has raised more than a half-billion dollars in funding. Today, Biohaven's headquarters and clinical facilities are housed in a renovated Church Street building that Coric describes as "classic New Haven." While he's coy about divulging headcount, he says "hundreds" work in New Haven while commercial and sales operations are based in Yardley, Penn. Coric sees real value in New Haven's bioscience ecosystem and points to a recent partnership with New Haven's Artizan Biosciences. In January, Biohaven acquired Kleo Pharmaceuticals and its lab space in Science Park. At the same time, Biohaven announced a licensing agreement with Yale for the commercialization of its extracellular target degrader platform. Biohaven has deep internship talent that employs about three dozen students from area schools. It also maintains research relationships with Yale and UConn. n Biohaven's migraine drug Nurtec off to hot start with strong sales, celebrity endorsements At a glance Company: Biohaven Pharmaceuticals Industry: Biosciences Top Executive: Dr. Vlad Coric, Founder & CEO HQ: 215 Church St., New Haven No. of Employees: Less than 1,000 Company Website: http:// Phone Number: 203-404-0410 L eading an effort to create innovative drug systems that can beat cancer seems like a full-time job. Leading an effort to find the $200 million it will take to win federal approval for marketing just the first of those drugs also seems like a full-time job. Welcome to Per Hellsund's world. Both of those tasks fit in his portfolio as CEO at Cybrexa erapeutics, a four-year- old bioscience startup based in New Haven's Science Park. Hellsund has the kind of diverse scientific and business background that prepares a CEO for carrying that kind of dual load. He was the former CEO of Wallingford- based CyVek, where he led the development, commercialization and exit of a novel automated immunoassay system that was acquired by Bio-Techne. Prior to that, he was the president of inc.jet Inc., a startup that led the introduction of thermal inkjet printing in the commercial printing space. In co-founding Cybrexa, he rejoins CyVek colleagues Kevin Didden, as Cybrexa board chair, and Kevin Rakin, as a director. ey are seeking to leverage research developed at Yale University's School of Medicine by Dr. Ranjit Binder, Cybrexa's chief scientific advisor and scientific co-founder. Cybrexa's proprietary alphalex platform selectively delivers powerful anticancer agents directly into tumor cells. e key is peptide technology developed by Dr. Donald Engelman, Higgins Professor of biochemistry at Yale and a Guggenheim Fellow, and exclusively licensed by Cybrexa. It allows alphalex to differentiate between tumors and healthy tissue, reducing toxic side effects. e approach won important validation when the National Cancer Institute chose Cybrexa from among 60 applicants for Next program funding support for clinical trials of CBX12, which targets advanced or metastatic refractory solid tumors. ose clinical trials have begun at four sites — including Yale — and are designed to prove safety, tolerability and recommended dosage. But costs continue to rise, and the venture remains "pre-revenue." Hellsund's team has raised $47 million so far and is now seeking an additional $50 million to $75 million as a bridge to an anticipated IPO in 2022. However, Hellsund said he isn't closing the door to a possible partnership with, or even acquisition by, a deep-pocketed big pharma firm. Overall, Hellsund estimates it will take north of $200 million to win Food and Drug Administration approval to market the first of the four products in Cybrexa's pipeline. Given Cybrexa's roots at Yale, it's no surprise that Hellsund is a booster for New Haven's entrepreneurial ecosystem. He said the access to talent is world class and a critical mass of bioscience innovation is building. A core staff of 24 employees is supplemented by six to 12 consultants. e firm also has assembled a board of scientific advisors that reads like a who's who of industry giants. n Targeting potential IPO in 2022, Cybrexa's drugs take aim at deadly cancer cells Biohaven Pharmaceuticals CEO Dr. Vlad Coric holds a Nurtec pill box. At a glance Company: Cybrexa Therapeutics Industry: Bioscience Top Executive: Per Hellsund, President & CEO HQ: 5 Science Park, 395 Winchester Ave., New Haven No. of Employees: 24 Company Website: https:// Phone Number: 860-717-2731 Workers perform research in Cybrexa's New Haven lab. By Norm Bell By Norm Bell (PHOTO/CONTRIBUTED) Per Hellsund, President & CEO

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