2019's sec­ond uni­corn Gos­samer rais­es $276M in up­sized IPO of­fer­ing, MP­M's Har­poon makes its Nas­daq de­but with $75.6M boun­ty

Meet 2019’s newest biotech uni­corn — Gos­samer Bio — which is mak­ing its de­but on Nas­daq Fri­day with an up­sized $276 mil­lion of­fer­ing.

The drug de­vel­op­er — with a val­u­a­tion of $1 bil­lion, ac­cord­ing to Re­nais­sance Cap­i­tal — is run by for­mer Re­cep­tos ex­ec­u­tives, and fol­lows the year’s first uni­corn Alec­tor $ALEC that raised $176 mil­lion at a $19 mid­point price. In­vestors are ea­ger­ly an­tic­i­pat­ing the per­for­mance of both, with an eye on oth­er IPO’s wait­ing in line, af­ter a tur­bu­lent De­cem­ber rav­aged stocks across the board, in­clud­ing Mod­er­na $MR­NA that saw a third of its colos­sus $7.5 bil­lion val­u­a­tion evap­o­rate soon af­ter its keen­ly watched mar­ket de­but.


Gos­samer post­ed its prospec­tus one day be­fore the US shut­down be­gan, and had its plans stymied by the par­a­lyzed SEC through­out the pro­longed or­deal. Re­fus­ing to let a lit­tle thing like that de­rail its plans, the com­pa­ny said it would use a rarely used path to forge ahead: Em­ploy­ing a fixed price and fore­go­ing the typ­i­cal­ly lengthy SEC re­view of their prospec­tus to green light the list­ing in fa­vor of en­abling their reg­is­tra­tion by lock­ing in their IPO price (at $16) 20 days be­fore mak­ing a mar­ket de­but. The move was short lived how­ev­er, as two days af­ter an­nounc­ing its strat­e­gy, the shut­down came to an end, and Gos­samer de­cid­ed to re­vert to its orig­i­nal route, but asked the SEC for an ac­cel­er­at­ed re­view.

“I think what was im­por­tant for us was that we con­tin­ue to stay on our op­er­a­tional plan, in terms of be­ing able to raise fi­nanc­ing” to fund Gos­samer’s clin­i­cal pro­grams, CEO Sheila Gu­jrathi told End­points News, when asked about the com­pa­ny’s ur­gency to at­tain a pub­lic list­ing.

The IPO funds raised by Gos­samer have eclipsed ex­pec­ta­tions, as the San Diego-based com­pa­ny was orig­i­nal­ly ex­pect­ing to sell rough­ly $14.4 mil­lion shares at $16 per share gen­er­at­ing $230 mil­lion in gross pro­ceeds. But it looks like in­vestors liked what they saw, and the com­pa­ny has now sold $17.25 mil­lion shares at the same price point, bring­ing in a $276 mil­lion boun­ty. It will be­gin trad­ing un­der the sym­bol $GOSS to­day.

Pre­ced­ing the IPO, the biotech had raised $330 mil­lion in two rounds of fund­ing. Al­to­geth­er, the com­pa­ny now has enough cap­i­tal to fund it well in­to 2021, Gu­jrathi said.

Fa­heem Has­nain on stage at the End­points News / Pharm­Cube #BI­IS18 sum­mit in Shang­hai, Oc­to­ber 2018End­points News

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The com­pa­ny, orig­i­nal­ly named FSG Bio, was found­ed by for­mer Re­cep­tos CMO Gu­jrathi and Fa­heem Has­nain, the ex-Re­cep­tos CEO, in 2015, short­ly af­ter Re­cep­tos was ac­quired by Cel­gene. Af­ter the Re­cep­tos buy­out, “it was a pret­ty im­me­di­ate de­ci­sion” to form an­oth­er com­pa­ny, Gu­jrathi said. Cur­rent­ly 14 se­nior ex­ec­u­tives and di­rec­tors to­geth­er hold near­ly 33% of Gos­samer, whose two biggest share­hold­ers are ARCH Ven­ture Part­ners with 17.5% and Omega Fund V with 15.1%.

The biotech is fo­cused on im­munol­o­gy, in­flam­ma­tion and on­col­o­gy, has three drugs in the clin­ic, and an­oth­er in pre­clin­i­cal test­ing. Its lead ex­per­i­men­tal drug, GB001, is cur­rent­ly in a mid-stage study in asth­ma pa­tients that com­menced last Oc­to­ber. An in­ter­im analy­sis is ex­pect­ed in 2020, with the full dataset lat­er in the year, Gu­jrathi said.

Patrick Baeuer­le

An­oth­er IPO that priced on Fri­day is that of on­col­o­gy com­pa­ny Har­poon Ther­a­peu­tics, which has raised $75.6 mil­lion in gross pro­ceeds via the sale of 5.4 mil­lion shares at $14 per share. Months af­ter rais­ing $70 mil­lion in a ven­ture round, the im­munother­a­py de­vel­op­er (which has an al­liance in place with Ab­b­Vie and was cre­at­ed in part by MPM part­ner Patrick Baeuer­le) filed for an IPO last De­cem­ber. The biotech has de­vel­oped T cell en­gager tech­nol­o­gy called Tri­TAC that is de­signed to sur­pass the ini­tial gen­er­a­tion of BiTE’s, with a longer half-life and sta­bil­i­ty to im­prove ef­fi­ca­cy and safe­ty. 

The San Fran­cis­co-based com­pa­ny will al­so trade on the Nas­daq un­der the sym­bol $HARP to­day.

BiTE® Plat­form and the Evo­lu­tion To­ward Off-The-Shelf Im­muno-On­col­o­gy Ap­proach­es

Despite rapid advances in the field of immuno-oncology that have transformed the cancer treatment landscape, many cancer patients are still left behind.1,2 Not every person has access to innovative therapies designed specifically to treat his or her disease. Many currently available immuno-oncology-based approaches and chemotherapies have brought long-term benefits to some patients — but many patients still need other therapeutic options.3

Pfiz­er’s Doug Gior­dano has $500M — and some ad­vice — to of­fer a cer­tain breed of 'break­through' biotech

So let’s say you’re running a cutting-edge, clinical-stage biotech, probably public, but not necessarily so, which could see some big advantages teaming up with some marquee researchers, picking up say $50 million to $75 million dollars in a non-threatening minority equity investment that could take you to the next level.

Doug Giordano might have some thoughts on how that could work out.

The SVP of business development at the pharma giant has helped forge a new fund called the Pfizer Breakthrough Growth Initiative. And he has $500 million of Pfizer’s money to put behind 7 to 10 — or so — biotech stocks that fit that general description.

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Gilead re­leas­es an­oth­er round of murky remde­sivir re­sults

A month after the NIH declared the first trial on remdesivir in Covid-19 a success, Gilead is out with new results on their antiviral. But although the study met one of its primary endpoints, the data are likely to only add to a growing debate over how effective the drug actually is.

In a Phase III trial, patients given a 5-day dose of remdesivir were 65% more likely to show “clinical improvement” compared to an arm given standard-of-care. The trial, though, gave little indication for whether the drug had an impact on key endpoints such as survival or time-to-recovery. And in a surprising twist, a 10-day dosing arm of remdesivir didn’t lead to a statistically significant improvement over standard of care.

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The big mon­ey: Poised to make drug R&D his­to­ry, a Chi­na biotech un­veils uni­corn rac­ing am­bi­tions in a bid to raise $350M-plus on Nas­daq

Almost exactly three years after Shanghai-based Legend came out of nowhere to steal the show at ASCO with jaw-dropping data on their BCMA-targeted CAR-T for multiple myeloma, the little player with Big Pharma connections is taking a giant step toward making it big on Wall Street. And this time they want to seal the deal on a global rep after staking out a unicorn valuation in what’s turned out to be a bull market for biotech IPOs — in the middle of a pandemic.

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Why Mer­ck wait­ed, and what they now bring to the Covid-19 fight

Nicholas Kartsonis had been running clinical infectious disease research at Merck for almost 2 years when, in mid-January, he got a new assignment: searching the pharma giant’s vast libraries for something that could treat the novel coronavirus.

The outbreak was barely two weeks old when Kartsonis and a few dozen others got to work, first in small teams and then in a larger task force that sucked in more and more parts of the sprawling company as Covid-19 infected more and more of the globe. By late February, the group began formally searching for vaccine and antiviral candidates to license. Still, while other companies jumped out to announce their programs and, eventually and sometimes controversially, early glimpses at human data, Merck remained silent. They made only a brief announcement about a data collection partnership in April and mentioned vaguely a vaccine and antiviral search in their April 28 earnings call.

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Mark Genovese (Stanford via Twitter)

Gilead woos fil­go­tinib clin­i­cal in­ves­ti­ga­tor from Stan­ford to lead the charge on NASH, in­flam­ma­to­ry dis­eases

With an FDA OK for the use of filgotinib in rheumatoid arthritis expected to drop any day now, Gilead has recruited a new leader from academia to lead its foray into inflammatory diseases.

Mark Genovese — a longtime Stanford professor and most recently the clinical chief in the division of immunology and rheumatology — was the principal investigator in FINCH 2, one of three studies that supported Gilead’s NDA filing. In his new role as SVP, inflammation, he will oversee the clinical development of the entire portfolio.

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Stephen Isaacs, Aduro president and CEO (Aduro)

Once a high fly­er, a stag­ger­ing Aduro is auc­tion­ing off most of the pipeline as CEO Stephen Isaacs hands off the shell to new own­ers

After a drumbeat of failure, setbacks and reorganizations over the last few years, Aduro CEO Stephen Isaacs is handing over his largely gutted-out shell of a public company to another biotech company and putting up some questionable assets in a going-out-of-business sale.

Isaacs —who forged a string of high-profile Big Pharma deals along the way — has wrapped a 13-year run at the biotech with one program for kidney disease going to the new owners at Chinook Therapeutics. A host of once-heralded assets like their STING agonist program partnered with Novartis (which dumped their work on ADU-S100 after looking over weak clinical results), the Lilly-allied cGAS-STING inhibitor program and the anti-CD27 program out-licensed to Merck will all be posted for auction under a strategic review process.

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Hill­house re­casts spot­light on Chi­na's biotech scene with $160M round for Shang­hai-based an­ti­body mak­er

Almost two years after first buying into Genor Biopharma’s pipeline of cancer and autoimmune therapies, Hillhouse Capital has led a $160 million cash injection to push the late-stage assets over the finish line while continuing to fund both internal R&D and dealmaking.

The Series B has landed right around the time Genor would have listed on the Hong Kong stock exchange, according to plans reported by Bloomberg late last year. Insiders had said that the company was looking to raise about $200 million.

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No­var­tis chips in $10M for IPO-bound part­ner Pli­ant; Tenax shares soar on heart drug da­ta

Novartis is coming in with $10 million to help support the looming IPO of a partner. Pliant Therapeutics posted a new filing with the SEC showing that Novartis is buying the shares at $15, the mid-point of the range. It’s adding several million shares to the offering, bringing the total to around $135 million. Biotech companies have been enjoying quite a run on virtual Wall Street, with investors boosting new offerings to some big hauls.