5 cash-hun­gry biotechs crowd in­to Nas­daq in search of a $600M-plus wind­fall

The queue to get in­to Nas­daq just got a lot longer.

On Fri­day af­ter the mar­kets closed 5 more biotech’s tossed their S-1s in­to the mix, mark­ing at least 22 IPO pitch­es for the year to date. That falls in line next to the 20 biotechs that had gone pub­lic by this time last year — which marked an­oth­er busy year for pub­lic mar­ket de­buts and the cash they spin for R&D work.

We broke it out on a case-by-case ba­sis:


Vivek Ra­maswamy Roivant

Vivek Ra­maswamy is a crea­ture of habit. He cre­ates drug de­vel­op­ers un­der his um­brel­la com­pa­ny Roivant, beefs up their pipelines with drugs aban­doned or gath­er­ing dust on Big Phar­ma shelves, hires an ex­pe­ri­enced leader to run the shop, and then steers the firm to an IPO. Af­ter tak­ing Ax­o­vant and My­ovant pub­lic — in a pair of IPOs that raised more than half a bil­lion dol­lars — Der­ma­vant is be­ing groomed for a pub­lic de­but. Af­ter buy­ing tap­inarof from GSK $GSK, the biotech is gun­ning for a $100 mil­lion IPO, un­der the sym­bol $DRMT, ac­cord­ing to a fil­ing post­ed on Fri­day.


Neil Ku­mar End­points

Af­ter rais­ing about $299 mil­lion in Jan­u­ary, start­up mill Bridge­Bio is prim­ing it­self for a $225 mil­lion IPO. The Pa­lo Al­to, Cal­i­for­nia-based com­pa­ny has birthed a pletho­ra of star­tups such as Ei­dos, Navire, QED Ther­a­peu­tics and Pelle­Pharm, to fo­cus on ge­net­ic dis­eases, en­com­pass­ing der­ma­tol­ogy, on­col­o­gy, car­di­ol­o­gy, neu­rol­o­gy, en­docrinol­o­gy, re­nal dis­ease, and oph­thal­mol­o­gy. Run by Neil Ku­mar, Bridge­Bio now has 16 pro­grams, of which 4 are in or ap­proach­ing late-stage de­vel­op­ment. KKR owns a 10% stake in Bridge­Bio, which plans to list un­der the sym­bol $BBIO, ac­cord­ing to a fil­ing post­ed on Fri­day.


Bank­ing in a be­he­moth $125 mil­lion last Sep­tem­ber — in its third round of fi­nanc­ing — the pre­clin­i­cal biotech Atre­ca is aim­ing for a $100 mil­lion pub­lic de­but. Run by John Or­win — who was in charge of Re­lyp­sa un­til its $1.5 bil­lion takeover — the com­pa­ny is fo­cused on im­munother­a­pies, by us­ing tis­sue sam­ples from can­cer pa­tients to gath­er ide­al an­ti­bod­ies, em­ploy­ing B cells as their sound­ing board, for use in sol­id tu­mors.

John Or­win Atre­ca

The Red­wood City, Cal­i­for­nia-based play­er ex­pects to sub­mit an FDA ap­pli­ca­tion to test its lead ex­per­i­men­tal drug, ATRC-101, in hu­mans in late 2019, and kick off an ear­ly-stage tri­al in ear­ly 2020. Bak­er Broth­ers Life Sci­ences and its af­fil­i­ates own 22.8% of the com­pa­ny’s class A shares — and all of its B shares — while oth­er big share­hold­ers in­clude: Hadley Har­bor Mas­ter In­vestors (12.5%), Bill & Melin­da Gates Foun­da­tion (9%) and Box­er Cap­i­tal (6.9%). Atre­ca is plan­ning to list un­der the sym­bol $BCEL, ac­cord­ing to a fil­ing post­ed on Fri­day.

Pre­vail Ther­a­peu­tics

Wad­ing deep­er in­to the biotech wa­ters, for­mer Co­lum­bia pro­fes­sor Asa Abe­liovich is tak­ing his Parkin­son’s gene ther­a­py project to the Nas­daq, look­ing to raise $100 mil­lion for Pre­vail Ther­a­peu­tics af­ter clos­ing a $50 mil­lion round just two months ago.

Asa Abe­liovich Pre­vail

Found­ed in 2017 in part­ner­ship with Or­biMed and The Sil­ver­stein Foun­da­tion,  the New York-based com­pa­ny vows to de­vel­op a broad­er set of AAV gene ther­a­pies for neu­rode­gen­er­a­tive dis­eases, with a fo­cus on ge­net­i­cal­ly de­fined pa­tient pop­u­la­tions. In Parkin­son’s, that means tar­get­ing the GBA1 mu­ta­tion — an un­der­ly­ing dri­ver of the (less com­mon) neu­ro­log­i­cal man­i­fes­ta­tions of a com­mon lyso­so­mal stor­age dis­or­der known as Gauch­er dis­ease. Ad­di­tion­al pro­grams in­clude PR006 for fron­totem­po­ral de­men­tia with GRN mu­ta­tion and PR004 for the treat­ment of synu­cle­inopathies, pre­clin­i­cal stud­ies of which are to be fund­ed by the IPO wind­fall.

Abe­liovich, who helped co-found high pro­file Alzheimer’s biotech Alec­tor, owns 10.1% of the stock. But Or­biMed has the li­on’s share here: Its 48.6% own­er­ship dwarfs Re­genxbio’s 9.1%, RA Cap­i­tal’s 8.1%, Pon­tif­ax’ 5.9% or EcoR1 Cap­i­tal’s 5.8%. Pre­vail plans to list as $PRVL.

Akero Ther­a­peu­tics

It’s bare­ly been a year since Akero threw its NASH can­di­date in­to the crowd­ed space from out of left field. In the months that fol­lowed, it added $70 mil­lion to its orig­i­nal $65 mil­lion cash re­serve, wooed Gilead vet An­drew Cheng as CEO, and se­cured an IND for the next phase in the clin­ic. And if it all goes ac­cord­ing to plan, it will be cel­e­brat­ing its biotech an­niver­sary with $86 mil­lion in IPO mon­ey.

An­drew Cheng Akero

In the S-1, Akero once again out­lined the case for its FGF21 ana­log — in-li­censed from Am­gen $AMGN — in dis­rupt­ing dis­ease pro­gres­sion, start­ing from the fat ac­cu­mu­la­tion that is be­lieved to cause cell stress. Af­ter treat­ing 83 type 2 di­a­betes pa­tients with the drug, in­ves­ti­ga­tors ob­served bet­ter plas­ma lipopro­tein lev­els and in­sulin sen­si­tiv­i­ty, in­di­cat­ing “the po­ten­tial of AKR-001 to redi­rect calo­ries away from the liv­er, re­duce liv­er fat, al­le­vi­ate he­pa­to­cyte stress, in­hib­it in­flam­ma­tion and re­solve fi­bro­sis in pa­tients with NASH, as well as re­duce sus­cep­ti­bil­i­ty to car­dio­vas­cu­lar dis­ease” — a ma­jor cause of death for these pa­tients.

The biotech, now lo­cat­ed in San Fran­cis­co, al­so dis­closed that Am­gen gained a 7.8% stake from the deal in ad­di­tion to the $5 mil­lion up­front pay­ment. Clin­i­cal mile­stones to­tal $40 mil­lion and Akero could pay $75 mil­lion more if the drug makes it to the mar­ket. Ap­ple Tree Part­ners is the biggest share­hold­er here with 18.5%, while At­las, ven­Bio and Ver­sant each claims 15.2%. The pro­ceeds will go to­ward a planned Phase IIa tri­al con­firm­ing this the­o­ry as well as man­u­fac­tur­ing and oth­er ef­forts to beef up the clin­i­cal pipeline.

Im­age: Shut­ter­stock

Bio­mark­er 'roadmap­s' and the fu­ture of can­cer R&D; Cur­tain rais­es on #AS­CO22; Pfiz­er, No­var­tis tack­le drug ac­cess; and more

Welcome back to Endpoints Weekly, your review of the week’s top biopharma headlines. Want this in your inbox every Saturday morning? Current Endpoints readers can visit their reader profile to add Endpoints Weekly. New to Endpoints? Sign up here.

While this was not a week for earth-shattering news, there were certainly a lot of interesting tidbits. If you found this recap helpful, please recommend it to your friends and colleagues. We’ll see you on the other side of the long weekend.

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Keep­ing pres­sure on Am­gen, Mi­rati draws mixed re­views on lat­est cut of KRAS da­ta

As the close runner-up to Amgen’s Lumakras in the KRAS race, any data cut from Mirati’s adagrasib continues to draw scrutiny from analysts. And the latest batch of numbers from ASCO is a decidedly mixed bag.

While a quick comparison suggests that adagrasib spurred slightly more responses and led to a longer overall survival than Lumakras among a group of non-small cell lung cancer patients, its duration of response appears shorter and the safety profile continues to spark concern.

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Ann is one of ViiV Healthcare's newest spokespeople as the retired school administrator speaks up about her HIV status.

GSK's Vi­iV de­buts next evo­lu­tion in HIV med Dova­to cam­paign with new spokes­peo­ple and new mes­sage

When Ann saw the first TV commercials for HIV medicine Dovato, she didn’t see herself represented. So the 74-year-old retired school administrator who’s been living with HIV since 1998, reached out to GSK’s ViiV Healthcare and asked why not?

Now Ann is one of three people starring in ViiV’s latest Dovato campaign called “Detect This.” The next-step evolution in the branded campaign plays on the word “detect” — often used in describing HIV status under control as undetectable — but in this case, uses the word as a directive for people to understand they can use fewer medicines.

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Tran­si­tion to new Eu­ro­pean clin­i­cal tri­als in­fo sys­tem starts slow­ly

At the end of January, the European Medicines Agency officially launched its new clinical trials info system (CTIS), although the migration to the new platform has only really just begun, and sponsors have until the end of January 2023 before all initial trial applications must be submitted through CTIS.

Overall, 56 clinical trial applications have been submitted in CTIS during the first 3 months since the launch of the system on Jan. 31, according to new data posted by the EMA. By comparison, about 4,000 new trials are authorized each year across Europe.

Switzer­land to de­stroy over 600,000 ex­pired dos­es of Mod­er­na Covid vac­cine

As concerns related to uptake and distribution continue to linger, Switzerland is among the first countries that plans to destroy hundreds of thousands of expired and unused Covid-19 vaccine doses.

The European country said it plans to destroy more than 600,000 doses of Moderna’s Spikevax Covid-19 vaccine as the doses have reached their expiration date.

However, Moderna CEO Stéphane Bancel told the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland that he’s in the process of throwing 30 million doses in the garbage, exclaiming, “We have a big demand problem.”

Nassim Usman, Catalyst Biosciences CEO

Af­ter $60M Ver­tex deal, group of Cat­a­lyst share­hold­ers claims biotech could’ve sold as­sets three years ago

Catalyst Biosciences was down to five employees in March, and the biotech needed to do something after two rounds of layoffs, a nixed collaboration and a culling of its hemophilia program.

In came Vertex, with $60 million to buy up the South San Francisco biotech’s preclinical complement drugs, which target the system that bridges the body’s innate and adaptive immune response and a class most known for Ultomiris and Soliris. The deal includes CB 2782-PEG, the dry AMD drug that Biogen no longer wanted in March.

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Lina Khan, FTC chair (Graeme Jennings/Pool via AP Images)

Pile-on over PBMs con­tin­ues with FTC com­ments and a new bi­par­ti­san Sen­ate bill

More than 500 stakeholders sent comments to the FTC on whether the commission should look further into pharma middlemen, known as PBMs, with many of the commenters calling for more federal oversight.

Similar to the critical open comment period in a deadlocked FTC session last February, pharmacies and pharmacy groups are continuing to call out the lack of transparency among the top 3 PBMs, which control about 80% of the market.

Pharma brands are losing their shine with US consumers who are now thinking about the economy and inflation instead of Covid. (Credit: Shutterstock)

Phar­ma brands fade in an­nu­al Har­ris con­sumer vis­i­bil­i­ty poll: Mod­er­na drops off and Pfiz­er dips

As Covid-19 concerns are fading in the US, so is biopharma visibility. The annual Axios Harris Poll survey to determine and rank the 100 most top-of-mind brands in the US finds Moderna, which was No. 3 last year, not on the list at all for 2022, and Pfizer sinking 37 spots.

However, it’s not that Moderna or Pfizer did anything wrong, it’s just that Americans have moved on to other worries beyond Covid.

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HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra (Jacquelyn Martin/AP Images)

HHS fin­ish­es off Trump-era rule that would've erased ba­sic FDA regs with­out fre­quent re­views

HHS on Thursday finalized its decision to withdraw a rule, proposed just before former President Donald Trump left office, that would’ve caused thousands of HHS and FDA regulations to automatically expire if they weren’t reviewed within two years, and every 10 years thereafter.

The decision follows the filing of a lawsuit last March, in which several nonprofits alleged that the outgoing administration planted “a ticking timebomb” for HHS, essentially forcing it to devote an enormous amount of resources to the unprecedented and infeasible task of reviewing thousands of regulations regularly.