A pair of biotechs pre­pares to hit Nas­daq, as to­tal 2021 IPO raise quick­ly ap­proach­es $3B

Af­ter a busy week last week when 10 biotechs went pub­lic, the in­dus­try con­tin­ues to see a steady stream of com­pa­nies mak­ing their de­buts.

With Ada­gene pric­ing ear­li­er this week and two more biotechs join­ing them late Thurs­day in­to ear­ly Fri­day, there have now been 16 com­pa­nies to IPO so far in 2021. The to­tal com­bined raise is rapid­ly ris­ing and ap­proach­ing $3 bil­lion al­ready — biotechs have pulled in rough­ly $2.86 bil­lion thus far.

That growth has large­ly been dri­ven by Sana’s mega IPO, which ac­counts for about one-fourth of the over­all sum. But five oth­er biotechs have al­so raised more than $200 mil­lion each: Gra­cell, Cul­li­nan, Bolt, Im­muno­core and Vor.

Here’s a run­down of the two com­pa­nies that priced af­ter mar­ket close Thurs­day af­ter­noon, as well as an­oth­er biotech that filed its S-1 on Thurs­day night.

Nex­Im­mune de­buts on heels of pos­i­tive ASH re­sults

Spun out of Johns Hop­kins back in 2018, Nex­Im­mune is look­ing to cap­i­tal­ize on strong ASH da­ta from its lead pro­gram.

The biotech priced at $17, the high end of its range, rais­ing $110 mil­lion in the process. It plans to trade on the tick­er $NEXI. Orig­i­nal­ly plan­ning to sell 4.7 mil­lion shares, Nex­Im­mune ul­ti­mate­ly sold 6.5 mil­lion, help­ing it achieve that high end.

Nex­Im­mune cen­ters around the con­cept of spe­cial­ized nanopar­ti­cles that act as anti­gen-pre­sent­ing cells to in­cite a T cell at­tack on tu­mors. Re­searchers pre­sent­ed ini­tial re­sults from a Phase I/II study last De­cem­ber for NEXI-001, show­ing it in­duced a re­turn to base­line lev­els of ab­solute lym­pho­cyte counts with­in three to 35 days among the first five pa­tients dosed.

The pro­gram is still in its ear­ly days, though, and Nex­Im­mune is look­ing to en­roll some­where be­tween 22 and 28 to­tal pa­tients. With­in its S-1, Nex­Im­mune said it plans to steer IPO funds to­ward both this pro­gram and NEXI-002, first dosed in a hu­man last Oc­to­ber in a mul­ti­ple myelo­ma tri­al.

If the com­pa­ny’s tech ends up work­ing, re­searchers say it could spark a more durable at­tack that would in­volve more tar­gets and less like­li­hood of a set­back for pa­tients — par­tic­u­lar­ly if they can make an im­pact on naïve and mem­o­ry T cells to keep the hu­man im­mune sys­tem on alert.

Af­ter piv­ot to gene ther­a­py, Deci­bel moves quick­ly to IPO

Deci­bel Ther­a­peu­tics is mov­ing fast af­ter a Se­ries D just three months ago.

Back in No­vem­ber, the com­pa­ny raised $82 mil­lion in the round, and Thurs­day evening they priced their up­sized IPO. Deci­bel priced at $18 per share, the high end of its range, and pulled in $127 mil­lion. They sold 7.1 mil­lion shares af­ter an­nounc­ing plans to sell 5.9 mil­lion.

When it hits Nas­daq on Fri­day, Deci­bel will trade on the tick­er $DBTX.

Deci­bel had spent years fo­cused on pre­vent­ing hear­ing loss, but they piv­ot­ed last win­ter to gene ther­a­pies that can re­store lost hear­ing. The move came af­ter fail­ing to find a bio­mark­er that could let them run a pre­ven­ta­tive tri­al, as well as what they char­ac­ter­ized as sur­pris­ing ad­vance­ments in ge­nom­ic and re­gen­er­a­tive tech­nol­o­gy.

It’s now one of three ma­jor Boston-area biotechs chas­ing these types of cures, next to the gene ther­a­py out­fit Ak­ou­os and the stem cell re­gen­er­a­tion de­vel­op­ers at Fre­quen­cy Ther­a­peu­tics.

Deci­bel’s first gene ther­a­py was de­vel­oped in col­lab­o­ra­tion with Re­gen­eron, but isn’t sched­uled to hit the clin­ic un­til at least 2022. Re­searchers are start­ing with fix­ing a sin­gle gene in peo­ple with the OTOF mu­ta­tions, but the long-term goal is to build cures for more gen­er­al hear­ing loss and bal­ance dis­or­ders.

Small stress-fo­cused Pro­ta­genic files its $18 mil­lion S-1

On the small­er side of things, neu­ro dis­or­der biotech Pro­ta­genic Ther­a­peu­tics filed for an $18 mil­lion IPO on Thurs­day.

The NY-based biotech is work­ing on neu­ropep­tides de­rived from the TCAP fam­i­ly. Pro­ta­genic’s lead pro­gram, PT00114, is be­ing de­vel­oped to treat stress-re­lat­ed dis­or­ders such as PTSD and drug and al­co­hol ad­dic­tions with­out in­ter­fer­ing with brain func­tion.

The com­pound is ex­pect­ed to com­plete IND-en­abling stud­ies in ear­ly 2021, and sub­se­quent­ly en­ter Phase I/II tri­als. Pro­ta­genic said in its S-1 it plans to fun­nel mon­ey to­ward en­rolling this “bas­ket” tri­al, with the goal of sign­ing up 42 pa­tients.

Ul­ti­mate­ly, Pro­ta­genic’s goal is to im­prove men­tal health by coun­ter­bal­anc­ing stress over­drive and restor­ing the health of neu­ronal cells. Pro­ta­genic is al­ready list­ed on the OTC­QB mar­ket, with se­cu­ri­ties list­ed at $4.14 as of Feb. 2.

Illustration: Assistant Editor Kathy Wong for Endpoints News

How Pur­due's $272M ad­dic­tion pay­out fund­ed a new home for its dis­card­ed non-opi­oid re­search

Don Kyle spent more than 20 years working for Purdue Pharma, right through the US opioid epidemic that led to the company’s rise and eventual infamy. But contrary to Purdue’s focus on OxyContin, Kyle was researching non-opioid painkillers — that is, until the company shelved his research.

As the company’s legal troubles mounted, Kyle found an unlikely way to reboot the project. In 2019, he took his work to an Oklahoma State University center that’s slated to receive more than two-thirds of the state’s $272 million settlement with Purdue over claims that the drugmaker’s behavior ignited the epidemic of opioid use and abuse.

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President Joe Biden at the State of the Union address with Vice President Kamala Harris and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (Patrick Semansky/AP Images)

The drug pric­ing pres­i­dent: Biden warns of ve­to for any IRA re­peal at­tempts

President Joe Biden made clear in his “finish the job” State of the Union address last night that one of those jobs to be finished is insulin prices.

Biden’s push again to tackle insulin prices, after Republicans rebuffed the idea last summer and just after Biden won Medicare drug price negotiations/caps via the Inflation Reduction Act, shows how heavily he’s leaning into this work.

Rupert Vessey, Bristol Myers Squibb head of research and early development

Up­dat­ed: R&D tur­bu­lence at Bris­tol My­ers now in­cludes the end of a $650M al­liance and the de­par­ture of a top re­search cham­pi­on

This morning biotech Dragonfly put out word that Bristol Myers Squibb has handed back all rights to its IL-12 clinical-stage drug after spending $650 million to advance it into the clinic.

The news arrives amid a turbulent R&D stage for the pharma giant, which late last week highlighted Rupert Vessey’s decision to depart this summer as head of early-stage R&D following a crucial three-year stretch after he jumped to Bristol Myers in the big Celgene buyout. During that time he struck a series of deals for Bristol Myers, and also shepherded a number of Celgene programs down the pipeline, playing a major role for a lineup of biotechs which depended on him to champion their drugs.

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Utpal Koppikar, new Verily CFO

Ex­clu­sive: Ver­i­ly wel­comes Atara Bio­ther­a­peu­tics vet­er­an as new CFO

Verily, Alphabet’s life sciences outfit, has plucked a new CFO from the ranks of Atara Biotherapeutics, the company announced on Wednesday.

Utpal Koppikar joins Verily after a nearly five-year stint as CFO and senior VP at Atara, though his résumé also boasts roles at Gilead and Amgen.

The news follows a major reshuffling at Verily, including several senior departures earlier this year and a round of layoffs.

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Singer Nick Jonas is back at work for Dexcom, this time for its new G7 glucose monitor.

Dex­com's spokescelebri­ty Nick Jonas re­turns to Su­per Bowl in new glu­cose mon­i­tor com­mer­cial

Dexcom is going back to the Super Bowl with its pop singer and patient spokesperson Nick Jonas. Jonas takes center stage as the lone figure in the 30-second commercial showcasing Dexcom’s next-generation G7 continuous glucose monitoring (CGM) device.

Jonas’ sleight-of-hand tricks populate the commercial — he pinches his empty fingers together and pops them open to reveal the small CGM — even as he ends the ad, saying, “It’s not magic. It just feels that way.” Jonas then disappears in a puff of smoke.

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Richard Francis, newly-appointed Teva CEO (Novartis via Facebook)

New Te­va CEO Richard Fran­cis repri­or­i­tizes to 'get back to growth'

Six weeks into his new role at the helm of Teva Pharmaceutical, Richard Francis said it’s time to “get back to growth,” starting with a good look at the company’s priorities.

The chief executive has kicked off a strategic review, he announced during Teva’s quarterly call, which will continue over the next several months and produce results sometime in the middle of 2023. That means some pipeline cuts may be in store, he told Endpoints News, while declining to offer much more detail.

FDA Commissioner Robert Califf on Capitol Hill, Feb. 8, 2023 (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

FDA com­mis­sion­er floats ideas on how to bet­ter han­dle the pan­dem­ic

FDA Commissioner Rob Califf joined the heads of the CDC and NIH in the hot seat today before a key House subcommittee, explaining that there needs to be a much faster, more coordinated way to oversee vaccine safety, and that foreign biopharma inspections, halted for years due to the pandemic, are slowly ramping up again.

Califf, who stressed to the House Energy and Commerce’s Subcommittee on Health that the CDC also needs better data, made clear that the FDA’s ability to monitor the safety of vaccines “would also benefit greatly by a coordinated federal public health data reporting authority.”

Bill Haney, Dragonfly CEO (Dave Pedley/Getty Images for SXSW)

Drag­on­fly chief: Bris­tol My­ers shouldn’t blame IL-12’s clin­i­cal per­for­mance for de­ci­sion to scrap the deal — eco­nom­ics played a key role

Bristol Myers Squibb says the IL-12 drug they were developing out of Dragonfly Therapeutics was scrubbed from the pipeline for a simple reason: It didn’t measure up on clinical performance.

But Bill Haney, the CEO of Dragonfly, is taking issue with that.

The early-stage drug, still in Phase I development, has passed muster with Bristol Myers’ general clinical expectations, advancing successfully while still in Phase I, he says.

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Sanofi is renewing its #VaccinesForDreams campaign with more stories, such as Juan's in Argentina (Sanofi)

Sanofi re­news so­cial cam­paign to re­mind that vac­cines let peo­ple ‘Dream Big’

Sanofi is highlighting people’s dreams — both big and small — to make the point that vaccines make them possible.

The renewed “Dream Big” global social media campaign’s newest dreamer is Juan, a teacher in the Misiones rainforest in Argentina whose story is told through videos on Instagram and Sanofi’s website with the hashtag #VaccinesForDreams.

The campaign ties to Sanofi’s broader umbrella initiative “Vaccine Stories” to promote the value of vaccines and drive awareness of the need for improved vaccination coverage.

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