A uni­corn joins this week’s stam­pede of biotechs in­to the red-hot Nas­daq casi­no

Now that the Ju­ly 4 hol­i­day week is well be­hind us, Nas­daq is get­ting crack­ing again with new of­fer­ings, and biotech com­pa­nies — in­clud­ing a Flag­ship-built uni­corn — are once again dom­i­nat­ing the lat­est round of IPOs lin­ing up for their Nas­daq close­up this week.

The 5 lined up for their IPO runs this week are hunt­ing more than $500 mil­lion and proof that they share a mar­ket val­ue of about $4 bil­lion. Rough­ly half of that is laid out in Ru­bius’ S-1 as that biotech hunts up $200 mil­lion.

The roundup will add an­oth­er batch of IPOs that are all falling on top of a record-set­ting pace in June. The ques­tion now is how long the win­dow will re­main wide open — and ul­ti­mate­ly who wins and who im­plodes. For now, the in­dus­try is on pace to ri­val the go-go times of 2014 — but the smart mon­ey ex­pects a slow­down.

Of course, the smart mon­ey was al­so sur­prised by the burst of biotech IPOs we’ve been see­ing. And Fri­day’s Urovant fil­ing for $150 mil­lion in­di­cates that Vivek Ra­maswamy thinks the IPO run still has legs to go much fur­ther.

Here’s a snap­shot of this week’s ac­tion at the casi­no, er, mar­ket.

Al­lakos

$AL­LK
Based: San Car­los, CA
Seek­ing: $96 mil­lion
Mar­ket cap: $738 mil­lion

Robert Alexan­der

The scoop: The lead drug tar­gets the in­hibito­ry re­cep­tor Siglec-8, found on the sur­face of mast cells and eosinophils. And Al­lakos be­lieves it has re­al po­ten­tial in a broad range of in­di­ca­tions, in­clud­ing eosinophilic gas­tri­tis, in­do­lent sys­temic mas­to­cy­to­sis, ur­ticaria and se­vere al­ler­gic con­junc­tivi­tis. Last sum­mer the biotech re­cruit­ed a pair of ZS Phar­ma vets — Robert Alexan­der and Adam Tomasi — to take over as CEO and COO/CFO. As­traZeneca ac­quired ZS for $2.7 bil­lion.


Con­stel­la­tion Phar­ma

$CNST
Based: Cam­bridge, MA
Seek­ing: $80 mil­lion
Mar­ket cap: $430 mil­lion

Ji­gar Raythatha

The scoop: In this case we have one of the old­est biotechs of the year go­ing pub­lic af­ter wind­ing in and out of an op­tion deal with Genen­tech — which the S-1 tells us walked from their $40 mil­lion up­front. Kei­th Dionne, then CEO, fa­mous­ly cel­e­brat­ed the end of the Genen­tech op­tion, but was gone soon af­ter and re­placed by Ji­gar Raythatha. The com­pa­ny re­or­ga­nized, and went back at the epi­ge­net­ics draw­ing board. The biotech start­ed a Phase Ib/II study of CPI-1205, an EZH2 in­hibitor com­bined with Yer­voy, that they hope will high­light their po­ten­tial in di­al­ing down gene ex­pres­sion in can­cer path­ways to en­hance im­muno-on­col­o­gy drugs.


Cri­net­ics Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals

$CRNX
Based: San Diego
Seek­ing: $80 mil­lion
Mar­ket cap: $380 mil­lion

The scoop: The team at Cri­net­ics have been work­ing on new drugs af­ter de­vel­op­ing some nov­el thoughts about the way GPCRs work. The lead pro­gram is fo­cused on acromegaly, a rare dis­ease trig­gered when the pi­tu­itary gland pro­duces ex­cess growth hor­mone, caus­ing en­larged bones that can lead to gi­gan­tism, which caused An­dre the Gi­ant to swell in size. It al­so ul­ti­mate­ly killed him. So­mato­statin can rein that in, but syn­thet­ic so­mato­statin analogs don’t al­ways work. That leaves the biotech in the hunt for a small mol­e­cule that can.


Replimune

$RE­PL
Based: Woburn, MA
Seek­ing: $101 mil­lion
Mar­ket cap: $500 mil­lion

The scoop: The team that orig­i­nal­ly in­vent­ed T-Vec , the pi­o­neer­ing on­colyt­ic virus treat­ment that Am­gen bought and pushed to an ap­proval af­ter ac­quir­ing BioVex, are still play­ing in the same field. On­ly now they feel that they’re lead­ing the next-gen crowd of de­vel­op­ers — which is huge. The com­pa­ny is work­ing close­ly with Re­gen­eron on a com­bo us­ing their PD-1 — slat­ed to soon be­come the sixth check­point to hit the mar­ket with big, big plans of its own.


Ru­bius Ther­a­peu­tics

$RU­BY
Based: Cam­bridge, MA
Seek­ing: $200 mil­lion
Mar­ket cap: $1.8 bil­lion

The scoop: They have a ton of mon­ey, in­clud­ing a re­cent megaround, to re­as­sure in­vestors. And the plan is to con­quer the world with a brand new ap­proach: tak­ing red blood cells — de­signed by na­ture to trans­port oxy­gen — hi­jack them through ge­net­ic en­gi­neer­ing tech and get them to car­ry pro­teins need­ed to fight var­i­ous dis­eases. It’s an off-the-shelf ap­proach, rather than one per­son­al­ized for each pa­tient.

Fangliang Zhang, AP Images

UP­DAT­ED: Leg­end fetch­es $424 mil­lion, emerges as biggest win­ner yet in pan­dem­ic IPO boom as shares soar

Amid a flurry of splashy pandemic IPOs, a J&J-partnered Chinese biotech has emerged with one of the largest public raises in biotech history.

Legend Biotech, the Nanjing-based CAR-T developer, has raised $424 million on NASDAQ. The biotech had originally filed for a still-hefty $350 million, based on a range of $18-$20, but managed to fetch $23 per share, allowing them to well-eclipse the massive raises from companies like Allogene, Juno, Galapagos, though they’ll still fall a few dollars short of Moderna’s record-setting $600 million raise from 2018.

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Bris­tol My­ers is clean­ing up the post-Cel­gene merg­er pipeline, and they’re sweep­ing out an ex­per­i­men­tal check­point in the process

Back during the lead up to the $74 billion buyout of Celgene, the big biotech’s leadership did a little housecleaning with a major pact it had forged with Jounce. Out went the $2.6 billion deal and a collaboration on ICOS and PD-1.

Celgene, though, also added a $530 million deal — $50 million up front — to get the worldwide rights to JTX-8064, a drug that targets the LILRB2 receptor on macrophages.

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As it hap­pened: A bid­ding war for an an­tibi­ot­ic mak­er in a mar­ket that has rav­aged its peers

In a bewildering twist to the long-suffering market for antibiotics — there has actually been a bidding war for an antibiotic company: Tetraphase.

It all started back in March, when the maker of Xerava (an FDA approved therapy for complicated intra-abdominal infections) said it had received an offer from AcelRx for an all-stock deal valued at $14.4 million.

The offer was well-timed. Xerava was approved in 2018, four years after Tetraphase posted its first batch of pivotal trial data, and sales were nowhere near where they needed to be in order for the company to keep its head above water.

Drug man­u­fac­tur­ing gi­ant Lon­za taps Roche/phar­ma ‘rein­ven­tion’ vet as its new CEO

Lonza chairman Albert Baehny took his time headhunting a new CEO for the company, making it absolutely clear he wanted a Big Pharma or biotech CEO with a good long track record in the business for the top spot. In the end, he went with the gold standard, turning to Roche’s ranks to recruit Pierre-Alain Ruffieux for the job.

Ruffieux, a member of the pharma leadership team at Roche, spent close to 5 years at the company. But like a small army of manufacturing execs, he gained much of his experience at the other Big Pharma in Basel, remaining at Novartis for 12 years before expanding his horizons.

Covid-19 roundup: Ab­b­Vie jumps in­to Covid-19 an­ti­body hunt; As­traZeneca shoots for 2B dos­es of Ox­ford vac­cine — with $750M from CEPI, Gavi

Another Big Pharma is entering the Covid-19 antibody hunt.

AbbVie has announced a collaboration with the Netherlands’ Utrecht University and Erasmus Medical Center and the Chinese-Dutch biotech Harbour Biomed to develop a neutralizing antibody that can treat Covid-19. The antibody, called 47D11, was discovered by AbbVie’s three partners, and AbbVie will support early preclinical work, while preparing for later preclinical and clinical development. Researchers described the antibody in Nature Communications last month.

Is a pow­er­house Mer­ck team prepar­ing to leap past Roche — and leave Gilead and Bris­tol My­ers be­hind — in the race to TIG­IT dom­i­na­tion?

Roche caused quite a stir at ASCO with its first look at some positive — but not so impressive — data for their combination of Tecentriq with their anti-TIGIT drug tiragolumab. But some analysts believe that Merck is positioned to make a bid — soon — for the lead in the race to a second-wave combo immuno-oncology approach with its own ambitious early-stage program tied to a dominant Keytruda.

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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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Leen Kawas, Athira CEO (Athira)

Can a small biotech suc­cess­ful­ly tack­le an Ever­est climb like Alzheimer’s? Athi­ra has $85M and some in­flu­en­tial back­ers ready to give it a shot

There haven’t been a lot of big venture rounds for biotech companies looking to run a Phase II study in Alzheimer’s.

The field has been a disaster over the past decade. Amyloid didn’t pan out as a target — going down in a litany of Phase III failures — and is now making its last stand at Biogen. Tau is a comer, but when you look around and all you see is destruction, the idea of backing a startup trying to find complex cocktails to swing the course of this devilishly complicated memory-wasting disease would daunt the pluckiest investors.

GSK presents case to ex­pand use of its lu­pus drug in pa­tients with kid­ney dis­ease, but the field is evolv­ing. How long will the mo­nop­oly last?

In 2011, GlaxoSmithKline’s Benlysta became the first biologic to win approval for lupus patients. Nine years on, the British drugmaker has unveiled detailed positive results from a study testing the drug in lupus patients with associated kidney disease — a post-marketing requirement from the initial FDA approval.

Lupus is a drug developer’s nightmare. In the last six decades, there has been just one FDA approval (Benlysta), with the field resembling a graveyard in recent years with a string of failures including UCB and Biogen’s late-stage flop, as well as defeats in Xencor and Sanofi’s programs. One of the main reasons the success has eluded researchers is because lupus, akin to cancer, is not just one disease — it really is a disease of many diseases, noted Al Roy, executive director of Lupus Clinical Investigators Network, an initiative of New York-based Lupus Research Alliance that claims it is the world’s leading private funder of lupus research, in an interview.