Abraxis vet Neil Desai gets Celgene backing for $23M A round; Two more biotechs set IPO terms

Celgene joined the syndicate backing a $23 million Series A for Pacific Palisades, CA-based Aadi Bioscience. The money will be used to support a registration study of its lead drug, ABI-009, its targeted albumin-bound mTOR inhibitor. Neil Desai, a former SVP at Abraxis who helped invent Abraxane — acquired by Celgene — is running the biotech. Hermed Capital led the round with additional participation from Vivo Capital, Decheng Capital, the Helsinn Investment Fund and Star Summit Ventures.

→ The string of biotech IPOs is continuing with two new entries setting terms today. The cancer biotech G1 is looking to sell 6.3 million shares at $15 to $17 each, looking for around $100 million. Dutch biotech argenx is out to raise about $65 million selling shares at $18.18.

Durect Corporation {DRRX} inked a $293 million deal — $20 million upfront — with Novartis’ subsidiary Sandoz AG to develop and market the pain therapy Posimir in the US. The remedy is currently in Phase III.

→ The drumbeat of new checkpoint combo deals is proceeding today with three new pacts. Regeneron — which has some catching up to do — will be testing its PD-1 inhibitor REGN2810 in combination with two drugs from Inovio. Regeneron is also partnering with Korea’s SillaJen on kidney cancer. And Array is combining its MEK inhibitor, binimetinib, with Merck’s Keytruda.

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