Af­ter rais­ing VC mon­ey weeks ago, Uni­ty tacks on an $85M IPO; Abpro sets terms for $60M IPO

Uni­ty Biotech­nol­o­gy has pulled off its leap of faith, pock­et­ing an $85 mil­lion IPO with a case built on pre­clin­i­cal da­ta. The an­ti-ag­ing drug de­vel­op­er priced its 5 mil­lion shares at $17, right in the mid­dle of the $16 to $18 range an­nounced ear­li­er. Based in Bris­bane, CA, Uni­ty will now list on Nas­daq un­der the sym­bol $UBX.

Rid­ing a surge of biotech in­ter­est in age-re­lat­ed dis­eases, Uni­ty is poised to start their first hu­man study of UBX0101 on os­teoarthri­tis — one of many dis­eases they hope to treat by flush­ing senes­cent cells out of bod­ies. Ex­ecs al­so plan for the IPO pro­ceeds to go to­ward clin­i­cal test­ing of an­oth­er com­pound, dubbed UBX1967, late 2019 in one of the eye dis­eases it’s be­ing de­vel­oped for. They range from di­a­bet­ic retinopa­thy and di­a­bet­ic mac­u­lar ede­ma to glau­co­ma and age-re­lat­ed mac­u­lar de­gen­er­a­tion.

Seed­ed by Arch Ven­ture Part­nersBob Nelsen is a founder — and backed by a num­ber of well-heeled in­vestors, Uni­ty has pre­vi­ous­ly raised $217 mil­lion in ven­ture fund­ing, in­clud­ing a $55 mil­lion Se­ries C a lit­tle more than a month ago. It now has some fresh fu­el for the next leg of its R&D jour­ney.

→ Abpro, a pre­clin­i­cal biotech in Woburn, MA de­vel­op­ing an­ti­body drugs for can­cer and vas­cu­lar eye dis­ease, set terms for a $60 mil­lion IPO Wednes­day. The com­pa­ny will of­fer 4 mil­lion shares be­tween $14 and $16 per share. It plans to list on the Nas­daq un­der the tick­er $ABP. In an SEC fil­ing, the com­pa­ny said it will start test­ing ABP-100 — an an­ti­body tar­get­ing HER2 and CD3 — in the first half of 2019. The first tri­al will be run in pa­tients with HER2-pos­i­tive sol­id tu­mors, fo­cus­ing on or­phan in­di­ca­tions. Lat­er in 2019, Abpro plans to start tri­als of ABP-201, which tar­gets a pair of bind­ing sites for both VEGF and Ang-2, in di­a­bet­ic mac­u­lar ede­ma (DME).

→ South San Fran­cis­co-based Ex­elix­is $EX­EL is team­ing up with Wis­con­sin’s In­ven­ra to dis­cov­er and de­vel­op nov­el bi­o­log­ics to treat can­cer. The part­ner­ship, which will in­clude up to sev­en projects, pairs Ex­elix­is’ clin­i­cal de­vel­op­ment and com­mer­cial­iza­tion back­ground with In­ven­ra’s plat­form tech and bi­o­log­ics ex­per­tise to find and de­vel­op mul­ti-spe­cif­ic ther­a­peu­tics, in­clud­ing im­munother­a­pies. Ex­elix­is will pay In­ven­ra an up­front pay­ment of $2 mil­lion, plus an ad­di­tion­al $2 mil­lion at the start of each dis­cov­ery project. In­ven­ra is el­i­gi­ble to get $131.5 mil­lion in mile­stone pay­ments, ac­cord­ing to a com­pa­ny state­ment. If com­mer­cial­iza­tion is achieved, that fig­ure bumps to $325 mil­lion to in­clude roy­al­ties and mile­stones on sales. The part­ner­ship is part of Ex­elix­is’ on­go­ing strat­e­gy to build a pipeline be­yond its two ex­ist­ing com­pounds, cabozan­ti­nib and co­bime­tinib, which are al­ready on the mar­ket.

Com­mu­ni­cat­ing the val­ue of pre­ci­sion med­i­cine

By Natasha Cowan, Content Marketing Manager at Blue Latitude Health.
Many stakeholders are confused by novel precision medicines, including patients and healthcare professionals. So, how can industry help them to navigate this complexity?

Precision medicine represents a new paradigm in healthcare. It embodies the shift from treating many patients with the same therapy, to having the tools to identify the best treatment for every patient.

Mer­ck buys a fledg­ling neu­rode­gen­er­a­tive biotech spawned by an old GSK dis­cov­ery al­liance. What’s up with that?

Avalon Ventures chief Jay Lichter has a well-known yen for drug development programs picked up in academia. And what he found in Haoxing Xu’s lab at the University of Michigan pricked his interest enough to launch one of his umbrella biotechs in San Diego.
Xu’s work laid the foundation for Avalon to launch Calporta, which has been working on finding small molecule agonists of TRPML1 (transient receptor potential cation channel, mucolipin subfamily, member 1) for lysosomal storage disorders. And that pathway, they believe, points to new approaches on major market neurodegenerative diseases like Parkinson’s, ALS and Alzheimer’s.

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In­vestors could emerge from Neil Wood­ford de­ba­cle with £1B loss, in­ter­nal analy­sis re­veals

When Link Fund Solutions announced that it is closing Woodford Equity Income Fund permanently and kicking out Neil Woodford, it was implied that investors probably won’t get back everything they entrusted to the fund manager. But nobody knew just how much they would lose.

An internal analysis commissioned by Link suggested that the collective loss could amount to £1 billion — out of a fund last valued at £3.1 billion — Citywire has revealed.

GSK's asth­ma bi­o­log­ic Nu­cala scores in rare blood dis­or­der study

GlaxoSmithKline’s asthma drug Nucala, which received a resounding FDA rejection for use in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) last year, has shown promise in a rare blood disorder.

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Spe­cial re­port: Twen­ty ex­tra­or­di­nary women in bio­phar­ma R&D who worked their way to the top

What differentiates a woman leader in biopharma R&D from a man?

Not much, except there are fewer of them in senior posts. Data suggest women are not more risk-averse, family-oriented or less confident than their male counterparts — indeed the differences between the two sexes are negligible. But a glance at the top R&D positions in Big Pharma leaves little doubt that upward migration in the executive ranks of biopharma R&D is tough.

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FDA Vas­cepa re­view spot­lights new safe­ty sig­nals, pos­si­ble min­er­al oil spoil­er as Amarin hunts a block­buster ap­proval

An in-house FDA review of Amarin’s Vascepa raises a set of hurdles the biotech will have to clear if the biotech expects to get the long-awaited FDA approval that could set it on a path to superstar status. But it appears that Amarin has survived another potential setback without introducing a major new threat to its prospects.

The stakes don’t get much higher, with analysts saying a win this week for Amarin could lead to billions in new sales — provided the agency stamps it with an OK. And investors liked what they say in the FDA review this morning, bumping the stock $AMRN 17%.

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FDA puts Sol­id Bio’s lead gene ther­a­py pro­gram on hold — again — af­ter an­oth­er pa­tient is hurt by SGT-001

Solid Biosciences continues to be plagued by safety issues.

Close to 18 months after the gene therapy biotech was able to quickly shed an FDA hold on their lead Duchenne muscular dystrophy program for SGT-001, regulators have stepped back in to force another halt after another patient was hit hard by a set of serious adverse events remarkably similar to the first set.

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FDA slaps a hold on an AML tri­al as Mark­er scraps a fail­ing ovar­i­an can­cer pro­gram, sink­ing shares

The FDA has placed a hold on a Phase II AML trial from the small immuno-oncology biotech Marker Therapeutics. Marker disclosed the issue two weeks after responding to FDA concerns, adding it to the Q3 release Tuesday. The company also announced it was scrapping a Phase II ovarian cancer program it determined was unlikely to succeed.

The agency’s concern centers around two reagents used in manufacturing for their trial for acute myeloid leukemia patients who have received a stem cell transplant. The reagents are from third parties and not present in the final product, Marker said.

Eli Lil­ly-backed biotech grabs $100M to dis­patch an­ti­body-oligonu­cleotide con­ju­gates af­ter mus­cu­lar dy­s­tro­phy

Hold up your hand. Make a fist. Now open it. And again.

If you can do it fully and with ease, then the proteins in your hand are likely working properly. If you can’t then they may not be. In people with myotonic muscular dystrophy, something more atomic is going on.

In those folks, the problem is RNA. Certain base pairs repeat far beyond normal, up to 11,000 superfluous letters in some cases. The extended strands form “clumps.” Proteins misform and can’t function properly. They often allow one movement but not the reverse, a condition called myotonia that gives the dystrophy its name.