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.

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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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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Mer­ck wins a third FDA nod for an­tibi­ot­ic; Mereo tack­les TIG­IT with $70M raise in hand

Merck — one of the last big pharma bastions in the beleaguered field of antibiotic drug development — on Friday said the FDA had signed off on using its combination drug, Recarbrio, with hospital-acquired bacterial pneumonia and ventilator-associated bacterial pneumonia. The drug could come handy for use in hospitalized patients who are afflicted with Covid-19, who carry a higher risk of contracting secondary bacterial infections. Once SARS-CoV-2, the virus behind Covid-19, infects the airways, it engages the immune system, giving other pathogens free rein to pillage and plunder as they please — the issue is particularly pertinent in patients on ventilators, which in any case are breeding grounds for infectious bacteria.

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.

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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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.

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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RA Cap­i­tal, Hill­house join $310M rush to back Ever­est's climb to com­mer­cial heights in Chi­na

Money has never been an issue for Everest Medicines. With an essentially open tab from their founders at C-Bridge Capital, the biotech has gone two and a half years racking up drug after drug, bringing in top exec after top exec, and issuing clinical update after update.

But now other investors want in — and they’re betting big.

Everest is closing its Series C at $310 million. The first $50 million comes from the Jiashan National Economic and Technological Development Zone; the remaining C-2 tranche was led by Janchor Partners, with RA Capital Management and Hillhouse Capital as co-leaders. Decheng Capital, GT Fund, Janus Henderson Investors, Rock Springs Capital, Octagon Investments all joined.