The next wave of biotech IPOs is starting to swell today as the protein degradation crew at Arvinas jumps in with a $100 million offering. And once again we’re seeing a discovery company going early — with their first Phase I program still out ahead.
Arvinas gained a considerable amount of attention for two deals with Genentech and Pfizer, which we now know came with a relatively small upfront and big back end numbers.
The big Roche subsidiary stepped up first in 2015, then rejigged their deal in 2017. Genentech can tap up to 10 targets in the discovery alliance, which was worth $11 million to get started and another $34.5 million payday to extend last year. And there’s $156 million in collective milestones for each target — should it go all the way into the market.
Pfizer is in for less. The pharma giant handed over $28 million to get started and committed up to $775 million in development and commercial milestones for the package. That answers one of the unanswered questions from Arvinas’ days as a private startup.
Protein degradation has become a hot field in oncology, as new companies look to do better than the original set of therapies that have hit the market. In Arvinas’ case, CEO John Houston has been going after prostate cancer and breast cancer, with their first Phase I for the lead prostate cancer therapy lining up for a start in early 2019.
Arvinas is by no means playing solo in the second-gen protein degradation field. Rivals to the protein degradation title include C4 Therapeutics — out of Jay Bradner’s lab at Dana Farber before he took the helm at NIBR — and the startup Kymera. And not surprisingly, Bradner — who now runs NIBR — recently forged a close relationship with UC San Francisco on protein degradation as well.
They’re looking to use an E3 ligase to dispatch target proteins through the cell’s natural “garbage disposal” called the ubiquitin-proteasome system, knocking them entirely out of the picture and doing a much better job than what you get from mere protein inhibition.
5AM and Canaan have the biggest stakes in the company, at 18.5% each. Craig Crews, who provided the scientific insights from his Yale lab, has 8.9% while RA Capital is in for 8%, OrbiMed has 6% and Nextech V Oncology is down for 5%. CEO Houston has a 4.5% batch of stock.
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