Amid Wood­ford de­ba­cle, Im­muno­core cuts val­u­a­tion as it se­cures $74M from Gen­er­al At­lantic — re­port

Im­muno­core ap­pears to be the lat­est domi­no to fall around Neil Wood­ford’s de­ba­cle as it so­lic­its new back­ing at a dras­ti­cal­ly low­er val­u­a­tion.

Eliot Forster F-star

Once a star in the UK biotech scene, Im­muno­core fetched $320 mil­lion to launch a sprawl­ing op­er­a­tion around TCR re­search and its val­u­a­tion had once reached near­ly $1 bil­lion (£800m). But that fig­ure has been slashed to around $621 mil­lion (£500 mil­lion) in its lat­est fi­nanc­ing, the Tele­graph re­port­ed.

New York-based Gen­er­al At­lantic has com­mit­ted an ini­tial £60 mil­lion to what is shap­ing up to be a £100 mil­lion round, the news­pa­per added.

Signs of trou­ble at Im­muno­core first emerged well be­fore the Wood­ford fall­out. Eliot Forster hit the ex­it last Feb­ru­ary just as he was sup­pos­ed­ly putting to­geth­er an­oth­er megaround for the com­pa­ny, and an ex­ec­u­tive ex­o­dus fol­lowed. Sev­er­al peo­ple fa­mil­iar with in­ter­nal talks pre­vi­ous­ly told End­points News that the biotech was hav­ing a hard time stick­ing with its high-end uni­corn val­u­a­tion, lead­ing to the de­par­tures.

Bahi­ja Jal­lal

Bahi­ja Jal­lal, for­mer pres­i­dent of the now-de­funct Med­Im­mune unit at As­traZeneca, has since tak­en over as CEO. Re­as­sur­ance to in­vestors and sta­bil­i­ty would be key to her tenure, she said when she joined in Jan­u­ary.

Wood­ford’s high pro­file in­volve­ment with the com­pa­ny didn’t help. A cut in Im­muno­core’s val­u­a­tion could put more strain on Wood­ford as he looks to cash out some pri­vate hold­ings in search of liq­uid­i­ty for his Eq­ui­ty In­come fund, which was abrupt­ly sus­pend­ed back in June. He has vowed to re­open the fund in De­cem­ber — pro­vid­ed he se­cures enough cash to meet any re­demp­tions that dis­grun­tled in­vestors would re­quest once they get the chance.

In an in­ter­im re­port pub­lished in Ju­ly, the fund put the val­ue of its Im­muno­core shares at £23 mil­lion, down from £45 mil­lion at the end of last year.

Adam Stoten Ox­ford

Co-in­vestors have blamed Wood­ford for steep drops in the over­all val­ue of some biotechs their port­fo­lios share with his, as his well-pub­li­cized woes shake oth­ers’ con­fi­dence in com­pa­nies he has stakes in. Most re­cent­ly, Benev­o­len­tAI bagged $90 mil­lion with its val­u­a­tion halved. Ox­ford Nanopore, a DNA se­quenc­ing com­pa­ny, is al­so ap­par­ent­ly be­ing prepped for auc­tion.

Adam Stoten, the chief op­er­at­ing of­fi­cer at Ox­ford Uni­ver­si­ty’s spin­out of­fice, said in an in­ter­view with the Tele­graph they are hav­ing to “weath­er the storm” and di­ver­si­fy their in­vestor base af­ter years of re­ceiv­ing in­vest­ment from Wood­ford.

Tar­get­ing a Po­ten­tial Vul­ner­a­bil­i­ty of Cer­tain Can­cers with DNA Dam­age Re­sponse

Every individual’s DNA is unique, and because of this, every patient responds differently to disease and treatment. It is astonishing how four tiny building blocks of our DNA – A, T, C, G – dictate our health, disease, and how we age.

The tricky thing about DNA is that it is constantly exposed to damage by sources such as ultraviolet light, certain chemicals, toxins, and even natural biochemical processes inside our cells.¹ If ignored, DNA damage will accumulate in replicating cells, giving rise to mutations that can lead to premature aging, cancer, and other diseases.

Fol­low biotechs go­ing pub­lic with the End­points News IPO Track­er

The Endpoints News team is continuing to track IPO filings for 2021, and we’ve designed a new tracker page for the effort.

Check it out here: Biopharma IPOs 2021 from Endpoints News

You’ll be able to find all the biotechs that have filed and priced so far this year, sortable by quarter and listed by newest first. As of the time of publishing on Feb. 25, there have already been 16 biotechs debuting on Nasdaq so far this year, with an additional four having filed their S-1 paperwork.

Steve Cutler, Icon CEO (Icon)

In the biggest CRO takeover in years, Icon doles out $12B for PRA Health Sci­ences to fo­cus on de­cen­tral­ized clin­i­cal work

Contract research M&A had a healthy run in recent years before recently petering out. But with the market ripe for a big buyout and the Covid-19 pandemic emphasizing the importance of decentralized trials, Wednesday saw a tectonic shift in the CRO world.

Icon, the Dublin-based CRO, will acquire PRA Health Sciences for $12 billion in a move that will shake up the highest rungs of a fragmented market. The merger would combine the 5th- and 6th-largest CROs by 2020 revenue, according to Icon, and the merger will set the newco up to be the second-largest global CRO behind only IQVIA.

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Tom Barnes (Orna)

The mR­NA era is here. MPM be­lieves the fu­ture be­longs to oR­NA — and Big Phar­ma wants a seat at the ta­ble

If the ultra-fast clinical development of Covid-19 vaccines opened the world’s eyes to the promises of messenger RNA, the subsequent delays in supply offered a crash course on the ultra-complex process of producing them. Even before the formulation and fill-finish steps, mRNA is the precious end product from an arduous journey involving enzyme-aided transcription, modification and purification.

For Bristol Myers Squibb, Novartis Institutes for Biomedical Research, Gilead’s Kite and Astellas, it’s time to rethink the way therapeutic RNA is engineered.

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Michael Rome (Foresite)

In search of 'house­hold health­care brands of the fu­ture,' Fore­site Cap­i­tal rais­es $969M to sa­ti­ate a tech-heavy ap­petite

Back in April 2018, just before Foresite Capital unveiled its $668 million Fund IV and a strategy to focus on tech-driven life science bets, one of its portfolio companies quietly made an announcement.

Fount Therapeutics, a drug discovery outfit backed by Foresite and Eshelman Ventures, had raised $22 million in Series A cash to hatch several fledgling spinouts. “The first ‘NewCo,’ Kinnate, will be focused on developing precision oncology treatments,” read a press release.

Masayoshi Son, SoftBank CEO (glen photo/Shutterstock)

Japan's Soft­Bank plots bil­lions in biotech in­vest­ments in move that could keep the val­u­a­tion flood ris­ing — re­port

The valuation crazy train in biotech continues to roll into the new year with more than a dozen companies taking a chance on Nasdaq and money flowing in from all sides. Now, a Japanese institutional investor is reportedly weighing an entry into the market in a big way — will it keep the bitcoin-esque flood rising?

Already a part-time investor in biotech, SoftBank could drop billions of dollars into the industry as part of helmsman Masayoshi Son’s plan to spend around $80 billion of the firm’s own assets, according to a report from Bloomberg citing people familiar with the plan.

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S&P ex­pects steady ero­sion in Big Phar­ma's cred­it pro­file in 2021 as new M&A deals roll in — but don't un­der­es­ti­mate their un­der­ly­ing strength

S&P Global has taken a look at the dominant forces shaping the pharma market and come to the conclusion that there will be more downgrades than upgrades in 2021 — the 8th straight year of steady decline.

But it’s not all bad news. Some things are looking up, and there’s still plenty of money to be made in an industry that enjoys a 30% to 40% profit margin, once you factor in steep R&D expenses.

Tal Zaks, Moderna CMO (AP Photo/Rodrique Ngowi, via still image from video)

CMO Tal Zaks bids Mod­er­na a sur­prise adieu as biotech projects $18.4B in rev­enue, plots post-Covid ex­pan­sion

How do you exit a company after six years in style? Developing one of the most lucrative and life-saving products in pharma history is probably not the worst way to go.

Tal Zaks, Moderna’s CMO since 2015, will leave the mRNA biotech in September, the biotech disclosed in their annual report this morning. The company has already retained the recruitment firm Russell Reynolds to find a replacement.

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Ken Frazier, Merck CEO (Bess Adler/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

UP­DAT­ED: Mer­ck takes a swing at the IL-2 puz­zle­box with a $1.85B play for buzzy Pan­dion and its au­toim­mune hope­fuls

When Roger Perlmutter bid farewell to Merck late last year, the drugmaker perhaps best known now for sales giant Keytruda signaled its intent to take a swing at early-stage novelty with the appointment of discovery head Dean Li. Now, Merck is signing a decent-sized check to bring an IL-2 moonshot into the fold.

Merck will shell out roughly $1.85 billion for Pandion Pharmaceuticals, a biotech hoping to gin up regulatory T cells (Tregs) to treat a range of autoimmune disorders, the drugmaker said Thursday.

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