An­oth­er four IPOs com­plete busy week as biotech raise con­tin­ues to match 2020's record pace

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One of the busiest IPO weeks of the year has capped off with an­oth­er four biotechs ex­pect­ed to make their pub­lic de­buts Fri­day.

Af­ter Lyell, Verve and Mol­e­c­u­lar Part­ners all priced ear­li­er in the week, ATAI Life Sci­ences, Cen­tu­ry Ther­a­peu­tics, Am­brx Bio­phar­ma and Cyteir Ther­a­peu­tics each fol­lowed suit with nine-fig­ure rais­es af­ter mar­ket close Thurs­day. All that ef­fort has dri­ven the com­bined biotech IPO raise close to $9 bil­lion, per the End­points News tal­ly.

With the end of the sec­ond quar­ter rapid­ly ap­proach­ing, the in­dus­try is well on its way to eclips­ing 2020’s record IPO fig­ures. Last year saw a $16.5 bil­lion com­bined raise from 91 biotechs, ac­cord­ing to Nas­daq, where 2021’s sum thus far comes from 53 new­ly pub­lic com­pa­nies.

ATAI led Fri­day’s group, tal­ly­ing a $225 mil­lion raise at $15 per share. Cen­tu­ry al­so hit the $200 mil­lion mark, rais­ing $211 mil­lion at $20 per share. Cyteir and Am­brx fol­lowed up with to­tals of $133 mil­lion and $126 mil­lion, re­spec­tive­ly, each launch­ing their stock at $18.

‘Be­liev­ing in mag­ic,’ Thiel-backed ATAI jumps to Nas­daq

Pe­ter Thiel

Backed by bil­lion­aire Pe­ter Thiel, ATAI has com­plet­ed the next step in its jour­ney as it con­tin­ues its unique mis­sion of wrap­ping sev­er­al psy­che­del­ic biotechs un­der one cor­po­rate um­brel­la.

The IPO fol­lows two nine-fig­ure pri­vate rais­es, with a $125 mil­lion Se­ries C last No­vem­ber and a $157 mil­lion Se­ries D in March. CEO Flo­ri­an Brand told End­points News at the time that their psy­che­del­ic strat­e­gy proved es­sen­tial in dri­ving that heavy in­vestor in­ter­est, and that os­ten­si­bly con­tin­ued in­to ATAI’s Nas­daq leap.

Hav­ing fin­ished its IPO prep, we can now glean some more in­for­ma­tion out of ATAI’s pub­lic plans thanks to an up­dat­ed S-1 fil­ing. The biotech list­ed sev­en of their 14 port­fo­lio com­pa­nies to­ward which IPO funds will be di­rect­ed, with Per­cep­tion and Recog­ni­fy lead­ing the way. Per­cep­tion had been one of ATAI’s ear­li­est ac­qui­si­tions, while Recog­ni­fy joined the fold this past Jan­u­ary.

Per­cep­tion’s cash will be used to launch and com­plete a Phase II study for a pro­gram in treat­ment re­sis­tant de­pres­sion, while Recog­ni­fy is look­ing to fin­ish a Phase IIa tri­al for their can­di­date they say can mod­u­late the cholin­er­gic, NM­DA and GA­BA type B re­cep­tor sys­tems.

The oth­er com­pa­nies specif­i­cal­ly slat­ed for funds are De­meRx, GA­BA Ther­a­peu­tics, Neu­ronasal, Kures and Viridia. But ATAI isn’t stop­ping there, sav­ing a mas­sive amount for oth­er play­ers in their port­fo­lio and set­ting aside $75 to $85 mil­lion for an­oth­er po­ten­tial ac­qui­si­tion.

ATAI will trade un­der the tick­er $ATAI. Founder Chris­t­ian Anger­may­er, who con­trols the largest stake in ATAI at 19.1% post-of­fer­ing, tweet­ed his ap­par­ent plea­sure at the news ear­ly Fri­day.

Cell ther­a­py play­er Cen­tu­ry con­tin­ues its hot streak

Look­ing to cap­i­tal­ize on the mo­men­tum in an­oth­er hot mar­ket — al­lo­gene­ic cell ther­a­py — CEO La­lo Flo­res is steer­ing Cen­tu­ry to Nas­daq.

La­lo Flo­res

The IPO con­tin­ues a big year for Flo­res, who nailed down a $160 mil­lion raise back in March to scale their iP­SC plat­form for CAR-T and CAR-NK ef­forts. Cen­tu­ry is tak­ing what they see as a dif­fer­ent ap­proach to the tech­nol­o­gy, how­ev­er, opt­ing for in­duced pluripo­tent stem cells rather than donor cells.

Cen­tu­ry’s lead pro­gram, a CD19 CAR-NK that they hope to steer in­to a hu­man tri­al by 2022, is ex­pect­ed to see a $50 mil­lion wind­fall from the IPO. Three oth­er pro­grams will get a com­bined $110 mil­lion in funds, Cen­tu­ry said in its S-1 ear­li­er this week.

The tri­umvi­rate of those pre­clin­i­cal pro­grams tar­get­ing CD133 and EGFR, CD19 and CD79b, as well as an­oth­er mul­ti­spe­cif­ic can­di­date. If every­thing goes as planned, Cen­tu­ry will com­plete its slate of INDs by the end of 2024. An­oth­er $35 mil­lion is slat­ed to boost the biotech’s man­u­fac­tur­ing ca­pa­bil­i­ties.

Cen­tu­ry has some big play­ers as its top in­vestors, who will each see hefty wind­falls with the IPO raise. Ver­sant is the biotech’s biggest share­hold­er with a 24.7% post-of­fer­ing stake, while Bay­er will con­trol 21.8% of shares once the IPO is com­plet­ed. Fu­ji­film’s cell man­u­fac­tur­ing sub­sidiary al­so owns 12.7% of Cen­tu­ry.

Once it rings in the IPO on Fri­day, Cen­tu­ry will trade un­der the tick­er $IP­SC.

Cyteir hits the bulls­eye in IPO raise

Cyteir’s pub­lic leap comes af­ter a Se­ries C round in Feb­ru­ary that saw the biotech pull in $80 mil­lion.

They’ve in­vest­ed heav­i­ly in their lead pro­gram, an oral in­hibitor of RAD51-me­di­at­ed DNA re­pair, and the biotech is aim­ing to po­ten­tial­ly com­plete a Phase II tri­al as a monother­a­py with $85 mil­lion of the $133 mil­lion IPO. Tar­get­ing RAD51, the can­di­date hits at a crit­i­cal en­zyme in dou­ble-strand­ed DNA re­pair, as Cyteir re­search­es the con­cept of syn­thet­ic lethal­i­ty.

Markus Ren­schler

The biotech hopes the phe­nom­e­non can in­hib­it the DNA dam­age re­pair can­cer cells need to sur­vive and grow, CEO Markus Ren­schler told End­points in Feb­ru­ary.

Be­hind this pro­gram is an­oth­er RAD51 can­di­date, but is still in the pre­clin­i­cal stage. Here, Cyteir will fun­nel $22 mil­lion of its IPO cash, and save the rest for oth­er gen­er­al R&D and cor­po­rate pur­pos­es.

Cyteir has some big back­ers be­hind the IPO, with No­vo hold­ings top­ping the charts at a 13.2% stake af­ter the of­fer­ing. Jan­willem Nae­sens’ Droia Ven­tures comes in sec­ond with a 9.5% stake, match­ing the shares owned by Ven­rock. And RA Cap­i­tal and Cel­gene/Bris­tol My­ers Squibb each own sig­nif­i­cant stakes, at 5.8% and 5.1%, re­spec­tive­ly.

Oth­er ma­jor stock­hold­ers in­clude Os­age Uni­ver­si­ty Part­ners II at 7.2% and Light­stone Ven­tures at 7.1%. Cyteir will trade un­der the tick­er $CYT.

Sec­ond time’s the charm for re-en­er­gized Am­brx

Am­brx’s sec­ond at­tempt to go pub­lic has end­ed in suc­cess, fol­low­ing a 2014 ef­fort that was with­drawn.

Af­ter sell­ing it­self to a syn­di­cate of Chi­nese in­vestors and phar­ma com­pa­nies, Am­brx laid low un­til a $200 mil­lion crossover raise last No­vem­ber helped com­plete its piv­ot to Chi­na. They’ve lined up part­ner­ships with Mer­ck, Bris­tol My­ers Squibb and Eli Lil­ly over the years, and signed dis­cov­ery deals with BeiGene, Suzhou-based Mab­Space and Shang­hai-based NovoCodex, among oth­ers.

Am­brx moved its first in-house drug in­to the clin­ic, a HER2-tar­get­ing an­ti­body-drug con­ju­gate, and much of the IPO’s cash will fo­cus on push­ing it for­ward in over­ex­pressed HER2 breast and gas­tric can­cers, as well as oth­er sol­id tu­mors. A prostate can­cer pro­gram will al­so see some funds.

The Bei­jing in­vest­ment firm HOPU stands to gain the most from this IPO, as it will own a 14.8% stake in Am­brx af­ter the of­fer­ing is fin­ished. WuXi is al­so in­volved with 11.1% of post-of­fer­ing shares. CEO Feng Tian will col­lect some cash as well, own­ing about 5.8 mil­lion shares that amount to a 2.2% stake.

Am­brx will trade un­der the tick­er $AMAM.

Adap­tive De­sign Meth­ods Of­fer Rapid, Seam­less Tran­si­tion Be­tween Study Phas­es in Rare Can­cer Tri­als

Rare cancers account for 22 percent of cancer diagnoses worldwide, yet there is no universally accepted definition for a “rare” cancer. Moreover, with the evolution of genomics and associated changes in categorizing tumors, some common cancers are now characterized into groups of rare cancers, each with a unique implication for patient management and therapy.

Adaptive designs, which allow for prospectively planned modifications to study design based on accumulating data from subjects in the trial, can be used to optimize rare oncology trials (see Figure 1). Adaptive design studies may include multiple cohorts and multiple tumor types. In addition, numerous adaptation methods may be used in a single trial and may facilitate a more rapid, seamless transition between study phases.

Marianne De Backer (L) and Jeff Hatfield

Bay­er nabs star biotech Vi­vid­ion with a $2B buy­out and an ‘arms-length’ pact, pulling a part­ner out of the IPO con­ga line

Vividion is canceling that IPO it filed. Instead of following the industry-wide migration to Nasdaq, the biotech that has captured considerable attention for its still-preclinical work finding cryptic pockets to bind to on proteins is going to work for Bayer now.

The pharma giant is putting out word today that it has bought out Vividion for $1.5 billion in cash and another half-billion dollars in milestones.

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Josh Hoffman, outgoing Zymergen CEO (Zymergen)

UP­DAT­ED: Syn­bio uni­corn Zymer­gen jet­ti­sons found­ing CEO, cuts guid­ance as cus­tomers re­port lead prod­uct does­n't work

Zymergen, just months off a $500 million IPO that put the synthetic bio firm in rarified air, has now ejected its founding CEO and downgraded its revenue forecasts after customers reported its lead film product doesn’t work as advertised, the company said Tuesday afternoon.

CEO Josh Hoffman will leave his role and sacrifice his board seat immediately in favor of Jay Flatley, the former CEO of Illumina who will take the lead role on an interim basis as the company conducts a search for its next leader.

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Zymergen co-founders Zach Serber, Josh Hoffman, and Jed Dean (Zymergen via website)

Zymer­gen's sud­den im­plo­sion shocked biotech. A lin­ger­ing loan could make things even worse

As former synbio unicorn Zymergen picks up the pieces from its spectacular implosion Tuesday, an outstanding loan from Perceptive Advisors — the only blue-chip biotech crossover investor to touch Zymergen’s fundraising efforts — could make the situation worse, according to public documents.

In December 2019, more than a year before Zymergen filed for what would eventually become a $500 million IPO, the “biofacturing” firm signed a $100 million credit facility with Perceptive to help supplement the nearly $700 million the company had raised across four VC rounds.

Bio­gen, Ei­sai are push­ing for an­oth­er ac­cel­er­at­ed Alzheimer's OK — this time for BAN2401

Now that the door at the FDA has been opened wide for Alzheimer’s drugs that can demonstrate a reduction in amyloid, Biogen and its partners at Eisai are pushing for a quick OK on the next drug to follow in the controversial path of aducanumab.

In a presentation to analysts, Eisai neurology chief Ivan Cheung outlined some bullish expectations for their newly-approved treatment and set the stage for what he believes will be a fast follow for BAN2401 (lecanemab) — after a dry spell in new drug development that’s lasted close to 20 years.

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Jeffrey Bluestone, Sonoma CEO (Photo credit: Steve Babuljak)

Jeff Blue­stone just raised $265M to de­vel­op cu­ra­tive cell ther­a­pies. We asked him how

Jeff Bluestone had some big goals in mind when he decided to make a switch from a decades-long career in academia and non-profit research to a biotech startup CEO. And now — 18 months after the $40 million launch party — he has a whole lot more money on hand to pay for the considerable amount of work ahead at Sonoma Biotherapeutics.

This morning Bluestone is taking the wraps off a $265 million B round after boosting the core syndicate of A-list investors he started with. Even by today’s standards, that sum dwarfs the kind of $100 million-plus megarounds that have become standard fare in biotech over the last 2 years.

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Paul Hudson, Sanofi CEO (Eric Piermont/AFP via Getty Images)

UP­DAT­ED: Sanofi buys mR­NA play­er Trans­late Bio for $3.2B. And the price fits a pop­u­lar range for biotech M&A

Sanofi CEO Paul Hudson is dead serious about his intention to vault directly into contention for the future of mRNA vaccines.

A year after paying Translate Bio $TBIO a whopping $425 million in an upfront and equity payment to help guide the pharma giant to the promised land of mRNA vaccines, Sanofi closed the deal with a buyout early Tuesday, spending $38 a share in a $3.2 billion buyout.

Translate’s stock $TBIO soared after the market closed Monday when Reuters reported the first word of the acquisition just hours ahead of the formal announcement. The wire service, though, didn’t have a price to report in its scoop, and investors chased the stock up 78% in the wild ride that followed. Once the price was announced, gains shriveled to 29% ahead of the bell.

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Matt Gline (L) and Pete Salzmann

UP­DAT­ED: Roivant bumps stake in Im­muno­vant with a $200M deal. But with M&A off the ta­ble, shares crater

Roivant has worked out a deal to pick up a chunk of stock in its majority-owned sub Immunovant $IMVT, but the stock buy falls far short of its much-discussed thoughts about buying out all of the 43% of shares it doesn’t already own.

Roivant, which recently inked a SPAC move to the market at a $7 billion-plus valuation, has forged a deal to boost its ownership in Immunovant by 6.3 points, ending with 63.8% of the biotech’s stock following a $200 million injection. That cash will bolster Immunovant’s cash reserves, giving it a $600 million war chest to fund a slate of late-stage studies for its big drug: the anti-FcRn antibody IMVT-1401.

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Tadataka Yamada (Photographer: Kiyoshi Ota/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Sci­ence pi­o­neer, phar­ma re­search chief, glob­al health ad­vo­cate and biotech en­tre­pre­neur Tadata­ka ‘Tachi’ Ya­ma­da has died

Tadataka Yamada, a towering physician-scientist who made his name in academia before transforming drug development at GSK and developing vaccines for malaria and meningitis at the Gates Foundation, died unexpectedly of natural causes at his home in Seattle Wednesday morning.

He was 76. Frazier Venture Partner David Socks confirmed his death.

Known widely by the mononym “Tachi,” Yamada had a globetrotting career and arrived in industry relatively late in life. A 2004 Independent article noted GSK had asked Yamada to stay on beyond his approaching 60th birthday, the company’s usual retirement age. Yamada would continue working for the next 17 years, steering the Gates Foundation’s global health division for 6 years, funding Jim Wilson’s gene therapy work when few would touch it, launching Takeda Vaccines and co-founding a series of high-profile biotechs.