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.

Forge Bi­o­log­ics’ cGMP Com­pli­ant and Com­mer­cial­ly Vi­able Be­spoke Affin­i­ty Chro­matog­ra­phy Plat­form

Forge Biologics has developed a bespoke affinity chromatography platform approach that factors in unique vector combinations to streamline development timelines and assist our clients in efficiently entering the clinic. By leveraging our experience with natural and novel serotypes and transgene conformations, we are able to accelerate affinity chromatography development by nearly 3-fold. Many downstream purification models are serotype-dependent, demanding unique and time-consuming development strategies for each AAV gene therapy product1. With the increasing demand to propel AAV gene therapies to market, platform purification methods that support commercial-scale manufacturing of high-quality vectors with excellent safety and efficacy profiles are essential.

Jeff Bluestone (R), Sonoma Biotherapeutics CEO

Jef­frey Blue­stone brings his start­up haul to $400M+, join­ing forces with Re­gen­eron on cell ther­a­pies

These days, when Jeffrey Bluestone gets together with his contemporaries in science, the conversation often turns to retirement plans.

But a little more than three years ago, Bluestone reached a momentous turning point in his career, exiting a prestigious post at UCSF, where he had spent decades in the scientific pursuit of new therapies. And it had nothing to do with retirement anytime in the near future.

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Feng Zhang (Susan Walsh/AP Images)

In search of new way to de­liv­er gene ed­i­tors, CRISPR pi­o­neer turns to mol­e­c­u­lar sy­ringes

Bug bacteria are ruthless.

Some soil bacteria have evolved tiny, but deadly injection systems that attach to insect cells, perforate them and release toxins inside — killing a bug in just a few days’ time. Scientists, on the other hand, want to leverage that system to deliver medicines.

In a paper published Wednesday in Nature, MIT CRISPR researcher Feng Zhang and his lab describe how they engineered these syringes made by bacteria to deliver potential therapies like toxins that kill cancer cells and gene editors. With the help of an AI program, they developed syringes that can load proteins of their choice and selectively target human cells.

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Mathai Mammen, FogPharma's next CEO

Math­ai Mam­men hands in J&J's R&D keys to lead Greg Ver­dine’s Fog­Phar­ma 

In the early 1990s, Mathai Mammen was a teaching assistant in Greg Verdine’s Science B46 course at Harvard. In June, the former R&D head at Johnson & Johnson will succeed Verdine as CEO, president and chair of FogPharma, the same month the seven-year-old biotech kickstarts its first clinical trial.

After leading R&D at one of the largest drugmakers in the world, taking the company through more than half a dozen drug approvals in the past few years, not to mention a Covid-19 vaccine race, Mammen departed J&J last month and will take the helm of a Cambridge, MA biotech attempting to go after what Verdine calls the “true emperor of all oncogenes” — beta-catenin.

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See­los Ther­a­peu­tics 'tem­porar­i­ly' stops study in rare neu­ro dis­or­der for busi­ness rea­sons

Microcap biotech Seelos Therapeutics is halting enrollment of its study in spinocerebellar ataxia type 3 (also known as Machado-Joseph disease) because of “financial considerations,” and in order to focus on other studies, the company said today, adding that the pause would be temporary.

The study will continue with the patients who have already enrolled, and the data from them will be used to decide whether to continue enrolling others in the future.

Alec­tor cuts 11% of work­force as it dou­bles down on late-stage neu­ro pro­grams part­nered with GSK, Ab­b­Vie

A month after revealing plans to concentrate on its late-stage immuno-neurology pipeline, Alector is trimming its headcount by 11%.

The layoffs will impact around 30 employees across the organization, the company disclosed in an SEC filing, adding that the plan will “better align the company’s resources” with the new strategy. With $712.9 million in cash, cash equivalents and investments as of the end of 2022, Alector believes the reserves will now get it through 2025.

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Hugo Peris, Spiral Therapeutics CEO

Hear­ing-fo­cused biotech grabs trio of pro­grams from Oton­o­my's fire sale

Otonomy may be shutting down, but the lessons learned there will live on at another biotech working on new treatments for hearing loss.

San Francisco-based Spiral Therapeutics has bought certain assets related to three of Otonomy’s programs, ranging from data, patent rights, and know-how to inventory. That includes data around Otonomy’s twice-failed lead program, OTO-104 (Otividex), a sustained-exposure formulation of dexamethasone.

Covant acting CEO Matt Maisak (L) and CSO Iván Cornella

With Boehringer In­gel­heim’s help, Roivant churns out an­oth­er Vant to go up against En­deav­or, Im­pact founders

Roivant Sciences has added another branch to its family tree, unveiling Covant Therapeutics with a $10 million upfront commitment from Boehringer Ingelheim to turn up the heat in cancer.

The Boston-based drug discovery startup will jointly create a new small molecule immunotherapy with the private German pharma giant. The deal, made public Tuesday morning, includes up to $471 million in future payments and tiered royalties, should the product make it to market.

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CSL CEO Paul McKenzie (L) and CMO Bill Mezzanotte

Q&A: New­ly-mint­ed CSL chief ex­ec­u­tive Paul McKen­zie and chief med­ical of­fi­cer Bill Mez­zan­otte

Paul McKenzie took over as CEO of Australian pharma giant CSL this month, following in the footsteps of long-time CSL vet Paul Perreault.

With an eye on mRNA, and quickly commercializing its new, $3.5 million-per-shot gene therapy for hemophilia B, McKenzie and chief medical officer Bill Mezzanotte answered some questions from Endpoints News this afternoon about where McKenzie is going to take the company and what advances may be coming to market from CSL’s pipeline. Below is a lightly edited transcript.