An­oth­er IPO fren­zy? Two US biotechs head to Hong Kong for a pub­lic mar­ket de­but

Two US-based biotechs, Stealth Bio­Ther­a­peu­tics and AO­Bio­me, have joined the queue to ap­ply for an IPO in Hong Kong — a first since the city’s ex­change changed its rules late April to at­tract pre-rev­enue drug­mak­ers.

While nei­ther com­pa­nies cur­rent­ly have op­er­a­tions in Chi­na, both ex­pressed a keen in­ter­est in cap­i­tal­iz­ing on the mar­ket there, with Stealth ready to set up R&D shop in Shang­hai. The much-watched de­vel­op­ment — an­a­lysts have long pre­dict­ed a string of US biotech uni­corns go­ing for a gold-rush to main­tain their high val­u­a­tions — came on the heels of two IPO ap­pli­ca­tions by Chi­na-based com­pa­nies, In­novent and Mi­cuRx.

Vin­cent Che­ung

Of the two, Stealth has a more ob­vi­ous con­nec­tion to Chi­na. Just days ago, the Boston start­up wel­comed Vin­cent Che­ung to the board as his Nan Fung Group led a $100 mil­lion megaround to fund its pro­grams in rare mi­to­chon­dr­i­al and oth­er age-re­lat­ed dis­eases. BVCF and Morn­ing­side, two high pro­file Chi­na-fo­cused funds, are al­so among its back­ers.

CEO Ree­nie Mc­Carthy re­marked then that they “par­tic­u­lar­ly wel­come the new in­vestors’ deep ex­pe­ri­ence with­in the Chi­na health­care mar­ket, which we view as an im­por­tant fron­tier both for rare mi­to­chon­dr­i­al dis­eases un­der Chi­na’s re­cent rare dis­ease ini­tia­tive, as well as for dis­eases of ag­ing.”

Ree­nie Mc­Carthy

Stealth ex­pects the IPO raise — the ex­act amount of which they would not dis­close at this stage — to last through 2020. By then, the vi­sion goes, the com­pa­ny would have be­gun to com­mer­cial­ize its lead prod­uct, elamipre­tide, in Barth syn­drome and mi­to­chon­dr­i­al my­opa­thy; moved in­to Phase III with the same drug in age-re­lat­ed mac­u­lar de­gen­er­a­tion; and brought a new com­pound in­to the clin­ic.

A sec­ond drug can­di­date, SBT-20, is be­ing de­vel­oped pre­clin­i­cal­ly for neu­rode­gen­er­a­tion.

Jun Wang

AO­Bio­me’s point-per­son in Chi­na is Jun Wang, the young founder and for­mer CEO of Bei­jing Ge­nomics In­sti­tute. Through iCar­bonX, his new ven­ture har­ness­ing da­ta for per­son­al health mon­i­tor­ing, he in­fused $30 mil­lion in­to the mi­cro­bio­me-fo­cused start­up. He was re­cent­ly named chair­man of the board.

The star and name­sake of AO­Bio­me’s pipeline is the am­mo­nia ox­i­diz­ing bac­te­ria, which is be­ing ap­plied to six in­di­ca­tions all in mid or late stage Un­like most biotechs work­ing on the mi­cro­bio­me, which tend to fo­cus on the gut, AO­Bio­me is start­ing out with der­ma­to­log­i­cal ail­ments, with plans to be­gin a Phase III tri­al in ac­ne in 2019 and Phase II eczema and rosacea stud­ies to fol­low.

That fo­cus was in­formed by the com­pa­ny’s ear­ly ex­pe­ri­ence, as it be­gan com­mer­cial­iz­ing sev­er­al AOB-based cos­met­ic prod­ucts in 2014, which it has sub­se­quent­ly sold.

Todd Krueger

By own­ing AI En­ter­prise II (36.32%) and Bio­me Hold­ing (11.64%), Wang is the con­trol­ling share­hold­er of the com­pa­ny, which is led by pres­i­dent and CEO Todd Krueger.

Tillman Gerngross, Adagio Therapeutics CEO

An­ti­body leg­end Till­man Gern­gross is el­bow­ing his way in­to the Covid-19 R&D cru­sade: 'I don’t see this end­ing any­time soon'

One of the most influential — and outspoken — scientists at work in the field of antibody discovery is jumping into the frenzied race to create new therapeutics to treat and prevent Covid-19. And he’s operating with the conviction that the current outbreak now once again spreading like wildfire will create plenty of demand for what he has in mind.

Dartmouth professor and Adimab CEO Tillman Gerngross tells me he’s raised $50 million from a group of close VCs to spin out a new company — Adagio Therapeutics — with a full C-suite team assembled to hire up a staff and keep rolling toward the clinic.

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Tal Zaks, Moderna CMO (Moderna via YouTube)

UP­DAT­ED: NI­AID and Mod­er­na spell out a 'ro­bust' im­mune re­sponse in PhI coro­n­avirus vac­cine test — but big ques­tions re­main to be an­swered

The NIAID and Moderna have spelled out positive Phase I safety and efficacy data for their Covid-19 vaccine mRNA-1273 — highlighting the first full, clear sketch of evidence that back-to-back jabs at the dose selected for Phase III routinely produced a swarm of antibodies to the virus that exceeded levels seen in convalescent patients — typically in multiples indicating a protective response.

Moderna execs say plainly that this first stage of research produced exactly the kind of efficacy they hoped to see in humans, with a manageable safety profile.

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Trans­port Sim­u­la­tion Test­ing for Your Ther­a­py is the Best Way to As­sure FDA Ex­pe­dit­ed Pro­gram Ap­proval

Modality Solutions is an ISO:9001-registered biopharmaceutical cold chain engineering firm with unique transport simulation capabilities that support accelerated regulatory approval for biologics and advanced therapeutic medicinal products (ATMP). Our expertise combines traditional validation engineering approaches with regulatory knowledge into a methodology tailored for the life sciences industry. We provide insight and execution for the challenges faced in your cold chain logistics network.

GSK’s Shin­grix leader Guil­laume Pfe­fer has jumped on board Flag­ship to helm a biotech hy­brid as Afeyan’s lat­est CEO-part­ner

After spending 4 years in a senior post with GlaxoSmithKline’s star team positioning Shingrix for a blockbuster approval, Guillaume Pfefer is headed back to the biotech world — in style.

Pfefer has signed on to join Noubar Afeyan’s busy group of partners at Flagship, and he’s taking the helm of an upstart — which today is being merged with another Flagship startup — with some grand plans of its own. The announcement this morning notes that Pfefer will run Kintai Therapeutics, one of the grads of the Flagship labs.

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Who are the women blaz­ing trails in bio­phar­ma R&D and lead­ing the fight against Covid-19? Nom­i­nate them for End­points' spe­cial re­port

One of the many inequalities the pandemic has laid bare is the gender imbalance in biomedical research. A paper examining Covid-19 research authorship wondered out loud: Where are the women?

It’s a question that echoes beyond our current times. In the biopharma world, not only are women under-represented in R&D roles (particularly at higher levels), their achievements and talents could also be undermined by stereotypes and norms of leadership styles. The problem is even more dire for women of color.

Donald Trump and Anthony Fauci (AP Images)

Covid-19 roundup: Fau­ci fires back at White House cam­paign to un­der­mine him

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A neu­ro­sur­geon spent the past 30 years de­vel­op­ing a neoanti­gen tu­mor vac­cine. Now he has $112M for a piv­otal test

As a neurosurgeon, David Andrews knew there wasn’t much he could do for his glioma patients after resecting — rarely fully — their tumor. Even with the best treatment and care available, median overall survival is just somewhere between 14 and 16 months.

Then in the 1990s, his mentor at Thomas Jefferson University introduced him to Renato Baserga, a pathologist who had been studying the effect of using antisense oligonucleotide to knock out the insulin-like growth factor type 1 receptor in cancers. As IGF-R1 drives tumor growth and metastasis, the preclinical reasoning went, implanting a molecule targeting the receptor together with the tumor material near lymph nodes can slow down the spread of the cancer.

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The $1B Mer­ck-Bay­er drug that di­vid­ed car­di­ol­o­gists in March gets pri­or­i­ty re­view

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New biotech Exalys, seek­ing to pre­vent post­op­er­a­tive delir­i­um, launch­es with $15 mil­lion in Se­ries A

An old group of former colleagues will be reuniting to lead a new biotech venture aimed at cultivating a portfolio to treat neuroinflammatory disorders.

Led by Rick Orr, who ran biotechs Adynxx and Alliqua Biomedical, the group is launching the startup Exalys on Thursday with $15 million in Series A funding from venture firms Catalys Pacific and Domain Associates. The nascent company’s first project will focus on preventing postoperative delirium, licensing a platform of EP4 receptors from Japanese pharma Eisai.