Black Di­a­mond dou­bles in val­ue hours in­to Nas­daq de­but, mark­ing hot start to the 2020 IPO run

There are few al­losteric ther­a­pies ap­proved, but in­vestors seem to like the idea — and the lat­est duo to pur­sue it.

Black Di­a­mond Ther­a­peu­tics, the young on­col­o­gy com­pa­ny from Tarce­va vets David Ep­stein and Eliz­a­beth Buck, opened its IPO yes­ter­day at $19 per share. By 11:15 am, it was up to $35 per share. And, with a slight rise in the last min­utes, it closed at $39.48. That’s a 108% in­crease on its open­ing ten­der. They col­lect­ed over $200 mil­lion.  The mar­ket cap dou­bled from around $670 mil­lion to $1.3 bil­lion.

On Fri­day, right on the heels of that quick coup, Ar­cutis Bio­ther­a­peu­tics priced its IPO at $17 — the top of the range. That of­fer­ing raised $159 mil­lion through the sale of 9.4 mil­lion shares. It’s start­ing out with a mar­ket val­ue of $657 mil­lion.

The end-of-week surge sug­gests that de­spite some head­winds in­vestors still want to get in ear­ly on what they deem the most promis­ing com­pa­nies, par­tic­u­lar­ly in on­col­o­gy. That bodes well for the start of the 2020 IPO sea­son and will like­ly in­spire oth­ers to jump in­to the game ear­ly — though there’s no way to pre­dict what will hap­pen down the road. The biotech IPO win­dow has been wide open for 5 years now, mark­ing a very long stretch.

Black Di­a­mond’s first-day gain dwarfed the mean for biotech IPOs. Since the start of 2019, they’ve risen on av­er­age 16% on day one and 60% over­all, ac­cord­ing to Re­nais­sance Cap­i­tal.

Black Di­a­mond had raised mon­ey rapid­ly in the pri­vate mar­kets as well. They were the first com­pa­ny to come out of Ver­sant’s Basel-based in­cu­ba­tor and launched with an ini­tial $20 mil­lion from the ven­ture firm. With­in a month of emerg­ing from stealth mode in De­cem­ber 2018, they an­nounced an $85 mil­lion Se­ries B fund­ing. Less than a year lat­er, they net­ted an­oth­er $85 mil­lion. They then im­me­di­ate­ly filed for an IPO.

Buck and Ep­stein are far from alone in pur­su­ing al­losteric ther­a­pies for can­cer and oth­er dis­eases. No­var­tis has a Phase I pro­gram for an al­losteric SHP2 in­hibitor, Rev­o­lu­tion Med­i­cines — now pur­su­ing its own $100 mil­lion IPO –  has an al­losteric SHP2 it li­censed from Sanofi for $50 mil­lion, and back in 2016, Gilead paid Nim­bus $40o mil­lion for fir­so­co­stat, an al­losteric in­hibitor for NASH. (Which did not per­form well last year).

Black Di­a­mond is be­hind those oth­er pro­grams. They have yet to en­ter the clin­ic.

In­vestors are large­ly bet­ting on their MAP plat­form, which works to map out al­losteric mu­ta­tions across the body. Al­losteric sites are grooves away from a pro­tein’s ac­tive bind­ing site but which can nev­er­the­less af­fect the bind­ing site and the pro­tein’s over­all func­tion. A mu­ta­tion there could af­fect the pro­tein’s func­tion, po­ten­tial­ly dri­ving cer­tain can­cers. Sci­en­tists have long known about these sites, but have strug­gled un­til re­cent­ly to find them.

A com­pa­ny with promis­ing map­ping soft­ware could have a sig­nif­i­cant leg up. An­oth­er biotech try­ing to do that, Hotspot Ther­a­peu­tics, launched in 2018 with a $45 mil­lion Se­ries A.

UP­DAT­ED: Mer­ck pulls Keytru­da in SCLC af­ter ac­cel­er­at­ed nod. Is the FDA get­ting tough on drug­mak­ers that don't hit their marks?

In what could be an early shot in the battle against drugmakers that whiff on confirmatory studies to support accelerated approvals, the FDA ordered Bristol Myers Squibb late last year to give up Opdivo’s approval in SCLC. Now, Merck is next on the firing line — are we seeing the FDA buckling down on post-marketing offenders?

Merck has withdrawn its marketing approval for PD-(L)1 inhibitor Keytruda in metastatic small cell lung cancer as part of what it describes as an “industry-wide evaluation” by the FDA of drugs that do not meet the post-marketing checkpoints on which their accelerated nods were based, the company said Monday.

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Michael Shpigelmacher

Khosla joins bet on un­con­ven­tion­al start­up look­ing to send drug de­liv­er­ing ro­bots in­to the brain

When Michael Shpigelmacher started the project, he knew he’d have to fund it himself. Every other effort of its kind was academic, rejected as too risky by investors.

Shpigelmacher, a robotics geek and entrepeneur who had drifted into consulting for pharma, wanted to build the real-life equivalent of technology from the 1960s film Fantastic Voyage, the one where a submarine crew is shrunk to “about the size of a microbe” and sent on a mission to repair a scientist’s brain. He scanned the literature, found the lab that was working on the most advanced project — at the Max Planck Institute in Germany, it turned out — and started funding them with money from his own account, along with some seed cash from friends and family.

Paul Sekhri

The next big biotech su­per­star? Paul Sekhri has some thoughts on that

It occasionally occurs to Paul Sekhri that if they pull this off, his company will be on the front page of the New York Times and a lead story in just about every major news outlet on the planet. He tries not to dwell on it, though.

“I just want to be laser-focused on getting to that point,” Sekhri says, before acknowledging, “Yes, it absolutely crossed my mind.”

Sekhri, a longtime biopharma executive with tenures at Sanofi and Novartis, is now entering year three as CEO of eGenesis, the biotech that George Church protégé Luhan Yang founded to genetically alter pigs so that they can be used for organ transplants. He led them through one megaround and has just closed another, raising $125 million from 17 different investors to push the first-ever (humanized) pig to human transplants into the clinic.

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Bob Nelsen (Photo by Michael Kovac/Getty Images)

With stars aligned and cash in re­serve, Bob Nelsen's Re­silience plans a makeover at 2 new fa­cil­i­ty ad­di­tions to its drug man­u­fac­tur­ing up­start

Bob Nelsen’s new, state-of-the-art drug manufacturing initiative is taking shape.

Just 3 months after gathering $800 million of launch money, a dream team board and a plan to shake up a field where he found too many bottlenecks and inefficiencies for the era of Covid-19, Resilience has snapped up a pair of facilities now in line for a retooling.

The company has acquired a 310,000-square-foot plant in Boston from Sanofi along with a 136,000-square-foot plant in Ontario to add to a network which CEO Rahul Singhvi says is just getting started on building his company’s operations up. The Sanofi deal comes with a contract to continue manufacturing one of its drugs.

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Or­biMed, bio­phar­ma's biggest in­vestor, clos­es $3.5B in three new pri­vate funds

One of the world’s leading biopharma investors has pulled in its next rounds of cash, with the funds planned to go to dozens of companies around the world.

OrbiMed raised $3.5 billion across three private investment funds, it announced Monday, as it continues building on its long track record in healthcare and biopharma. All in all, the firm expects to invest in at least 60 companies across the US, Asia and Europe.

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Af­ter bail­ing on Covid-19 vac­cines, Mer­ck will team up with J&J to pro­duce its shot as part of un­usu­al Big Phar­ma pact

Merck took a big gamble when it opted to jump into the Covid-19 vaccine race late, and made an equally momentous decision to back out in late January. Now, looking to chip in on the effort, Merck reportedly agreed to team up with one of the companies that has already crossed the finish line.

President Joe Biden on Tuesday is expected to announce a partnership between drugmakers Merck and Johnson & Johnson to jointly produce J&J’s recombinant protein Covid-19 vaccine that received the FDA’s emergency use authorization Saturday, the Washington Post reported.

Ab­b­Vie tees up a biotech buy­out af­ter siz­ing up their Parkin­son's drug spun out of Ke­van Shokat's lab

AbbVie has teed up a small but intriguing biotech buyout after looking over the preclinical work it’s been doing in Parkinson’s disease.

The company is called Mitokinin, a Bay Area biotech spun out of the lab of UCSF’s Kevan Shokat, whose scientific explorations have formed the academic basis of a slew of startups in the biotech hub. One of Shokat’s PhD students in the lab, Nicholas Hertz, co-founded Mitokinin using their lab work on PINK1 suggesting that amping up its activity could play an important role in regulating the mitochondrial dysfunction contributing to Parkinson’s disease pathogenesis and progression.

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Fi­bro­Gen shares skid low­er as a sur­prise ad­comm rais­es risks on roxa OK

FibroGen will likely have to delay its US rollout for roxadustat once again.

In an unexpected move, the FDA is convening its Cardiovascular and Renal Drugs Advisory Committee to review the NDA in an advisory committee meeting. The date is yet to be confirmed.

Just a few weeks ago, SVB Leerink analyst Geoffrey Porges predicted that the roxa approval could come ahead of the PDUFA date on March 20 — effusive despite already being let down once by the FDA’s extension of its review back in December. AstraZeneca, which is partnered with FibroGen on the chronic kidney disease-related anemia drug, disclosed regulators had requested further clarifying analyses of clinical data.

In­tro­duc­ing End­pointsF­DA+, our new pre­mi­um week­ly reg­u­la­to­ry news re­port led by Zachary Bren­nan

CRLs. 483s. CBER, CDER and RWE. For biopharma professionals, these acronyms command attention because of the fundamental role FDA plays in drug development. Now Endpoints is doubling down on regulatory coverage, and launching a weekly report focusing on developments out of White Oak, with analysis and insight into what it all means.

Coverage will be led by our new senior editor, Zachary Brennan. He joins Endpoints from POLITICO, where he covered pharma. Prior to that he was the managing editor for Regulatory Focus, a news publication from the Regulatory Affairs Professionals Society.