Rajiv Shukla, Constellation Alpha Holdings

Can­del gets busy IPO week mov­ing with down­sized raise as Ra­jiv Shuk­la's third SPAC goes pub­lic

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In a week that’s ex­pect­ed to see sev­er­al biotechs price their IPOs, Can­del Ther­a­peu­tics got things kicked off Tues­day with a mut­ed open­er.

Paul Pe­ter Tak

The com­pa­ny helmed by for­mer Glax­o­SmithK­line vet Paul Pe­ter Tak made its way to Nas­daq thanks to a $72 mil­lion raise, which was down­sized by about 15% than orig­i­nal­ly an­tic­i­pat­ed, ac­cord­ing to Re­nais­sance Cap­i­tal. Can­del priced at $8 per share af­ter ini­tial­ly seek­ing to launch in the $13 to $15 range.

Like many oth­er biotechs, Can­del had pen­ciled in $100 mil­lion in its first S-1 draft when it filed at the end of June. But it re­vised that es­ti­mate down to $85 mil­lion last week, and then fur­ther down­sized it again on Mon­day.

De­spite the low­er-than-ex­pect­ed raise, IPOs are con­tin­u­ing to bring record amounts of cash in­to the biotech in­dus­try. Per the End­points News tal­ly, the com­bined raise now sits at $11.35 bil­lion from 69 com­pa­nies. And Can­del’s raise comes as an­oth­er slew of biotechs pre­pare to price their own of­fer­ings lat­er this week, in­clud­ing Nu­va­lent, Icosavax, Tenaya, Max­Cyte, Rani, Omega, Im­muneer­ing, Rally­Bio, Ocean Bio­med­ical, IN8bio and Con­text Ther­a­peu­tics.

In­clud­ing Can­del, this week’s slate of a dozen biotech IPOs is on track to be the busiest of the year and like­ly to push the to­tal raise past $12 bil­lion. Should every IPO price as planned — in biotech and oth­er sec­tors, with fi­nan­cial trad­ing app Robin­Hood and lan­guage-learn­ing ser­vice DuoLin­go ex­pect­ed to price — this week will be the busiest in at least two decades for the US IPO mar­ket, Re­nais­sance Cap­i­tal said.

Now with Tak on board, Can­del is fur­ther­ing its mis­sion to go af­ter on­colyt­ic virus­es, which come with a check­ered his­to­ry. Am­gen’s Im­ly­g­ic re­mains the on­ly ap­proved prod­uct in the space, stand­ing out among a slew of fail­ures.

But Can­del is tak­ing a dif­fer­ent ap­proach, aim­ing to fire non-repli­cat­ing virus­es at tu­mors to try to kill can­cer cells and cause enough dam­age to jump­start the im­mune sys­tem in­to ac­tion. Re­searchers are al­so seek­ing to use the virus as a vec­tor to de­liv­er trans­genes for an en­zyme, which would then con­vert a com­pan­ion small mol­e­cule pro­drug in­to can­cer killing mode.

For his part, Tak will take home a 1.6% stake in the com­pa­ny once it com­pletes the of­fer­ing. Can­del al­so be­stowed up­on him more than $2.3 mil­lion in op­tion awards last year, mak­ing up the ma­jor­i­ty of his pay pack­age, per the S-1.

The big win­ner of the IPO, though, is Paul Man­ning and PBM Cap­i­tal. Man­ning’s firm owns the largest share in Can­del at 21.7%.

Can­del will trade un­der the tick­er $CADL. It plans to use IPO funds for two Phase III tri­als in its lead can­di­date, con­struc­tion of a man­u­fac­tur­ing fa­cil­i­ty and oth­er stud­ies for a sec­ond pro­gram.

Ra­jiv Shuk­la takes his third SPAC pub­lic

In ad­di­tion to Can­del, an­oth­er SPAC has priced. And it comes from one of biotech’s ear­li­est SPAC cheer­lead­ers.

Ra­jiv Shuk­la’s third blank-check com­pa­ny — dubbed Al­pha Health­care Ac­qui­si­tion III — hit the mar­ket Tues­day, pric­ing at $150 mil­lion af­ter fil­ing back in March. Shuk­la filed for that SPAC just a few weeks af­ter help­ing take the biotech Hu­ma­cyte pub­lic in a $255 mil­lion re­verse merg­er.

Ac­cord­ing to the SPAC’s S-1 fil­ing, Shuk­la and his crew are fo­cus­ing on a wide range of biotech com­pa­nies. The tar­get size of the yet-to-be-ac­quired com­pa­ny will range from $250 mil­lion to $3 bil­lion, the fil­ing said. Per their es­ti­mates, that range com­pris­es more than 400 com­pa­nies.

Shuk­la’s first SPAC filed back in 2017 and found a part­ner near­ly two years lat­er when it took DermTech pub­lic in 2019.

Like IPOs, SPACs have seen a boom over the last year and a half. Through 2021 so far, 50 health­care SPACs and merg­ers have brought near­ly $17 bil­lion in­to the biotech in­dus­try, per the End­points tal­ly.

Health­care Dis­par­i­ties and Sick­le Cell Dis­ease

In the complicated U.S. healthcare system, navigating a serious illness such as cancer or heart disease can be remarkably challenging for patients and caregivers. When that illness is classified as a rare disease, those challenges can become even more acute. And when that rare disease occurs in a population that experiences health disparities, such as people with sickle cell disease (SCD) who are primarily Black and Latino, challenges can become almost insurmountable.

David Meek, new Mirati CEO (Marlene Awaad/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Fresh off Fer­Gene's melt­down, David Meek takes over at Mi­rati with lead KRAS drug rac­ing to an ap­proval

In the insular world of biotech, a spectacular failure can sometimes stay on any executive’s record for a long time. But for David Meek, the man at the helm of FerGene’s recent implosion, two questionable exits made way for what could be an excellent rebound.

Meek, most recently FerGene’s CEO and a past head at Ipsen, has become CEO at Mirati Therapeutics, taking the reins from founding CEO Charles Baum, who will step over into the role of president and head of R&D, according to a release.

Jacob Van Naarden (Eli Lilly)

Ex­clu­sives: Eli Lil­ly out to crash the megablock­buster PD-(L)1 par­ty with 'dis­rup­tive' pric­ing; re­veals can­cer biotech buy­out

It’s taken 7 years, but Eli Lilly is promising to finally start hammering the small and affluent PD-(L)1 club with a “disruptive” pricing strategy for their checkpoint therapy allied with China’s Innovent.

Lilly in-licensed global rights to sintilimab a year ago, building on the China alliance they have with Innovent. That cost the pharma giant $200 million in cash upfront, which they plan to capitalize on now with a long-awaited plan to bust up the high-price market in lung cancer and other cancers that have created a market worth tens of billions of dollars.

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Rafaèle Tordjman (Jeito Capital)

Con­ti­nu­ity and di­ver­si­ty: Rafaèle Tord­j­man's women-led VC firm tops out first fund at $630M

For a first-time fund, Jeito Capital talks a lot about continuity.

Rafaèle Tordjman had spotlighted that concept ever since she started building the firm in 2018, promising to go the extra mile(s) with biotech entrepreneurs while pushing them to reach patients faster.

Coincidentally, the lack of continuity was one of the sore spots listed in a report about the European healthcare sector published that same year by the European Investment Bank — whose fund is one of the LPs, alongside the American pension fund Teacher Retirement System of Texas and Singapore’s Temasek, to help Jeito close its first fund at $630 million (€534 million). As previously reported, Sanofi had chimed in €50 million, marking its first investment in a French life sciences fund.

Jay Bradner (Jeff Rumans for Endpoints News)

Div­ing deep­er in­to in­her­it­ed reti­nal dis­or­ders, No­var­tis gob­bles up an­oth­er bite-sized op­to­ge­net­ics biotech

Right about a year ago, a Novartis team led by Jay Bradner and Cynthia Grosskreutz at NIBR swooped in to scoop up a Cambridge, MA-based opthalmology gene therapy company called Vedere. Their focus was on a rather narrow market niche: inherited retinal dystrophies that include a wide range of genetic retinal disorders marked by the loss of photoreceptor cells and progressive vision loss.

But that was just the first deal that whet their appetite.

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FDA hands ac­cel­er­at­ed nod to Seagen, Gen­mab's so­lo ADC in cer­vi­cal can­cer, but com­bo stud­ies look even more promis­ing

Biopharma’s resident antibody-drug conjugate expert Seagen has scored a clutch of oncology approvals in recent years, finding gold in what are known as “third-gen” ADCs. Now, another of their partnered conjugates is ready for prime time.

The FDA on Monday handed an accelerated approval to Seagen and Genmab’s Tivdak (tisotumab vedotin-tftv, or “TV”) in second-line patients with recurrent or metastatic cervical cancer who previously progressed after chemotherapy rather than PD-(L)1 systemic therapy, the companies said in a release.

Dave Lennon, former president of Novartis Gene Therapies

Zol­gens­ma patent spat brews be­tween No­var­tis and Re­genxbio as top No­var­tis gene ther­a­py ex­ec de­parts

Regenxbio, a small licensor of gene therapy viral vectors spun out from the University of Pennsylvania, is now finding itself in the middle of some major league patent fights.

In addition to a patent suit with Sarepta Therapeutics from last September, Novartis, is now trying to push its smaller partner out of the way. The Swiss biopharma licensed Regenxbio’s AAV9 vector for its $2.1 million spinal muscular atrophy therapy Zolgensma.

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Time for round 2: Il­lu­mi­na-backed VC snags $325M for its next fund

Illumina Ventures closed off its second investment fund with a total commitment of $325 million, offering fresh fuel to back a slate of startups that have already included a smorgasbord of companies, covering everything from diagnostics to biotech drug development and genomics.

Fund II brings the total investment under Illumina Ventures’ oversight to $560 million, which has been focused on early-stage companies. And it has a transatlantic portfolio that includes SQZ, Twist and Encoded Therapeutics.

Volker Wagner (L) and Jeff Legos

As Bay­er, No­var­tis stack up their ra­dio­phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal da­ta at #ES­MO21, a key de­bate takes shape

Ten years ago, a small Norwegian biotech by the name of Algeta showed up at ESMO — then the European Multidisciplinary Cancer Conference 2011 — and declared that its Bayer-partnered targeted radionuclide therapy, radium-223 chloride, boosted the overall survival of castration-resistant prostate cancer patients with symptomatic bone metastases.

In a Phase III study dubbed ALSYMPCA, patients who were treated with radium-223 chloride lived a median of 14 months compared to 11.2 months. The FDA would stamp an approval on it based on those data two years later, after Bayer snapped up Algeta and christened the drug Xofigo.

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