Days af­ter seal­ing Sanofi pact, Kymera beats a path to the Nas­daq with $100M IPO pitch

Back in March, when Kymera Ther­a­peu­tics closed $102 mil­lion in Se­ries C fund­ing led by Biotech­nol­o­gy Val­ue Fund and Red­mile Group, CEO Nel­lo Main­olfi not­ed the pro­tein degra­da­tion play­er was “at the cusp of tran­si­tion­ing” in­to a ful­ly in­te­grat­ed R&D com­pa­ny. Five months and a ma­jor Sanofi pact lat­er, he’s back ask­ing for an­oth­er lit­tle push to get there.

Nel­lo Main­olfi

Kymera has pen­ciled in $100 mil­lion in its first IPO pitch — al­though giv­en the pub­lic mar­ket’s seem­ing­ly in­sa­tiable ap­petite for biotechs these days the fi­nal fig­ure is any­one’s guess.

The ris­ing tide is ap­par­ent­ly float­ing all boats, too. GoodRx, which has thrived on help­ing more than 10 mil­lion US pa­tients nav­i­gate the labyrinthine drug pric­ing sys­tem, is re­port­ed­ly look­ing to file an IPO. Reuters not­ed that the com­pa­ny was val­ued at $2.8 bil­lion in 2018 by a pri­vate eq­ui­ty backer. The list­ing could come this year or ear­ly 2021, ac­cord­ing to sources.

Stick­ing to “high im­pact tar­gets that have been elu­sive to con­ven­tion­al modal­i­ties,” Kymera’s trio of ini­tial pro­grams are de­signed to de­grade IRAK4, IRAKIMiD and STAT3, re­spec­tive­ly. These are crit­i­cal sig­nalling nodes in the in­ter­leukin-1 re­cep­tor/toll-like re­cep­tor (IL-1R/TLR) and janus ki­nase/sig­nal trans­duc­ers and ac­ti­va­tors of tran­scrip­tion, or JAK/STAT, path­ways.

Lever­ag­ing E3 lig­as­es to tag the tar­get pro­tein for dis­pos­al, Kymera’s drugs promise to stem dis­eases by com­plete­ly re­mov­ing the pro­teins caus­ing them.

Pro­ceeds from the IPO are ex­pect­ed to fund the de­vel­op­ment of all three through the end of Phase I. The first fil­ing, for an IRAK4 de­grad­er dubbed KT-474, is slat­ed to be dis­patched in the first half of 2021, with the oth­ers to fol­low lat­er in the year.

As a pi­o­neer in a field where mon­ey has been free flow­ing, Kymera will join two oth­er pro­tein degra­da­tion spe­cial­ists on the Nas­daq. But while it shares a fo­cus on can­cer with Arv­inas and Nurix, the biotech has al­so ven­tured out to in­flam­ma­to­ry and au­toim­mune dis­eases as well as fi­bro­sis.

“Ob­vi­ous­ly when you’re work­ing out­side of tar­get­ed on­col­o­gy, you ac­tu­al­ly bring a lot more com­plex­i­ty giv­en that you’re go­ing af­ter a va­ri­ety of cell pop­u­la­tion and not just the one can­cer cell pop­u­la­tion,” Main­olfi pre­vi­ous­ly told End­points News.

But over the years Kymera has man­aged to go deep. Burn­ing through $108.1 mil­lion, they pro­filed around 600 E3 lig­as­es to learn about the ex­pres­sion and dis­tri­b­u­tion while gen­er­at­ing a tool­box of lig­ands to bind to them. Both Ver­tex and Sanofi have been at­tract­ed to the plat­form, pro­vid­ing $220 mil­lion in col­lec­tive up­front.

Sanofi, in par­tic­u­lar, is keen to ap­ply the tools to the chron­ic in­flam­ma­to­ry dis­ease space, start­ing with IRAK4 — where the phar­ma gi­ant sees an op­por­tu­ni­ty to repli­cate the block­buster suc­cess of Dupix­ent in der­ma­tol­ogy. Once Cam­bridge, MA-based Kymera wraps up first-in-hu­man test­ing, Sanofi would led the Phase II but the biotech re­tains the op­tion to share US de­vel­op­ment costs and rev­enue.

In ad­di­tion to the named lead can­di­date, it dis­closed in a fil­ing, they have three back­up de­graders di­rect­ed against IRAK4.

At­las Ven­ture, rep­re­sent­ed by co-founder and chair­man Bruce Booth on the board, still holds the largest chunk of stock at 26.76%. Ver­tex is next on the ros­ter with 7.31%, fol­lowed by Lil­ly Ven­tures Fund (6.47%) and Pfiz­er (5.18%). The oth­er top VC in­vestors are 6 Di­men­sions and Besse­mer Ven­ture Part­ners.

The com­pa­ny al­so re­vealed that Lau­rent Au­doly was paid $1.1 mil­lion for his fi­nal year as pres­i­dent and CEO be­fore hand­ing over to Main­olfi in No­vem­ber 2019.

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.

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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Sen­ate Fi­nance Com­mit­tee lobs more bi­par­ti­san pres­sure on­to PBMs

Congress is honing in on how it wants to overhaul the rules of the road for pharmacy benefit managers, with a Senate Finance Committee hearing Thursday serving as the latest example of the Hill’s readiness to make changes to how pharma middlemen operate.

While pledging to ensure patients and pharmacies “don’t get a raw deal,” Finance Committee Chair Ron Wyden (D-OR) laid out the beginning of what looks like a major bipartisan effort — moves the PBM industry is likely to challenge vigorously.

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Nicklas Westerholm, Egetis Therapeutics CEO

Ac­qui­si­tion talks on­go­ing for Swedish rare dis­ease biotech Egetis, shares up al­most 40%

Shares of the Sweden-based rare disease biotech Egetis Therapeutics skyrocketed on Thursday afternoon as the company said it’s engaged in “ongoing discussion” with external parties regarding a “potential acquisition.”

Egetis confirmed rumors with a statement on Thursday while noting that there is no certainty that a takeover offer will be made.

Nonetheless, the possibility of an acquisition has shot up Egetis’ share price. By the afternoon on Thursday, its stock price was {$EGTX.ST} up over 38%. An Egetis spokesperson told Endpoints News in an email that it has no further comments.

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Lu­pus drug de­vel­op­ment mar­ket heat­ing up, while FDA links with ad­vo­ca­cy group to fur­ther ac­cel­er­ate re­search

The long-underserved systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) market is suddenly buzzing with treatment possibilities. Less than two years after AstraZeneca’s approval for Saphnelo — the first new SLE drug in a decade and joining just one other approved in GSK’s Benlysta – the pipeline of potential drugs numbers in the dozens.

Although most are very early stage — Spherix Global Insights estimates five in Phase II/III — the pharma R&D enthusiasm is catching on among doctors, patients and advocacy groups. On Wednesday, the Lupus Research Alliance and the FDA formed a novel private-public partnership called Lupus Accelerating Breakthroughs Consortium (Lupus ABC) to help advance lupus clinical trial success.

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Stéphane Bancel, Moderna CEO (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber)

Mod­er­na so­lid­i­fies deal with Kenya to build mR­NA man­u­fac­tur­ing fa­cil­i­ty

The mRNA player Moderna is further cementing its presence on the African continent.

Moderna announced on Thursday that it has finalized an agreement with Kenya’s government to partner up and bring an mRNA manufacturing facility to the east African nation. The new facility aims to manufacture up to 500 million doses of vaccines annually. Moderna also said the new facility will have the ability to spike its production capabilities to respond to public health emergencies on the continent or globally.

Luke Miels, GSK chief commercial officer

GSK picks up Scynex­is' FDA-ap­proved an­ti­fun­gal drug for $90M up­front

GSK is dishing out $90 million cash to add an antifungal drug to its commercial portfolio, in a deal spotlighting the pharma giant’s growing focus on infectious diseases.

The upfront will lock in an exclusive license to Scynexis’ Brexafemme, which was approved in 2021 to treat a yeast infection known as vulvovaginal candidiasis, except in China and certain other countries where Scynexis already out-licensed the drug.

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Deborah Waterhouse, ViiV Healthcare CEO

MPP re­cruits three gener­ic man­u­fac­tur­ers to ex­pand use of Vi­iV's in­jectable PrEP drug

ViiV Healthcare has teamed up with the UN-backed Medicines Patent Pool and three generic manufacturers to expand access to medicine that can prevent HIV.

ViiV and the Medicines Patent Pool jointly announced Thursday that the MPP signed sub-licensing agreements with Aurobindo, Cipla and Viatris to manufacture generics of a long-acting form of cabotegravir for HIV pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP). As a result of the agreement, the manufacturers will be able to develop, manufacture and supply generic versions of cabotegravir LA in 90 countries — subject to regulatory approvals.

Four community leaders who are living with HIV celebrate life and accomplishments in Theratechnologies' new campaign

Re­al pa­tient ‘cham­pi­ons’ liv­ing with HIV star in Ther­at­e­ch­nolo­gies cam­paign

Over the past several years, people living with HIV have been more often telling Theratechnologies that they wanted more representation. Specifically, they wanted more African American people and more focus on living and thriving versus more typical medication regimen messaging.

So Theratechnologies came up with a new campaign called “I Am A Champion,” initially launched at the US Conference on HIV last year. The initial conference, print and digital media efforts highlight the triumphs of four long-term survivors from across the US.

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