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.

Biotech in­vestors and CEOs see two paths to growth, but are they equal­ly vi­able?

The dynamic in the biotech market has been highly volatile in the last few years, from the high peaks immediately after the COVID vaccine in 2021, to the lowest downturns of the last 20 years in 2022. This uncertainty makes calling the exact timing of the market’s turn something of a fool’s errand, according to Dr. Chen Yu, Founder and Managing Partner of TCG Crossover (TCG X). He speaks with RBC’s Noël Brown, Head of US Biotechnology Investment Banking, about the market’s road ahead and two possible paths for growth.

Dave Marek, Myovant CEO

My­ovant board balks as ma­jor­i­ty own­er Sum­it­o­mo swoops in with a $2.5B deal to buy them out

Three years after Sumitomo scooped up Roivant’s 46% stake in the publicly traded Myovant $MYOV as part of a 5-company, $3 billion deal, they’re coming back for the whole thing.

But these other investors at Myovant want more than what the Japanese pharma company is currently offering to pay at this stage.

Sumitomo is bidding $22.75 a share for the outstanding stock, which now represents 48% of the company after Sumitomo bumped its ownership since the original deal with Roivant. Myovant, however, created a special committee on the board, and they’re shaking their heads over the offer.

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Casey McPherson shows his daughters Rose (left) and Weston around Everlum Bio, a lab that he co-founded to spark a treatment for Rose and others with ultra-rare conditions. (Ilana Panich-Linsman)

Fa­ther starts lab af­ter in­tel­lec­tu­al prop­er­ty is­sues stymie rare dis­ease drug de­vel­op­ment

Under bright lab lights, Casey McPherson holds his 6-year-old daughter, Rose. His free hand directs Rose’s gaze toward a computer screen with potential clues in treating her one-of-a kind genetic condition.

Gray specks on the screen show her cells that scientists reprogrammed with the goal of zeroing in on a custom medicine. McPherson co-founded the lab, Everlum Bio, to spark a treatment for Rose — and others like her. A regarded singer-songwriter, McPherson never imagined going into drug development.

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Vlad Coric, Biohaven CEO

Vlad Coric charts course for new Bio­haven with neu­ro­science push and Big Phar­ma vets on board

What’s Biohaven without its CGRP portfolio? That’s what CEO Vlad Coric is tasked with deciding as he maps out the new Biohaven post-Pfizer takeover.

Pfizer officially scooped up Biohaven’s CGRP assets on Monday, including blockbuster migraine drug Nurtec and the investigational zavegepant, for $11.6 billion. As a result, Coric spun the broader pipeline into an independent company on Tuesday — with the same R&D team behind Nurtec but about 1,000 fewer staffers and a renewed focus on neuroscience and rare disease.

In AstraZeneca's latest campaign, wild eosinophils called Phils personify the acting up often seen in uncontrolled asthma

As­traZeneca de­buts an­noy­ing pur­ple ‘Phil’ crea­tures, per­son­i­fied asth­ma eosinophils ‘be­hav­ing bad­ly’

There are some odd-looking purple creatures lurking around the halls of AstraZenca lately. The “Phil” character cutouts are purple, personified eosinophils with big buggy eyes and wide mouths, and they’re a part of AZ’s newest awareness effort to help people understand eosinophilic asthma.

The “Asthma Behaving Badly” characters aren’t only on the walls at AZ to show the new campaign to employees, however. The “Phils” are also showing up online on the campaign website, and in digital and social ads and posts on Facebook and Instagram.

Mar­ket­ingRx roundup: No­var­tis re­cruits NFL coach for Leqvio cam­paign; Pfiz­er pro­motes ‘Sci­ence’ merch on so­cial me­dia

Novartis is turning to a winning coach to talk about Leqvio and the struggles of high cholesterol — including his own. Bruce Arians, the retired NFL head coach of the Arizona Cardinals and Super Bowl-winning Tampa Bay Buccaneers, is partnering with the pharma for its “Coaching Cholesterol” digital, social and public relations effort.

In the campaign, Arians talks about the potential for “great comebacks” in football and heart health. Once nicknamed a “quarterback whisperer,” he is now retired from fulltime coaching (although still a front-office consultant for Tampa Bay), and did a round of media interviews for Novartis, including one with People and Forbes.

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Amy West, Novo Nordisk head of US digital innovation and transformation (Illustration: Assistant Editor Kathy Wong for Endpoints News)

Q&A: No­vo Nordisk dig­i­tal in­no­va­tion chief Amy West dis­cuss­es phar­ma pain points and a health­care 'easy but­ton’

Amy West joined Novo Nordisk more than a decade ago to oversee marketing strategies and campaigns for its US diabetes portfolio. However, her career path shifted into digital, and she hasn’t looked back. West went from leading Novo’s first digital health strategy in the US to now heading up digital innovation and transformation.

She’s currently leading the charge at Novo Nordisk to not only go beyond the pill with digital marketing and health tech, but also test, pilot and develop groundbreaking new strategies needed in today’s consumerized healthcare world.

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Benjamine Liu, TrialSpark CEO

Paul Hud­son and Tri­alSpark's mu­tu­al de­sire to speed up de­vel­op­ment con­verges in three-year, six-drug goal

A unicorn startup that originally set out to hasten clinical studies for biopharma partners dug further into its revised path of internal drug development by linking arms with Sanofi in a pact that the biotech’s CEO said originated from the top.

TrialSpark and the Big Pharma on Tuesday committed to in-licensing and/or acquiring six Phase II/Phase III drugs within the next three years.

“I’ve known Paul Hudson for a while and we were discussing the opportunity to really re-imagine a lot of different parts of pharma,” TrialSpark CEO Benjamine Liu told Endpoints News, “and one of the things that we discussed was this opportunity to accelerate the development of new medicines in mutual areas of interest.”

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Look­ing to push CAR-T in sol­id tu­mors, Bay Area biotech goes pub­lic in SPAC flip — with slight name change

SPACs might be slowly creeping back.

Monday evening, Estrella Biopharma said it was going public via a SPAC deal with TradeUP Acquisition Corp. The deal is set to close in the first half of 2023, and if all goes as planned, the public version of Estrella — dubbed Estrella Immunopharma — will be worth around $398.5 million.

The Bay Area biotech will also get around $45.4 million in cash, and TradeUp stockholders will get around 15% stock in the public biotech.