Just a few weeks after RA Capital’s high-profile partner Rajeev Shah signed up to lead a $64 million round for San Francisco-based Eidos Therapeutics, BridgeBio’s startup focused on TTR amyloidosis, the biotech is out of the IPO chute in search of $115 million or more. And they are right on the heels of another startup on the East Coast, Avrobio, joining the latest wave of new arrivals to try their luck and science on Wall Street.
First, Eidos Therapeutics. BridgeBio chief Neil Kumar has been bullish about this particular subsidiary in the group, even though it’s up against some heavyweight players in drug development, including Alnylam, Ionis and even Pfizer.
Their drug was initially advanced by Isabella Graef at Stanford and Mamoun Alhamadsheh, the company scientific co-founders, who nailed down preclinical evidence that the drug can stabilize TTR and prevent the cascade of events that causes the disease — a disease modifying approach that will now head to the clinic. The founders say that the small molecule has a unique mode of binding that “mimics a naturally-occurring, disease-protective mutation.”
In the S-1 Eidos takes a shot at Pfizer’s tafamadis, noting:
In our Phase 1 clinical trial, healthy volunteers were administered AG10 and at the highest tested dose we observed greater than 95% stabilization of TTR, on average, across the entire dosing interval and 100% stabilization at peak blood levels. In contrast, tafamidis at 20 mg and 80mg provided approximately 45% and 60% stabilization at peak blood levels, respectively, in our preclinical studies. We believe these observations of AG10’s comparatively higher stabilization are attributable to advantages in AG10’s binding mode and specificity for binding to TTR and not other plasma proteins.
Kumar may have brought in some big players on the latest round, but he’s kept his hands on the lion’s share of the equity, with 62%, at BridgeBio. Shah’s group has only 3.8% with Graef at 6.8%, the same as scientific co-founder Mamoun Alhamadsheh. One of Kumar’s key pitch points with academic investigators is that he can help them retain some serious equity in their work, a claim which is underscored by this offering.
Next up is Avrobio —a company without much human data to lean on. In fact the biotech doesn’t have much track record, period. But it has the backing of a serious syndicate, has a game plan on a gene therapy strategy, and now wants to rack up around $86 million from an IPO.
Operating in Cambridge, MA under CEO Geoff MacKay, the biotech has touted an early success for Fabry disease, where their gene therapy AVR-RD-01 helped spur a patient’s plasma a-Gal A activity into the normal range. That helped with a $60 million crossover round for the Atlas-launched biotech earlier this year.
Avrobio is long on promise and short on performance, like many of the biotechs making their way to Nasdaq this year. The company wants to build a moderately powered gene therapy that can be manufactured economically and used in an outpatient setting as they develop a slate of proposed once-and-done treatments for a set of prominent lysosomal storage disorders.
And the company has been hitting the theme that the lentiviral approach they’re using has been tested on a number of occasions by a group of developers. But they also noted that there have been some 40 adverse events that could have been lined to “protocol treatment or procedures.”
Only one event, the development of a left thigh mass, was a serious adverse event and this mass was not attributed by the investigator to protocol treatment or study procedures.
Atlas is still the biggest shareholder, with 26% of the equity. Clarus holds 16% while SV has 12%.
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