Ex-con Sam Wak­sal's start­up prices IPO, join­ing pa­rade of biotechs with Nas­daq news

Biotechs are com­ing out of the wood­work this morn­ing to set terms for their IPOs. So far, we’ve tracked five com­pa­nies rais­ing rough­ly $486 mil­lion com­bined, in­clud­ing an IPO from ex-con Sam Wak­sal’s Kad­mon spin­off MeiraGTx $MGTX.

MeriaGTx — $75 mil­lion

Sam Wak­sal

The com­pa­ny’s founder, Wak­sal, is a biotech ex­ec once sen­tenced to prison for his in­sid­er trad­ing con­vic­tion in­volv­ing Martha Stew­art. He was al­so the founder of Kad­mon, a com­pa­ny he had to bail from be­fore it could file its own IPO back in 2016. And now his brain­child — un­der the di­rec­tion of for­mer Kad­mon com­mer­cial chief Alexan­dria Forbes — has filed to raise $75 mil­lion.

Alexan­dria Forbes

The gene ther­a­py com­pa­ny said it’s priced its IPO at $15 per share, in­tend­ing to use the new cash to push five of its prod­uct can­di­dates in­to Phase I/II tri­als. The com­pa­ny has been build­ing out gene ther­a­py man­u­fac­tur­ing op­er­a­tions to sup­port its work, which is ini­tial­ly fo­cused on oph­thal­mol­o­gy, or eye dis­eases, where the first gen­er­a­tion of de­vel­op­ers found some ear­ly suc­cess­es. MeiraGTx said much of the new IPO mon­ey will go to­ward four oph­thal­mol­o­gy pro­grams and one sali­vary gland pro­gram.

Ma­gen­ta Ther­a­peu­tics — $100M

Join­ing MeiraGTx in pric­ing this morn­ing is Ma­gen­ta Ther­a­peu­tics $MG­TA, which plans to sell at $14 to $16 per share. We cov­ered Ma­gen­ta’s IPO plans late last month, when the com­pa­ny had pen­ciled in a $100 mil­lion pub­lic of­fer­ing. At the range Ma­gen­ta an­nounced to­day, the com­pa­ny should raise right around that mark.

Ac­cord­ing to a state­ment filed with the SEC, the cash will be used to push for­ward Ma­gen­ta’s most ad­vanced clin­i­cal pro­gram: a cell ther­a­py called MG­TA-456. The drug, cur­rent­ly in Phase II tri­als, is be­ing test­ed in pa­tients with in­her­it­ed meta­bol­ic dis­or­ders. Ma­gen­ta says new IPO mon­ey would ad­vance the treat­ment through a piv­otal tri­al, pay for some com­mer­cial­iza­tion ac­tiv­i­ties, and al­so fund re­search in­to ad­di­tion­al in­di­ca­tions for the ther­a­py, such as sick­le cell dis­ease and blood can­cers. Be­yond that, Ma­gen­ta might use the new funds to back MG­TA-145, a nov­el stem cell mo­bi­liza­tion prod­uct can­di­date.

Kezar Life Sci­enes — $86M

Next up is Kezar Life Sci­ences, which ex­pects to sell be­tween $14 and $16 per share. This one al­so isn’t brand new to us, as we cov­ered their ini­tial S-1 fil­ing in late May.  The com­pa­ny’s amend­ed S-1 notes the max cap­i­tal raised could be $85.9 mil­lion.

Kezar $KZR has plans to use the IPO mon­ey to push for­ward its pipeline of au­toim­mune drugs. Spun out of Am­gen with small mol­e­cules from the plate of the for­mer Onyx Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals, Kezar’s lead prod­uct is KZR-616. The drug is a se­lec­tive im­muno­pro­tea­some in­hibitor that’s about to be test­ed in a Phase Ib/II tri­al in lu­pus and lu­pus nephri­tis. The IPO might al­so fu­el KZR-616 for the treat­ment of id­io­path­ic in­flam­ma­to­ry my­opathies and up to three ad­di­tion­al au­toim­mune in­di­ca­tions in­to Phase Ib or Phase II clin­i­cal tri­als.

Au­to­lus Ther­a­peu­tics — $125M

Then there’s Lon­don-based Au­to­lus Ther­a­peu­tics, which is de­vel­op­ing can­cer ther­a­pies based on CAR-T cell tech­nol­o­gy. The com­pa­ny plans to raise $125 mil­lion by of­fer­ing 7.8 mil­lion shares be­tween $15 and $17 per share.

The com­pa­ny, found­ed in 2014, will use a big chunk of the pro­ceeds to get proof-of-con­cept in Phase I/II clin­i­cal tri­als of AU­TO2 in mul­ti­ple myelo­ma, AU­TO3 in pe­di­atric ALL and DL­B­CL, and AU­TO4 in pe­riph­er­al T-cell lym­phoma. It hopes to ad­vance three prod­uct can­di­dates through lat­er phas­es of clin­i­cal de­vel­op­ment and, po­ten­tial­ly, reg­is­tra­tion, ac­cord­ing to its F-1.

Ei­dos Ther­a­peu­tics — $100M

Neil Ku­mar

Last up is San Fran­cis­co-based Ei­dos Ther­a­peu­tics, Bridge­Bio’s start­up fo­cused on TTR amy­loi­do­sis. The biotech is out of the IPO chute look­ing at $100 mil­lion by of­fer­ing 6.3 mil­lion shares at $15 to $17 per share. In­sid­ers are buy­ing up half.

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.

Ei­dos says most of the pro­ceeds will fund the clin­i­cal de­vel­op­ment of AG10 for the treat­ment of AT­TR-CM and AT­TR-PN, in­clud­ing its on­go­ing Phase II AT­TR-CM and planned Phase III AT­TR-PN clin­i­cal tri­als.

A fa­vorite in Alex­ion’s C-suite is leav­ing, and some mighty sur­prised an­a­lysts aren’t the least bit hap­py about it

Analysts hate to lose a biotech CFO they’ve come to trust and admire — especially if they’re being blindsided by a surprise exit.

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 59,900+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

David Grainger [file photo]

'Dis­con­nect the bas­tard­s' — one biotech's plan to break can­cer cell­s' uni­fied de­fens­es

Chemotherapy and radiotherapy are the current gladiators of cancer treatment, but they come with well-known limitations and side-effects. The emergence of immunotherapy — a ferocious new titan in oncologist’s toolbox — takes the brakes off the immune system to kill cancer cells with remarkable success in some cases, but the approach is not always effective. What makes certain forms of cancer so resilient? Scientists may have finally pieced together a tantalizing piece of the puzzle, and a new biotech is banking on a new approach to fill the gap.

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 59,900+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

While No­var­tis ban­ish­es Zol­gens­ma scan­dal scars — Bio­gen goes on a Spin­raza 'of­fen­sive'

While Novartis painstakingly works to mop up the stench of the data manipulation scandal associated with its expensive gene therapy for spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) Zolgensma— rival Biogen is attempting to expand the use of its SMA therapy, Spinraza. 

The US drugmaker $BIIB secured US approval for Spinraza for use in the often fatal genetic disease in 2016. The approval covered a broad range of patients with infantile-onset (most likely to develop Type 1) SMA. 

Jason Kelly. Mike Blake/Reuters via Adobe

Eye­ing big ther­a­peu­tic push, Gink­go bags $290M to build a cell pro­gram­ming em­pire

Ginkgo Bioworks is on a roll. Days after publicizing a plan to nurture new startups via partnerships with accelerators Y Combinator and Petri, the Boston biotech says it has raised another $290 million for its cell programming platform to reach further and wider.

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 59,900+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

UP­DAT­ED: Speak­er Nan­cy Pelosi to un­veil bill for fed­er­al­ly ne­go­ti­at­ed drug prices

After months of buzz from both sides of the aisle, Speaker Nancy Pelosi will today introduce her plan to allow the federal government to negotiate prices for 250 prescription drugs, setting up a showdown with a pharmaceutical industry working overtime to prevent it.

The need to limit drug prices is a rare point of agreement between President Trump and Democrats, although the president has yet to comment on the proposal and will likely face pressure to back a more conservative option or no bill at all. Republican Senator Chuck Grassley is reportedly lobbying his fellow party members on a more modest proposal he negotiated with Democratic Senator Ron Wyden in July.

Jeff Kindler's Cen­trex­ion re­news bid to make pub­lic de­but

Jeffrey Kindler’s plan to take his biotech — which is developing a slate of non-opioid painkillers — public, is back on.

The Boston based company, led by former Pfizer $PFE chief Kindler, originally contemplated a $70 million to $80 million IPO last year— but eventually postponed that strategy. On Wednesday, the company revived its bid to make a public debut in a filing with the SEC — although no pricing details were disclosed.

Zachary Hornby. Boundless

'A fourth rev­o­lu­tion in can­cer ther­a­pies': ARCH-backed Bound­less Bio flash­es big check, makes big­ger promis­es in de­but

It was the cellular equivalent of opening your car door and finding an active, roaring engine in the driver seat.

Scientists learned strands of DNA could occasionally appear outside of its traditional home in the nucleus in the 1970s, when they appeared as little, innocuous circles on microscopes; inexplicable but apparently innate. But not until UC San Diego’s Paul Mischel published his first study in Science in 2014 did researchers realize these circles were not only active but potentially overactive and driving some cancer tumors’ superhuman growth.

It’s fi­nal­ly over: Bio­gen, Ei­sai scrap big Alzheimer’s PhI­I­Is af­ter a pre­dictable BACE cat­a­stro­phe rais­es safe­ty fears

Months after analysts and investors called on Biogen and Eisai to scrap their BACE drug for Alzheimer’s and move on in the wake of a string of late-stage failures and rising safety fears, the partners have called it quits. And they said they were dropping the drug — elenbecestat — after the independent monitoring board raised concerns about…safety.

We don’t know exactly what researchers found in this latest catastrophe, but the companies noted in their release that investigators had determined that the drug was flunking the risk/benefit analysis.

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 59,900+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

Mer­ck helps bankroll new part­ner Themis' game plan to fin­ish the chikun­gun­ya race and be­gin on­colyt­ic virus quest

As Themis gears up for a Phase III trial of its chikungunya vaccine, the Vienna-based biotech has closed out €40 million ($44 million) to foot the clinical and manufacturing bills.

Its heavyweight partners at Merck — which signed a pact around a mysterious “blockbuster indication” last month — jumped into the Series D, led by new investors Farallon Capital and Hadean Ventures. Adjuvant Capital also joined, as did current investors Global Health Investment Fund, aws Gruenderfonds, Omnes Capital, Ventech and Wellington Partners Life Sciences.