Six biotechs crowd in­to Nas­daq, rais­ing $568M as the IPO par­ty con­tin­ues to lure com­pa­nies to Wall Street

Usu­al­ly biotech IPOs come one or maybe two at a time. To­day, we have 5 si­mul­ta­ne­ous­ly test­ing in­vestors’ ap­petite for risky com­pa­nies that will ei­ther re­ward them hand­some­ly over the long haul or … well, not. And I’m adding a 6th, from Ei­dos Ther­a­peu­tics, that got a jump on the gang of 5 and an­nounced their pric­ing late Tues­day.

Add it all up and the 6 are ben­e­fit­ing from a to­tal raise of $568 mil­lion, gen­er­al­ly pric­ing shares in the mid­dle of the range — just the lat­est wind­fall to help fu­el the R&D work of a steady stream of play­ers who have been mak­ing the switch to the pub­lic mar­kets.

The num­bers are all ahead of fees as well as the buy-in from un­der­writ­ers that could be ahead.

Here’s the break­out:

Ja­son Gard­ner

$MG­TA, Ma­gen­ta Ther­a­peu­tics, Cam­bridge, MA: The biotech raised a cool $100 mil­lion from the sale of ex­act­ly 6,666,667 at $15 a share. Un­der GSK vet Ja­son Gard­ner, Ma­gen­ta has been mov­ing fast, stock­pil­ing ven­ture cash and hus­tling ahead with a com­pound in-li­censed from No­var­tis. The mon­ey should pay for a piv­otal tri­al.

Ge­off MacK­ay

$AVRO, Avro­bio, Cam­bridge, MA: Avro­bio came in just a hair be­low Ma­gen­ta, with a haul of $99.7 mil­lion to boast about, set­ting the ini­tial price at $19. Op­er­at­ing 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. There’s not a tremen­dous amount of da­ta to go with yet, but gene ther­a­py is hot right now. 

$AP­TX, Aptinyx, Evanston, IL: The com­pa­ny hit the ground run­ning at $16 a share, rais­ing $102.4 mil­lion. Run by CEO Nor­bert Riedel, Aptinyx was spun out of the $1.7 bil­lion buy­out of Nau­rex — with $560 mil­lion in cash — which Al­ler­gan CEO Brent Saun­ders want­ed for its lead NM­DA drug aimed at ma­jor de­pres­sion. That drug is now dubbed ra­pastinel, which won a break­through drug des­ig­na­tion at the FDA.

$KZR, Kezar Life Sci­ences, South San Fran­cis­co: Kezar up­sized their of­fer­ing a bit, go­ing with 5 mil­lion shares at $16 for $75 mil­lion. As our Brit­tany Meil­ing re­port­ed ear­li­er, Kezar is work­ing on a pipeline of au­toim­mune drugs. Spun out of Am­gen with small mol­e­cules from the plate of the for­mer Onyx Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals, she writes, 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.

$XERS, Xeris Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals, Chica­go: The biotech raised $85.5 mil­lion at $15 per share. Kezar and Xeris filed their IPOs to­geth­er, and made the leap to­geth­er. Xeris has plans to launch its glucagon pen for di­a­bet­ics. Their glucagon pipeline in­cludes post-bariatric hy­po­glycemia and con­gen­i­tal hy­per­in­sulin­ism.

$EI­DX, Ei­dos Ther­a­peu­tics, San Fran­cis­co: Their raise came to $106.3 mil­lion. The biotech prices at $17 and then watched the share price soar on Wednes­day, ris­ing past the $23 mark. 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.


Im­age: Nas­daq lo­ca­tion in Times Square, 2018 Shut­ter­stock

Biogen CEO Michel Vounatsos (via Getty Images)

With ad­u­canum­ab caught on a cliff, Bio­gen’s Michel Vounatsos bets bil­lions on an­oth­er high-risk neu­ro play

With its FDA pitch on the Alzheimer’s drug aducanumab hanging perilously close to disaster, Biogen is rolling the dice on a $3.1 billion deal that brings in commercial rights to one of the other spotlight neuro drugs in late-stage development — after it already failed its first Phase III.

The big biotech has turned to Sage Therapeutics for its latest deal, close to a year after the crushing failure of Sage-217, now dubbed zuranolone, in the MOUNTAIN study.

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Pascal Soriot (AP Images)

As­traZeneca, Ox­ford on the de­fen­sive as skep­tics dis­miss 70% av­er­age ef­fi­ca­cy for Covid-19 vac­cine

On the third straight Monday that the world wakes up to positive vaccine news, AstraZeneca and Oxford are declaring a new Phase III milestone in the fight against the pandemic. Not everyone is convinced they will play a big part, though.

With an average efficacy of 70%, the headline number struck analysts as less impressive than the 95% and 94.5% protection that Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna have boasted in the past two weeks, respectively. But the British partners say they have several other bright spots going for their candidate. One of the two dosing regimens tested in Phase III showed a better profile, bringing efficacy up to 90%; the adenovirus vector-based vaccine requires minimal refrigeration, which may mean easier distribution; and AstraZeneca has pledged to sell it at a fraction of the price that the other two vaccine developers are charging.

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Carl Hansen, AbCellera CEO (University of British Columbia)

From a pair of Air Jor­dans to a $200M-plus IPO, Carl Hansen is craft­ing an overnight R&D for­tune fu­eled by Covid-19

Back in the summer of 2019, Carl Hansen left his post as a professor at the University of British Columbia to go full time as the CEO at a low-profile antibody shop he had founded called AbCellera.

As biotech CEOs go, even after a fundraise Hansen wasn’t paid a whole heck of a lot. He ended up earning right at $250,000 for the year. His compensation package included a loan — which he later paid back — and a pair of Air Jordan tennis shoes. His newly-hired CFO, Andrew Booth, got a sweeter pay packet than that — which included his own pair of Air Jordans.

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Jason Kelly, Ginkgo Bioworks CEO (Kyle Grillot/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Af­ter Ko­dak de­ba­cle, US lends $1.1B to a syn­thet­ic bi­ol­o­gy com­pa­ny and their big Covid-19, mR­NA plans

In mid-August, as Kodak’s $765 million government-backed push into drug manufacturing slowly fell apart in national headlines, Ginkgo Bioworks CEO Jason Kelly got a message from his company’s government liaison: HHS wanted to know if they, too, might want a loan.

The government’s decision to lend Kodak three quarters of a billion dollars raised eyebrows because Kodak had never made drugs before. But Ginkgo, while not a manufacturing company, had spent the last decade refining new ways to produce materials inside cells and building automated facilities across Boston.

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Chi­na opens the door for biotech in­vestors in Hong Kong to buy Shang­hai stocks, and vice ver­sa

When Shanghai’s STAR board began opening its doors to biotech, it was considered not just a rival to Nasdaq but also the stock exchange in Hong Kong. Those perceptions may take an amicable turn as China expands a mutual access program with the city.

The changes mean investors in mainland China will be able to own Hong Kong biotech chapter stocks, while those in Hong Kong — a much more internationally connected group — would have access to those listed on STAR. In effect, it turns the Shanghai market into a globally accessible exchange overnight while also broadening a key source of revenue for HKEX.

Overnight for­tunes are be­ing made in biotech these days — and it's both en­cour­ag­ing and more than a lit­tle bit scary

Just to complete the last leg of a running story I’ve been tracking for a few weeks, Olema $OLMA has come through its IPO from the Thursday night pricing at $19 a share with a market cap just north of $2 billion.

That leaves newly-named CEO Sean Bohen holding a batch of 1,110,896 shares with a strike price of $4.82. As of Tuesday morning, the stock is now trading at $53.40, giving him a portfolio value of $53.4 million. Not bad for someone who was hired in September.

The ad­u­canum­ab co­nun­drum: The PhI­II failed a clear reg­u­la­to­ry stan­dard, but no one is cer­tain what that means any­more at the FDA

Eighteen days ago, virtually all of the outside experts on an FDA adcomm got together to mug the agency’s Billy Dunn and the Biogen team when they presented their upbeat assessment on aducanumab. But here we are, more than 2 weeks later, and the ongoing debate over that Alzheimer’s drug’s fate continues unabated.

Instead of simply ruling out any chance of an approval, the logical conclusion based on what we heard during that session, a series of questionable approvals that preceded the controversy over the agency’s recent EUA decisions has come back to haunt the FDA, where the power of precedent is leaving an opening some experts believe can still be exploited by the big biotech.

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John Maraganore, Alnylam CEO (Scott Eisen/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Al­ny­lam gets the green light from the FDA for drug #3 — and CEO John Maraganore is ready to roll

Score another early win at the FDA for Alnylam.

The FDA put out word today that the agency has approved its third drug, lumasiran, for primary hyperoxaluria type 1, better known as PH1. The news comes just 4 days after the European Commission took the lead in offering a green light.

An ultra rare genetic condition, Alnylam CEO John Maraganore says there are only some 1,000 to 1,700 patients in the US and Europe at any particular point. The patients, mostly kids, suffer from an overproduction of oxalate in the liver that spurs the development of kidney stones, right through to end stage kidney disease.

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Bob Nelsen (Photo by Michael Kovac/Getty Images)

Bob Nelsen rais­es $800M and re­cruits a star-stud­ded board to build the 'Fox­con­n' of biotech

Bob Nelsen spent his pandemic spring in his Seattle home, talking on the phone with Luciana Borio, the scientist who used to run pandemic preparedness on the National Security Council, and fuming with her about the dire state of American manufacturing.

Companies were rushing to develop vaccines and antibodies for the new virus, but even if they succeeded, there was no immediate supply chain or infrastructure to mass-produce them in a way that could make a dent in the outbreak.

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