Adrian Gottschalk, Foghorn CEO (Foghorn)

Foghorn hits Nas­daq in $120M de­but as the biotech IPO boom shows no sign of slow­ing

It’s been a record year for biotech IPOs, and the ex­ecs at Nas­daq would like noth­ing bet­ter than to see that mo­men­tum con­tin­ue in­to the first half of next year.

Since Jan­u­ary, 72 biotech and bio­phar­ma com­pa­nies have hit Wall Street, ac­cord­ing to Nas­daq head of health­care list­ings Jor­dan Saxe, to­geth­er rais­ing $13.2 bil­lion.

Jor­dan Saxe

The lat­est is Flag­ship’s Foghorn Ther­a­peu­tics, which priced its shares last night at $16 apiece, the mid­point of a $15 to $17 range. The Cam­bridge, MA-based biotech — which ini­tial­ly filed for a $100 mil­lion raise on Oct. 2 — is net­ting $120 mil­lion from a 7.5 mil­lion-share of­fer­ing. The pro­ceeds will go right in­to its gene traf­fic con­trol plat­form, in­clud­ing two lead pre­clin­i­cal on­col­o­gy can­di­dates.

Foghorn was found­ed in 2016 by Dana-Far­ber re­searcher Cigall Kadoch, and has since blown through $123 mil­lion, ac­cord­ing to its S-1/A fil­ing. When Bris­tol My­ers Squibb vet Carl De­ci­c­co joined as CSO in 2018, one of his first or­ders of busi­ness was pick­ing the pro­grams to prep for clin­i­cal tri­als, with a goal of hit­ting the clin­ic by 2020.

Cigall Kadoch

Foghorn is fo­cused on drug­ging tar­gets in the chro­matin reg­u­la­to­ry sys­tem — the sys­tem that con­trols the move­ment of mol­e­cules that turn genes “on” and “off,” ac­cord­ing to the com­pa­ny. An IND could be com­ing for its lead can­di­date, an al­losteric AT­Pase in­hibitor dubbed FHD-286, in AML and uveal melanoma lat­er this year, ac­cord­ing to the S-1/A. About $35 mil­lion from the IPO raise will sup­port that pro­gram.

An­oth­er $20 mil­lion is go­ing in­to the biotech’s hema­to­log­ic can­cer and sol­id tu­mors can­di­date, FHD-609, for which it ex­pects to sub­mit an IND in the first half of 2021.

Flag­ship owns 35.09% of Foghorn’s shares, ac­cord­ing to the S-1/A. Kadoch holds 11.09% of shares, and CEO Adri­an Gottschalk has a 2.56% slice of the pie.

Carl De­ci­c­co

Back in Ju­ly, Mer­ck inked a $425 mil­lion deal to es­sen­tial­ly li­cense one of the fac­tors Foghorn had just be­gun test­ing, buy­ing ex­clu­siv­i­ty on any po­ten­tial drugs that emerge to tar­get it. “I think this bi­ol­o­gy has been un­ex­plored and un­ex­ploit­ed as a drug, and I think the time is right,” Gottschalk said at the time.

This year’s biotech IPO tal­ly far sur­pass­es the 47 tracked last year by Brad Lon­car. Saxe told End­points News last month that a va­ri­ety of fac­tors, in­clud­ing the Covid-19 pan­dem­ic, have cre­at­ed the “per­fect storm” for an IPO boom. He and his team have been in talks with mul­ti­ple com­pa­nies prep­ping for an IPO at the end of this year or ear­ly next year, he said.

Round­ing out the year with 75 IPOs and just un­der $14 bil­lion in pro­ceeds would be a “fair es­ti­mate,” he said on Fri­day.

IDC: Life Sci­ences Firms Must Em­brace Dig­i­tal Trans­for­ma­tion Now

Pre-pandemic, the life sciences industry had settled into a pattern. The average drug took 12 years and $2.9 billion to bring to market, and it was an acceptable mode of operations, according to Nimita Limaye, Research Vice President for Life Sciences R&D Strategy and Technology at IDC.

COVID-19 changed that, and served as a proof-of-concept for how technology can truly help life sciences companies succeed and grow, Limaye said. She recently spoke about industry trends at Egnyte’s Life Sciences Summit 2022. You should watch the entire session, free and on-demand, but here’s a brief recap of why she’s urging life sciences companies to embrace digital transformation.

Geoffrey Porges, new Schrödinger CFO

Long­time an­a­lyst Ge­of­frey Porges de­parts SVB to lead fi­nances at a drug dis­cov­ery shop

Geoffrey Porges has ended his two-decade run as a biotech analyst, as the former SVB Securities vice chair began as CFO of Schrödinger on Thursday.

The long-running analyst, who previously headed up vaccines marketing at Merck before the turn of the millennium, will lead the financial operations of the 700-employee company as Schrödinger broadens its focus from a drug discovery partner to also building out an in-house pipeline, with clinical trial No. 1 set to begin next quarter.

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FDA ap­proves one of the prici­est new treat­ments of all time — blue­bird's gene ther­a­py for be­ta tha­lassemia

The FDA on Wednesday approved the first gene therapy for a chronic condition — bluebird bio’s new Zynteglo (beti-cel) as a potentially curative treatment for those with transfusion-dependent thalassemia.

The thumbs-up from the FDA follows a unanimous adcomm vote in June, with outside experts pointing to extraordinary efficacy, with 89% of subjects with TDT who received beti-cel having achieved transfusion independence.

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Joel Dudley, new partner at Innovation Endeavors (Bosch Health Campus)

For­mer Google CEO’s VC is mak­ing a big­ger push in­to the biotech world, hir­ing promi­nent Ther­a­nos skep­tic

Venture capital firm Innovation Endeavors has mainly had its focus on investments across the tech space, but it has been slowly turning its attention to the biotech world. Now, a new partner is coming into the fold showing that its interest in biotech is likely to grow further.

The Silicon Valley-based company, which is headed up by former Google CEO Eric Schmidt, has brought on Joel Dudley as a partner. According to Dudley’s LinkedIn page, he is joining Innovation Endeavors after serving as the chief science officer of biotech startup Tempus Labs since 2020.

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James Sabry, Roche global head of pharma partnering

Roche, Genen­tech plunk down $60M up­front to part­ner with Chi­nese phar­ma on PRO­TAC-based prostate can­cer drug

Roche and Genentech are always on the hunt for deals, and on Thursday they found their newest partner.

The pair will team up with the Chinese pharma company Jemincare to push forward a new program for prostate cancer, the companies announced. Roche is ponying up $60 million upfront to get its hands on the candidate and promising up to $590 million in biobucks, plus royalties, down the line.

In return, Genentech will get a worldwide license to develop the program, known as JMKX002992, and bring it to market.

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Andrew Hopkins, Exscientia CEO

Ex­sci­en­tia ter­mi­nates Bay­er pact half a year ear­ly, col­lect­ing small por­tion of €240M promised

Bayer and Exscientia are winding down their three-year collaboration, leaving the big German pharma to take the AI-designed compounds born out of the pact further.

London-based Exscientia revealed in its Q2 update that the partners have “mutually agreed to end” their collaboration, which kicked off in early 2020, after recently achieving a drug discovery milestone. In an SEC filing, Exscientia said it terminated the pact on May 30, about six months early.

Bayer's first DTC ad campaign for chronic kidney disease drug Kerendia spells out its benefits

Bay­er aims to sim­pli­fy the com­plex­i­ties of CKD with an ABC-themed ad cam­paign

Do you know the ABCs of CKD in T2D? Bayer’s first ad campaign for Kerendia tackles the complexity of chronic kidney disease with a play on the acronym (CKD) and its connection to type 2 diabetes (T2D).

Kerendia was approved last year as the first and only non-steroidal mineralocorticoid receptor antagonist to treat CKD in people with type 2 diabetes.

In the TV commercial launched this week, A is for awareness, B is for belief and C is for cardiovascular, explained in the ad as awareness of the connection between type 2 and kidney disease, belief that something can be done about it, and cardiovascular events that may be reduced with treatment.

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James Mock, incoming CFO at Moderna

Mod­er­na taps new CFO from PerkinElmer af­ter for­mer one-day CFO oust­ed

When Moderna hired a new CFO last year,  it didn’t expect to see him gone after only one day. Today the biotech named his — likely much more vetted — replacement.

The mRNA company put out word early Wednesday that after the untimely departure of then brand-new CFO Jorge Gomez, it has now found a replacement in James Mock, the soon-to-be former CFO at diagnostics and analytics company PerkinElmer.

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Etleva Kadilli, director of UNICEF’s supply division

GSK lands first-ever UNICEF con­tract for malar­ia vac­cine worth $170M

GSK has landed a new first from UNICEF the first-ever contract for malaria vaccines, worth up to $170 million for 18 million vaccine doses distributed over the next three years.

The vaccine, known as Mosquirix or RTS,S, won WHO’s backing last October after a controversial start, but UNICEF said these doses will potentially save thousands of lives every year.

“We hope this is just the beginning,” Etleva Kadilli, director of UNICEF’s supply division, said. “Continued innovation is needed to develop new and next-generation vaccines to increase available supply, and enable a healthier vaccine market. This is a giant step forward in our collective efforts to save children’s lives and reduce the burden of malaria as part of wider malaria prevention and control programmes.”