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.

The top 100 bio­phar­ma VCs, Bob Brad­way places $2B bet in can­cer, gene edit­ing pi­o­neer's new big idea, and more

Welcome back to Endpoints Weekly, your review of the week’s top biopharma headlines. Want this in your inbox every Saturday morning? Current Endpoints readers can visit their reader profile to add Endpoints Weekly. New to Endpoints? Sign up here.

Before diving in, we had some news to share: Endpoints is launching a premium weekly report focusing on all things regulatory. Coverage will be led by our new senior editor, Zachary Brennan, who joins us from POLITICO. Arsalan Arif has more details in his Publisher’s Note.

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Robert Bradway (Photographer: Scott Eisen/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

UP­DAT­ED: Am­gen snaps up can­cer drug play­er Five Prime, adding PhI­II-ready FGFR2b drug in $2B M&A play

Amgen is making a long-awaited move on the M&A side, buying South San Francisco-based Five Prime $FPRX for close to $2 billion and adding a slate of new cancer drugs to the pipeline.

Amgen is paying $38 a share, putting the deal value at $1.9 billion. The stock closed at $21.26 last night, giving investors a 78% premium.

The jewel in the crown of this deal is bemarituzumab, which Amgen describes as a first-in-class, Phase III-ready anti-FGFR2b antibody. Amgen was drawn to the bargaining table by Five Prime’s mid-stage data on gastric cancer, satisfied by PFS and OS data helping to validate FGFR2b as a target. Amgen researchers will now expand on the R&D program in other epithelial cancers, including lung, breast, ovarian and other cancers.

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UP­DAT­ED: Not 3 weeks af­ter tak­ing Hu­ma­cyte pub­lic, Ra­jiv Shuk­la launch­es an­oth­er blank check com­pa­ny

One of biotech’s earliest SPAC investors is back with another blank-check company, less than a month after his last effort announced its intent to merge.

Rajiv Shukla is intending to take a third lucky winner public with Alpha Healthcare Acquisition III, filing to go public Thursday with a $150 million raise penciled in. The move comes just a couple of weeks after Shukla’s second SPAC said it would jump to Nasdaq in tandem with Laura Niklason’s Humacyte in a $255 million new investment.

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David Liu (Casey Atkins Photography courtesy Broad Institute)

David Liu has a new big idea: pro­teome edit­ing. It could one day shred tau, RAS and some of the worst dis­ease-caus­ing pro­teins

Before David Liu became famous for inventing new forms of gene editing, he was known around academia in part for a more obscure innovation: a Rube Goldberg-esque system that uses bacteria-infecting viruses to take one protein and turn it into another.

Since 2011, Liu’s lab has used the system, called PACE, to dream up fantastical new proteins: DNA base editors far more powerful than the original; more versatile forms of the gene editor Cas9; insecticides that kill insecticide-resistant bugs; enzymes that slide synthetic amino acids into living organisms. But they struggled throughout to master one of the most common and powerful proteins in the biological world: proteases, a set of Swiss army knife enzymes that cut, cleave or shred other proteins in everything from viruses to humans.

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The 2021 top 100 bio­phar­ma in­vestors: As the pan­dem­ic hit and IPOs boomed, VCs swung in­to ac­tion like nev­er be­fore

The global pandemic may have roiled economies, killed hundreds of thousands and throttled entire industries, but the only effect it had on biopharma venture investing was to help turbocharge the field to giddy new heights.

Below you’ll find the new top 100 venture investors in the industry, ranked by the number of deals they were publicly involved in, as tracked by DealForma chief Chris Dokomajilar. The numbers master then calculated the estimated amount of money they put into each deal — divvying up the cash by the number of players — to indicate how they managed their syndicates.

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Bruce Cozadd, Jazz CEO (Jazz Pharmaceuticals)

Jazz CEO Bruce Cozadd cam­paigned for 6 months to buy GW Phar­ma. A 90% pre­mi­um sealed the deal — along with $17.6M in ‘re­ten­tion’ in­cen­tives

Jazz CEO Bruce Cozadd didn’t beat around the bush.

In his first video meeting with GW Pharma chief Justin Gover last July 8, he offered to pay $172 a share to get the company, which had beaten the odds in getting its remarkable cannabinoid drug Epidiolex across the regulatory finish line for epilepsy. GW’s stock closed at $129 that day.

Cozadd had already done his homework on the financing to make sure he could swing it the way he wanted. He just needed to do some due diligence before making the non-binding bid firm.

Paul Hudson, Getty Images

How does Paul Hud­son's $13.5M comp pack­age stack up against oth­er CEOs? He's in the 'first quar­tile'

Paul Hudson arrived at Sanofi like a hurricane, chopping off duds in the pipeline, shaking up the C-suite, striking big M&A deals and jumping into the Covid-19 vaccine race — all in an attempt to reboot a pharma giant notorious for its setbacks.

Now, we’re getting a look at what the CEO brought home in his first year on the job.

When all is said and done, Hudson will have made about $6.7 million in 2020, about $2.5 million of which has already been paid. The bigger figure includes a $2.3 million bonus that’s subject to approval at an April meeting, and another $1.8 million in variable compensation that has yet to be paid.

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An Ar­ray co-founder re-emerges as CEO of a small aca­d­e­m­ic spin­out, look­ing to re­make an old class of can­cer drugs

Tony Piscopio hadn’t worked as a bench scientist in years when, around 2011, he got put in touch with a team at the University of Colorado trying to revitalize an old approach to treating cancer.

Piscopio, who had co-founded Array Biopharma before heading to South Korea to launch a new company, was back in the states, unattached and intrigued. He founded a three-person company with two professors, Xuedong Liu and Gail Eckhardt, and while they worked on the biology side, he returned to his old chemist chair and began drawing up potential compounds on a computer, along with manufacturing processes to make them. Outsourcing companies synthesized or analyzed the results.

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Af­ter three years of courtship (and turn­downs), Mer­ck pounced on the first glance of clin­i­cal da­ta in $1.85B Pan­dion takeover

It’s almost become cliché for biotech executives to talk about the importance of keeping your options open and being prepared to go all the way. But when it comes to negotiating with a giant like Merck, a little patience can indeed go a long way.

Just ask Pandion Therapeutics.

Days ago we already learned that Merck is shelling out $1.85 billion to pick up the biotech and its slate of autoimmune hopefuls. What we didn’t know until the SEC disclosure dropped Thursday is that the deal comes after Pandion turned down two other proposals from Merck over the past three years and held out until the last minute for a sweetened deal.

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