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.

Im­ple­ment­ing re­silience in the clin­i­cal tri­al sup­ply chain

Since January 2020, the clinical trials ecosystem has quickly evolved to manage roadblocks impeding clinical trial integrity, and patient care and safety amid a global pandemic. Closed borders, reduced air traffic and delayed or canceled flights disrupted global distribution, revealing how flexible logistics and supply chains can secure the timely delivery of clinical drug products and therapies to sites and patients.

In fi­nal days at Mer­ck, Roger Perl­mut­ter bets big on a lit­tle-known Covid-19 treat­ment

Roger Perlmutter is spending his last days at Merck, well, spending.

Two weeks after snapping up the antibody-drug conjugate biotech VelosBio for $2.75 billion, Merck announced today that it had purchased OncoImmune and its experimental Covid-19 drug for $425 million. The drug, known as CD24Fc, appeared to reduce the risk of respiratory failure or death in severe Covid-19 patients by 50% in a 203-person Phase III trial, OncoImmune said in September.

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Pascal Soriot (AP Images)

UP­DAT­ED: 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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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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Leonard Schleifer, Regeneron CEO (Andrew Harnik/AP)

Trail­ing Eli Lil­ly by 12 days, Re­gen­eron gets the FDA OK for their Covid-19 an­ti­body cock­tail

A month and a half after becoming the experimental treatment of choice for a newly diagnosed president, Regeneron’s antibody cocktail has received emergency use authorization from the FDA. It will be used to treat non-hospitalized Covid-19 patients who are at high-risk of progressing.

Although the Rgeneron drug is not the first antibody treatment authorized by the FDA, the news comes as a significant milestone for a company and a treatment scientists have watched closely since the outbreak began.

Bahija Jallal (file photo)

TCR pi­o­neer Im­muno­core scores a first with a land­mark PhI­II snap­shot on over­all sur­vival for a rare melanoma

Bahija Jallal’s crew at TCR pioneer Immunocore says they have nailed down a promising set of pivotal data for their lead drug in a frontline setting for a solid tumor. And they are framing this early interim readout as the convincing snapshot they need to prove that their platform can deliver on a string of breakthrough therapies now in the clinic or planned for it.

In advance of the Monday announcement, Jallal and R&D chief David Berman took some time to walk me through the first round of Phase III data for their lead TCR designed to treat rare, frontline cases of metastatic uveal melanoma that come with a grim set of survival expectations.

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Am­gen sev­ers 14-year Cy­to­ki­net­ics part­ner­ship, bail­ing on ome­cam­tiv af­ter mixed PhI­II re­sults

Amgen is shrugging off a 14-year development alliance and the tens of millions of dollars spent to develop a new heart drug at Cytokinetics after a Phase III trial turned up weak data — leaving Cytokinetics to soldier on alone.

Omecamtiv mecarbil technically worked, meeting the primary composite endpoint in the Phase III GALACTIC-HF study. But it missed a key secondary endpoint, which analysts had been following as a key marker for success — reduction of cardiovascular (CV) death. While Cytokinetics celebrated the results, its stock tanked 43% upon the news, and analysts warned of an uncertain path ahead. Now, Amgen wants out.

News brief­ing: Ab­b­Vie part­ner Teneo­bio ex­pands tech li­cense with CAR-T play­er Po­sei­da; Ar­genx buys PRV from Bay­er for $98M

Teneobio may be best known for its pact with AbbVie and Gilead, but before its big break the bispecific player had licensed its antibodies for a different use: as binders in CAR-T therapies being developed by Poseida.

Now, the biotechs are expanding their partnership, with Poseida exercising four options to deploy Teneobio’s heavy chain only domain antibodies commercially.

The commercial licensing fees remained under wraps, but Teneobio is eligible for $250 million in milestones for these CAR-Ts against undisclosed targets.