Fol­low­ing the flow of the biotech in­dus­try, La­va heads to Nas­daq with a gam­ma delta T cell promise

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Join­ing in on the great IPO erup­tion of the last 12 months, La­va Ther­a­peu­tics is flow­ing to Nas­daq.

With a fo­cus on im­muno-on­col­o­gy, the Dutch-Amer­i­can biotech priced late Wednes­day night in prepa­ra­tion for a Thurs­day de­but, of­fer­ing shares ini­tial­ly at $15 apiece. They man­aged to just eclipse the nine-fig­ure mark, ex­pect­ing an es­ti­mat­ed raise of $100.5 mil­lion once the of­fer­ing clos­es ear­ly next week.

La­va plans to use the tick­er $LVTX once its shares hit the mar­ket.

Biotech IPOs keep chug­ging along as the quar­ter comes to a close. This fol­lows a record 2020 when the in­dus­try saw 91 pub­lic de­buts with a col­lec­tive $16.5 bil­lion raised, ac­cord­ing to Nas­daq. So far through 2021, biotech’s col­lec­tive raise is near­ing $4 bil­lion, a fig­ure slight­ly off last year’s pace, per the End­points News tal­ly.

And af­ter a brief slow down at the end of Feb­ru­ary, the mar­ket start­ed heat­ing back up again last week when four biotechs priced, mark­ing the sec­ond-busiest week of 2021. That ti­tle, how­ev­er, still be­longs to the first cal­en­dar week of Feb­ru­ary, when 10 com­pa­nies went pub­lic.

The com­pa­ny’s sci­en­tif­ic ap­proach in­volves build­ing bis­pe­cif­ic an­ti­bod­ies that grab a re­cep­tor on gam­ma delta T cells and link it with a par­tic­u­lar pro­tein on the tu­mor, with the goal of the drug on­ly ac­ti­vat­ing while in the vicin­i­ty of the can­cer. La­va al­so says its ther­a­pies can help in­duce im­mune mem­o­ry of the can­cer, should it ap­pear again, due to gam­ma delta T cells’ sim­i­lar­i­ty to anti­gen-pre­sent­ing cells.

La­va’s pric­ing Wednes­day night comes af­ter a rel­a­tive­ly busy 2020. The biotech de­buted back in May 2018 with a mod­est $18.9 mil­lion to re­search what was then a nascent field: gam­ma delta T cells. La­va built its re­search on the sci­en­tif­ic dis­cov­er­ies of CSO Hans van der Vli­et, an on­col­o­gist at VU Uni­ver­si­ty Med­ical Cen­ter and Can­cer Cen­ter Am­s­ter­dam.

They stayed al­most en­tire­ly un­der the radar — not is­su­ing an­oth­er press re­lease for over a year and a half — un­til an­nounc­ing a can­cer bis­pecifics part­ner­ship with J&J’s Janssen last May. A few months lat­er, they re­turned to the ven­ture well with $83 mil­lion in Se­ries C fi­nanc­ing and two pro­grams ready for the clin­ic.

With­in their F-1, La­va spills the beans on how it plans to spend its cash as a pub­lic com­pa­ny. Though they’re rais­ing on­ly $100.5 mil­lion, La­va out­lines a $135 mil­lion busi­ness plan by in­clud­ing a por­tion of its cur­rent cash stand­ing. Al­most all of that, or $125 mil­lion, will go to­ward its two lead pro­grams: $85 mil­lion for LA­VA-051 in CLL, MM and AML, and $40 mil­lion for LA­VA 206×207 in mCR­PC.

An­oth­er $10 mil­lion is pen­ciled in for pre­clin­i­cal can­di­dates in hema­to­log­ic ma­lig­nan­cies and sol­id tu­mors.

LA­VA-051, tar­get­ing CD1D, is ex­pect­ed to be­gin a Phase I/IIa clin­i­cal tri­al in re­lapsed and/or re­frac­to­ry mul­ti­ple myelo­ma and CLL in the first half of 2021. LA­VA 206×207, mean­while, is look­ing to launch a Phase I/IIa tri­al in metasta­t­ic cas­tra­tion-re­sis­tant prostate can­cer in the sec­ond half of 2021.

If all goes well, the pro­ceeds from the IPO raise will give La­va enough cash to com­plete those two stud­ies, as well as pre­pare two oth­er pro­grams to en­ter the clin­ic.

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.

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.”

Joe Jonas (Photo by Anthony Behar/Sipa USA)(Sipa via AP Images)

So­lo Jonas broth­er car­ries Merz's new tune in Botox ri­val cam­paign

As the lyrics of his band’s 2019 pop-rock single suggest, Joe Jonas is only human — and that means even he gets frown lines. The 33-year-old singer-songwriter is Merz’s newest celebrity brand partner for its Botox rival Xeomin, as medical aesthetics brands target a younger audience.

Merz kicked off its “Beauty on Your Terms” campaign on Tuesday, featuring the Jonas brother in a video ad for its double-filtered anti-wrinkle injection Xeomin.

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