Four biotechs and a Matthew Ro­den-led SPAC price IPOs, rais­ing a com­bined $528M

Four more biotechs and a SPAC led by Bris­tol My­ers Squibb vet Matthew Ro­den have priced IPOs, clos­ing out an­oth­er busy week on Wall Street.

To­geth­er, Prax­is Pre­ci­sion Med­i­cines, Tar­sus Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals, Ali­gos Ther­a­peu­tics, Kiromic Bio­Phar­ma and Turmer­ic Ac­qui­si­tion — MPM’s blank check com­pa­ny — have raised $528 mil­lion on their pub­lic de­buts.

Prax­is Pre­ci­sion Med­i­cines burst out of stealth mode with $100 mil­lion in May, quick­ly sweep­ing up an­oth­er $110 mil­lion in Ju­ly. And on Thurs­day, it raised $190 mil­lion — near­ly dou­ble its orig­i­nal goal — in an up­sized IPO. The Cam­bridge, MA-based biotech $PRAX of­fered 10 mil­lion shares at $19 apiece, up from its ini­tial of­fer of 7.4 mil­lion shares at a $17 to $18 range.

Be­tween $70 to $80 mil­lion are tagged for clin­i­cal de­vel­op­ment PRAX-114, the com­pa­ny’s lead CNS can­di­date. The mon­ey will fund a fu­ture Phase II/III tri­al in ma­jor de­pres­sive dis­or­der, and com­ple­tion of an on­go­ing Phase IIa. An­oth­er $30 to $40 mil­lion will go to­ward an on­go­ing Phase IIa study of PRAX-944 in es­sen­tial tremor. And $20 to $30 mil­lion should see a Phase I tri­al of PRAX-562 — Prax­is’ can­di­date for rare CNS dis­or­ders like se­vere pe­di­atric epilep­sy and adult cephal­gia — through com­ple­tion.

Since its launch, Prax­is has burned through more than $104 mil­lion, ac­cord­ing to the S-1/A. Black­stone holds 23.1% of the shares, fol­lowed by Even­tide with 9.4%, Vi­da Ven­tures with 7.3%, and No­vo Hold­ings with 6.6%.

“We ex­pect mul­ti­ple topline clin­i­cal tri­al read­outs from our three clin­i­cal-stage prod­uct can­di­dates pri­or to the end of 2021 and an­tic­i­pate the launch of a new clin­i­cal de­vel­op­ment pro­gram in 2021,” the S-1/A states.

Tar­sus Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals al­so came in slight­ly above its ini­tial goal, rais­ing $88 mil­lion by pric­ing 5.5 mil­lion shares at $16 apiece. The Irvine, CA-based biotech $TARS filed for an $86 mil­lion IPO on Sept 25. It up­sized its of­fer by 575,000 shares, ac­cord­ing to an SEC fil­ing.

A ma­jor­i­ty of the pro­ceeds — about $65 mil­lion — will be poured in­to the com­pa­ny’s lead oph­thalmic can­di­date TP-03. The drug is cur­rent­ly in a Phase IIb/III tri­al for De­mod­ex ble­phar­i­tis, a con­di­tion char­ac­ter­ized by eye in­flam­ma­tion and caused by the in­fes­ta­tion of mites. Tar­sus ex­pects a Phase III launch in 2021. The re­main­ing funds may go to the biotech’s oth­er can­di­dates, TP-04 and TP-05, which it plans to en­ter in Phase I/II tri­als for rosacea and Ly­me dis­ease in 2021, re­spec­tive­ly.

Bobak Aza­mi­an

Since its found­ing in 2017, Tar­sus has spent a to­tal of $11.2 mil­lion. Vi­vo Cap­i­tal holds 15.77% of shares, while CEO Bobak Aza­mi­an has a 9.7% piece of the pie.

Ali­gos Ther­a­peu­tics $AL­GS filed for a $100 mil­lion IPO back in Sep­tem­ber to de­vel­op its chron­ic he­pati­tis B (CHB) and NASH ther­a­pies. Now the South San Fran­cis­co, CA-based biotech is rak­ing in $150 mil­lion through 10 mil­lion shares priced at $15 apiece, the mid­point of a $14 to $16 range.

About $40 to $43 mil­lion will go to­ward the com­pa­ny’s Phase I STOPS can­di­date ALG-010133, short for S-anti­gen trans­port-in­hibit­ing oligonu­cleotide poly­mer. An­oth­er $35 mil­lion to $38 mil­lion will fund an up­com­ing Phase I tri­al of its CAM (cap­sid as­sem­bly mod­u­la­tor) can­di­date ALG-000184. Twelve to $14 mil­lion will go to the NASH THR-b can­di­date ALG-055009. And Ali­gos ear­marked $12 to $15 mil­lion and $12 to $14 mil­lion for its CHB can­di­dates ALG-020572 and ALG-125097, re­spec­tive­ly.

The two-year-old biotech has spent $107 mil­lion, ac­cord­ing to its S-1/A. CEO Lawrence Blatt, for­mer head of in­fec­tious dis­ease at Janssen, holds 6.2% of shares. Roche Fi­nance, Ver­sant Ven­tures and Bak­er Broth­ers Ad­vi­sors each have 8.4% of the stock, fol­lowed by Vi­vo with 8.1%, No­vo with 6.6% and Welling­ton Man­age­ment with 5.2%.

Turmer­ic Ac­qui­si­tion, a blank check com­pa­ny formed by MPM Cap­i­tal, end­ed up down­siz­ing its of­fer from 10 mil­lion units to 8.5 mil­lion. The SPAC priced units at $10 each, rais­ing $85 mil­lion.

Matthew Ro­den

The com­pa­ny $TMP­MU is run by CEO Luke Evnin, who co-found­ed MPM Cap­i­tal in 1997, and chair­man Ro­den, who had a hand in Bris­tol My­ers Squibbs’ Cel­gene buy­out be­fore re­cent­ly join­ing MPM.

The duo — along­side the rest of the firm — now has two years to se­lect the pri­vate com­pa­ny to ride the shell of Turmer­ic to Nas­daq and in­her­it the in­vest­ment.

“We have not se­lect­ed any busi­ness com­bi­na­tion tar­get and we have not, nor has any­one on our be­half, ini­ti­at­ed any sub­stan­tive dis­cus­sions, di­rect­ly or in­di­rect­ly, with any busi­ness com­bi­na­tion tar­get,” the SPAC’s S-1/A states.

Kiromic Bio­Phar­ma $KRBP priced its shares at $12 apiece on Fri­day — the low end of its $12 to $14 range. The Hous­ton, TX-based biotech of­fered 1.3 mil­lion shares, rais­ing $15 mil­lion. The com­pa­ny is us­ing AI to de­vel­op can­cer ther­a­pies, and says the IPO funds will push its Alex­is iso­form mesothe­lin (for EOC) and PD-1 can­di­dates in­to the clin­ic.

By the end of last month, 56 biotechs had filed for IPOs this year — top­ping Brad Lon­car’s count of 47 last year. Both SQZ Biotech and Lux Health Tech Ac­qui­si­tion, a SPAC formed by Lux Cap­i­tal, filed to go pub­lic on Mon­day. SQZ pro­posed a $75 mil­lion raise to de­vel­op its cell ther­a­pies, while Lux is look­ing to nab $300 mil­lion. On Tues­day, Co­di­ak’s shares priced in at $15 apiece, net­ting $83 mil­lion.

At the In­flec­tion Point for the Next Gen­er­a­tion of Can­cer Im­munother­a­py

While oncology researchers have long pursued the potential of cellular immunotherapies for the treatment of cancer, it was unclear whether these therapies would ever reach patients due to the complexity of manufacturing and costs of development. Fortunately, the recent successful development and regulatory approval of chimeric antigen receptor-engineered T (CAR-T) cells have demonstrated the significant benefit of these therapies to patients.

All about Omi­cron; We need more Covid an­tivi­rals; GSK snags Pfiz­er’s vac­cine ex­ec; Janet Wood­cock’s fu­ture at FDA; and more

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Lisa Deschamps, AviadoBio CEO

Ex-No­var­tis busi­ness head hops over to a gene ther­a­py start­up — and she's reeled in $80M for a dash to the clin­ic

Neurologist and King’s College London professor Christopher Shaw has been researching neurodegenerative diseases like ALS and collaborating with drugmakers for the last 25 years in the hopes of pushing new therapies forward. But unfortunately, none of those efforts have come anywhere close to fruition.

“So, you know, after 20 years in the game, I said, ‘Let’s try and do it ourselves,’” he told Endpoints News. 

Merck's new antiviral molnupiravir (Quality Stock Arts / Shutterstock)

As Omi­cron spread looms, oral an­tivi­rals ap­pear to be one of the best de­fens­es — now we just need more

After South African scientists reported a new Covid-19 variant — dubbed Omicron by the WHO — scientists became concerned about how effective vaccines and monoclonal antibodies might be against it, which has more than 30 mutations in the spike protein.

“I think it is super worrisome,” Dartmouth professor and Adagio co-founder and CEO Tillman Gerngross told Endpoints News this weekend. Moderna CEO Stéphane Bancel echoed similar concerns, telling the Financial Times that experts warned him, “This is not going to be good.”

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Radek Spisek, Sotio CEO (Cellestia)

A qui­et Czech biotech bags $315M to dri­ve its blos­som­ing can­cer pipeline through the clin­ic

In the rather insular world of biotech, most innovation inevitably comes from a cluster of R&D hubs — Cambridge, San Francisco, etc. But sometimes success stories sprout from rocky soil, which is most certainly the case with Prague-based Sotio Biotech and its suddenly jam-packed pipeline of cancer drugs.

After years in quiet development, Sotio now has $315 million in new funds to play with from parent company PPF Group, an investment group founded in the Czech Republic, as the biotech looks to advance its growing pipeline through early- and mid-stage trials.

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In­cor­po­rat­ing Ex­ter­nal Da­ta in­to Clin­i­cal Tri­als: Com­par­ing Dig­i­tal Twins to Ex­ter­nal Con­trol Arms

Most drug development professionals are familiar with the nerve-racking wait for the read-out of a large trial. If it’s negative, is the investigational therapy ineffective? Or could the failure result from an unforeseen flaw in the design or execution of the protocol, rather than a lack of efficacy? The team could spend weeks analyzing data, but a definitive answer may be elusive due to insufficient power for such analyses in the already completed trial. These problems are only made worse if the trial had lower enrollment, or higher dropout than expected due to an unanticipated event like COVID-19. And if a trial is negative, the next one is likely to be larger and more costly — if it happens at all.

Ab­b­Vie tacks on a new warn­ing to Rin­voq la­bel as safe­ty frets crimp JAK class

The safety problems that continue to plague the JAK class as new data highlight some severe side effects are casting a large shadow over AbbVie’s Rinvoq.

As a result of a recent readout highlighting major adverse cardiac events (MACE), malignancy, mortality and thrombosis with Xeljanz a couple of months ago, AbbVie put out a notice late Friday afternoon that it is adding the new class risks to its label for their rival drug.

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Biospec­i­men M&A: Dis­cov­ery ac­quires Al­bert Li's he­pa­to­cyte project; PhI­II tri­al on Bay­er's Nube­qa reached pri­ma­ry end­point

Discovery Life Sciences has acquired what claims to be the Maryland-based host of the world’s largest hepatocyte inventory, known as IVAL, to help researchers select more effective and safer drug candidates in the future.

The combined companies will now serve a wider range of drug research and development scientists, according to Albert Li, who founded IVAL in 2004 and is set to join the Discovery leadership team as the CSO of pharmacology and toxicology.

Pfiz­er, Am­gen and Janssen seek fur­ther clar­i­ty on FDA's new ben­e­fit-risk guid­ance

Three top biopharma companies are seeking more details from the FDA on how the agency conducts its benefit-risk assessments for new drugs and biologics.

While Pfizer, Amgen and Janssen praised the agency for further spelling out its thinking on the subject in a new draft guidance, including a discussion of patient experience data as part of the assessment, the companies said the FDA could’ve included more specifics in the 20-page draft document.

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