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.

Michel Vounatsos, Biogen CEO (via YouTube)

UP­DAT­ED: Bio­gen spot­lights a pair of painful pipeline set­backs as ad­u­canum­ab show­down looms at the FDA

Biogen has flagged a pair of setbacks in the pipeline, spotlighting the final failure for a one-time top MS prospect while scrapping a gene therapy for SMA after the IND was put on hold due to toxicity.

Both failures will raise the stakes even higher on aducanumab, the Alzheimer’s drug that Biogen is betting the ranch on, determined to pursue an FDA OK despite significant skepticism they can make it with mixed results and a reliance on post hoc data mining. And the failures are being reported as Biogen was forced to cut its profit forecast for 2020 as a generic rival started to erode their big franchise drug.

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A new chap­ter in the de­cen­tral­ized clin­i­cal tri­al ap­proach

Despite the promised decentralized trial revolution, we haven’t yet moved the needle in a significant way, although we are seeing far bolder commitments to this as we continue to experience the pandemic restrictions for some time to come. The vision of grandeur is one thing, but operationalizing and execution are another and recognising that change, particularly mid-flight on studies, is worthy of thorough evaluation and consideration in order to achieve success. Here we will discuss one of the critical building blocks of a Decentralized and Remote Trial strategy: TeleConsent; more than paper under glass, it is a paradigm change and key digital enabler.

Bo Cumbo, AavantiBio CEO (file photo)

Bo Cum­bo jumps from the top com­mer­cial post at Sarep­ta to the helm of a gene ther­a­py start­up with some in­flu­en­tial back­ers, big plans and $107M

After a 7-year stretch building the commercial team at Sarepta, longtime drug salesman Bo Cumbo is jumping to the entrepreneurial side of the business, taking the helm of a startup that’s got several deep-pocket investors. And he’s not just bringing his experience in selling drugs.

He tells me that when he told Sarepta CEO Doug Ingram about it, his boss got excited about the venture and opted to jump in with a $15 million investment from Sarepta to add to the launch money, alongside 3 of the busiest investors in biotech.

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Covid-19 roundup: WSJ of­fers in­side look at Ox­ford-As­traZeneca deal, in­clud­ing fi­nan­cial terms; Lil­ly plant un­der scruti­ny again

Oxford scientists developing a Covid-19 vaccine are working with British drugmaker AstraZeneca, and together the pair have become one of the frontrunners in the race to end the pandemic. But a new Wall Street Journal report out Wednesday offered a behind-the-scenes look at how that deal came together in the wake of a scholar-led revolt over a potential collaboration with Merck, and included previously unreported financial terms of the AstraZeneca deal.

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Jean-Pierre Sommadossi, Atea president and CEO (file photo)

Roche wades deep­er in­to Covid-19 fight, ink­ing an­tivi­ral pact with $350M cash fol­low­ing Re­gen­eron deal

Roche is making its first bet on an antiviral against Covid-19 in style, shelling out $350 million in cash to grab ex-US rights.

The drug comes from Atea Pharmaceuticals, the 7-year-old biotech created by Pharmasset co-founder Jean-Pierre Sommadossi, which essentially rebranded itself as a Covid-19 fighter in May when it closed a whopping $215 million venture round. Over a dozen investors bought in, including marquee names like Bain Capital and RA Capital.

CEO Marc Gleeson (Azura)

Azu­ra Oph­thalmics gets a $20M boost for its R&D work on eye dis­eases

Three years after closing a $16 million Series B, the same group of investors are back to give Azura Ophthalmics a $20 million boost.

That brings the Tel Aviv-Yafo, Israel-based biotech’s total fundraise to $38 million, and should pave the way for a registration study of its lead candidate in Meibomian gland dysfunction (MGD) and related eye diseases, CEO Marc Gleeson told Endpoints News.

The topical candidate, dubbed AZR-MD-001, is designed to address abnormal hyperkeratinization, or the build-up and shedding of proteins at the opening of or within the Meibomian gland. When Meibomian glands become dysfunctional, rapid evaporation of the tear film can occur, leading to dry eye disease.

Stephen Hahn, FDA commissioner (AP Images)

As FDA sets the stage for the first Covid-19 vac­cine EUAs, some big play­ers are ask­ing for a tweak of the guide­lines

Setting the stage for an extraordinary one-day meeting of the Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee this Thursday, the FDA has cleared 2 experts of financial conflicts to help beef up the committee. And regulators went on to specify the safety, efficacy and CMC input they’re looking for on EUAs, before they move on to the full BLA approval process.

All of this has already been spelled out to the developers. But the devil is in the details, and it’s clear from the first round of posted responses that some of the top players — including J&J and Pfizer — would like some adjustments and added feedback. And on Thursday, the experts can offer their own thoughts on shaping the first OKs.

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Peter Kolchinsky and Raj Shah (file photo)

Pe­ter Kolchin­sky and Raj Shah's RA Cap­i­tal has $461M more to play with, af­ter 'rapid' in­vest­ment in the last 15 months

Just over 15 months after launching its first venture fund, RA Capital Management is ready for more. And this time the firm is bringing an even bigger load of cash to the table.

Announcing the close of its Nexus II fund on Wednesday, RA said it raised $461 million for investments in private companies across the biotech industry. The first venture fund, which raised $300 million, has churned through roughly 80% of its capital already, a pace that managing partner Raj Shah called unusually quick.

David Hung (file photo)

Mas­ter deal­mak­er David Hung re­tools a SPAC sedan in­to a fi­nanc­ing mus­cle ve­hi­cle that leaves his can­cer start­up with $850M and a place on Wall Street

It’s only right that one of the industry’s top dealmakers just completed one of the biggest SPAC-related deals in the pipeline.

David Hung, of Medivation fame, has completed a back flip into the market, merging with EcoR1 Capital’s SPAC Panacea and landing neatly on Wall Street with an $NUVB stock ticker after filling out the blank check in his name. In addition to the $144 million held in the SPAC — provided none of the investors opt out — Hung is getting ahold of $500 million more being chipped in by a slate of institutional investors who feel that Hung could have the keys to another Medivation-style success.

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