Fritz Gerber, who led Roche for 2 decades, dies; ADC Therapeutics tries again for an IPO, sets terms
→ Fritz Gerber, the 92-year-old ex-Roche CEO who steered the company to a majority stake in Genentech, has died. Gerber was CEO from 1978 to 1998, and chairman for a few years after that. The company credits him with taking a leading role in acquiring a majority stake in Genentech, a foundational move that led to the full buyout 11 years ago. Deals to acquire PCR technology and the takeover of Boehringer Mannheim also set up a big play in diagnostics, where Roche is a world leader today.
→ Can ADC Therapeutics pull off an IPO in the middle of a pandemic, after trying and failing earlier? We’ll find out soon. The European biotech has set its range for an IPO at $16 to $18 a share, with plans to sell 7.3 million shares to investors and up to $1.1 million shares to underwriters. Altogether they could reap as much as $151 million-plus, depending on how it all shakes out. There has been a string of successful biotech IPOs since the pandemic hit hard in the US and Europe, likely inspiring a slate of companies to brush off old financing plans. ADC withdrew its IPO last fall, citing “adverse market conditions.”
→ The Regeneron Genetics Center has struck a deal to collaborate with the University of Colorado’s Colorado Center for Personalized Medicine. In the deal, Regeneron will sequence 450,000 DNA samples and corresponding health records from de-identified patients. Their work will help inform translational research projects as well as back better prescribing routines.
→ Israeli biotech Protalix now has detailed late-stage data to back up its pitch to market its enzyme-replacement therapy for Fabry disease. The BRIDGE study, a single-arm switch-over study evaluating the safety and efficacy of the company’s pegunigalsidase alfa (or PRX-102) in up to 22 Fabry patients previously treated with Takeda’s agalsidase alfa (Replagal), showed substantial improvement in renal function with the Protalix drug. In patients who switched from the Takeda therapy to PRX-102 — the mean improvement was from ‑5.90 mL/min/1.73m2/year while on agalsidase alfa to -1.19 mL/min/1.73m2/year on PRX-102 in all patients.
Data from with two other Phase III studies are still expected, but Protalix and partner Chiesi are planning to submit an application to market PRX-102 under the accelerated approval pathway, despite Covid-19 and other interruptions.
→ Newport Beach, CA-based cell therapy player jCyte has licensed the ex-US rights for its lead program to Japan’s Santen for $50 million upfront. Dubbed Jcell, the product consists of allogeneic human retinal progenitor cells to treat retinitis pigmentosa, where gene mutations lead to progressive degeneration of the retina. The US biotech can tap into a $12 million convertible debt and $190 million in milestones.