In knock­out IPO of­fer­ings, Mor­phoSys and Sur­face On­col­o­gy haul com­bined $316M in up­sized deals

Two biotechs new to Nas­daq sparked more in­vestor in­ter­est than orig­i­nal­ly ex­pect­ed Wednes­day, haul­ing up­sized IPOs that are yet an­oth­er in­di­ca­tion of the in­dus­try’s rip-roar­ing state.

In one of the chunki­er IPOs this year, Ger­many’s Mor­phoSys $MOR raised up­wards of $207.8 mil­lion. That’s near­ly $58 mil­lion more than the com­pa­ny’s ear­ly ex­pec­ta­tions. The com­pa­ny, which is al­so list­ed on a Ger­man ex­change, says it’s gath­er­ing re­sources to sink $225 mil­lion in­to the de­vel­op­ment of its in­ves­ti­ga­tion­al an­ti-CD19 an­ti­body MOR208.

The com­pa­ny has plans to seize a quick OK of MOR208, a drug it’s de­vel­op­ing for dif­fuse large B cell lym­phoma (DL­B­CL) and a pop­u­lar dis­ease tar­get in on­col­o­gy. Af­ter its last batch of up­beat da­ta from a Phase II study, Mor­phoSys, which al­ready re­ceived break­through sta­tus for the drug, said it went straight to reg­u­la­tors hop­ing for ear­ly ap­proval.

Mor­phoSys, which brought in $83 mil­lion in rev­enue last year and al­ready had a good bit of cash in the bank pre-IPO, said it will spend an ad­di­tion­al $90 mil­lion to build out its com­mer­cial in­fra­struc­ture so it can han­dle MOR208’s launch.

Mor­phoSys was joined in IPO glo­ry by yet an­oth­er can­cer drug­mak­er, Sur­face On­col­o­gy. The start­up, found­ed in 2014, had filed an S-1 back in March sig­nal­ing a $75 mil­lion IPO was in the works. But when the com­pa­ny priced its of­fer­ing Wednes­day, that fig­ure leaped to $108 mil­lion. The com­pa­ny will list un­der the tick­er $SURF on the Nas­daq.

On top of the IPO pro­ceeds, Sur­face raised an ad­di­tion­al $11.5 mil­lion through the sale of 766,666 shares to No­var­tis In­sti­tutes for Bio­med­ical Re­search at the IPO price. No­var­tis has been in­volved with Sur­face since its ear­ly days and was among the in­vestors in the com­pa­ny’s Se­ries A round in 2015.

The Cam­bridge, MA-based biotech has at­tract­ed con­sid­er­able at­ten­tion for its work in the in­tense­ly com­pet­i­tive field of tu­mor mi­croen­vi­ron­ment en­gi­neer­ing. Sur­face is one of a myr­i­ad of star­tups look­ing to add some ad­di­tion­al fire­pow­er that can ei­ther take the brakes off of an im­mune as­sault or bring in ad­di­tion­al weapons to take down can­cer cells. In their case, the key fo­cus is on coun­ter­ing im­muno­sup­pres­sion.

In par­tic­u­lar, Sur­face de­vel­ops drugs to block an un­usu­al­ly abun­dant pro­tein on the sur­face of tu­mors called CD47, which helps tu­mors fight off at­tack from im­mune cells. In pre­clin­i­cal re­search, Sur­face re­port­ed that cer­tain im­mune cells showed greater tu­mor-killing pow­er in the drug’s pres­ence.

The com­pa­ny’s IPO pro­ceeds will fi­nance its Phase I drug pro­gram SRF231, which is be­ing test­ed in pa­tients with mul­ti­ple tu­mor types. Sur­face says in its S-1 fil­ing that it plans to test the drug as a so­lo ther­a­py and along with FDA-ap­proved can­cer drugs in a com­bo treat­ment.

The burst of in­vest­ment in im­muno-on­col­o­gy has left Sur­face with a long ros­ter of ri­vals. For CD47 alone, com­peti­tors in­clude Alexo Ther­a­peu­tics, Arch On­col­o­gy, Au­ri­gene, Blink Bio­med­ical, Cel­gene, Forty Sev­en, Novim­mune, OSE Im­munother­a­peu­tics, Sor­ren­to, Syn­thon Hold­ing and Tril­li­um Ther­a­peu­tics.

Sur­face ex­pects to re­port ini­tial re­sults from its Phase I study in the first half of next year.

As­traZeneca trum­pets the good da­ta they found for Tagris­so in an ad­ju­vant set­ting for NSCLC — but many of the ex­perts aren’t cheer­ing along

AstraZeneca is rolling out the big guns this evening to provide a salute to their ADAURA data on Tagrisso at ASCO.

Cancer R&D chief José Baselga calls the disease-free survival data for their drug in an adjuvant setting of early stage, epidermal growth factor receptor-mutated NSCLC patients following surgery “momentous.” Roy Herbst, the principal investigator out of Yale, calls it “transformative.”

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Paul Hudson, Sanofi CEO (Getty Images)

Sanofi CEO Paul Hud­son has $23B burn­ing a hole in his pock­et. And here are some hints on how he plans to spend that

Sanofi has reaped $11.1 billion after selling off a big chunk of its Regeneron stock at $515 a share. And now everyone on the M&A side of the business is focused on how CEO Paul Hudson plans to spend it.

After getting stung in France for some awkward politicking — suggesting the US was in the front of the line for Sanofi’s vaccines given American financial support for their work, versus little help from European powers — Hudson now has the much more popular task of managing a major cash cache to pull off something in the order of a big bolt-on. Or two.

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The Advance Clinical leadership team: CEO Yvonne Lungershausen, Sandrien Louwaars - Director Business Development Operations, Gabriel Kremmidiotis - Chief Scientific Officer, Ben Edwards - Chief Strategy Officer

How Aus­tralia De­liv­ers Rapid Start-up and 43.5% Re­bate for Ear­ly Phase On­col­o­gy Tri­als

About Avance Clinical

Avance Clinical is an Australian owned Contract Research Organisation that has been providing high-quality clinical research services to the local and international drug development industry for 20 years. They specialise in working with biotech companies to execute Phase 1 and Phase 2 clinical trials to deliver high-quality outcomes fit for global regulatory standards.

As oncology sponsors look internationally to speed-up trials after unprecedented COVID-19 suspensions and delays, Australia, which has led the world in minimizing the pandemic’s impact, stands out as an attractive destination for early phase trials. This in combination with the streamlined regulatory system and the financial benefits including a very favourable exchange rate and the R & D cash rebate makes Australia the perfect location for accelerating biotech clinical programs.

Pablo Legorreta, founder and CEO of Royalty Pharma AG, speaks at the annual Milken Institute Global Conference in Beverly Hills, California (Patrick T. Fallon/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Cap­i­tal­iz­ing Pablo: The world’s biggest drug roy­al­ty buy­er is go­ing pub­lic. And the low-key CEO di­vulges a few se­crets along the way

Pablo Legorreta is one of the most influential players in biopharma you likely never heard of.

Over the last 24 years, Legorreta’s Royalty Pharma group has become, by its own reckoning, the biggest buyer of drug royalties in the world. The CEO and founder has bought up a stake in a lengthy list of the world’s biggest drug franchises, spending $18 billion in the process — $2.2 billion last year alone. And he’s become one of the best-paid execs in the industry, reaping $28 million from the cash flow last year while reserving 20% of the cash flow, less expenses, for himself.

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Dan O'Day, Gilead CEO (Andrew Harnik, AP Images)

UP­DAT­ED: Gilead leas­es part­ner rights to TIG­IT, PD-1 in a $2B deal with Ar­cus. Now comes the hard part

Gilead CEO Dan O’Day has brokered his way to a PD-1 and lined up a front row seat in the TIGIT arena, inking a deal worth close to $2 billion to align the big biotech closely with Terry Rosen’s Arcus. And $375 million of that comes upfront, with cash for the buy-in plus equity, along with $400 million for R&D and $1.22 billion in reserve to cover opt-in payments and milestones..

Hotly rumored for weeks, the 2 players have formalized a 10-year alliance that starts with rights to the PD-1, zimberelimab. O’Day also has first dibs on TIGIT and 2 other leading programs, agreeing to an opt-in fee ranging from $200 million to $275 million on each. There’s $500 million in potential TIGIT milestones on US regulatory events — likely capped by an approval — if Gilead partners on it and the stars align on the data. And there’s another $150 million opt-in payments for the rest of the Arcus pipeline.

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No­var­tis jumps in­to Covid-19 vac­cine hunt, as Big Phar­ma and big biotech com­mit to bil­lions of dos­es

After spending most of the pandemic on the sidelines, Novartis is offering its aid in the race to develop a Covid-19 vaccine.

AveXis, the Swiss pharma’s gene therapy subsidiary, has agreed to manufacture the vaccine being developed by Massachusetts Eye and Ear and Massachusetts General Hospital. The biotech will begin manufacturing this month, while the vaccine undergoes further preclinical testing. They’ve agreed to provide the vaccine for free for clinical trials beginning in the second half of 2020, but have not disclosed financials for after.

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Bryan Roberts, Venrock

Ven­rock sur­vey shows grow­ing recog­ni­tion of coro­n­avirus toll, wan­ing con­fi­dence in ar­rival of vac­cines and treat­ments

When Venrock partner Bryan Roberts went to check the results from their annual survey of healthcare leaders, what he found was an imprint of the pandemic’s slow arrival in America.

The venture firm had sent their form out to hundreds of insurance and health tech executives, investors, officials and academics on February 24 and gave them two weeks to fill it out. No Americans had died at that point but the coronavirus had become enough of a global crisis that they included two questions about the virus, including “Total U.S. deaths in 2020 from the novel coronavirus will be:”.

Roger Perlmutter, Merck R&D chief (YouTube)

UP­DAT­ED: Backed by BAR­DA, Mer­ck jumps in­to Covid-19: buy­ing out a vac­cine, part­ner­ing on an­oth­er and adding an­tivi­ral to the mix

Merck execs are making a triple play in a sudden leap into the R&D campaign against Covid-19. And they have more BARDA cash backing them up on the move.

Tuesday morning the pharma giant simultaneously announced plans to buy an Austrian biotech that has been working on a preclinical vaccine candidate, added a collaboration on another vaccine with the nonprofit IAVI and inked a deal with Ridgeback Biotherapeutics on an early-stage antiviral.

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David Hoey (Vaxxas)

In for the long vac­cine game, Mer­ck buys in­to patch de­liv­ery tech with pan­dem­ic po­ten­tial

When Merck dived into the R&D fray for a Covid-19 vaccine earlier this week, execs made it clear that they’re not necessarily looking to be first — with CEO Ken Frazier throwing cold water on the hotly-discussed 12- to 18-month timelines. But when it does emerge from behind, the pharma giant clearly expects to play a significant part.

Part of that will depend on next-generation delivery technology that reshapes the world’s imagination of a vaccine.