Io­n­is, Cy­cle­ri­on tout pos­i­tive da­ta read­outs; MA­IA prices first biotech IPO in over two months

Io­n­is put out pos­i­tive topline re­sults from a Phase IIb tri­al on end-stage re­nal dis­ease, in­ves­ti­gat­ing pa­tients on dial­y­sis.

The drug can­di­date, fe­s­om­ersen, achieved its pri­ma­ry goal of “no in­crease in in­ci­dence of ma­jor bleed­ing and clin­i­cal­ly rel­e­vant non-ma­jor bleed­ing,” com­pared to place­bo. The study, named RE-THINC ES­RD, was con­duct­ed by Bay­er, which li­censed the drug from Io­n­is.

Spe­cif­ic da­ta will be pre­sent­ed at a lat­er date at an undis­closed, up­com­ing med­ical meet­ing.

Io­n­is re­port­ed that the drug, de­vel­oped as an an­tithrom­bot­ic, was safe and well-tol­er­at­ed when ad­min­is­tered month­ly at 40 mg, 80 mg and 120 mg for up to 48 weeks. Fe­s­om­ersen al­so showed sta­tis­ti­cal­ly sig­nif­i­cant re­duc­tions in fac­tor XI ac­tiv­i­ty lev­els. Fac­tor XI is a pro­tein that plays a role in blood clot­ting.

“The re­sults of the RE-THINC ES­RD study demon­strate fe­s­om­ersen’s po­ten­tial as a nov­el an­ti-throm­bot­ic treat­ment for car­dio­vas­cu­lar and re­nal dis­ease pa­tients,” said Io­n­is SVP and CMO San­jay Bhan­ot in a state­ment. — Paul Schloess­er

Cy­cle­ri­on says its drug showed cog­ni­tive ef­fect in schiz­o­phre­nia-re­lat­ed in­di­ca­tion

Over at Cy­cle­ri­on Ther­a­peu­tics, the biotech said its drug showed promise in an ear­ly-stage study in pa­tients with cog­ni­tive im­pair­ment as­so­ci­at­ed with schiz­o­phre­nia.

In the mul­ti­ple-as­cend­ing dose study, the once-dai­ly oral drug, dubbed CY6463, showed cog­ni­tive and in­flam­ma­tion ef­fects af­ter two weeks of dos­ing at 15 mg. The pos­i­tive al­losteric mod­u­la­tor led to an ef­fect size of 0.60, com­pared to place­bo, on the Cogstate Schiz­o­phre­nia Bat­tery cog­ni­tion scale, the com­pa­ny re­port­ed, say­ing 0.3 is “gen­er­al­ly con­sid­ered clin­i­cal­ly rel­e­vant in neu­ropsy­chi­a­try.”

The tri­al in­clud­ed 48 pa­tients with sta­ble schiz­o­phre­nia on a “sta­ble, sin­gle, atyp­i­cal an­tipsy­chot­ic reg­i­men.” The drug was safe and well-tol­er­at­ed, Cy­cle­ri­on said.

The high­er dos­es of the drug did not have an ef­fect on the gen­er­al cog­ni­tion com­pos­ite at day 14, though. The re­sults of the 30 mg and 60 mg dos­ing lev­els were “con­sis­tent with pre­clin­i­cal ex­per­i­ments,” Cy­cle­ri­on said.

Cy­cle­ri­on is al­so test­ing the drug in pa­tients with Alzheimer’s with vas­cu­lar pathol­o­gy and pa­tients with Mi­to­chon­dr­i­al En­cephalomy­opa­thy, Lac­tic Aci­do­sis and Stroke-like episodes (MELAS). — Kyle LaHu­cik

MA­IA Biotech­nol­o­gy prices at low end of range for its small IPO; opens on NYSE

Chica­go biotech MA­IA Biotech­nol­o­gy put out a state­ment Thurs­day set­ting its IPO price at $5 a share, and sell­ing 2 mil­lion shares to gross $10 mil­lion in the raise. The range orig­i­nal­ly put out was $5-7 a share.

The com­pa­ny, spe­cial­iz­ing in tar­get­ed im­munother­a­pies for can­cer, added that un­der­writ­ers will have 45 days to pur­chase an ad­di­tion­al 300,000 shares at the of­fer­ing price. It list­ed on the NYSE un­der the tick­er $MA­IA this morn­ing, and the of­fer­ing is ex­pect­ed to close Aug. 1.

The biotech added in an S-1 that it plans to use the funds from the of­fer­ing to fund the first part of the Phase II tri­als of its prod­uct can­di­date THIO, a telom­ere tar­get­ing agent, in tri­als for NSCLC, CRC and oth­er types of can­cers that are telom­erase-pos­i­tive. On top of that, fund­ing will go to­ward pre-clin­i­cal de­vel­op­ment of sec­ond-gen­er­a­tion telom­ere tar­get­ing com­pounds and oth­er undis­closed R&D.

Though small, MA­IA’s IPO rep­re­sents the first biotech de­but in a cou­ple months, per the End­points News tal­ly. The last com­pa­ny to IPO was Okyo Phar­ma on May 17. — Paul Schloess­er

Ed­i­tor’s note: This sto­ry was up­dat­ed to clar­i­fy that the high­er dos­es of Cy­cle­ri­on’s drug did not have an ef­fect.

Pi­o­neer­ing Click Chem­istry in Hu­mans

Reimagining cancer treatments

Cancer is a leading cause of death worldwide, accounting for nearly 10 million deaths in 2020, which is nearly one in six deaths. Recently, we have seen incredible advances in novel cancer therapies such as immune checkpoint inhibitors, cell therapies, and antibody-drug conjugates that have revamped cancer care and improved survival rates for patients.

Despite this significant progress in therapeutic targeting, why are we still seeing such a high mortality rate? The reason is that promising therapies are often limited by their therapeutic index, which is a measure of the effective dose of a drug, relative to its safety. If we could broaden the therapeutic indices of currently available medicines, it would revolutionize cancer treatments. We are still on the quest to find the ultimate cancer medicine – highly effective in several cancer types, safe, and precisely targeted to the tumor site.

Justin Klee (L) and Joshua Cohen, Amylyx co-CEOs (Cody O'Loughlin/The New York Times; courtesy Amylyx)

Ad­vo­cates, ex­perts cry foul over Amy­lyx's new ALS drug, cit­ing is­sues with price, PhI­II com­mit­ment

Not 24 hours after earning the first ALS drug approval in five years, Amylyx Pharmaceuticals’ Relyvrio is already drawing scrutiny. And it’s coming from multiple fronts.

In an investor call Friday morning, Amylyx revealed that it would charge about $158,000 per year, a price point that immediately drew backlash from ALS advocates and some outside observers. The cost reveal had been highly anticipated in the immediate hours after Thursday evening’s approval, though Amylyx only teased Relyvrio would cost less than previously approved drugs.

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Land­mark Amy­lyx OK spurs de­bate; Some... pos­i­tive? Alzheimer's da­ta; Can­cer tri­al bot­tle­neck; Sanofi's CRISPR bet; and more

Welcome back to Endpoints Weekly, your review of the week’s top biopharma headlines. Want this in your inbox every Saturday morning? Current Endpoints readers can visit their reader profile to add Endpoints Weekly. New to Endpoints? Sign up here.

After brief stops in Paris and Boston, John Carroll and the Endpoints crew are staying on the road in October with their return for a live/streaming EUBIO22 in London. The hybrid event fireside chats and panels on mRNA, oncology and the crazy public market. We hope you can join him there.

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Joshua Cohen (L) and Justin Klee, Amylyx co-CEOs

Up­dat­ed: Af­ter long and wind­ing road, FDA ap­proves Amy­lyx's ALS drug in vic­to­ry for pa­tients and ad­vo­ca­cy groups

For just the third time in its 116-year history, the FDA has approved a new treatment for Lou Gehrig’s disease, or ALS.

US regulators gave the thumbs-up to the drug, known as Relyvrio, in a massive win for patients and their families. The approval, given to Boston-area biotech Amylyx Pharmaceuticals, comes after two years of long and contentious debates over the drug’s effectiveness between advocacy groups and FDA scientists, following the readout of a mid-stage clinical trial in September 2020.

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Nooman Haque, head of life sciences and healthcare at Silicon Valley Bank, and John Carroll

I’m head­ed to Lon­don soon for #EU­BIO22. Care to join me?

It was great getting back to a live ESMO conference/webinar in Paris followed by a live pop-up event for the Endpoints 11 in Boston. We’re staying on the road in October with our return for a live/streaming EUBIO22 in London.

Silicon Valley Bank’s Nooman Haque and I are once again jumping back into the thick of it with a slate of virtual and live events on October 12. I’ll get the ball rolling with a virtual fireside chat with Novo Nordisk R&D chief Marcus Schindler, covering their pipeline plans and BD work.

#AAO22: J&J’s first look at com­mon eye dis­ease port­fo­lio pads the case for PhII of gene ther­a­py

CHICAGO — While the later-stage drug developers in the geographic atrophy field are near the finish line, Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen is taking a more deliberate route, with a treatment that it hopes to be a one-time fix.

The Big Pharma will take its Hemera Biosciences-acquired gene therapy into a Phase II study later this year in patients with GA, a common form of age-related macular degeneration that impacts about five million people worldwide. To get there, Janssen touted early-stage safety data at the American Academy of Ophthalmology annual conference Saturday morning, half a day after competitors Apellis and Iveric Bio revealed their own more-detailed Phase III analyses.

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Up­dat­ed: Al­ny­lam re­in­forces APOL­LO-B patisir­an da­ta be­fore head­ing to the FDA

Weeks after uncorking some mostly positive data for patisiran in transthyretin-mediated (ATTR) amyloidosis with cardiomyopathy, Alnylam is bolstering its package with new exploratory and subgroup data before shipping it off to regulators.

The RNAi drug maintained “generally consistent” benefits in efficacy and quality of life across several prespecified subgroups at month 12, Alnylam announced on Friday afternoon, including age, baseline tafamidis use, ATTR amyloidosis type, baseline six-minute walk test score and others.

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Jerome Durso, Intercept Pharmaceuticals CEO

In­ter­cep­t's OCA fails a PhI­II NASH tri­al, rais­ing fresh doubts about its years­long quest for an OK

Intercept Pharmaceuticals has run into another big setback in its yearslong quest to win an approval for OCA in NASH. The biotech put out word Friday morning that its Phase III REVERSE study failed the primary endpoint for the liver disease, sending its share price into a tailspin.

There was no significant improvement in fibrosis among the patients suffering from cirrhosis who were treated with obeticholic acid, with investigators hunting for a minimum 1-stage histological improvement in the disease after 18 months of therapy.

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Bo Cumbo, new Solid Bio CEO

Sol­id Bio gets a new CEO, $75M cash and drops lead drug as big in­vestors ju­ry-rig a merg­er deal

Three months after Endpoints News broke the story that gene therapy outfit AavantiBio had gutted its CMC group in a reorganization, the biotech’s CEO has helped engineer a merger with struggling penny stock player Solid Bio. And he’s going to remain in charge of the combined operation, as Solid founder Ilan Ganot steps aside.

The merger news this morning features some high-profile investors.

Perceptive Advisors, RA Capital Management and Bain Capital Life Sciences are leading a $75 million raise to add to the pool of cash Solid will have after the tie-up. That will leave Solid $215 million in cash as Bain’s Adam Koppel jumps on the board — enough to pay for ops and get through some key data milestones on their way into 2025.

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