CEO Jeff Hatfield (Vividion)

Jeff Hat­field as­sem­bles a syn­di­cate with some A-list pub­lic in­vestors in the mix as Vi­vid­ion adds $135M raise

Bioreg­num Opin­ion Col­umn by John Car­roll

Back when Vi­vid­ion put to­geth­er its $82 mil­lion B round more than a year ago, I spec­u­lat­ed that the start­up was prob­a­bly gear­ing up for an IPO. That still hasn’t hap­pened, but they may be a lot clos­er af­ter to­day.

The ARCH- and Ver­sant-backed com­pa­ny just nailed down a $135 mil­lion raise from a dream team of crossover in­vestors, with Lo­gos Cap­i­tal and Box­er Cap­i­tal lead­ing as Soft­Bank jumps in with Avoro Cap­i­tal Ad­vi­sors, Black­Rock, RA Cap­i­tal Man­age­ment, T. Rowe Price As­so­ci­ates, Sur­vey­or Cap­i­tal (a Citadel com­pa­ny), Wood­line Part­ners LP, Acu­ta Cap­i­tal and Driehaus Cap­i­tal Man­age­ment. Ex­ist­ing in­vestors ARCH Ven­ture Part­ners, BVF Part­ners L.P., Cas­din Cap­i­tal, Mubadala Cap­i­tal, Nex­tech In­vest and Ver­sant Ven­tures all came back to chip in.

“There was a lot of en­thu­si­asm for this raise,” CEO Jeff Hat­field tells me about the pipeline-build­ing raise for a com­pa­ny that has big am­bi­tions in on­col­o­gy as well as im­munol­o­gy. “It came to­geth­er very quick­ly and we bumped it up a cou­ple of times.”

Hat­field isn’t ready to flag an IPO, though — “Who knows what the fu­ture holds?” — but he’s a lot more forth­com­ing about the pre­clin­i­cal work they have un­der­way.

In-house work in­cludes a fo­cus on the KEAP1-NRF2 ax­is, with work un­der­way on NRF2 mu­tant and ad­dict­ed can­cers. NRF2 mod­u­lates stress in cells, ex­plains Hat­field, and once “mu­tat­ed it leads to a form of can­cer that is cur­rent­ly” un­ad­dressed by any ex­ist­ing ther­a­peu­tics. That gets to the com­pa­ny’s fo­cus on the broad range of dis­ease tar­gets still in un­chart­ed drug ter­ri­to­ry.

The com­pa­ny has spe­cial­ized in iden­ti­fy­ing lig­ands for unique pock­ets, al­low­ing them to drug pre­vi­ous­ly un­drug­gable pro­teins. The chair­man is Rich Hey­man, who built and sold Aragon and Ser­agon.

There is al­so a tran­scrip­tion fac­tor pro­gram they’re work­ing on with Bris­tol My­ers that Hat­field de­scribes as “one of a hand­ful of Holy Grail tar­gets in on­col­o­gy and im­munol­o­gy.” But that’s as far as he’s will­ing to go at this stage.

James Sabry

So how about that IPO?

Just this morn­ing we wrote up a sto­ry about Soft­Bank’s plan to in­ject bil­lions more in pub­lic biotechs, help­ing to push the stock boom that’s dri­ven up the Nas­daq biotech in­dex by 35% over the past year — and adding more cash to crossovers would ap­pear to fit in neat­ly with that strat­e­gy.

Since that B round Vi­vid­ion has struck a deal with Roche — the Big Phar­ma every­one likes to have on their R&D side — that de­liv­ered $135 mil­lion in cash plus mul­ti­ple bil­lions on the back end. That gave Roche a shot at E3 lig­as­es — which plays a role in pro­tein degra­da­tion, one of BD chief James Sabry’s fa­vorite sub­jects — as well as new on­col­o­gy and im­munol­o­gy pro­grams.

That all adds up to some promi­nent play­ers, world-class part­ners, a lot of cash on hand and the first snap­shot of the pre­clin­i­cal strat­e­gy — all key in­gre­di­ents fu­el­ing the IPO boom of the past year.

So we’ll see.

M&A: a crit­i­cal dri­ver for sus­tain­able top-line growth in health­care

2021 saw a record $600B in healthcare M&A activity. In 2022, there is an anticipated slowdown in activity, however, M&A prospects remain strong in the medium to long-term. What are future growth drivers for the healthcare sector? Where might we see innovations that drive M&A? RBC’s Andrew Callaway, Global Head, Healthcare Investment Banking discusses with Vito Sperduto, Global Co-Head, M&A.

15 LGBTQ lead­ers in bio­phar­ma; Paul Stof­fels’ Gala­pa­gos re­vamp; As­traZeneca catch­es up in AT­TR; 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.

A return to in-person conferences also marks a return to on-the-ground reporting. My colleagues Beth Synder Bulik and Nicole DeFeudis were on-site at Cannes Lions, bringing live coverage of pharma’s presence at the ad festival — accompanied by photos from Clara Bui, our virtual producer, that bring you right to the scene. You can find a recap (and links to all the stories) below.

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AstraZeneca's new Evusheld direct to consumer campaign aims to reach more immunocompromised patients.

As­traZeneca de­buts first con­sumer cam­paign for its Covid-19 pro­phy­lac­tic Evusheld — and a first for EUA drugs

AstraZeneca’s first consumer ad for Evusheld is also a first for drugs that have been granted emergency use authorizations during the pandemic.

The first DTC ad for a medicine under emergency approval, the Evusheld campaign launching this week aims to raise awareness among immunocompromised patients — and spur more use.

Evusheld nabbed emergency authorization in December, however, despite millions of immunocompromised people looking for a solution and now more widespread availability of the drug.

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De­spite a slow start to the year for deals, PwC pre­dicts a flur­ry of ac­tiv­i­ty com­ing up

Despite whispers of a busy year for M&A, deal activity in the pharma space is actually down 30% on a semi-annualized basis, according to PwC’s latest report on deal activity. But don’t rule out larger deals in the second half of the year, the consultants said.

PwC pharmaceutical and life sciences consulting solutions leader Glenn Hunzinger expects to see Big Pharma companies picking up earlier stage companies to try and fill pipeline gaps ahead of a slew of big patent cliffs. Though a bear market continues to maul the biotech sector, Hunzinger said recent deals indicate that pharma companies are still paying above current trading prices.

Abortion-rights protesters regroup and protest following Supreme Court's decision to overturn Roe v. Wade. (AP Photo/Gemunu Amarasinghe)

Fol­low­ing SCO­TUS de­ci­sion to over­turn abor­tion pro­tec­tions, AG Gar­land says states can't ban the abor­tion pill

Following the Supreme Court’s historic decision on Friday to overturn Americans’ constitutional right to an abortion after almost 50 years, Attorney General Merrick Garland sought to somewhat reassure women that states will not be able to ban the prescription drug sometimes used for abortions.

Following the decision, the New England Journal of Medicine also published an editorial strongly condemning the reversal, saying it “serves American families poorly, putting their health, safety, finances, and futures at risk.”

Joe Wiley, Amryt Pharma CEO

Am­ryt Phar­ma sub­mits a for­mal dis­pute res­o­lu­tion to the FDA over re­ject­ed skin dis­ease drug

The story of Amryt Pharma’s candidate for the genetic skin condition epidermolysis bullosa, or EB, will soon enter another chapter.

After the Irish drugmaker’s candidate, dubbed Oleogel-S10 and marketed as Filsuvez, was handed a CRL earlier this year, the company announced in a press release that it plans to submit a formal dispute resolution request for the company’s NDA for Oleogel-S10.

Kelly Martin, Radius Health CEO

VC firms take os­teo­poro­sis drug­mak­er Ra­dius Health pri­vate for al­most $900M

After attacks from activist investors and disappointing returns on share prices, Radius Health has now agreed to new ownership, a direction resulting in leaving the Nasdaq.

Radius Health, a biotech out of Massachusetts with one approved product in its arsenal, announced Thursday morning that it agreed to be acquired by two VC firms: Gurnet Point Capital and Patient Square Capital. The deal, worth around $890 million, will include debt assumption and the payout of $1 CVR per share for investors. And on top of that, OrbiMed is providing debt financing.

Yong Dai, Frontera Therapeutics CEO

Scoop: Lit­tle-known Or­biMed-backed biotech clos­es $160M round to start gene ther­a­py tri­al

Frontera Therapeutics, a China and US biotech, has closed a $160 million Series B and received regulatory clearance to test its first gene therapy stateside, Endpoints News has learned.

Led by the largest shareholder, OrbiMed, the biotech has secured $195 million total since its September 2019 founding, according to an email reviewed by Endpoints. The lead AAV gene therapy program is for an undisclosed rare eye disease, according to the source.

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Spanish Prime Minister Pédro Sanchez and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen (AP Photo/Geert Vanden Wijngaert)

EU to launch vac­cine de­vel­op­ment and man­u­fac­tur­ing part­ner­ship with Latin Amer­i­can and Caribbean coun­tries

While European companies, including BioNTech, are focused on increasing vaccine access to African countries by setting up vaccine manufacturing facilities, the European Union is looking westward to Latin America and the Caribbean.

Speaking at a press conference with Spanish Prime Minister Pédro Sanchez, EU Commission president Ursula von der Leyen said that the EU is launching a new initiative for vaccines and medicines manufacturing in Latin America, to get drugs to Latin America and the Caribbean faster.