Jun­shi wins the race for first made-in-Chi­na PD-1 ap­proval as ex­ecs reap $394M IPO har­vest

It’s been a big day for Jun­shi Bio­sciences as it nabs Chi­na’s first snap ap­proval for a home­grown PD-1 af­ter re­port­ed­ly clos­ing a $394 mil­lion IPO in Hong Kong.

Con­di­tion­al­ly ap­proved un­der pri­or­i­ty re­view, tori­pal­imab is in­di­cat­ed for fast-grow­ing cas­es of melanoma, ac­cord­ing to the Na­tion­al Med­ical Prod­ucts Ad­min­is­tra­tion.

“Clin­i­cal tri­al re­sults of this prod­uct shows that in treat­ing pa­tients with un­re­sectable or metasta­t­ic melanoma who have failed pre­vi­ous sys­temic ther­a­pies, it reach­es an ob­jec­tive re­sponse rate of 17.3%, dis­ease con­trol rate of 57.5%, and 1-year sur­vival rate of 69.3%,” the NM­PA writes in a note. “The prod­uct’s mar­ket­ing ap­proval has a pos­i­tive im­pact on the se­lec­tion of clin­i­cal drugs for can­cer pa­tients.”

With 68 check­points crowd­ing the pipeline, this is like­ly to be first of many OKs from Chi­na’s rapid­ly evolv­ing reg­u­la­to­ry agency. Da­ta provider Pharm­Cube pre­vi­ous­ly told End­points News that In­novent Bi­o­log­ics, BeiGene (Cel­gene’s part­ner) and Jiang­su Hen­grui are all be­ing tipped for a mar­ket launch in the first half of 2019.

The ap­proval, which took nine months to process and tech­ni­cal­ly goes to Jun­shi’s sub­sidiary TopAl­liance, fol­lows those of Op­di­vo and Keytru­da, the two pi­o­neers in the field that’s been dom­i­nat­ing sales glob­al­ly.

While the ma­jor­i­ty of Jun­shi’s IPO pro­ceeds will go to­ward the con­tin­ued de­vel­op­ment and com­mer­cial­iza­tion of PD-1, parts will fund its oth­er pro­grams, in­clud­ing a PC­SK9 drug and a Hu­mi­ra biosim­i­lar, ac­cord­ing to an ear­li­er fil­ing.

Pric­ing at the bot­tom of the range, Jun­shi are sell­ing their shares at $2.48 (HK$19.38) each, Reuters re­port­ed. It’s set to be­gin trad­ing on De­cem­ber 24.

CI­CC is the sole spon­sor for the float while Cred­it Su­isse acts as a joint bookrun­ner.

Tar­get­ing a Po­ten­tial Vul­ner­a­bil­i­ty of Cer­tain Can­cers with DNA Dam­age Re­sponse

Every individual’s DNA is unique, and because of this, every patient responds differently to disease and treatment. It is astonishing how four tiny building blocks of our DNA – A, T, C, G – dictate our health, disease, and how we age.

The tricky thing about DNA is that it is constantly exposed to damage by sources such as ultraviolet light, certain chemicals, toxins, and even natural biochemical processes inside our cells.¹ If ignored, DNA damage will accumulate in replicating cells, giving rise to mutations that can lead to premature aging, cancer, and other diseases.

Ken Frazier, Merck CEO (Bess Adler/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

UP­DAT­ED: Mer­ck takes a swing at the IL-2 puz­zle­box with a $1.85B play for buzzy Pan­dion and its au­toim­mune hope­fuls

When Roger Perlmutter bid farewell to Merck late last year, the drugmaker perhaps best known now for sales giant Keytruda signaled its intent to take a swing at early-stage novelty with the appointment of discovery head Dean Li. Now, Merck is signing a decent-sized check to bring an IL-2 moonshot into the fold.

Merck will shell out roughly $1.85 billion for Pandion Pharmaceuticals, a biotech hoping to gin up regulatory T cells (Tregs) to treat a range of autoimmune disorders, the drugmaker said Thursday.

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Roivant par­lays a $450M chunk of eq­ui­ty in biotech buy­out, grab­bing a com­pu­ta­tion­al group to dri­ve dis­cov­ery work

New Roivant CEO Matt Gline has crafted an all-equity upfront deal to buy out a Boston-based biotech that has been toiling for several years now at building a supercomputing-based computational platform to design new drugs. And he’s adding it to the Erector set of science operations that are being built up to support their network of biotech subsidiaries with an eye to growing the pipeline in a play to create a new kind of pharma company.

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Fol­low biotechs go­ing pub­lic with the End­points News IPO Track­er

The Endpoints News team is continuing to track IPO filings for 2021, and we’ve designed a new tracker page for the effort.

Check it out here: Biopharma IPOs 2021 from Endpoints News

You’ll be able to find all the biotechs that have filed and priced so far this year, sortable by quarter and listed by newest first. As of the time of publishing on Feb. 25, there have already been 16 biotechs debuting on Nasdaq so far this year, with an additional four having filed their S-1 paperwork.

Doug Ingram (file photo)

Why not? Sarep­ta’s third Duchenne MD drug sails to ac­cel­er­at­ed ap­proval

Sarepta may be running into some trouble with its next-gen gene therapy approach to Duchenne muscular dystrophy. But when it comes to antisense oligonucleotides, the well-trodden regulatory path is still leading straight to an accelerated approval for casimersen, now christened Amondys 45.

We just have to wait until 2024 to find out if it works.

Amondys 45’s approval was unceremonious, compared to its two older siblings. There was no controversy within the FDA over approving a drug based on a biomarker rather than clinical benefit, setting up a powerful precedent that still haunts acting FDA commissioner Janet Woodcock as biotech insiders weighed her potential permanent appointment; no drama like the FDA issuing a stunning rejection only to reverse its decision and hand out an OK four months later, which got more complicated after the scathing complete response letter was published; no anxious tea leaf reading or heated arguments from drug developers and patient advocates who were tired of having corticosteroids as their loved ones’ only (sometimes expensive) option.

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Per­cep­tive's fourth — yes, fourth — SPAC jumps to Nas­daq as the blank check tree con­tin­ues to ripen

The biotech SPAC boom has gone almost hand-in-hand with the industry’s IPO gold rush, and this week saw more blank check companies hop aboard the train.

Leading the way is Perceptive Advisors’ fourth SPAC, appropriately named Arya Sciences Acquisition IV, which priced Friday morning after raising $130 million. And on top of that, new Ziopharm executive chair James Huang is launching his own SPAC with MSD Partners and Panacea Venture, filing S-1 paperwork Thursday with plans to raise $200 million.

S&P ex­pects steady ero­sion in Big Phar­ma's cred­it pro­file in 2021 as new M&A deals roll in — but don't un­der­es­ti­mate their un­der­ly­ing strength

S&P Global has taken a look at the dominant forces shaping the pharma market and come to the conclusion that there will be more downgrades than upgrades in 2021 — the 8th straight year of steady decline.

But it’s not all bad news. Some things are looking up, and there’s still plenty of money to be made in an industry that enjoys a 30% to 40% profit margin, once you factor in steep R&D expenses.

CEO Fred Aslan (Artiva)

NK cell ther­a­py play­er Arti­va makes some more noise, pulling in $120M Se­ries B less than a month af­ter Mer­ck deal

Not even one month after Big Pharma took notice of Artiva when Merck signed a collaboration worth nearly $2 billion in milestones, the off-the-shelf NK cell biotech already has its next big fundraise.

Artiva returns from the venture well Friday with a $120 million Series B round, money they will use to get their first program into the clinic and to file INDs for another two candidates. The raise marks the latest development in a rapidly expanding footprint for Artiva, which, in addition to the Merck deal last month, has now raised almost $200 million since its Series A last June.

With dust set­tled on ac­tivist at­tack, Lau­rence Coop­er leaves Zio­pharm to a new board

Laurence Cooper has done his part.

In the five years since he left a tenured position at Houston’s MD Anderson Cancer Center to become CEO of Boston-based Ziopharm, he’s steered the small-cap immunotherapy player through patient deaths in trials, clinical holds, short attacks and, most recently, an activist attack on the board.

So when the company has “fantastic news” like an IND clearance for a TCR T cell therapy program, he’s ready to pass on the baton.

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