Move over, Hong Kong: Shang­hai’s new tech board sees fer­vent de­mand for maid­en biotech IPO

Days af­ter tak­ing off to a buoy­ant start, Shang­hai’s STAR mar­ket — Chi­na’s push to open up a new fundrais­ing av­enue for do­mes­tic fledg­ling tech com­pa­nies — has some good news to re­port about its biotech debu­tant.

Xi­an­ping Lu

Shen­zhen Chip­screen Bio­sciences has priced its shares at RMB 20.43 ($2.96) per share in an over­sub­scribed IPO, the com­pa­ny said in a fil­ing. That could trans­late to  RMB 1 bil­lion, or al­most $145 mil­lion, in IPO pro­ceeds, with a val­u­a­tion of $1.21 bil­lion, ac­cord­ing to a fil­ing cit­ed by Reuters.

For those who’s been fol­low­ing Hong Kong’s at­tempt to lure Chi­nese biotech star­tups away from the Nas­daq, though, Chip­screen’s re­al test might just be start­ing.

As­cle­tis, the biotech pi­o­neer on HKEX, is still down more than 60% from its list­ing price last April, when it raised $400 mil­lion — to much fan­fare. The stocks of BeiGene and Hua Med­i­cine have al­so lan­guished, though sev­er­al oth­er sub­se­quent list­ings such as CanSi­no and Jun­shi are still soar­ing.

It’s un­clear how much, if at all, the two ex­changes would be com­pet­ing for biotech list­ings. The over­all num­ber of ap­pli­cants that the Shang­hai mar­ket has al­ready at­tract­ed ap­pears to dwarf Hong Kong’s tech board, but the lat­ter — which has ac­cu­mu­lat­ed the con­fi­dence of in­ter­na­tion­al in­sti­tu­tion­al in­vestors — have proved lu­cra­tive for the few biotech play­ers that man­aged to pull off an IPO.

In the case of Chip­screen, re­tail in­vestors are ac­count­ing for about a fifth of the IPO. Many of them have like­ly been en­er­gized by a 140% first-day surge among the ini­tial 25 firms to list on STAR.

Found­ed in 2001 by Xi­an­ping Lu, Chip­screen prides it­self for be­ing an ear­ly in­no­va­tor in the Chi­nese small mol­e­cule space, adopt­ing its name­sake drug screen­ing tool to hunt new drugs in on­col­o­gy, meta­bol­ic dis­ease, au­toim­mune and en­docrinol­o­gy.

Its first drug, Ep­i­daza or chi­damide, was ap­proved in Chi­na as ear­ly as 2014 for re­frac­to­ry/re­cur­rent pe­riph­er­al T-cell lym­phoma. The epi­ge­net­ic reg­u­la­tor in­hibits sub­types of the HDAC en­zymes and has since been li­censed to Huya Bio­science in the US and Eu­rope, GNTbm in Tai­wan, and Ei­sai in parts of Asia.

A sec­ond-gen in­sulin sen­si­tiz­er for Type 2 di­a­betes is next on its reg­u­la­to­ry agen­da, fol­lowed by an­oth­er mid-stage can­cer drug.

Lu, who trained as a post­doc at UC San Diego with stints at La Jol­la and Gal­der­ma, told a road­show au­di­ence that the IPO pro­ceeds will help “strength­en com­pet­i­tive­ness, ex­pand mar­ket share, and de­vel­op new prod­ucts in a bid to make growth sus­tain­able,” Reuters re­port­ed.

So­cial im­age: Shut­ter­stock

Patrick Soon-Shiong at the JP Morgan Healthcare Conference, Jan. 13, 2020 (David Paul Morris/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Af­ter falling be­hind the lead­ers, dissed by some ex­perts, biotech show­man Patrick Soon-Sh­iong fi­nal­ly gets his Covid-19 vac­cine ready for a tri­al. But can it live up to the hype?

In January, when dozens of scientists rushed to start making a vaccine for the then-novel coronavirus, they were joined by an unlikely compatriot: Patrick Soon-Shiong, the billionaire doctor most famous for making big, controversial promises on cancer research.

Soon-Shiong had spent the last 4 years on his “Cancer Moonshot,” but part of his project meant buying a small Seattle biotech that specialized in making common-cold vectors, called adenoviruses, to train the immune system. The billionaire had been using those vectors for oncology, but the company had also developed vaccine candidates for H1N1, Lassa fever and other viruses. When the outbreak began, he pivoted.

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Jude Samulski, Marianne De Backer

Bay­er buys a biotech ‘race horse’ with a $4B deal — $2B in cash — aimed at go­ing big in­to gene ther­a­py

In the latest sign that Big Pharma wants a leading place in the push to develop a new generation of cell and gene therapies, Bayer is stepping up today with a $2 billion cash deal to buy out one of the fast-moving pioneers in the field, while adding up to $2 billion more in milestones if the new pharma subsidiary can deliver the goods.

As part of a continuing series of deals engineered by Bayer BD chief Marianne De Backer, the pharma player has snapped up Asklepios, more commonly referred to in more casual fashion as AskBio. And they are paying top dollar for a Research Triangle Park-based company that raised $225 million a little more than a year ago to back the brainchild of Jude Samulski, the gene therapy pioneer out of the University of North Carolina Gene Therapy Center.

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No­var­tis CEO Vas Narasimhan signs off on a $231M deal to try some­thing new in the R&D fight against SARS-CoV-2

Patrick Amstutz was baptized by pandemic fire early on.

He and colleagues attended the notorious Cowen conference in early March that included some of the top Biogen execs who helped trigger a superspreader event in Boston. Heading back to his post as CEO of Molecular Partners in Switzerland, the outbreak was sweeping through Italy, triggering near panic in some quarters and creeping into the voices of people he knew, including one friend on the Italian side of the country.

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Cedric Francois, Apellis CEO (Optum via YouTube)

UP­DAT­ED: So­bi bets $250M cash, about $1B in mile­stones for rights to a C3 ther­a­py be­ing pushed through 5 piv­otal tri­als

A couple years after licensing Novimmune’s emapalumab and turning around a quick FDA OK, Stockholm-based Sobi is betting up to $1.2 billion for rights to another rare disease drug.

The company is shelling out $250 million upfront and adding up to $915 million in milestones for rights to develop and commercialize Apellis Pharmaceuticals’ drug pegcetacoplan outside the US. Together, the companies will see the systemic C3 therapy through five registrational trials in hematology, nephrology and neurology.

Christian Rommel (via Roche)

Bay­er fol­lows R&D deal spree by raid­ing Roche's can­cer group for its new re­search chief

The day after Bayer signed off on a $4 billion deal designed to put the company among the leaders in gene therapy development, the pharma giant has recruited a new chief for its R&D division. And they opted for an expert in the cancer field.

Christian Rommel, Roche’s head of discovery and early-stage oncology development, has been tapped to take over the job. Joerg Moeller, who got the top research post after early- and late-stage development roles were combined 2 years ago, is hitting the exit “to pursue other career opportunities.”

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Albert Bourla, AP

UP­DAT­ED: Where's the Pfiz­er ef­fi­ca­cy read­out? CEO Bourla says 'soon,' but you're go­ing to have to wait for it

Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla had promised repeatedly that the pharma giant would know if its leading Covid-19 vaccine is effective by the end of this month — now just a few days away.

Instead, the company reported early Tuesday that it has yet to conduct any interim efficacy analyses. And it won’t now until sometime next month.

The news was included in a slide for their Q3 report.

In the morning Q3 call with analysts, Bourla says that they expect efficacy data “soon,” but noted that they wouldn’t be able to say anything until all the administrative work was done on the interim, which would take about a week. And he added that Pfizer isn’t going to say anything else about that hot topic until they have the data in hand.

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UP­DAT­ED: The dis­rup­tors at EQRx have their eyes on the PD-(L)1 mar­ket — tee­ing up $150M cash to grab 2 back­bone ther­a­pies from Chi­na

EQRx is paying top dollar to bring a pair of PD-(L)1 drugs into its portfolio of fast-follow therapies, offering $150 million upfront in what could shape up to be a $1.3 billion alliance with China’s CStone.

As early as 2017 Celgene had bet on a made-in-China PD-1 via its pact with BeiGene, quickly followed by Arcus as the second checkpoint wave was looming; more recently Eli Lilly imported longtime partner Innovent’s PD-1 in a $1 billion deal. All are diving into a space now dominated by Merck’s Keytruda franchise, where six other players are trying to catch up by carving out their own niches — and more are on their way to tap into the various I/O pairings anchored by a PD-(L)1. But none so far has quite shared EQRx’s explicit mission to disrupt the multibillion-dollar market by offering a lower cost option.

Charles Baum, Mirati CEO

UP­DAT­ED: Mi­rati plots a march to the FDA for its KRAS G12C drug, breath­ing down Am­gen’s neck with bet­ter da­ta

Mirati Therapeutics $MRTX took another closely-watched step toward a now clearly defined goal to file for an approval for its KRAS G12C cancer drug adagrasib (MRTX849), scoring a higher response rate than the last readout from the class-leading rival at Amgen but still leaving open a raft of important questions about its future.

Following a snapshot of the first handful of responses, where the drug scored a tumor response in 3 of 5 patients with non-small cell lung cancer, the response rate has now slid to 45% among a pooled group of 51 early-stage and Phase II patients, 43% — 6 of 14 — when looking solely at the Phase I/Ib. Those 14 patients had a median treatment duration of 8.2 months, with half still on therapy and 5 of 6 responders still in response.

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Covid-19 roundup: Sanofi and GSK pledge 200M vac­cine dos­es for a glob­al dis­tri­b­u­tion cam­paign

Sanofi and GSK have agreed to give 200 million doses of their vaccine candidate to the COVAX Facility, which is part of a program set up by CEPI, the WHO and Gavi to equitably distribute vaccines around the world.

The idea behind COVAX is to give all participating countries equal access to vaccines, regardless of income level. As of Oct 14, more than 180 countries had signed agreements to the COVAX Facility, including France and the UK. China joined earlier this month, pledging to make its vaccines a “global public good.” One country notably off the list is the United States.