Jonathan Lim, Erasca CEO (Arch Venture Partners)

Nas­daq rings in Jonathan Lim's next can­cer play, Pfiz­er-backed start­up and Har­vard spin­out with col­lec­tive $534M raise un­der their belts

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IPOs are boom­ing in 2021, and com­pa­nies are go­ing pub­lic ear­li­er than ever.

About 45% of IPOs of­fered in the first half of the year were for com­pa­nies that were still in pre­clin­i­cal and dis­cov­ery stages. That’s a big change for the 66 bio­phar­ma ther­a­peu­tics and plat­form com­pa­nies who com­plet­ed their IPO in the first half of the year, rais­ing $9.3 bil­lion in to­tal.

The hype sur­round­ing SPACs has been lighter in Q2, com­pared to a busy Q1. There have been 93 health­care and life sci­ence-fo­cused SPAC IPOs since Jan­u­ary 2020, with 47 of those rais­ing $15.85 bil­lion in 2021.

Eras­ca and Ima­go Bio­Sciences each pen­ciled in $100 mil­lion rais­es at the end of June as place­hold­er num­bers, while TScan did the same in April. All three priced their IPOs this week. Here’s what you need to know about the lat­est biotechs head­ed to Wall Street:

Nas­daq rings in Jonathan Lim’s next can­cer play

Clin­i­cal-stage on­col­o­gy com­pa­ny Eras­ca has priced its up­sized IPO at $16 a share, and has sold 18.75 mil­lion shares, the com­pa­ny an­nounced Thurs­day evening. Pro­ceeds from the of­fer­ing are ex­pect­ed to be around $300 mil­lion.

The com­pa­ny is lead­ing with a ther­a­py for pa­tients with RAS/MAPK path­way-dri­ven can­cers. Mol­e­c­u­lar al­ter­ations in RAS and the MAPK path­way ac­count for 5.5 mil­lion new cas­es of can­cer across the world each year, the com­pa­ny de­tailed in its S-1. Of those pa­tients, more than 90% have no treat­ment op­tions. The com­pa­ny said it ex­pects to have four can­di­dates in the clin­ic with­in the next year and a half, and file an in­ves­ti­ga­tion­al new drug ap­pli­ca­tion every 12-18 months over the next five years. Its two clin­i­cal pro­grams right now are ERAS-601, which was li­censed from NiKand Ther­a­peu­tics, and ERAS-007, which was ac­quired from ASN Prod­uct De­vel­op­ment.

“We be­lieve our world-class team’s ca­pa­bil­i­ties and ex­pe­ri­ence, fur­ther guid­ed by our sci­en­tif­ic ad­vi­so­ry board, which in­cludes the world’s lead­ing ex­perts in the RAS/MAPK path­way, unique­ly po­si­tion us to achieve our bold mis­sion of eras­ing can­cer,” it said.

The com­pa­ny was launched by CEO Jonathan Lim in 2018, af­ter he auc­tioned his com­pa­ny Igny­ta to Roche for $1.7 bil­lion. Last Au­gust, the com­pa­ny raised its fundrais­ing to­tal to $300 mil­lion. Eras­ca says it has 11 pro­grams in the works.

Eras­ca will trade un­der the tick­er $ERAS, and the IPO is ex­pect­ed to close on Ju­ly 20. JP Mor­gan, Mor­gan Stan­ley, Bo­fA Se­cu­ri­ties, Ever­core ISI and Guggen­heim Se­cu­ri­ties are act­ing as joint book-run­ning man­agers.

Ima­go prices IPO in quest for bone mar­row can­di­date, scores new in­vest­ment by Pfiz­er

A lit­tle more than a month af­ter Ima­go an­nounced pos­i­tive Phase II re­sults in a tri­al for bomedem­stat, Ima­go has used that to help pro­pel it­self to an IPO priced on the high end of its range.

Ima­go Bio­Sciences has al­so priced its IPO at $16 a share, sell­ing 8.4 mil­lion shares to raise $134 mil­lion. Con­cur­rent­ly, it says Pfiz­er will be mak­ing a pri­vate pur­chase of its stock for an ad­di­tion­al $20 mil­lion.

Ima­go is de­vel­op­ing small mol­e­cule prod­ucts that in­hib­it ly­sine-spe­cif­ic demethy­lase 1 (LSD1), an en­zyme that plays a role in the pro­duc­tion of blood cells in blood mar­row.

About 83% of pa­tients with es­sen­tial throm­bo­cythemia, a dis­ease in which the body pro­duces too many platelets, saw a sig­nif­i­cant re­duc­tion of platelet counts while main­tain­ing sta­ble he­mo­glo­bin lev­els.

In a study of pa­tients with ad­vanced myelofi­bro­sis — a type of bone can­cer that dis­rupts the body’s nor­mal pro­duc­tion of blood cells — 94% of pa­tients showed a re­duc­tion of 50% or more in symp­toms. In 34 pa­tients eval­u­at­ed for mu­tant al­lele fre­quen­cies, the num­ber de­creased in 44% of pa­tients and re­mained the same in 47%, with no new mu­ta­tions in the 660 days that fol­lowed.

Ima­go will be list­ed on the Nas­daq un­der $IM­GO. Jef­feries, Cowen, Stifel and Guggen­heim Se­cu­ri­ties are joint bookrun­ners on the deal.

Ahead of an­tic­i­pat­ed IND ap­pli­ca­tions, TScan heads to Nas­daq

A No­var­tis-backed Har­vard spin­out look­ing to build a TCR repos­i­to­ry has priced its IPO on the low end of its range, the com­pa­ny an­nounced Thurs­day.

TScan Ther­a­peu­tics has sold 6.7 mil­lion shares at $15 to raise $100 mil­lion. This brings the com­pa­ny’s mar­ket val­ue to $384 mil­lion. It will trade on the Nas­daq un­der $TCRX.

At the start of the year, TScan land­ed a $100 mil­lion crossover round to con­tin­ue its work on T cell tar­gets.

The com­pa­ny is de­vel­op­ing a pipeline of T cell re­cep­tor-en­gi­neered ther­a­pies for the treat­ment of hema­to­log­i­cal and sol­id tu­mors. INDs for two of its liq­uid tu­mor can­di­dates will be sub­mit­ted in Q4 of this year, and INDs for three of its four sol­id tu­mor can­di­dates will be sub­mit­ted by the sec­ond half of 2022.

Mor­gan Stan­ley, Jef­feries, Cowen, and Bar­clays are joint bookrun­ners.

Adap­tive De­sign Meth­ods Of­fer Rapid, Seam­less Tran­si­tion Be­tween Study Phas­es in Rare Can­cer Tri­als

Rare cancers account for 22 percent of cancer diagnoses worldwide, yet there is no universally accepted definition for a “rare” cancer. Moreover, with the evolution of genomics and associated changes in categorizing tumors, some common cancers are now characterized into groups of rare cancers, each with a unique implication for patient management and therapy.

Adaptive designs, which allow for prospectively planned modifications to study design based on accumulating data from subjects in the trial, can be used to optimize rare oncology trials (see Figure 1). Adaptive design studies may include multiple cohorts and multiple tumor types. In addition, numerous adaptation methods may be used in a single trial and may facilitate a more rapid, seamless transition between study phases.

Marianne De Backer (L) and Jeff Hatfield

Bay­er nabs star biotech Vi­vid­ion with a $2B buy­out and an ‘arms-length’ pact, pulling a part­ner out of the IPO con­ga line

Vividion is canceling that IPO it filed. Instead of following the industry-wide migration to Nasdaq, the biotech that has captured considerable attention for its still-preclinical work finding cryptic pockets to bind to on proteins is going to work for Bayer now.

The pharma giant is putting out word today that it has bought out Vividion for $1.5 billion in cash and another half-billion dollars in milestones.

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Tadataka Yamada (Photographer: Kiyoshi Ota/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Sci­ence pi­o­neer, phar­ma re­search chief, glob­al health ad­vo­cate and biotech en­tre­pre­neur Tadata­ka ‘Tachi’ Ya­ma­da has died

Tadataka Yamada, a towering physician-scientist who made his name in academia before transforming drug development at GlaxoSmithKline and developing vaccines for malaria and meningitis at the Gates Foundation, died unexpectedly of natural causes at his home in Seattle Wednesday morning.

He was 76. Frazier Healthcare Partners’ David Socks confirmed his death.

Known widely by the mononym “Tachi,” Yamada had a globetrotting career and arrived in industry relatively late in life. A 2004 Independent article noted GSK had asked Yamada to stay on beyond his approaching 60th birthday, the company’s usual retirement age. Yamada would continue working for the next 17 years, steering the Gates Foundation’s global health division for 6 years, funding Jim Wilson’s gene therapy work when few would touch it, launching Takeda Vaccines and co-founding a series of high-profile biotechs.

UK re-in­ves­ti­gates Pfiz­er's eye-pop­ping price goug­ing on an epilep­sy drug

When a drugmaker raises the price of a drug in the US by more than 2,000% overnight, and without any particular reason for that increase, nothing typically happens to the company. No fines, no court orders, just business as usual.

Martin Shkreli’s decades-old anti-parasitic drug Daraprim was the perfect example — massive price spike on an old drug, lots of media attention, public outcry, Congressional committees dragging his former company through multiple hearings, and at the end of it? Nothing happened to the price or the company (until generic competition came).

Josh Hoffman, outgoing Zymergen CEO (Zymergen)

UP­DAT­ED: Syn­bio uni­corn Zymer­gen jet­ti­sons found­ing CEO, cuts guid­ance as cus­tomers re­port lead prod­uct does­n't work

Zymergen, just months off a $500 million IPO that put the synthetic bio firm in rarified air, has now ejected its founding CEO and downgraded its revenue forecasts after customers reported its lead film product doesn’t work as advertised, the company said Tuesday afternoon.

CEO Josh Hoffman will leave his role and sacrifice his board seat immediately in favor of Jay Flatley, the former CEO of Illumina who will take the lead role on an interim basis as the company conducts a search for its next leader.

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Zymergen co-founders Zach Serber, Josh Hoffman, and Jed Dean (Zymergen via website)

Zymer­gen's sud­den im­plo­sion shocked biotech. A lin­ger­ing loan could make things even worse

As former synbio unicorn Zymergen picks up the pieces from its spectacular implosion Tuesday, an outstanding loan from Perceptive Advisors — the only blue-chip biotech crossover investor to touch Zymergen’s fundraising efforts — could make the situation worse, according to public documents.

In December 2019, more than a year before Zymergen filed for what would eventually become a $500 million IPO, the “biofacturing” firm signed a $100 million credit facility with Perceptive to help supplement the nearly $700 million the company had raised across four VC rounds.

Thomas Lingelbach, Valneva CEO

A small vac­cine de­vel­op­er fa­vored by the UK gov­ern­ment in Covid-19 touts a PhI­II first in chikun­gun­ya

Before Valneva garnered the favor of the UK government as a potential supplier of Covid-19 vaccines, the French biotech prided itself on being the first company to bring a chikungunya vaccine into Phase III.

It now has positive pivotal results to back up the breakthrough therapy designation the FDA granted just weeks ago.

There are currently no approved jabs to prevent chikungunya virus infection despite decades of R&D efforts, a fact that underscores just how arduous traditional vaccine development can be, particularly for neglected tropical disease. In a absence of a major commercial market, the US government and NGOs such as CEPI have deployed various grants and incentives to spur on a small crew of academics and industry players, with Merck, via its acquisition of Themis, claiming a spot in that race.

Bio­gen, Ei­sai are push­ing for an­oth­er ac­cel­er­at­ed Alzheimer's OK — this time for BAN2401

Now that the door at the FDA has been opened wide for Alzheimer’s drugs that can demonstrate a reduction in amyloid, Biogen and its partners at Eisai are pushing for a quick OK on the next drug to follow in the controversial path of aducanumab.

In a presentation to analysts, Eisai neurology chief Ivan Cheung outlined some bullish expectations for their newly-approved treatment and set the stage for what he believes will be a fast follow for BAN2401 (lecanemab) — after a dry spell in new drug development that’s lasted close to 20 years.

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Paul Hudson, Sanofi CEO (Eric Piermont/AFP via Getty Images)

UP­DAT­ED: Sanofi buys mR­NA play­er Trans­late Bio for $3.2B. And the price fits a pop­u­lar range for biotech M&A

Sanofi CEO Paul Hudson is dead serious about his intention to vault directly into contention for the future of mRNA vaccines.

A year after paying Translate Bio $TBIO a whopping $425 million in an upfront and equity payment to help guide the pharma giant to the promised land of mRNA vaccines, Sanofi closed the deal with a buyout early Tuesday, spending $38 a share in a $3.2 billion buyout.

Translate’s stock $TBIO soared after the market closed Monday when Reuters reported the first word of the acquisition just hours ahead of the formal announcement. The wire service, though, didn’t have a price to report in its scoop, and investors chased the stock up 78% in the wild ride that followed. Once the price was announced, gains shriveled to 29% ahead of the bell.

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