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.

Forge Bi­o­log­ics’ cGMP Com­pli­ant and Com­mer­cial­ly Vi­able Be­spoke Affin­i­ty Chro­matog­ra­phy Plat­form

Forge Biologics has developed a bespoke affinity chromatography platform approach that factors in unique vector combinations to streamline development timelines and assist our clients in efficiently entering the clinic. By leveraging our experience with natural and novel serotypes and transgene conformations, we are able to accelerate affinity chromatography development by nearly 3-fold. Many downstream purification models are serotype-dependent, demanding unique and time-consuming development strategies for each AAV gene therapy product1. With the increasing demand to propel AAV gene therapies to market, platform purification methods that support commercial-scale manufacturing of high-quality vectors with excellent safety and efficacy profiles are essential.

Cy­to­ki­net­ics’ ALS drug fails PhI­II, leav­ing the biotech with a sin­gle late-stage prospect

Cytokinetics’ candidate for the muscle disease amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS, failed a Phase III trial, the Bay Area biotech announced Friday morning.

At a second interim analysis of the trial, an independent review committee recommended that Cytokinetics discontinue its COURAGE-ALS trial for reldesemtiv, as it “found no evidence of effect” compared to placebo on the primary or key secondary endpoints.

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CHMP gives thumbs-up for We­govy use in ado­les­cents, along with nine new drug rec­om­men­da­tions

The European Medicines Agency’s Committee for Medicinal Products for Human Use (CHMP) recommended nine drugs for approval this week while also giving thumbs up for six expanded indications, including Novo Nordisk’s approved obesity medication Wegovy for younger people. Wegovy is already approved as an obesity treatment in the EU for adults, and the new indication would allow prescriptions for adolescents aged 12 and older.

Green­Light re­ceives buy­out of­fer; Apol­lomics com­pletes SPAC merg­er

RNA biotech GreenLight Biosciences has been handed an offer for potential acquisition.

GreenLight said in a release that it has received a non-binding “indication of interest” from Fall Line Endurance Fund to acquire GreenLight’s capital stock for $0.60 per share in cash. The release said any potential agreement between the two parties would depend on certain conditions.

Through a special committee, the biotech will evaluate the offer but added there’s no certainty a deal will go forward. GreenLight will also not make any more announcements until a deal comes through or “otherwise determines” a statement is necessary.

TScan Therapeutics' departing CEO David Southwell and CSO/COO Gavin MacBeath

TCR up­start an­nounces CEO ex­it, with CSO now act­ing re­place­ment

A public T cell biotech’s chief executive has decided to leave the company.

TScan Therapeutics said Friday morning that CEO David Southwell stepped down earlier this week, leaving both his chief executive and board member roles. Filling in is Gavin MacBeath, the company’s CSO and COO. He became the acting CEO on Tuesday, and will continue to remain CSO and COO, TScan’s announcement read.

Mathai Mammen, FogPharma's next CEO

Math­ai Mam­men hands in J&J's R&D keys to lead Greg Ver­dine’s Fog­Phar­ma 

In the early 1990s, Mathai Mammen was a teaching assistant in Greg Verdine’s Science B46 course at Harvard. In June, the former R&D head at Johnson & Johnson will succeed Verdine as CEO, president and chair of FogPharma, the same month the seven-year-old biotech kickstarts its first clinical trial.

After leading R&D at one of the largest drugmakers in the world, taking the company through more than half a dozen drug approvals in the past few years, not to mention a Covid-19 vaccine race, Mammen departed J&J last month and will take the helm of a Cambridge, MA biotech attempting to go after what Verdine calls the “true emperor of all oncogenes” — beta-catenin.

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Austin biotech Mol­e­c­u­lar Tem­plates lays off more than 100 staffers as pipeline nar­rows

Molecular Templates is ridding itself of a Phase I HER2 asset and fine-tuning its pipeline to focus on three programs and a preclinical Bristol Myers Squibb collaboration. With the narrowed scope on its so-called engineered toxin bodies, the Austin, TX biotech is laying off about half of its staff.

That’s a little more than 100 employees, per an SEC filing. Molecular’s layoffs, approved by its board Wednesday, add to the dozens of pullbacks in the industry in the first three months of 2023.

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Sar­to­rius to ac­quire French man­u­fac­tur­er for $2.6B+ in cell and gene ther­a­py play

The German life science group Sartorius will be picking up French contract manufacturer Polyplus for the price of €2.4 billion, or $2.6 billion.

On Friday, Sartorius announced the acquisition through its French subgroup, Sartorius Stedim Biotech, which will be acquiring Polyplus from private investors ARCHIMED and WP GG Holdings IV. Polyplus has 270 employees and produces materials and components that go into making viral vectors that are used in cell and gene therapies. This includes DNA/RNA reagents as well as plasmid DNA. Polyplus has locations in France, Belgium, China and the US.

Sen­ate Fi­nance Com­mit­tee lobs more bi­par­ti­san pres­sure on­to PBMs

Congress is honing in on how it wants to overhaul the rules of the road for pharmacy benefit managers, with a Senate Finance Committee hearing Thursday serving as the latest example of the Hill’s readiness to make changes to how pharma middlemen operate.

While pledging to ensure patients and pharmacies “don’t get a raw deal,” Finance Committee Chair Ron Wyden (D-OR) laid out the beginning of what looks like a major bipartisan effort — moves the PBM industry is likely to challenge vigorously.

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