Nas­daq triple IPO play brings in $345M as the big biotech par­ty rocks on

Af­ter En­ta­sis Ther­a­peu­tics $ET­TX hit the floor on Nas­daq Wednes­day af­ter pric­ing its of­fer­ing be­low the range, the stock cratered fast, plung­ing 29% and like­ly caus­ing a few frowns among the rest of the biotechs in the queue for an IPO. But overnight we saw three more drug de­vel­op­ers go pub­lic, play­ing in­side the range and rais­ing a col­lec­tive $345 mil­lion.

No doubt, the ac­tion at the Nas­daq casi­no last night will bring in more pun­ters look­ing to cash in on the big wave of biotech IPOs for 2018 — many with­out even a first round of hu­man da­ta to look at — as the in­dus­try looks to see how many small out­fits can steer their way in­to the pub­lic mar­ket.

So let’s see how they did.

Vivek Ra­maswamy is still play­ing a hot hand on Nas­daq, but he may have lost a bit of the siz­zle that has sup­port­ed his oth­er plays.

Ra­maswamy’s biotech Urovant $UROV raised $140 mil­lion, sell­ing 10 mil­lion shares at $14 a pop. That’s the low end of the range. 

Al­ways in­ter­est­ed in rais­ing cash in chunks of $100 mil­lion-plus at a time, Ra­maswamy is spend­ing much of the new mon­ey at Urovant on vi­bre­gon — an oral β3-adren­er­gic ag­o­nist blad­der re­lax­er ob­tained in a deal with Mer­ck a year ago and now in an on­go­ing Phase III study for over­ac­tive blad­der.

Vivek Ra­maswamy

The Roivant com­pa­ny al­so re­cent­ly picked up the gene ther­a­py hMaxi-K from Ion Chan­nel In­no­va­tions. That pro­gram has been through some ear­ly-stage tri­al work on safe­ty and ef­fi­ca­cy but still has a long ways to go be­fore any reg­u­la­to­ry sub­mis­sion.

We’ve been won­der­ing how the mar­ket would re­spond to the lat­est Ra­maswamy IPO af­ter the de­ba­cle at Ax­o­vant, which is re­build­ing the pipeline in the wake of its Phase III flop in Alzheimer’s. At first blush, it seems clear that Ra­maswamy hasn’t lost the Mi­das touch, which in­sid­ers will both love and hate.

J.P. Mor­gan, Jef­feries and Cowen are the joint book-run­ning man­agers.

Arv­inas $ARVN, mean­while, rolled out its IPO on the high end of the range for a big­ger batch of stock, grab­bing $16 a share for 7.5 mil­lion shares and bring­ing in $120 mil­lion.

John Hous­ton

The crew at Arv­inas are fo­cused on some next-gen pro­tein degra­da­tion work in can­cer, with two high-pro­file part­ners in Pfiz­er and Genen­tech that ap­peared to have won the at­ten­tion of in­vestors back­ing this of­fer­ing.

Pro­tein degra­da­tion has be­come a hot field in on­col­o­gy, as new com­pa­nies look to do bet­ter than the orig­i­nal set of ther­a­pies that have hit the mar­ket. In Arv­inas’ case, CEO John Hous­ton has been go­ing af­ter prostate can­cer and breast can­cer, with their first Phase I for the lead prostate can­cer ther­a­py lin­ing up for a start in ear­ly 2019.

Gold­man Sachs, Cit­i­group and Piper Jaf­fray are man­ag­ing the IPO.

Sutro Bio­phar­ma $STRO hit the sweet spot with its IPO, rais­ing $85 mil­lion af­ter pric­ing shares at $15, the mid­dle of the range. It boost­ed its take by $10 mil­lion by up­siz­ing the num­ber of shares avail­able.

Backed by two big col­lab­o­ra­tors at Mer­ck and Cel­gene, we know now that in ad­di­tion to Mer­ck’s $60 mil­lion up­front in Ju­ly, the phar­ma gi­ant al­so bought $30 mil­lion in Sutro’s stock while com­mit­ting to $1.6 bil­lion in mile­stones. That of­fers a key Big Phar­ma en­dorse­ment for a plat­form that con­cen­trates heav­i­ly on a new gen­er­a­tion of can­cer-tar­get­ing an­ti­body-drug con­ju­gates and bis­pecifics. Cel­gene and Sutro are work­ing on an ADC aimed at BC­MA for mul­ti­ple myelo­ma — an ob­ses­sion at the big biotech.

Cowen and Piper Jaf­fray are the lead man­agers.

It could be that En­ta­sis’ trou­bles are due pri­mar­i­ly to its fo­cus on an­tibi­otics, where the up­side is not near­ly as well es­tab­lished as oth­er fields. We’ll know more af­ter these oth­er three stocks start trad­ing.

Biotech and Big Phar­ma: A blue­print for a suc­cess­ful part­ner­ship

Strategic partnerships have long been an important contributor to how drugs are discovered and developed. For decades, big pharma companies have been forming alliances with biotech innovators to increase R&D productivity, expand geographical reach and better manage late-stage commercialization costs.

Noël Brown, Managing Director and Head of Biotechnology Investment Banking, and Greg Wiederrecht, Ph.D., Managing Director in the Global Healthcare Investment Banking Group at RBC Capital Markets, are no strangers to the importance of these tie-ups. Noël has over 20 years of investment banking experience in the industry. Before moving to the banking world in 2015, Greg was the Vice President and Head of External Scientific Affairs (ESA) at Merck, where he was responsible for the scientific assessment of strategic partnership opportunities worldwide.

Credit: Shutterstock

How Chi­na turned the ta­bles on bio­phar­ma's glob­al deal­mak­ing

Fenlai Tan still gets chills thinking about the darkest day of his life.

Three out of eight lung cancer patients who received a tyrosine kinase inhibitor developed by his company, Betta Pharma, died in the span of a month. Tan, the chief medical officer, was summoned to Peking Union Medical College Hospital, where the head of the clinical trial department told him that the trial investigators would be conducting an autopsy to see if the patients had died of the disease — they were all very sick by the time they enrolled — or of interstitial lung disease, a deadly side effect tied to the TKI class that’s been reported in Japan.

No­var­tis' sec­ond at­tempt to repli­cate a stun­ning can­cer re­sult falls flat

Novartis’ hopes of turning one of the most surprising trial data points of the last decade into a lung cancer drug has taken another setback.

The Swiss pharma announced Monday that its IL-1 inhibitor canakinumab did not significantly extend the lives or slow the disease progression of patients with previously untreated locally advanced or metastatic non-small cell lung cancer when compared to standard of-care alone.

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Peter Nell, Mammoth Biosciences CBO

UP­DAT­ED: Jen­nifer Doud­na spin­out inks a Mam­moth CRISPR deal with Ver­tex worth near­ly $700M

When a company gets its start in gene editing pioneer Jennifer Doudna’s lab, it’s bound to make headlines. But three years in, the fanfare still hasn’t died down for Mammoth Biosciences. Now, the Brisbane, CA-based company is cheering on its first major R&D pact.

Mammoth unveiled a nearly $700 million deal with Vertex on Tuesday morning, good for the development of in vivo gene therapies for two mystery diseases. The stars of the show are Mammoth’s ultra-small CRISPR systems, including two Cas enzymes licensed from Doudna’s lab over the past couple years, Cas14 and Casɸ.

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James Peyer, Cambrian CEO

Brent Saun­ders joins $100M Se­ries C for a com­pa­ny out to be the Bridge­Bio of ag­ing

About a year ago, James Peyer, a CEO and co-founder of the little known longevity biotech Cambrian Biopharma, was trying to find some R&D talent last year when he met with more than a bit of experience in that department: David Nicholson, the former R&D chief of the erstwhile pharma giant Allergan.

It turned out Nicholson already had an interest in Peyer’s field. In their Allergan days, he and COO Brent Saunders held weekly meetups where they tried to figure out how to take the company’s dominance in aesthetics — which, until recently, was often what people meant by anti-aging science — and expertise with more traditional drug development, and use it to make drugs that extend people’s lifespan.

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An­gion's or­gan dam­age drug strikes out again, this time in high-risk kid­ney trans­plant pa­tients

After flopping a test in Covid-19 earlier this year, Angion’s lead organ damage drug has now hit the skids again in kidney transplant patients.

Angion and partner Vifor Pharma’s ANG-3777 failed to beat out placebo in terms of improving eGFR, a measure of kidney function, in patients who had received a deceased donor kidney transplant and were at high risk of developing what is known as delayed graft function, according to Phase III results released Tuesday.

(Photo courtesy Pfizer)

FDA's vac­cine ad­comm votes al­most unan­i­mous­ly in fa­vor of Pfiz­er's Covid-19 vac­cine for younger chil­dren

The FDA’s Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee on Tuesday voted 17-0, with one panelist abstaining, that the benefits of the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine outweigh the risks for children between the ages of five and 12.

The vote will likely trigger a process that could allow the shots to begin rolling out as early as next week.

The vaccine, which is one-third of the adult Pfizer dose, proved to be about 90% effective in a placebo-controlled trial in which about 1,500 kids in this age range received the vaccine, and only about 12% of those receiving the vaccine had any adverse event. All serious adverse events in the trial were unrelated to the vaccine.

Stéphane Bancel, Moderna CEO (Steven Ferdman/Getty Images)

Mod­er­na chips in fur­ther on African vac­cine sup­ply — but ad­vo­cates are call­ing for even more

In a sign of its growing commitment to the continent, Moderna will supply up to 110 million doses of its Covid-19 vaccine to the African Union, the company announced Tuesday. And CEO Stéphane Bancel said it’s just the first step.

“We believe our vaccine can play an important role in addressing the needs of low-income countries given its combination of high Phase 3 efficacy against COVID-19, strong durability in the real-world evidence, and superior storage and handling conditions. We recognize that access to COVID-19 vaccines continues to be a challenge in many parts of the world and we remain committed to helping to protect as many people as possible around the globe,” Bancel said in a statement.

An image of Alzheimer's brain tissue. The red show gingipains, a protein from P. gingivalis, intermixing with neurons (yellow) and glial cells (green)

An Alzheimer's dark­horse fails its first big tri­al, but of­fers hope for a long-over­looked hy­poth­e­sis

Three years ago, Cortexyme emerged out of obscurity with some big-name backers and an unorthodox approach to treating Alzheimer’s.

They moved their drug into a pivotal study the next year, offering one of the first major tests for a hypothesis that has fluttered on the outskirts of Alzheimer’s research for decades: that, in many cases, the disease is driven by infectious agents — the havoc they wreak in the brain and the inflammation the body uses to try to fend them off. And that quashing the infection could slow patients’ cognitive decline.

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