On track for first autoimmune drug approval, Bing Yao steers AstraZeneca spinoff to $150M IPO
Just days after Viela Bio secured its first PDUFA date for its lead autoimmune drug, the AstraZeneca spinoff is confidently gunning for a $150 million IPO.
The biotech is dedicating most of the proceeds to three assets — out of six it got from a cleanup at MedImmune before the biologics unit got restructured altogether. Chief among them would be inebilizumab, the anti-CD19 drug that’s being ushered through the BLA approval process for neuromyelitis optica spectrum disorder, prepped for commercialization and explored in additional indications. Then there’s also the CD40L-targeting VIB4920, for which Phase II studies are planned for later this year; and the Phase Ib antibody VIB7734, which inhibits ILT7.
One of the programs from MedImmune, though, seemingly did not make the cut into their pipeline, according to the S-1.
Viela Bio has moved fast since its $250 million launch in February 2018, splashing $216.7 million to-date while picking up a $75 million Series B along the way. That leaves CEO Bing Yao with $189 million in cash and cash equivalents — with the new infusion of cash, the runway will extend to 2022.
The commercial team fielding inebilizumab for NMOSD will be facing an entrenched rare disease rival in Alexion, which just recently won an expanded label for Soliris. Instead of hitting the B cells secreting autoantibodies, Soliris blocks the subsequent activation of the complement system. Roche/Chugai’s satralizumab was also listed as potential competition.
But for Viela Bio, the value of inebilizumab lies in its potential to address a slate of diseases. They will put that hypothesis to test in upcoming mid- and late-stage trials for kidney transplant desensitization, myasthenia gravis and IgG4-related disorders.
In its SEC filing, the company also laid out just how extensive its ties with AstraZeneca are. In addition to a 38.4% stake, the pharma giant has multiple agreements in place to supply clinical and commercial drug substances and products to Viela Bio. And that’s not to mention Yao’s top team, as well as a significant portion of the R&D crew, had migrated from MedImmune.
During his first year, Yao took home a compensation package worth more than $2.4 million, including $936,047 in stock awards and $895,500 in option awards. Jörn Drappa, who heads R&D, comes in next with $1.3 million; BD chief Aaron Ren was rewarded with $747,032 total; while CFO Mitchell Chan got $402,617.
The close relationship also means Viela Bio inherited a number of licensing pacts from MedImmune, which entail milestone and royalty payments to Duke University, SBI Biotech, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, BioWa and Lonza.
Aside from AstraZeneca Sean Tong of Boyu Capital (who’s also on Viela Bio’s board) and Boundless Meadow Limited claim the largest chunk of shares, each at 18.4%. Edward Hu of WuXi (9.2%), 6 Dimensions (9.2% total), HH RSV-MIM Holdings (9.2%) and TLS Beta (7.6) follow.