Bing Yao. Viela Bio

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.

A fa­vorite in Alex­ion’s C-suite is leav­ing, and some mighty sur­prised an­a­lysts aren’t the least bit hap­py about it

Analysts hate to lose a biotech CFO they’ve come to trust and admire — especially if they’re being blindsided by a surprise exit.

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 59,900+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

While No­var­tis ban­ish­es Zol­gens­ma scan­dal scars — Bio­gen goes on a Spin­raza 'of­fen­sive'

While Novartis painstakingly works to mop up the stench of the data manipulation scandal associated with its expensive gene therapy for spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) Zolgensma— rival Biogen is attempting to expand the use of its SMA therapy, Spinraza. 

The US drugmaker $BIIB secured US approval for Spinraza for use in the often fatal genetic disease in 2016. The approval covered a broad range of patients with infantile-onset (most likely to develop Type 1) SMA. 

Jason Kelly. Mike Blake/Reuters via Adobe

Eye­ing big ther­a­peu­tic push, Gink­go bags $290M to build a cell pro­gram­ming em­pire

Ginkgo Bioworks is on a roll. Days after publicizing a plan to nurture new startups via partnerships with accelerators Y Combinator and Petri, the Boston biotech says it has raised another $290 million for its cell programming platform to reach further and wider.

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 59,900+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

UP­DAT­ED: Speak­er Nan­cy Pelosi to un­veil bill for fed­er­al­ly ne­go­ti­at­ed drug prices

After months of buzz from both sides of the aisle, Speaker Nancy Pelosi will today introduce her plan to allow the federal government to negotiate prices for 250 prescription drugs, setting up a showdown with a pharmaceutical industry working overtime to prevent it.

The need to limit drug prices is a rare point of agreement between President Trump and Democrats, although the president has yet to comment on the proposal and will likely face pressure to back a more conservative option or no bill at all. Republican Senator Chuck Grassley is reportedly lobbying his fellow party members on a more modest proposal he negotiated with Democratic Senator Ron Wyden in July.

David Grainger [file photo]

'Dis­con­nect the bas­tard­s' — one biotech's plan to break can­cer cell­s' uni­fied de­fens­es

Chemotherapy and radiotherapy are the current gladiators of cancer treatment, but they come with well-known limitations and side-effects. The emergence of immunotherapy — a ferocious new titan in oncologist’s toolbox — takes the brakes off the immune system to kill cancer cells with remarkable success in some cases, but the approach is not always effective. What makes certain forms of cancer so resilient? Scientists may have finally pieced together a tantalizing piece of the puzzle, and a new biotech is banking on a new approach to fill the gap.

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 59,900+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

Jeff Kindler's Cen­trex­ion re­news bid to make pub­lic de­but

Jeffrey Kindler’s plan to take his biotech — which is developing a slate of non-opioid painkillers — public, is back on.

The Boston based company, led by former Pfizer $PFE chief Kindler, originally contemplated a $70 million to $80 million IPO last year— but eventually postponed that strategy. On Wednesday, the company revived its bid to make a public debut in a filing with the SEC — although no pricing details were disclosed.

Zachary Hornby. Boundless

'A fourth rev­o­lu­tion in can­cer ther­a­pies': ARCH-backed Bound­less Bio flash­es big check, makes big­ger promis­es in de­but

It was the cellular equivalent of opening your car door and finding an active, roaring engine in the driver seat.

Scientists learned strands of DNA could occasionally appear outside of its traditional home in the nucleus in the 1970s, when they appeared as little, innocuous circles on microscopes; inexplicable but apparently innate. But not until UC San Diego’s Paul Mischel published his first study in Science in 2014 did researchers realize these circles were not only active but potentially overactive and driving some cancer tumors’ superhuman growth.

It’s fi­nal­ly over: Bio­gen, Ei­sai scrap big Alzheimer’s PhI­I­Is af­ter a pre­dictable BACE cat­a­stro­phe rais­es safe­ty fears

Months after analysts and investors called on Biogen and Eisai to scrap their BACE drug for Alzheimer’s and move on in the wake of a string of late-stage failures and rising safety fears, the partners have called it quits. And they said they were dropping the drug — elenbecestat — after the independent monitoring board raised concerns about…safety.

We don’t know exactly what researchers found in this latest catastrophe, but the companies noted in their release that investigators had determined that the drug was flunking the risk/benefit analysis.

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 59,900+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

Mer­ck helps bankroll new part­ner Themis' game plan to fin­ish the chikun­gun­ya race and be­gin on­colyt­ic virus quest

As Themis gears up for a Phase III trial of its chikungunya vaccine, the Vienna-based biotech has closed out €40 million ($44 million) to foot the clinical and manufacturing bills.

Its heavyweight partners at Merck — which signed a pact around a mysterious “blockbuster indication” last month — jumped into the Series D, led by new investors Farallon Capital and Hadean Ventures. Adjuvant Capital also joined, as did current investors Global Health Investment Fund, aws Gruenderfonds, Omnes Capital, Ventech and Wellington Partners Life Sciences.