CEO Jeremy Bender (Day One)

It’s a new $DAWN for Day One as start­up piv­ots to an IPO for more fund­ing to back its work in pe­di­atric can­cer

Pe­di­atric can­cer biotech Day One Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals is head­ed for Nas­daq, in a move that comes less than three months af­ter their work on a brain can­cer treat­ment led to a nine-fig­ure crossover round backed by some blue-chip in­vestors.

The South San Fran­cis­co-based com­pa­ny is pen­cil­ing in $100 mil­lion as their ini­tial IPO tar­get, though the ul­ti­mate raise will like­ly be high­er. Tues­day’s fil­ing comes af­ter RA Cap­i­tal led a $130 mil­lion B round for the com­pa­ny in Feb­ru­ary, fol­low­ing what CEO Je­re­my Ben­der said at the time was “rapid” progress of their lead pro­gram.

When Day One prices in a few weeks, it will trade un­der the tick­er $DAWN.

As the phar­ma in­dus­try con­tin­ues de­vel­op­ing and push­ing for­ward can­cer treat­ments, Day One ex­ecs ar­gue that the main­stream play­ers left pe­di­atric can­cer be­hind. Adult pa­tients make up a sig­nif­i­cant­ly big­ger por­tion of the mar­ket, the com­pa­ny said, and there have been lags in un­der­stand­ing pe­di­atric bi­ol­o­gy prop­er­ly.

Day One’s mis­sion, then, is to try to fill that gap by de­vel­op­ing tar­get­ed ther­a­pies aimed specif­i­cal­ly at chil­dren. Their pro­posed treat­ments are en­tire­ly new ef­forts rather than re­for­mu­lat­ing adult treat­ments that come with heavy side ef­fects, like ra­di­a­tion ther­a­py and chemo.

Their lead pro­gram is a for­mer Take­da pro­gram called DAY101, an oral pan-RAF in­hibitor that can cross the blood-brain bar­ri­er and block mu­ta­tions in gliomas. As such, Day One is aim­ing for an in­di­ca­tion to treat pe­di­atric low-grade gliomas, the most com­mon form of brain tu­mors in chil­dren. The cur­rent stan­dard of care is plat­inum-based chemo, with no clear fa­vorite be­yond that, Ben­der told End­points News in Feb­ru­ary.

The biotech re­cent­ly launched a Phase II study for the ex­per­i­men­tal drug, with the goal of read­ing out top-line re­sults in the first half of 2022. Day One plans to ul­ti­mate­ly en­roll 60 pa­tients in the sin­gle-arm, open-la­bel study and hopes it can form the ba­sis of an ap­proval pack­age.

With­in its S-1, Day One plans to fun­nel its cash not on­ly to­ward this Phase II tri­al, but al­so launch a new Phase III study for the front­line treat­ment of pe­di­atric low grade gliomas next year. Its goals al­so in­clude a Phase II tri­al for RAF-al­tered sol­id tu­mors in pa­tients old­er than 12, as well as a Phase Ib/II study com­bin­ing DAY101 with Mer­ck Kg­GA’s MEK in­hibitor pi­masert­ib to treat adult MAPK-al­tered sol­id tu­mors.

The S-1 al­so pro­vid­ed some de­tails re­gard­ing that deal with Take­da and the com­pa­ny’s eq­ui­ty. Day One on­ly paid $1 mil­lion for the DAY101 can­di­date and at the time of the agree­ment, De­cem­ber 2019, of­fered a Take­da sub­sidiary about a 12% stake in the com­pa­ny. The sub­sidiary, Mil­len­ni­um Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals, will con­tin­ue to own that stake when Day One goes pub­lic.

Ben­der for his part, owns a 3% stake, while CMO and founder Sam Black­man has a 4.6% stake. The biggest stake­hold­er is Canaan Part­ners at 21.9%, fol­lowed up by the At­las Ven­ture Fund at 16.9%.

Day One al­so not­ed that Derek DiRoc­co, the RA Cap­i­tal part­ner who joined the board with Feb­ru­ary’s raise, will be leav­ing the com­pa­ny af­ter a very short stint once the biotech be­gins trad­ing pub­licly.

Biotech IPOs con­tin­ue to boom as 2021 march­es for­ward, with more than 50 com­pa­nies hav­ing ei­ther filed or priced their IPOs so far this year. For the year, the com­bined biotech raise is ap­proach­ing $6.5 bil­lion, and is ex­pect­ed to reach near­ly $7 bil­lion lat­er this week when four more com­pa­nies make their Nas­daq de­buts.

Health­care Dis­par­i­ties and Sick­le Cell Dis­ease

In the complicated U.S. healthcare system, navigating a serious illness such as cancer or heart disease can be remarkably challenging for patients and caregivers. When that illness is classified as a rare disease, those challenges can become even more acute. And when that rare disease occurs in a population that experiences health disparities, such as people with sickle cell disease (SCD) who are primarily Black and Latino, challenges can become almost insurmountable.

David Meek, new Mirati CEO (Marlene Awaad/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Fresh off Fer­Gene's melt­down, David Meek takes over at Mi­rati with lead KRAS drug rac­ing to an ap­proval

In the insular world of biotech, a spectacular failure can sometimes stay on any executive’s record for a long time. But for David Meek, the man at the helm of FerGene’s recent implosion, two questionable exits made way for what could be an excellent rebound.

Meek, most recently FerGene’s CEO and a past head at Ipsen, has become CEO at Mirati Therapeutics, taking the reins from founding CEO Charles Baum, who will step over into the role of president and head of R&D, according to a release.

So what hap­pened with No­var­tis' gene ther­a­py group? Here's your an­swer

Over the last couple of days it’s become clear that the gene therapy division at Novartis has quietly undergone a major reorganization. We learned on Monday that Dave Lennon, who had pursued a high-profile role as president of the unit with 1500 people, had left the pharma giant to take over as CEO of a startup.

Like a lot of the majors, Novartis is an open highway for head hunters, or anyone looking to staff a startup. So that was news but not completely unexpected.

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Who are the women su­per­charg­ing bio­phar­ma R&D? Nom­i­nate them for this year's spe­cial re­port

The biotech industry has faced repeated calls to diversify its workforce — and in the last year, those calls got a lot louder. Though women account for just under half of all biotech employees around the world, they occupy very few places in C-suites, and even fewer make it to the helm.

Some companies are listening, according to a recent BIO survey which showed that this year’s companies were 2.5 times more likely to have a diversity and inclusion program compared to last year’s sample. But we still have a long way to go. Women represent just 31% of biotech executives, BIO reported. And those numbers are even more stark for women of color.

Jacob Van Naarden (Eli Lilly)

Ex­clu­sives: Eli Lil­ly out to crash the megablock­buster PD-(L)1 par­ty with 'dis­rup­tive' pric­ing; re­veals can­cer biotech buy­out

It’s taken 7 years, but Eli Lilly is promising to finally start hammering the small and affluent PD-(L)1 club with a “disruptive” pricing strategy for their checkpoint therapy allied with China’s Innovent.

Lilly in-licensed global rights to sintilimab a year ago, building on the China alliance they have with Innovent. That cost the pharma giant $200 million in cash upfront, which they plan to capitalize on now with a long-awaited plan to bust up the high-price market in lung cancer and other cancers that have created a market worth tens of billions of dollars.

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Rafaèle Tordjman (Jeito Capital)

Con­ti­nu­ity and di­ver­si­ty: Rafaèle Tord­j­man's women-led VC firm tops out first fund at $630M

For a first-time fund, Jeito Capital talks a lot about continuity.

Rafaèle Tordjman had spotlighted that concept ever since she started building the firm in 2018, promising to go the extra mile(s) with biotech entrepreneurs while pushing them to reach patients faster.

Coincidentally, the lack of continuity was one of the sore spots listed in a report about the European healthcare sector published that same year by the European Investment Bank — whose fund is one of the LPs, alongside the American pension fund Teacher Retirement System of Texas and Singapore’s Temasek, to help Jeito close its first fund at $630 million (€534 million). As previously reported, Sanofi had chimed in €50 million, marking its first investment in a French life sciences fund.

When ef­fi­ca­cy is bor­der­line: FDA needs to get more con­sis­tent on close-call drug ap­provals, agency-fund­ed re­search finds

In the exceedingly rare instances in which clinical efficacy is the only barrier to a new drug’s approval, new FDA-funded research from FDA and Stanford found that the agency does not have a consistent standard for defining “substantial evidence” when flexible criteria are used for an approval.

The research comes as the FDA is at a crossroads with its expedited-review pathways. The accelerated approval pathway is under fire as the agency recently signed off on a controversial new Alzheimer’s drug, with little precedent to explain its decision. Meanwhile, top officials like Rick Pazdur have called for a major push to simplify and clarify all of the various expedited pathways, which have grown to be must-haves for sponsors of nearly every newly approved drug.

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Af­ter sell­ing to Genen­tech, the old Je­cure team is back at an RNA-fo­cused start­up — and more en­thu­si­as­tic than ever

When Genentech swooped in to buy NASH-focused Jecure Therapeutics back in 2018, a handful of the startup’s executives weren’t quite ready to disperse.

It had been just three years since Jecure launched with a preclinical portfolio of NLRP3 inhibitors — and the takeover came sooner than anyone, including CEO Jeff Stafford, had expected. So he got talking with James Veal and Gretchen Bain, two serial entrepreneurs in charge of Jecure’s R&D.

Jay Bradner (Jeff Rumans for Endpoints News)

Div­ing deep­er in­to in­her­it­ed reti­nal dis­or­ders, No­var­tis gob­bles up an­oth­er bite-sized op­to­ge­net­ics biotech

Right about a year ago, a Novartis team led by Jay Bradner and Cynthia Grosskreutz at NIBR swooped in to scoop up a Cambridge, MA-based opthalmology gene therapy company called Vedere. Their focus was on a specific market niche: inherited retinal dystrophies that include a wide range of genetic retinal disorders marked by the loss of photoreceptor cells and progressive vision loss.

But that was just the first deal that whet their appetite.

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