Pe­ter Thiel-backed ATAI is prepar­ing to go to Nas­daq, as in­ter­est in psy­che­delics reach­es fever pitch

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The team be­hind ATAI Life Sci­ences has ratch­eted up mo­men­tum over the last few months, and now they’re look­ing to cap­i­tal­ize with an IPO.

Backed by bil­lion­aire Pe­ter Thiel, ATAI filed its SEC pa­per­work late Tues­day and out­lined its plans to take its port­fo­lio of ex­per­i­men­tal psy­che­del­ic med­i­cines to Nas­daq. They’ve list­ed a $100 mil­lion raise for now, though that fig­ure has com­mon­ly proved to be a mere place­hold­er dur­ing the biotech boom and the com­pa­ny could end up rais­ing much more.

Take, for ex­am­ple, an­oth­er biotech that just went pub­lic last week in Re­cur­sion. The AI drug de­vel­op­ers al­so pen­ciled in $100 mil­lion but end­ed up rais­ing $436 mil­lion once their IPO closed, good for the sec­ond-biggest IPO raise of 2021 be­hind on­ly Sana.

Flo­ri­an Brand

The in­dus­try will have to wait and see just how much ATAI ends up rais­ing, but they’ll cer­tain­ly add to the hefty to­tal among biotech so far this year. In 2021, there have now been 46 biotechs to ei­ther file or price their IPOs notch­ing a com­bined $5.46 bil­lion tal­ly across the de­buts, per an End­points News tal­ly.

If ATAI’s pre­vi­ous two fundrais­es are any in­di­ca­tion, their fi­nal IPO to­tal could be sig­nif­i­cant. Last No­vem­ber, ATAI raised $125 mil­lion in a Se­ries C that was co-led by Thiel’s firm, scor­ing the com­pa­ny a $1 bil­lion post-mon­ey val­u­a­tion. Then in March, ATAI “dou­bled down” on their strat­e­gy, as CEO Flo­ri­an Brand told End­points at the time, scor­ing a $157 mil­lion Se­ries D.

That marked a four-month span in which the com­pa­ny saw near­ly $300 mil­lion of cap­i­tal flow in­to its cof­fers, book­end­ing the ad­di­tion of Recog­ni­fy Life Sci­ences and its schiz­o­phre­nia pro­grams in­to the ATAI fam­i­ly of com­pa­nies.

ATAI’s busi­ness mod­el for de­vel­op­ing ther­a­peu­tics cov­er­ing a range of men­tal health dis­or­ders in­volves bring­ing port­fo­lio com­pa­nies un­der one um­brel­la, some­thing that Brand told End­points last month had been dri­ving the heavy in­ter­est with the con­sec­u­tive nine-fig­ure rais­es. Brand re­cent­ly brought in the 14th such port­fo­lio firm a few weeks ago with Psy­ber, which looks to im­prove men­tal health dis­or­ders and in­duce be­hav­ioral changes through “brain com­put­er in­ter­face” tech­nol­o­gy.

With the funds from the IPO, ATAI has iden­ti­fied pro­grams from six of its com­pa­nies that will be the pri­ma­ry fo­cus. The S-1 lists the com­pa­nies as Per­cep­tion, Recog­ni­fy, De­meRx, GA­BA, Neu­ronasal and Viridia, with ATAI look­ing to launch ei­ther Phase I or Phase II stud­ies for their drug can­di­dates.

The dis­or­ders in­volved in­clude treat­ment re­sis­tant de­pres­sion, schiz­o­phre­nia, opi­oid use dis­or­der, gen­er­al­ized anx­i­ety dis­or­der and mild trau­mat­ic brain in­jury.

Psy­che­delics are see­ing a come­back and in­vestors have flocked to­ward the field, as ev­i­denced by ATAI’s pre­vi­ous rais­es and the $146.6 mil­lion IPO last Sep­tem­ber for Com­pass Path­ways. The promi­nent in­vestor firm RA Cap­i­tal Man­age­ment, which par­tic­i­pates in a pletho­ra of biotech crossover rounds, al­so re­cent­ly led a $125 mil­lion Se­ries B for GH Re­search, an Irish com­pa­ny look­ing at re­pur­pos­ing the drug known as “toad ven­om” for ther­a­peu­tic pur­pos­es.

So­cial: Pe­ter Thiel, AP Im­ages

Biotech in­vestors and CEOs see two paths to growth, but are they equal­ly vi­able?

The dynamic in the biotech market has been highly volatile in the last few years, from the high peaks immediately after the COVID vaccine in 2021, to the lowest downturns of the last 20 years in 2022. This uncertainty makes calling the exact timing of the market’s turn something of a fool’s errand, according to Dr. Chen Yu, Founder and Managing Partner of TCG Crossover (TCG X). He speaks with RBC’s Noël Brown, Head of US Biotechnology Investment Banking, about the market’s road ahead and two possible paths for growth.

Casey McPherson shows his daughters Rose (left) and Weston around Everlum Bio, a lab that he co-founded to spark a treatment for Rose and others with ultra-rare conditions. (Ilana Panich-Linsman)

Fa­ther starts lab af­ter in­tel­lec­tu­al prop­er­ty is­sues stymie rare dis­ease drug de­vel­op­ment

Under bright lab lights, Casey McPherson holds his 6-year-old daughter, Rose. His free hand directs Rose’s gaze toward a computer screen with potential clues in treating her one-of-a kind genetic condition.

Gray specks on the screen show her cells that scientists reprogrammed with the goal of zeroing in on a custom medicine. McPherson co-founded the lab, Everlum Bio, to spark a treatment for Rose — and others like her. A regarded singer-songwriter, McPherson never imagined going into drug development.

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Fireside chat between Hal Barron and John Carroll, UKBIO19

It’s time we talked about bio­phar­ma — live in Lon­don next week

Zoom can only go so far. And I think at this stage, we’ve all tested the limits of staying in touch — virtually. So I’m particularly happy now that we’ve revved up the travel machine to point myself to London for the first time in several years.

Whatever events we have lined up, we’ve always built in plenty of opportunities for all of us to get together and talk. For London, live, I plan to be right out front, meeting with and chatting with the small crowd of biopharma people we are hosting on October 12 at Silicon Valley Bank’s London headquarters. And there’s a lengthy mixer at the end I’m most looking forward to, with several networking openings between sessions.

Take­da to pull key hy­poparathy­roidism drug from the mar­ket af­ter years of man­u­fac­tur­ing woes

Takeda on Tuesday morning made an announcement that almost 3,000 people with the rare disease known as hypoparathyroidism were fearing.

Due to unresolved supply issues and manufacturing woes, Takeda said it will cut its losses and discontinue its hypoparathyroidism drug, known as Natpara (parathyroid hormone), halting all manufacturing of the drug by the end of 2024, but the entire inventory will be available until depleted or expired, a company spokesperson said via email.

Pfizer and BioNTech's original Marvel comic book links evolving Covid vaccine science to Avengers' evolving villain-fighting tools.(Source: Pfizer LinkedIn post)

Pfiz­er, BioN­Tech part­ner with Mar­vel for Avengers and Covid-fight­ing com­ic book

Pfizer and BioNTech are collaborating with Marvel to celebrate “everyday” people getting Covid-19 vaccines in a custom comic book.

In the “Everyday Heroes” digital comic book, an evolving Ultron, one of the Avengers’ leading villains, is defeated by Captain America, Ironman and others. The plotline and history of Ultron is explained by a grandfather who is waiting with his family at a clinic for Covid-19 vaccinations.

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FDA+ roundup: Ad­comm date set for Cy­to­ki­net­ics heart drug; New gener­ic drug guid­ance to re­duce fa­cil­i­ty de­lays

The FDA on Wednesday set Dec. 13 as the day that its Cardiovascular and Renal Drugs Advisory Committee will review Cytokinetics’ potential heart drug, meaning regulators aren’t likely to meet the Nov. 30 PDUFA date that was previously set.

The drug, known as omecamtiv mecarbil, read out its first Phase III in November 2020, hitting the primary endpoint of reducing the odds of hospitalization or other urgent care for heart failure by 8%. But it also missed a key secondary endpoint analysts had pegged as the key to breaking into the market, failing to significantly differ in reducing cardiovascular death from placebo.

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Af­ter Covid set­back, Val­ne­va lines up $100M for Pfiz­er-al­lied Ly­me dis­ease PhI­II

Valneva has secured €102.9 million (around $99.9 million USD) in a share offering to push forward its Pfizer-partnered Lyme disease vaccine and a jab for chikungunya that awaits an FDA decision.

The French vaccine maker largely snagged the near $100 million from Deep Track Capital and local state-owned Bpifrance, the company said Tuesday night. The capital injection is nearly equal to the amount Pfizer paid to nab equity in the company earlier this summer as part of the duo’s vaccine tie-up.

Valitor CEO Steven Lo (L) and president and CSO Wesley Jackson

A dozen years in the mak­ing, a UC Berke­ley spin­out nabs funds to take on the eye

Largely funded by government grants for the better part of its first decade, a UC Berkeley spinout has secured a new CEO and the funds to take its research into the clinic in early 2024.

The biotech, named by one of the co-founder’s daughters and originally scrapped together with NIH funds in the aftermath of the 2008-09 financial crisis, is also on a mission to upend the treatment of wet age-related macular degeneration, or AMD, with an injectable drug that it claims could be more durable than the “800-pound gorilla” in the room, Genentech’s Lucentis and Regeneron/Bayer’s Eylea.

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Car­olyn Bertozzi (Illustration: Assistant editor Kathy Wong for Endpoints News)

Car­olyn Bertozzi, re­peat biotech founder and launch­er of a field, shares in chem­istry No­bel win

Carolyn Bertozzi, predicted by some to become a Nobel laureate, clinched one of the world’s top awards in the wee hours of Wednesday, winning the Nobel Prize in Chemistry alongside a repeat winner and a Copenhagen researcher.

The Stanford professor, Morten Meldal of University of Copenhagen and 2001-awardee K. Barry Sharpless of Scripps shared the prize equally. The Nobel is sometimes split in quarters and/or halves.