Polyphor par­lays a pathogen-spe­cif­ic an­tibi­ot­ic and I/O work in­to a $165M IPO for its PhI­II pro­gram

Polyphor has suc­cess­ful­ly com­plet­ed an IPO, rais­ing about $165 mil­lion to back its Phase III de­vel­op­ment of a new an­tibi­ot­ic specif­i­cal­ly de­signed to coun­ter­at­tack against Pseudomonas aerug­i­nosa along with an easy-stage shot at im­muno-on­col­o­gy.

The biotech priced an up­sized lot of shares at 38 Swiss Francs — or about $38 — for the of­fer­ing on the Swiss bourse. That makes for a fair­ly un­usu­al hit, with many Eu­ro­pean biotechs drawn to try their luck on the free­wheel­ing Nas­daq, where ear­ly-stage, high-risk biotechs have pulled off a string of suc­cess­ful rais­es.

Dubbed murepavadin (POL7080), their lead an­tibi­ot­ic had stirred some ex­cite­ment a few years ago when Roche stepped in with a deal to col­lab­o­rate with the com­pa­ny, then backed out in late 2015 say­ing that a stream­lined de­vel­op­ment path­way was no longer avail­able to the phar­ma gi­ant.

But Polyphor con­tin­ued to press for­ward, though, with help from the Well­come Trust and oth­ers. This is the first new class of an­tibi­otics to come along in 50 years, the biotech says, which they call Out­er Mem­brane Pro­tein Tar­get­ing An­tibi­otics. Its pitch to break from the usu­al brand of broad-spec­trum an­tibi­otics and de­vel­op a pathogen-spe­cif­ic rem­e­dy at a time of ris­ing drug re­sis­tance res­onat­ed in the com­mu­ni­ty. And Polyphor has been build­ing a pipeline of new prod­ucts in the process, with the Phase III fo­cused on ven­ti­la­tor-as­so­ci­at­ed bac­te­r­i­al pneu­mo­nia.

More re­cent­ly, Polyphor has al­so been at­tract­ing at­ten­tion in the boom­ing I/O field, where its drug, the an­ti-CX­CR4 drug bal­ix­afor­tide, com­bined with Halaven (eribu­lin) achieved a 38% over­all re­sponse rate.

Big Phar­ma has been a re­luc­tant play­er in an­tibi­ot­ic de­vel­op­ment for years now, put off by thin mar­gins and cheap gener­ics. De­spite the in­crease in drug re­sis­tance, the mar­ket it­self hasn’t been gen­er­ous and in­cen­tives by them­selves have not been enough to reawak­en their in­ter­est. That has left the bulk of the work to a start­up gen­er­a­tion of biotechs like Polyphor, which are ex­pect­ing to see the num­bers im­prove as the sit­u­a­tion wors­ens.

In this par­tic­u­lar case, murepavadin has the po­ten­tial to ad­dress hos­pi­tal cas­es, where the mor­tal­i­ty rate has been high and re­im­burse­ment can be as well.


Im­age: SIX Swiss Ex­change. SHUT­TER­STOCK

Tar­get­ing a Po­ten­tial Vul­ner­a­bil­i­ty of Cer­tain Can­cers with DNA Dam­age Re­sponse

Every individual’s DNA is unique, and because of this, every patient responds differently to disease and treatment. It is astonishing how four tiny building blocks of our DNA – A, T, C, G – dictate our health, disease, and how we age.

The tricky thing about DNA is that it is constantly exposed to damage by sources such as ultraviolet light, certain chemicals, toxins, and even natural biochemical processes inside our cells.¹ If ignored, DNA damage will accumulate in replicating cells, giving rise to mutations that can lead to premature aging, cancer, and other diseases.

Roivant par­lays a $450M chunk of eq­ui­ty in biotech buy­out, grab­bing a com­pu­ta­tion­al group to dri­ve dis­cov­ery work

New Roivant CEO Matt Gline has crafted an all-equity upfront deal to buy out a Boston-based biotech that has been toiling for several years now at building a supercomputing-based computational platform to design new drugs. And he’s adding it to the Erector set of science operations that are being built up to support their network of biotech subsidiaries with an eye to growing the pipeline in a play to create a new kind of pharma company.

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Fol­low biotechs go­ing pub­lic with the End­points News IPO Track­er

The Endpoints News team is continuing to track IPO filings for 2021, and we’ve designed a new tracker page for the effort.

Check it out here: Biopharma IPOs 2021 from Endpoints News

You’ll be able to find all the biotechs that have filed and priced so far this year, sortable by quarter and listed by newest first. As of the time of publishing on Feb. 25, there have already been 16 biotechs debuting on Nasdaq so far this year, with an additional four having filed their S-1 paperwork.

CEO Fred Aslan (Artiva)

NK cell ther­a­py play­er Arti­va makes some more noise, pulling in $120M Se­ries B less than a month af­ter Mer­ck deal

Not even one month after Big Pharma took notice of Artiva when Merck signed a collaboration worth nearly $2 billion in milestones, the off-the-shelf NK cell biotech already has its next big fundraise.

Artiva returns from the venture well Friday with a $120 million Series B round, money they will use to get their first program into the clinic and to file INDs for another two candidates. The raise marks the latest development in a rapidly expanding footprint for Artiva, which, in addition to the Merck deal last month, has now raised almost $200 million since its Series A last June.

Covid-19 roundup: Mer­ck­'s $356M sup­ply deal on hold as FDA asks for more da­ta; FDA ap­proves Pfiz­er/BioN­Tech vac­cine stor­age at stan­dard freez­er temps

Merck is pushing back plans to supply the US government with a Covid-19 drug after the FDA asked for more data to support an emergency use authorization.

The antibody, MK-7110, had looked promising in a Phase III study conducted by OncoImmune before Merck came along and bought the biotech for $425 million. At the interim analysis, investigators looked at data from 203 patients and concluded that a single dose of the drug cut the risk of death or respiratory failure by more than 50% among severe patients. And those taking the drug had a 60% higher chance of improvement in clinical status compared to placebo.

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Ken Frazier, Merck CEO (Bess Adler/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

UP­DAT­ED: Mer­ck takes a swing at the IL-2 puz­zle­box with a $1.85B play for buzzy Pan­dion and its au­toim­mune hope­fuls

When Roger Perlmutter bid farewell to Merck late last year, the drugmaker perhaps best known now for sales giant Keytruda signaled its intent to take a swing at early-stage novelty with the appointment of discovery head Dean Li. Now, Merck is signing a decent-sized check to bring an IL-2 moonshot into the fold.

Merck will shell out roughly $1.85 billion for Pandion Pharmaceuticals, a biotech hoping to gin up regulatory T cells (Tregs) to treat a range of autoimmune disorders, the drugmaker said Thursday.

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Steve Cutler, Icon CEO (Icon)

In the biggest CRO takeover in years, Icon doles out $12B for PRA Health Sci­ences to fo­cus on de­cen­tral­ized clin­i­cal work

Contract research M&A had a healthy run in recent years before recently petering out. But with the market ripe for a big buyout and the Covid-19 pandemic emphasizing the importance of decentralized trials, Wednesday saw a tectonic shift in the CRO world.

Icon, the Dublin-based CRO, will acquire PRA Health Sciences for $12 billion in a move that will shake up the highest rungs of a fragmented market. The merger would combine the 5th- and 6th-largest CROs by 2020 revenue, according to Icon, and the merger will set the newco up to be the second-largest global CRO behind only IQVIA.

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Fatty liver conceptual image, 3D illustration showing fatty liver silhouette made from micrograph of liver steatosis (Shutterstock)

The path to NASH: un­der­stand­ing the role of se­vere obe­si­ty in a com­plex, mul­ti-sys­tem dis­ease

Biotech Voices is a collection of exclusive opinion editorials from some of the leading voices in biopharma on the biggest industry questions today. Think you have a voice that should be heard? Reach out to senior editors Kyle Blankenship and Amber Tong.

We often think a person’s transition from a healthy to a diseased state is binary. But that’s often not the case. In reality, the onset of a disease is not something that occurs overnight, and the majority lie on a continuum that is impacted by a multitude of factors. Some of these factors are in a patient’s control. Others are not.

This is the case in nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) and nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH), two of the most complex diseases that “live” on this proverbial continuum. The clinical onset of NAFLD — and ultimately NASH — is a complex process that is closely related to obesity, insulin resistance and impaired adipose tissue metabolism.

With dust set­tled on ac­tivist at­tack, Lau­rence Coop­er leaves Zio­pharm to a new board

Laurence Cooper has done his part.

In the five years since he left a tenured position at Houston’s MD Anderson Cancer Center to become CEO of Boston-based Ziopharm, he’s steered the small-cap immunotherapy player through patient deaths in trials, clinical holds, short attacks and, most recently, an activist attack on the board.

So when the company has “fantastic news” like an IND clearance for a TCR T cell therapy program, he’s ready to pass on the baton.

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