Po­sei­da pitch­es a $115M IPO on its claim that the sci­ence team has cre­at­ed a bet­ter BC­MA CAR-T

Is there enough en­thu­si­asm among biotech in­vestors to push through a $115 mil­lion-plus IPO on the lat­est biotech stak­ing out their claim with a new-and-im­proved BC­MA CAR-T ther­a­py?

Po­sei­da Ther­a­peu­tics is aim­ing to find that out in the very near fu­ture.

Er­ic Os­tertag

The San Diego-based biotech filed their S-1 on a busy Fri­day, just ahead of the big JP­Mor­gan con­fab that gets un­der­way Mon­day morn­ing in San Fran­cis­co. In it, they lay out an ear­ly snap­shot on Phase I da­ta for P-BC­MA-101 tar­get­ing mul­ti­ple myelo­ma — a fa­mil­iar tar­get in the CAR-T world these days.

Ac­cord­ing to the fil­ing, re­searchers have tracked 14 clin­i­cal re­spons­es among the first 19 pa­tients in their first hu­man study. And they in­clud­ed in that ORR every sign of ac­tiv­i­ty, from a com­plete re­sponse all the way through to a “min­i­mal re­sponse.” They al­so flagged CRs in 3 of 3 pa­tients get­ting the dose they plan to take in­to Phase II. And they down­played some se­ri­ous ad­verse events as like­ly linked to lym­phode­ple­tion, used to prep pa­tients for the drug.

The Phase II gets un­der­way in the first half of this year, and they’re plan­ning to push for an ac­cel­er­at­ed ap­proval on that study. No, the FDA has not signed off on that plan, but it wouldn’t be wild­ly un­rea­son­able to ex­pect that they might.

The rest of the pipeline is pre­clin­i­cal.

The way the orig­i­nal CAR-T works is pret­ty sim­ple. You take a pa­tient’s cell and adapt it, adding chimeric anti­gen re­cep­tors to di­rect T cells to can­cer. Po­sei­da is sell­ing its IPO on the as­ser­tion that they’ve de­vel­oped bet­ter tech to do the same job, us­ing a DNA mod­i­fi­ca­tion sys­tem that they say will se­lect more mem­o­ry T cells to do the work, which should make them more durable.

That’s the pitch, but they haven’t proved it yet.

Po­sei­da is rolling ahead in­to a tur­bu­lent stock mar­ket, where con­cerns about an eco­nom­ic slow­down and a trade war with Chi­na have tak­en a heavy toll on tech stocks. An­oth­er big con­cern: Mod­er­na $MR­NA was not able to hold on to its lofty mar­ket val­u­a­tion af­ter go­ing pub­lic, rais­ing con­cerns that in­vestors have grown tired of see­ing too many biotechs with too lit­tle da­ta to back up these of­fer­ings.

That en­vi­ron­ment will make this IPO and oth­ers filed re­cent­ly ones to watch.

Ma­lin Life Sci­ences out of Ire­land has the biggest stake in the biotech, at 33%. CEO Er­ic Os­tertag’s trust holds 15% while Ti­tan LLC has 13.6% of the stock and Lon­gi­tude Ven­ture Part­ners III holds 7.7%.

Os­tertag’s back­ground in­cludes found­ing Trans­posagen, based in Lex­ing­ton, KY. That com­pa­ny has been work­ing with gene edit­ing tech and cell reengi­neer­ing for year. Po­sei­da is a spin­out of that com­pa­ny, us­ing much the same tech, with an eye to de­vel­op­ing off-the-shelf cell ther­a­pies as well.

Biotech Half­time Re­port: Af­ter a bumpy year, is biotech ready to re­bound?

The biotech sector has come down firmly from the highs of February as negative sentiment takes hold. The sector had a major boost of optimism from the success of the COVID-19 vaccines, making investors keenly aware of the potential of biopharma R&D engines. But from early this year, clinical trial, regulatory and access setbacks have reminded investors of the sector’s inherent risks.

RBC Capital Markets recently surveyed investors to take the temperature of the market, a mix of specialists/generalists and long-only/ long-short investment strategies. Heading into the second half of the year, investors mostly see the sector as undervalued (49%), a large change from the first half of the year when only 20% rated it as undervalued. Around 41% of investors now believe that biotech will underperform the S&P500 in the second half of 2021. Despite that view, 54% plan to maintain their position in the market and 41% still plan to increase their holdings.

Covid-19 vac­cine boost­ers earn big thumbs up, but Mod­er­na draws ire over world sup­ply; What's next for Mer­ck’s Covid pill?; The C-suite view on biotech; and more

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No­var­tis de­vel­op­ment chief John Tsai: 'We go deep in the new plat­form­s'

During our recent European Biopharma Summit, I talked with Novartis development chief John Tsai about his experiences over the 3-plus years he’s been at the pharma giant. You can read the transcript below or listen to the exchange in the link above.

John Carroll: I followed your career for quite some time. You’ve had more than 20 years in big pharma R&D and you’ve obviously seen quite a lot. I really was curious about what it was like for you three and a half years ago when you took over as R&D chief at Novartis. Obviously a big move, a lot of changes. You went to work for the former R&D chief of Novartis, Vas Narasimhan, who had his own track record there. So what was the biggest adjustment when you went into this position?

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Amit Etkin, Alto Neuroscience CEO (Alto via Vimeo)

A star Stan­ford pro­fes­sor leaves his lab for a start­up out to re­make psy­chi­a­try

About five years ago, Amit Etkin had a breakthrough.

The Stanford neurologist, a soft-spoken demi-prodigy who became a professor while still a resident, had been obsessed for a decade with how to better define psychiatric disorders. Drugs for depression or bipolar disorder didn’t work for many patients with the conditions, and he suspected the reason was how traditional diagnoses didn’t actually get at the heart of what was going on in a patient’s brain.

Susan Galbraith, Executive VP, Oncology R&D, AstraZeneca

As­traZeneca on­col­o­gy R&D chief Su­san Gal­braith: 'Y­ou're go­ing to need or­thog­o­nal com­bi­na­tion­s'

 

Earlier in the week we broadcast our 4th annual European Biopharma Summit with a great lineup of top execs. One of the one-on-one conversations I set up was with Susan Galbraith, the oncology research chief at AstraZeneca. In a wide-ranging discussion, Galbraith reviewed the cancer drug pipeline and key trends influencing development work at the pharma giant. You can watch the video, above, or stick with the script below. — JC

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Roche's Tecen­triq cross­es the fin­ish line first in ad­ju­vant lung can­cer, po­ten­tial­ly kick­ing off gold rush

While falling behind the biggest PD-(L)1 drugs in terms of sales, Roche has looked to carve out a space for its Tecentriq with a growing expertise in lung cancer. The drug will now take an early lead in the sought-after adjuvant setting — but competitors are on the way.

The FDA on Friday approved Tecentriq as an adjuvant therapy for patients with Stage II-IIIA non small cell lung cancer with PD-(L)1 scores greater than or equal to 1, making it the first drug of its kind approved in an early setting that covers around 40% of all NSCLC patients.

FDA ad­comm votes unan­i­mous­ly in sup­port of a J&J Covid-19 boost­er two months af­ter one-dose shot

The FDA’s Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee (VRBPAC) on Friday voted 19-0 in favor of authorizing a second shot of J&J’s Covid-19 vaccine to follow at least two months after the initial dose.

Regulators don’t have to follow VRBPAC’s recommendation, but they almost always do. Considering that the CDC’s advisory committee has already been set to review the expanded EUA, VRBPAC’s recommendation is likely to be adopted.

Yao-Chang Xu, Abbisko Therapeutics founder and CEO

Qim­ing-backed Ab­bisko makes $200M+ Hong Kong de­but, as a SPAC and Agenus spin­out al­so price on Nas­daq

Three new entities priced their public debuts late Thursday and early Friday, including a SPAC, a traditional Nasdaq IPO and a Chinese biotech joining the Hong Kong Index.

Shanghai-based Abbisko Therapeutics raised the most money of the triumvirate, garnering $226 million in its Hong Kong debut and pricing at HK$12.46, or roughly $1.60 in US dollars. The blank check company followed up with a $150 million raise, while MiNK Therapeutics priced on Nasdaq at $12 per share and a $40 million raise.

Paul Grayson, Tentarix CEO (Versant)

Phar­ma vet­er­ans re­group with $50M and a plan to dis­cov­er new mul­ti-specifics

While a horde of drugmakers develops bispecific antibodies to more directly target tumor cells — there were about 100 programs in or nearing clinical trials back in May — a new company is emerging to go one step further.

On Thursday, Tentarix Biotherapeutics unveiled a $50 million Series A round to support its next-gen multi-specifics platform. While the field has largely focused on bispecifics, which engage two targets, Tentarix believes its multifunctional programs have the potential to be even more specific, since more conditions must be met for potent activity to occur.