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.

Ven­ture Cap­i­tal as a Strate­gic Part­ner: Fu­el­ing In­no­va­tion be­yond Fi­nance

The average level of investment required for a biotech start-up to succeed is increasing every year, elevating the pressure even further on venture capital to make smart financial investments. Financial investment alone, however, does not always guarantee that exciting innovations can be transformed into real businesses that make a meaningful difference to patients.

Beyond just capital

At Astellas Venture Management (AVM) – a wholly-owned venture capital organization within Astellas, headquartered in the San Francisco Bay Area – capital is just one of the ingredients we offer to add value to our biotechnology investments and partnerships. We generally take a strategic investor approach for companies in our invested portfolio, providing access to expertise, technology and/or resources in addition to the injection of finance. An equity investment from AVM can include access to Astellas’ research and development (R&D) capabilities and expertise, and a global network of partner academic institutions and biotechnology companies, to help advance and accelerate the start-up’s innovation.

UP­DAT­ED: Ver­tex joins Mer­ck, Pfiz­er — re­vamp­ing multi­bil­lion-dol­lar tri­al strat­e­gy as biotech R&D crum­bles

You can add Pfizer, Merck and — as we found out Friday morning — Vertex to the growing list of pharma giants hitting the pause button on a range of clinical trials. But not everyone in R&D is getting a red light.

Vertex says that it’s doing its best to keep working its pipeline strategy, coming up with a plan “to enable virtual clinic visits and home delivery of study drug to ensure study continuity and medical monitoring, and to facilitate study procedures.”

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Covid-19 roundup: In­ter­cept, blue­bird and a grow­ing list of biotechs feel the pain as pan­dem­ic man­gles FDA, R&D sched­ules

Around 100 staffers at Boston area hospitals have now tested positive for Covid-19, spotlighting the growing risk that the pandemic will sideline many of the most essential workers in healthcare as caseloads peak in the US and around the globe. With more than 3,400 deaths, Spain has become the latest country to surpass the official death count attributed to the new coronavirus in China, where the outbreak originated. As of Thursday morning, confirmed global cases had crossed 470,000 and the death count eclipsed 21,000.

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Af­ter crit­ics lam­bast­ed Gilead for grab­bing the FDA's spe­cial rare drug sta­tus on remde­sivir, they're giv­ing it back

Two days after Gilead won orphan drug status for remdesivir as a potential treatment for Covid-19, they’re handing it back.

The company was slammed from several sides after Gilead reported that the FDA had come through with the special status, which comes with 7 years of market exclusivity, the waiver of FDA fees and some tax credits as well. Typically, everyone who can get orphan status lands it without much of a fuss, but Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, Public Citizen and other consumer groups were outraged.

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Mod­er­na CEO Stéphane Ban­cel out­lines a short path for emer­gency use of a coro­n­avirus vac­cine

NIAID director Anthony Fauci has left no doubts that it takes 12 to 18 months to get a new vaccine tested and in commercial use, in the best of circumstances. But in times of a global emergency — like these — maybe there’s another, faster route to follow.

In an SEC filing on Tuesday, Moderna $MRNA staked out a record-setting pathway to getting their mRNA vaccine into the frontline of the healthcare response as early as this fall. The SEC filing notes that CEO Stéphane Bancel told Goldman Sachs that an emergency use approval could allow the vaccine to go to healthcare workers and certain individuals in a matter of months — presumably provided the NIH sees the safety and efficacy data they would need from the Phase I.

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Caught in a Covid-19 mael­strom, Eli Lil­ly locks down clin­i­cal tri­als as multi­bil­lion-dol­lar R&D ops de­rail

The Covid-19 pandemic has derailed Eli Lilly’s $6 billion R&D operations.

The pharma giant reported Monday morning that it has decided to hit the brakes on most new study starts and pause enrollment for most ongoing studies. Lilly adds that it is continuing dosing for ongoing studies, “but with study-by-study consideration.”

The pandemic has severely disrupted healthcare systems around the globe, says Lilly, making it difficult or impossible to conduct studies at many research sites. And there’s no timeline for when it expects to get back on track.

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As share buy­backs come un­der scruti­ny, what's in store for the bio­phar­ma in­dus­try?

Stock buybacks are not to be permitted for companies that will be bailed out in the coronavirus stimulus package, Congressional leaders have signaled. To what degree the biopharma industry has relied on buybacks for earnings growth in recent years, and if the trend continues, are the big questions as scrutiny into the practice heightens and balance sheets weaken with the coronavirus pandemic wreaking havoc on global economies.

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A Sin­ga­pore VC rais­es $200M for a new round, but will Covid-19 pre­vent it from rais­ing the rest?

A top Singaporean biotech venture fund is nearly halfway toward its largest ever fund, but in a sign of what could be in store for VCs amid a global economic freeze, said they could face headwinds raising the other half.

Vickers Venture Partners has secured $200 million out of a targeted $500 million for its 6th fund, first announced in early 2018. They’ve given themselves 13 months to complete the financing, Vickers founder Finian Tan told Deal Street Asia, but the financial frost settling amid the Covid-19 pandemic could slow efforts.

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Strug­gling Unum ex­ecs are ready to con­sid­er a sale, merg­er or any deal that comes its way

Unum $UMRX is working its way through a survival plan of sorts.

After getting hit with a trio of FDA holds in its brief public history and triggering its second pivot to a new lead drug program while laying off 60% of the staff, the troubled penny stock biotech Unum Therapeutics has hatched new plans to secure financial backing while lining up a go-forward strategy for the company.

First, Lincoln Park Capital Fund has agreed to buy up to $25 million of the long-suffering stock, as Unum directs. And the executive team — led by CEO Chuck Wilson — has put everything on the table for consideration: a sale, acquisition, merger, licensing deal, you name it. The ACTR707 program, meanwhile, is being formally wrapped up — their second failed lead program.