RA Cap­i­tal jumps in­to the melee on TTR amy­loi­do­sis, back­ing a $91M de­vel­op­ment plan for a Bridge­Bio drug

RA Cap­i­tal’s Ra­jeev Shah is gam­bling on a mid-stage drug for TTR amy­loi­do­sis, look­ing to take the field against a well ad­vanced slate of ri­vals from Pfiz­er, Al­ny­lam and Io­n­is.

Shah, one of the prin­ci­pals at RA, is join­ing the board at Bridge­Bio’s Ei­dos Ther­a­peu­tics af­ter lead­ing a $64 mil­lion fi­nanc­ing to pay for the mid-stage work on AG10. The mon­ey, they say, should take them to the thresh­old of a piv­otal pro­gram. In ad­di­tion to RA and Bridge­Bio, the slate of in­vestors in this fundrais­ing in­cludes Janus Hen­der­son, Viking Glob­al In­vestors, Ais­ling Cap­i­tal, Per­cep­tive Ad­vi­sors, Cor­morant As­set Man­age­ment and Amzak Health In­vestors.

Neil Ku­mar

“Our clin­i­cal da­ta demon­strate that AG10 has a safe, well-tol­er­at­ed pro­file and is able to sta­bi­lize 100% of plas­ma TTR at peak con­cen­tra­tions and pro­vide av­er­age lev­els of sta­bi­liza­tion greater than 95% at steady-state,” said Ei­dos CEO — and Bridge­Bio en­tre­pre­neur — Neil Ku­mar, who’s al­ready put in $26 mil­lion. “Giv­en that in­creas­ing lev­els of sta­bi­liza­tion have yield­ed pro­gres­sive­ly bet­ter clin­i­cal re­sults in past tri­als, our near-com­plete lev­els of sta­bi­liza­tion sug­gest that AG10 could be a best-in-class so­lu­tion. We are tar­get­ing AT­TR at its source by sta­bi­liz­ing TTR, an ap­proach that is val­i­dat­ed by ge­net­ics and clin­i­cal da­ta.”

Is­abel­la Graef

The drug was ini­tial­ly ad­vanced by Is­abel­la Graef at Stan­ford and Mamoun Al­hamad­sheh, the com­pa­ny sci­en­tif­ic co-founders, who nailed down pre­clin­i­cal ev­i­dence that the drug can sta­bi­lize TTR and pre­vent the cas­cade of events that caus­es the dis­ease — a dis­ease mod­i­fy­ing ap­proach that will now head to the clin­ic. The founders say that the small mol­e­cule has a unique mode of bind­ing that “mim­ics a nat­u­ral­ly-oc­cur­ring, dis­ease-pro­tec­tive mu­ta­tion.” 

Mamoun Al­hamad­sheh

That pro­file puts them on the same path­way that much more ad­vanced ther­a­pies at Al­ny­lam and Io­n­is are on. And just days ago Pfiz­er un­ex­pect­ed­ly land­ed in the mid­dle of the pack with pos­i­tive Phase III da­ta for tafamidis.

Ku­mar has been steadi­ly ex­pand­ing the line­up of sub­sidiary op­er­a­tions at Bridge­Bio, will­ing to bet on a slate of ther­a­pies in search of a hand­ful that could make it on the mar­ket. That strat­e­gy at­tract­ed $135 mil­lion in fi­nanc­ing last year, with KKR com­ing back in to co-lead the round, joined by Viking Glob­al In­vestors, Per­cep­tive Ad­vi­sors, AIG, Ais­ling Cap­i­tal, Cor­morant Cap­i­tal and Janus Funds.


Im­age: Ra­jeev Shah. RA CAP­I­TAL

Fangliang Zhang, AP Images

Leg­end fetch­es $424 mil­lion, emerges as biggest win­ner yet in pan­dem­ic IPO boom

Amid a flurry of splashy pandemic IPOs, a J&J-partnered Chinese biotech has emerged with one of the largest public raises in biotech history.

Legend Biotech, the Nanjing-based CAR-T developer, has raised $424 million on NASDAQ. The biotech had originally filed for a still-hefty $350 million, based on a range of $18-$20, but managed to fetch $23 per share, allowing them to well-eclipse the massive raises from companies like Allogene, Juno, Galapagos, though they’ll still fall a few dollars short of Moderna’s record-setting $600 million raise from 2018.

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As it hap­pened: A bid­ding war for an an­tibi­ot­ic mak­er in a mar­ket that has rav­aged its peers

In a bewildering twist to the long-suffering market for antibiotics — there has actually been a bidding war for an antibiotic company: Tetraphase.

It all started back in March, when the maker of Xerava (an FDA approved therapy for complicated intra-abdominal infections) said it had received an offer from AcelRx for an all-stock deal valued at $14.4 million.

The offer was well-timed. Xerava was approved in 2018, four years after Tetraphase posted its first batch of pivotal trial data, and sales were nowhere near where they needed to be in order for the company to keep its head above water.

RA Cap­i­tal, Hill­house join $310M rush to back Ever­est's climb to com­mer­cial heights in Chi­na

Money has never been an issue for Everest Medicines. With an essentially open tab from their founders at C-Bridge Capital, the biotech has gone two and a half years racking up drug after drug, bringing in top exec after top exec, and issuing clinical update after update.

But now other investors want in — and they’re betting big.

Everest is closing its Series C at $310 million. The first $50 million comes from the Jiashan National Economic and Technological Development Zone; the remaining C-2 tranche was led by Janchor Partners, with RA Capital Management and Hillhouse Capital as co-leaders. Decheng Capital, GT Fund, Janus Henderson Investors, Rock Springs Capital, Octagon Investments all joined.

President Donald Trump (left) and Moncef Slaoui, head of Operation Warp Speed (Alex Brandon, AP Images)

UP­DAT­ED: White House names fi­nal­ists for Op­er­a­tion Warp Speed — with 5 ex­pect­ed names and one no­table omis­sion

A month after word first broke of the Trump Administration’s plan to rapidly accelerate the development and production of a Covid-19 vaccine, the White House has selected the five vaccine candidates they consider most likely to succeed, The New York Times reported.

Most of the names in the plan, known as Operation Warp Speed, will come as little surprise to those who have watched the last four months of vaccine developments: Moderna, which was the first vaccine to reach humans and is now the furthest along of any US effort; J&J, which has not gone into trials but received around $500 million in funding from BARDA earlier this year; the joint AstraZeneca-Oxford venture which was granted $1.2 billion from BARDA two weeks ago; Pfizer, which has been working with the mRNA biotech BioNTech; and Merck, which just entered the race and expects to put their two vaccine candidates into humans later this year.

Mer­ck wins a third FDA nod for an­tibi­ot­ic; Mereo tack­les TIG­IT with $70M raise in hand

Merck — one of the last big pharma bastions in the beleaguered field of antibiotic drug development — on Friday said the FDA had signed off on using its combination drug, Recarbrio, with hospital-acquired bacterial pneumonia and ventilator-associated bacterial pneumonia. The drug could come handy for use in hospitalized patients who are afflicted with Covid-19, who carry a higher risk of contracting secondary bacterial infections. Once SARS-CoV-2, the virus behind Covid-19, infects the airways, it engages the immune system, giving other pathogens free rein to pillage and plunder as they please — the issue is particularly pertinent in patients on ventilators, which in any case are breeding grounds for infectious bacteria.

Por­tion of Neil Wood­ford’s re­main­ing in­vest­ments, in­clud­ing Nanopore, sold off for $284 mil­lion

It’s been precisely one year and one day since Neil Woodford froze his once-vaunted fund, and while a global pandemic has recently shielded him from the torrent of headlines, the fallout continues.

Today, the California-based patent licensing firm Acacia Research acquired the fund’s shares for 19 healthcare and biotech companies for $284 million.  Those companies include shares for public and private companies and count some of Woodford’s most prominent bio-bets, such as Theravance Biopharma, Oxford Nanopore and Mereo Biopharma, according to Sky News, which first reported the sale. It won’t include shares for BenevelontAI, the machine learning biotech once valued at $2 billion.

Drug man­u­fac­tur­ing gi­ant Lon­za taps Roche/phar­ma ‘rein­ven­tion’ vet as its new CEO

Lonza chairman Albert Baehny took his time headhunting a new CEO for the company, making it absolutely clear he wanted a Big Pharma or biotech CEO with a good long track record in the business for the top spot. In the end, he went with the gold standard, turning to Roche’s ranks to recruit Pierre-Alain Ruffieux for the job.

Ruffieux, a member of the pharma leadership team at Roche, spent close to 5 years at the company. But like a small army of manufacturing execs, he gained much of his experience at the other Big Pharma in Basel, remaining at Novartis for 12 years before expanding his horizons.

Covid-19 roundup: Ab­b­Vie jumps in­to Covid-19 an­ti­body hunt; As­traZeneca shoots for 2B dos­es of Ox­ford vac­cine — with $750M from CEPI, Gavi

Another Big Pharma is entering the Covid-19 antibody hunt.

AbbVie has announced a collaboration with the Netherlands’ Utrecht University and Erasmus Medical Center and the Chinese-Dutch biotech Harbour Biomed to develop a neutralizing antibody that can treat Covid-19. The antibody, called 47D11, was discovered by AbbVie’s three partners, and AbbVie will support early preclinical work, while preparing for later preclinical and clinical development. Researchers described the antibody in Nature Communications last month.

Pfiz­er’s Doug Gior­dano has $500M — and some ad­vice — to of­fer a cer­tain breed of 'break­through' biotech

So let’s say you’re running a cutting-edge, clinical-stage biotech, probably public, but not necessarily so, which could see some big advantages teaming up with some marquee researchers, picking up say $50 million to $75 million dollars in a non-threatening minority equity investment that could take you to the next level.

Doug Giordano might have some thoughts on how that could work out.

The SVP of business development at the pharma giant has helped forge a new fund called the Pfizer Breakthrough Growth Initiative. And he has $500 million of Pfizer’s money to put behind 7 to 10 — or so — biotech stocks that fit that general description.

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