RAPT Ther­a­peu­tics re­turns to Wall Street to re­vive IPO bid

On May 24, FLX Bio, a small can­cer and in­flam­ma­tion biotech with back­ing from GV, changed its name to RAPT Ther­a­peu­tics and filed con­fi­den­tial­ly for an IPO. On Ju­ly 5th, they filed to raise up to $86 mil­lion. On Ju­ly 22, they an­nounced the IPO with a $75 mil­lion goal.  And on Au­gust 1, they abrupt­ly and with­out ex­pla­na­tion called it all off.

Now, with­out ex­pla­na­tion, they’re re­viv­ing the bid, fil­ing again for a $75 mil­lion IPO, this time with a new bookrun­ner and a new drug can­di­date in the clin­ic. The terms will be the same: 5 mil­lion shares at $14-$16 per share. It would give them a di­lut­ed mar­ket val­ue of $351 mil­lion.

RAPT CEO Bri­an Wong

The IPO ap­pears to be the com­pa­ny’s first ma­jor fund­ing stream since a $60 mil­lion Se­ries C in 2017 and will sup­ply rev­enue to pro­pel their top can­cer and in­flam­ma­tion drugs, re­spec­tive­ly, fur­ther in­to the clin­ic.

RAPT was formed af­ter Bris­tol-My­ers ac­quired the im­muno-on­col­o­gy biotech Flexus in a 2015 deal worth up to $1.25 bil­lion in 2015.  Flexus then as­signed some of its un­ac­quired as­sets to a new com­pa­ny, FLX Bio, most no­tably FLX925, a CDK4/6 and FLT3 in­hibitor then en­ter­ing Phase 1.

But it wasn’t long be­fore the founders — Ter­ry Rosen and Juan Jaen — left and FLX925 hit a wall. The new own­ers, though, were able to con­vince GV and oth­er funds to put $60 mil­lion be­hind a piv­ot to CCR4 in­hibitors. This was in De­cem­ber 2017, short­ly af­ter Ky­owa Hakko un­veiled pos­i­tive Phase III da­ta for the an­ti-CCR4 ther­a­py moga­mulizum­ab.

RAPT has since fo­cused on two such in­hibitors: FLX475, which they hope will be a monother­a­py for mul­ti­ple can­cers, and RPT193, an an­ti-in­flam­ma­to­ry. This morn­ing, the biotech an­nounced they had be­gun a Phase I tri­al on RPT193 atopic der­mati­tis, al­though like oth­er com­pa­nies they hope to use the skin dis­ease as a launch­ing pad to broad­er an­ti-in­flam­ma­to­ry ap­pli­ca­tions.

The new S-1 ap­pears to be large­ly the same, with up­dat­ed lan­guage to re­flect the ex­pect­ed progress the com­pa­ny has made in the three months since their last fil­ing. (The amend­ment no longer says, for in­stance, that they plan on be­gin­ning a Phase I tri­al on RPT193 in Au­gust 2019.).

RAPT lacks clin­i­cal da­ta be­yond some pos­i­tive Phase I tol­er­a­bil­i­ty find­ings on FLX475. It will use the pro­ceeds to push RPT193 through its Phase I tri­al and FLX475 through a proof-of-con­cept Phase I/II tri­al on what they call “charged” tu­mors — those with high lev­els of CCR4 lig­ands, Treg and CD8+ef­fec­tor cells, in­clud­ing non-small cell lung can­cer, triple-neg­a­tive breast can­cer, and gas­tric can­cer. The tri­al will ex­am­ine the drug as a monother­a­py and in com­bi­na­tion with Keytru­da.

Their pitch to in­vestors when they piv­ot­ed to CCR4 – and which they re­it­er­at­ed in their S-1 — was that by us­ing small mol­e­cules and not an­ti­bod­ies (like moga­mulizum­ab), they could be more se­lec­tive and min­i­mize the im­pact on T-cells through­out the body.

RAPT is al­so de­vel­op­ing an in­hibitor for GCN2i, a path­way they say is gen­er­al­ly not ac­tive in healthy tis­sue and thus a good can­di­date for a tar­get­ed ther­a­py. They aim to file an IND in 2020.

Janet Woodcock (Greg Nash/Pool via AP Images)

'I re­al­ly don’t look back': Janet Wood­cock on her tran­si­tion away from drugs

Janet Woodcock may have one of the most historically long and drug-intense tenures in FDA history, but her new role is outside of all things pharma and the once-acting FDA commissioner isn’t looking back.

“No I really don’t look back,” Woodcock told Endpoints News via email on Monday morning. “Yes I will be transitioning. Longer discussion on infrastructure needed.”

An NYU surgeon transplants an engineered pig kidney into the outside of a brain-dead patient (Joe Carrotta/NYU Langone Health)

'Xeno­trans­plan­ta­tion is com­ing': New NE­JM pa­per gives de­tailed look in­to 2 pig-to-hu­man kid­ney trans­plant cas­es

The thymokidney is a curious organ, if you could call it that. It’s a sort of Frankensteinian creation — a system of pig thymus embedded underneath the outer layer of a pig’s kidney, made for human transplantation.

In the first case of pig-to-human xenotransplantation of a kidney into a brain-dead patient, the thymokidney quietly featured front and center.

In that experiment, which took place in September of last year, NYU researchers led by Robert Montgomery sutured a pig thymokidney onto the leg of a brain-dead 66-year-old woman. That case was widely reported on by a horde of major media outlets, including the New York Times, the BBC, and an in-depth feature by USA Today.

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Vlad Coric, Biohaven CEO

UP­DAT­ED: Fresh off $11.6B sale to Pfiz­er, New Bio­haven hits Phase III set­back just weeks af­ter Vlad Coric chalked up promise

When Pfizer bought up Biohaven’s migraine portfolio in the largest M&A deal of the year earlier this month, Biohaven CEO Vlad Coric promised the rest of the pipeline, which will live on under the umbrella of New Biohaven, still has a lot to offer. But that vision took a dent Monday as the drugmaker revealed it’s once again flopped on troriluzole.

The glutamate regulator failed to meet the primary endpoint on a Phase III study in patients with spinocerebellar ataxia, an inherited disorder that impairs a person’s ability to walk, speak and swallow. SCA can also lead to premature death.

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Bay­er sounds re­treat from a $670 mil­lion CAR-T pact in the wake of a pa­tient death

Two months after Atara Biotherapeutics hit the hold button on its lead CAR-T 2.0 therapy following a patient death, putting the company under the watchful eye of the FDA, its Big Pharma partners at Bayer are bowing out of a $670 million global alliance. And the move is forcing a revamp of Atara’s pipeline plans, even as research execs vow to continue work on the two drugs allied with Bayer 18 months ago, which delivered a $60 million cash upfront.

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Co­pay coupons gone wrong, again: Pfiz­er pays al­most $300K to set­tle com­plaints in four states

Pfizer has agreed to pay $290,000 to settle allegations of questionable copay coupon practices in Arizona, Colorado, Kansas, and Vermont from 2014 to 2018.

While the company has not admitted any wrongdoing as part of the settlement, Pfizer has agreed to issue restitution checks to about 5,000 consumers.

A Pfizer spokesperson said the company has “enhanced its co-pay coupons to alleviate the concerns raised by states and agreed to a $30,000 payment to each.”

Delaware court rules against Gilead and Astel­las in years-long patent case

A judge in Delaware has ruled against Astellas Pharma and Gilead in a long-running patent case over Pfizer-onwed Hospira’s generic version of Lexiscan.

The case kicked off in 2018, after Hospira submitted an Abbreviated New Drug Application (ANDA) for approval to market a generic version of Gilead’s Lexiscan. The drug is used in myocardial perfusion imaging (MPI), a type of nuclear stress test.

Taye Diggs (courtesy Idorsia)

Idor­sia inks an­oth­er celebri­ty en­dors­er deal with ac­tor and dad Taye Dig­gs as Qu­viviq in­som­nia am­bas­sador

Idorsia’s latest Quviviq insomnia campaign details the relatable dad story of a well-known celebrity — actor and Broadway star Taye Diggs.

Diggs stopped sleeping well after the birth of his son, now more than 10 years ago. Switching mom-and-dad nightly shifts to take care of a baby interrupted his sleep patterns and led to insomnia.

“When you’re lucky enough to be living out your dream and doing what you want, but because of something as simple as a lack of sleep, you’re unable to do that, it felt absolutely — it was treacherous,” he says in an interview-style video on the Quviviq website.

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Belén Garijo, Merck KGaA CEO (Kevin Wolf/AP Images for EMD Serono)

Mer­ck KGaA pumps €440M in­to ex­pand­ing and con­struct­ing Irish man­u­fac­tur­ing fa­cil­i­ties

The area of Ireland famous for Blarney Castle and its cliffsides along the Atlantic Ocean is seeing Merck KGaA expand its commitment there.

The German drug manufacturer is expanding its membrane and filtration manufacturing capabilities in Ireland. The company will invest approximately €440 million ($470 million) to increase membrane manufacturing capacity in Carrigtwohill, Ireland, and build a new manufacturing facility at Blarney Business Park, in County Cork, Ireland.

Rep. Katie Porter (D-CA) (Michael Brochstein/Sipa USA/Sipa via AP Images)

House Dems to Sen­ate lead­er­ship: Quick­ly move a rec­on­cil­i­a­tion bill with drug price ne­go­ti­a­tion re­forms

Twenty House Democrats, including Reps. Katie Porter of California and Susan Wild of Pennsylvania, are calling on Senate leaders to move quickly with a reconciliation bill (meaning they only need a simple majority for passage) with prescription drug pricing reforms, and to include adding new authority for Medicare to negotiate drug prices.

They also called on the Senate to specifically follow suit with the House passage of a $35 per month insulin cap (as Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer’s deadline for a vote on that provision has come and gone), and to cap Medicare Part D costs at $2,000 per year for seniors.