Chris Gibson, Recursion CEO (Vaughn Ridley/Sportsfile for Web Summit via Getty Images)

Re­cur­sion will take its AI plat­form pub­lic in lat­est IPO fil­ing, while rare heart mu­ta­tion biotech jumps on SPAC train

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The IPO mar­ket con­tin­ues to churn, with a promi­nent AI drug de­vel­op­er be­com­ing the lat­est biotech to reg­is­ter with the SEC.

Re­cur­sion Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals filed its S-1 pa­per­work late Mon­day, com­ing about six months af­ter com­plet­ing a $239 mil­lion Se­ries D round and se­cur­ing a deal with Bay­er worth up to $1 bil­lion. The Salt Lake City-based biotech is pen­cil­ing in a $100 mil­lion IPO raise for now, but could have its sights set on a much high­er fig­ure.

Biotech IPOs have re­mained hot in the first quar­ter fol­low­ing a record year in 2020, when the in­dus­try saw 91 pub­lic de­buts with a col­lec­tive $16.5 bil­lion raised, per Nas­daq. Through the first two and a half months of 2021, the in­dus­try has raised a com­bined $3.81 bil­lion among 22 biotechs that have priced, per the End­points News tal­ly.

And af­ter a brief cool down to­ward the end of Feb­ru­ary, the mar­ket start­ed heat­ing back up again last week when four biotechs priced, mark­ing the sec­ond-busiest week of 2021. That ti­tle, how­ev­er, be­longs to the first cal­en­dar week of Feb­ru­ary, when 10 com­pa­nies went pub­lic.

Re­cur­sion’s Se­ries D marked one of the largest, if not the sin­gle largest, fund­ing rounds for an ar­ti­fi­cial-in­tel­li­gence-fo­cused biotech. The Bay­er deal al­so sig­ni­fied an im­por­tant rev­enue stream for the biotech, with Bay­er promis­ing up to $100 mil­lion in mile­stones for each of up to 10 pro­grams the com­pa­nies could pur­sue.

The com­pa­ny’s AI ap­proach cen­ters around a 100,000 square-foot ware­house in down­town Salt Lake City, where ro­bots take Petri dish­es of dif­fer­ent cell types and knock out dif­fer­ent genes. They’re con­stant­ly tak­ing pic­tures in the process, with the dif­fer­ences be­ing too small for a hu­man eye to dif­fer­en­ti­ate. But their com­put­ers can, and by do­ing so pick up pat­terns to in­di­cate what can make a cell sick and which genes, when tar­get­ed, can make them healthy.

With­in its S-1, Re­cur­sion sig­naled a broad de­vel­op­ment push across its pipeline. The biotech plans to fo­cus the funds on Phase II tri­als for four of its pro­grams: REC-4881 for fa­mil­ial ade­no­ma­tous poly­po­sis, REC-3599 for GM2 gan­gliosi­do­sis, REC-2282 for neu­rofi­bro­mato­sis type 2 and REC-994 for cere­bral cav­ernous mal­for­ma­tion.

There are al­so plans to use some of the mon­ey on six of the biotech’s pre­clin­i­cal can­di­dates, in­clud­ing Bat­ten dis­ease, sol­id and hema­to­log­i­cal ma­lig­nan­cies and the lead mol­e­cule for the treat­ment of C. dif­fi­cile col­i­tis.

Rare heart mu­ta­tion biotech Ren­o­va­cor rides $116M SPAC to Nas­daq

An­oth­er biotech has gone pub­lic via the SPAC route, which like tra­di­tion­al IPOs, has seen a hefty rise in the in­dus­try over the last year.

Tues­day’s win­ner is Ren­o­va­cor, pulling off a re­verse-merg­er with Chardan Cap­i­tal Mar­kets’ sec­ond blank check com­pa­ny. Once the deal clos­es in the sec­ond quar­ter, Ren­o­va­cor will see pro­ceeds of $116 mil­lion and list on Nas­daq un­der the new tick­er $RCOR.

SPACs con­tin­ue to be all the rage on Wall Street, with sev­er­al no­table back­ers list­ing new hold­ing com­pa­nies and tak­ing them pub­lic re­cent­ly. Fore­site and Per­cep­tive both launched new SPACs ear­li­er this year, and Richard Bran­son took bio­phar­ma by storm when his blank check com­pa­ny merged with 23andMe in Feb­ru­ary.

Ren­o­va­cor’s raise is ex­pect­ed to help the biotech ad­vance its lead pro­gram in­to Phase I/II stud­ies, which is an AAV‑based gene ther­a­py for pa­tients suf­fer­ing from di­lat­ed car­diomy­opa­thy due to mu­ta­tions in the BAG3 gene. An IND sub­mis­sion is ex­pect­ed for mid-2022 with the tri­al be­gin­ning “short­ly there­after,” the com­pa­ny said.

DCM pa­tients are typ­i­cal­ly treat­ed with a cock­tail of treat­ments in­clud­ing ACE in­hibitors, be­ta-block­ers, wa­ter pills and blood thin­ners. Ren­o­va­cor’s ex­per­i­men­tal ther­a­py is en­gi­neered to re­place the gene to re­store func­tion.

The biotech had raised $11 mil­lion in a Se­ries A back in Au­gust 2019.

How Pa­tients with Epilep­sy Ben­e­fit from Re­al-World Da­ta

Amanda Shields, Principal Data Scientist, Scientific Data Steward

Keith Wenzel, Senior Business Operations Director

Andy Wilson, Scientific Lead

Real-world data (RWD) has the potential to transform the drug development industry’s efforts to predict and treat seizures for patients with epilepsy. Anticipating or controlling an impending seizure can significantly increase quality of life for patients with epilepsy. However, because RWD is secondary data originally collected for other purposes, the challenge is selecting, harmonizing, and analyzing the data from multiple sources in a way that helps support patients.

$DNA is once again on NYSE; FDA clears Soliris chal­lenger for the mar­ket; Flag­ship’s think­ing big again with eR­NA; and more

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Michael Dell (Richard Drew, AP Images)

'Dude, you're get­ting a Del­l' — as a new deep-pock­et biotech in­vestor

What happens when you marry longtime insiders in the global biotech VC game with the family fund of tech billionaire Michael Dell, a synthetic biology legend out of MIT and Harvard and the former director of the NCI?

Today, the answer is a newly financed, $200 million biotech SPAC now cruising the industry for a top player interested in finding a short cut to Nasdaq.

Orion Biotech Opportunities priced their blank check company today, raising $200 million with Dell’s multibillion-dollar MSD group’s commitment on investing another $20 million in a forward-purchase agreement.

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Gene ther­a­py from Bio­gen's $800M buy­out flops in mid-stage study, deal­ing blow to new am­bi­tions

The #2 candidate from Biogen’s $800 million ocular gene therapy buyout has failed in a mid-stage trial, dealing an early blow to the big biotech’s plans to revitalize its pipeline with new technologies.

Biogen announced that the candidate, an experimental treatment for a rare and progressive form of blindness called X-linked retinitis pigmentosa (XLRP), failed to sufficiently improve vision in patients’ treated eye — patients only received an injection in one eye — after a year, on a standard scale, compared to their untreated eye. The company said they saw “positive trends” on several secondary endpoints, including visual acuity, but declined to say whether the trial actually hit any of those endpoints.

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Vas Narasimhan (Photographer: Simon Dawson/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

No­var­tis whiffs on En­tresto study af­ter heart at­tacks — but that does­n't mean it's go­ing down qui­et­ly

If Novartis learned one thing from its interaction with the FDA over its latest heart failure approval for Entresto, it was that missing a primary endpoint may not be the nail in the coffin. Now, Entresto has missed again on a late-stage study in high-risk heart patients, and it’s already sowing the seeds for a path forward regardless.

Novartis’ Entresto couldn’t best standard-of-care ramipril in staving off a composite of deaths and heart failure events in patients with left ventricular systolic dysfunction and/or pulmonary congestion who have had a prior heart attack, according to topline data from the Phase III PARADISE-MI study revealed Saturday at the virtual American College of Cardiology meeting.

Jason Kelly (Photographer: Kyle Grillot/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Gink­go nabs $DNA, biotech's most sought af­ter tick­er, for free in sweet­en­er from NYSE

When Ginkgo went comparison shopping for a financial market to list their now $15 billion company, the New York Stock Exchange had a back-pocket sweetener the Nasdaq couldn’t offer: The most sought-after ticker in biotech, $DNA.

DNA — the most famous three letters in biology and the ticker for the world’s first biotech, Genentech, from 1999 until it was bought out by Roche for $48 billion in 2009 — will now be the ticker for Ginkgo, a 12-year-old synthetic biology startup with grand ambitions to change not only how drugs, but also everyday products like meat and perfumes, are made.

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Lark­spur Health Ac­qui­si­tion files to go pub­lic as this year's SPAC flood surges over $14B

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Another day, another SPAC vying for a spot on Nasdaq.

On Wednesday, OncoSec Medical CEO Daniel O’Connor filed the S-1 paperwork for a new blank-check company he’s leading called Larkspur Health Acquisition. The former Advaxis chief penciled in a $75 million raise, with plans to offer 7.5 million shares at $10 apiece.

BAR­DA slows its $9B en­gine for new Covid-19 ther­a­peu­tics

The Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority is cooling its jets in looking for new, potential Covid-19 treatments, at least in the near term.

An HHS spokesperson told Endpoints News via email, “to date, BARDA has obligated more than $9 billion for the development and/or purchase of 13 therapeutics, beginning in February 2020 with support to develop Regeneron’s monoclonal antibody therapeutic. Therapeutics are an important element of the COVID-19 response, and we are focused on the programs currently underway and/or in negotiation using the funds available to us.”

Bris­tol My­ers backs up its case for heart drug mava­camten as FDA weighs app in car­diomy­opa­thy

When Bristol Myers Squibb signed off on its $13 billion acquisition of MyoKardia back in October, it was making a big bet that lead drug mavacamten could prove a game changer in cardiac myopathy. Now, with the drug up for FDA review, Bristol Myers is backing up its case with new quality of life data.

Patients dosed with myosin inhibitor mavacamten posted a clinically significant increase in scores on the Kansas City Cardiomyopathy Questionnaire, a catch-all summary of symptoms and quality of life markers, over placebo at 30 weeks, according to data from the Phase III EXPLORER-HCM study presented Saturday at the virtual American College of Cardiology meeting.