Leen Kawas, Athira

Seat­tle-based Athi­ra, aim­ing for tough Alzheimer's and Parkin­son's tar­gets, rais­es $204M for IPO

Fol­low­ing an $85 mil­lion Se­ries B round back in June, Athi­ra Phar­ma is set to be­come the third biotech in the last three days to go pub­lic Fri­day.

Athi­ra raised $204 mil­lion for its IPO af­ter pric­ing shares at $17 apiece, the high-point of its ex­pect­ed range. Ini­tial­ly peg­ging $100 mil­lion in fi­nanc­ing, Athi­ra said it of­fered 12 mil­lion to­tal shares and will trade un­der the tick­er $ATHA.

Now that Athi­ra plans to hit the Nas­daq, there have been more than 50 biotech IPOs this year, more than the to­tal from last year. Com­bined, the com­pa­nies have raised more than $11 bil­lion. Over half of those biotechs, in­clud­ing Athi­ra, raised at least $200 mil­lion each.

It’s al­so ap­proach­ing the 56 in­dus­try IPOs to oc­cur two years ago, per in­de­pen­dent an­a­lyst Brad Lon­car.

Athi­ra pro­vid­ed a de­tailed out­line with­in its S-1 of how it plans to use funds from the raise, il­lus­trat­ing that much of the mon­ey will be used to boost de­vel­op­ment for its lead ATH-1017 pro­gram, for­mer­ly dubbed NDX-1017. About $75 mil­lion will fund two tri­als in Alzheimer’s dis­ease, in­clud­ing a Phase II/III tri­al mea­sur­ing two dosage lev­els and a sep­a­rate Phase II tri­al, while an­oth­er $20 mil­lion will fund a Phase II study in Parkin­son’s de­men­tia.

An ad­di­tion­al $30 mil­lion is slat­ed to fund IND-en­abling stud­ies of two prod­ucts fur­ther down the pipeline — ATH-1019, for the treat­ment of neu­ropsy­chi­atric in­di­ca­tions, and ATH-1018, in neu­ropa­thy. It’s worth not­ing, how­ev­er, that these es­ti­mates were based on as­sump­tions of low­er IPO rais­es.

ATH-1017 fol­lows a fa­mil­iar strat­e­gy in Alzheimer’s re­search in tar­get­ing the dam­aged synap­tic net­work. But the com­pound fo­cus­es on a rel­a­tive­ly un­ex­plored path­way, the he­pa­to­cyte growth fac­tor (HGF), as well as its MET re­cep­tor. If suc­cess­ful, the pro­gram would re­gen­er­ate af­flict­ed tis­sue.

The com­pa­ny has got­ten this far thanks to a Per­cep­tive-led $85 mil­lion Se­ries B back in June, buoyed by da­ta in a Phase Ib that showed pa­tients tak­ing the ATH-1017 can­di­date were able to rec­og­nize a se­ries of re­peat­ed tones more quick­ly than the place­bo group. For those with de­men­tia, the nor­mal recog­ni­tion falls with­in a 400 to 450-mil­lisec­ond range, and the tri­al’s base­line was 390 mil­lisec­onds. The drug arm of the tri­al, which en­rolled just sev­en pa­tients, saw the av­er­age fall to 311 mil­lisec­onds, com­pared to no change in the four-pa­tient place­bo arm.

Joe Edel­man

Athi­ra will be go­ing up against some strong head­winds, as many Alzheimer’s pro­grams that have come be­fore have not proved promis­ing. Most promi­nent­ly, Bio­gen reg­is­tered fail­ures in sev­er­al high-pro­file stud­ies look­ing in­to the amy­loid be­ta the­o­ry. The com­pa­ny court­ed con­tro­ver­sy af­ter in­clud­ing APOe4 car­ri­ers, who are at a high­er risk of the dis­ease, in the low­er-dose arm of one of their tri­als with­out tak­ing them out of the place­bo group.

Per­cep­tive’s Joe Edel­man will own an 11.6% stake in the com­pa­ny, with CEO Leen Kawas get­ting 9.3% of shares.

The top 100 bio­phar­ma VCs, Bob Brad­way places $2B bet in can­cer, gene edit­ing pi­o­neer's new big idea, and more

Welcome back to Endpoints Weekly, your review of the week’s top biopharma headlines. Want this in your inbox every Saturday morning? Current Endpoints readers can visit their reader profile to add Endpoints Weekly. New to Endpoints? Sign up here.

Before diving in, we had some news to share: Endpoints is launching a premium weekly report focusing on all things regulatory. Coverage will be led by our new senior editor, Zachary Brennan, who joins us from POLITICO. Arsalan Arif has more details in his Publisher’s Note.

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 102,900+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

Robert Bradway (Photographer: Scott Eisen/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

UP­DAT­ED: Am­gen snaps up can­cer drug play­er Five Prime, adding PhI­II-ready FGFR2b drug in $2B M&A play

Amgen is making a long-awaited move on the M&A side, buying South San Francisco-based Five Prime $FPRX for close to $2 billion and adding a slate of new cancer drugs to the pipeline.

Amgen is paying $38 a share, putting the deal value at $1.9 billion. The stock closed at $21.26 last night, giving investors a 78% premium.

The jewel in the crown of this deal is bemarituzumab, which Amgen describes as a first-in-class, Phase III-ready anti-FGFR2b antibody. Amgen was drawn to the bargaining table by Five Prime’s mid-stage data on gastric cancer, satisfied by PFS and OS data helping to validate FGFR2b as a target. Amgen researchers will now expand on the R&D program in other epithelial cancers, including lung, breast, ovarian and other cancers.

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 102,900+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

UP­DAT­ED: Not 3 weeks af­ter tak­ing Hu­ma­cyte pub­lic, Ra­jiv Shuk­la launch­es an­oth­er blank check com­pa­ny

One of biotech’s earliest SPAC investors is back with another blank-check company, less than a month after his last effort announced its intent to merge.

Rajiv Shukla is intending to take a third lucky winner public with Alpha Healthcare Acquisition III, filing to go public Thursday with a $150 million raise penciled in. The move comes just a couple of weeks after Shukla’s second SPAC said it would jump to Nasdaq in tandem with Laura Niklason’s Humacyte in a $255 million new investment.

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 102,900+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

David Liu (Casey Atkins Photography courtesy Broad Institute)

David Liu has a new big idea: pro­teome edit­ing. It could one day shred tau, RAS and some of the worst dis­ease-caus­ing pro­teins

Before David Liu became famous for inventing new forms of gene editing, he was known around academia in part for a more obscure innovation: a Rube Goldberg-esque system that uses bacteria-infecting viruses to take one protein and turn it into another.

Since 2011, Liu’s lab has used the system, called PACE, to dream up fantastical new proteins: DNA base editors far more powerful than the original; more versatile forms of the gene editor Cas9; insecticides that kill insecticide-resistant bugs; enzymes that slide synthetic amino acids into living organisms. But they struggled throughout to master one of the most common and powerful proteins in the biological world: proteases, a set of Swiss army knife enzymes that cut, cleave or shred other proteins in everything from viruses to humans.

Endpoints Premium

Premium subscription required

Unlock this article along with other benefits by subscribing to one of our paid plans.

The 2021 top 100 bio­phar­ma in­vestors: As the pan­dem­ic hit and IPOs boomed, VCs swung in­to ac­tion like nev­er be­fore

The global pandemic may have roiled economies, killed hundreds of thousands and throttled entire industries, but the only effect it had on biopharma venture investing was to help turbocharge the field to giddy new heights.

Below you’ll find the new top 100 venture investors in the industry, ranked by the number of deals they were publicly involved in, as tracked by DealForma chief Chris Dokomajilar. The numbers master then calculated the estimated amount of money they put into each deal — divvying up the cash by the number of players — to indicate how they managed their syndicates.

Endpoints Premium

Premium subscription required

Unlock this article along with other benefits by subscribing to one of our paid plans.

Bruce Cozadd, Jazz CEO (Jazz Pharmaceuticals)

Jazz CEO Bruce Cozadd cam­paigned for 6 months to buy GW Phar­ma. A 90% pre­mi­um sealed the deal — along with $17.6M in ‘re­ten­tion’ in­cen­tives

Jazz CEO Bruce Cozadd didn’t beat around the bush.

In his first video meeting with GW Pharma chief Justin Gover last July 8, he offered to pay $172 a share to get the company, which had beaten the odds in getting its remarkable cannabinoid drug Epidiolex across the regulatory finish line for epilepsy. GW’s stock closed at $129 that day.

Cozadd had already done his homework on the financing to make sure he could swing it the way he wanted. He just needed to do some due diligence before making the non-binding bid firm.

Paul Hudson, Getty Images

How does Paul Hud­son's $13.5M comp pack­age stack up against oth­er CEOs? He's in the 'first quar­tile'

Paul Hudson arrived at Sanofi like a hurricane, chopping off duds in the pipeline, shaking up the C-suite, striking big M&A deals and jumping into the Covid-19 vaccine race — all in an attempt to reboot a pharma giant notorious for its setbacks.

Now, we’re getting a look at what the CEO brought home in his first year on the job.

When all is said and done, Hudson will have made about $6.7 million in 2020, about $2.5 million of which has already been paid. The bigger figure includes a $2.3 million bonus that’s subject to approval at an April meeting, and another $1.8 million in variable compensation that has yet to be paid.

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 102,900+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

An Ar­ray co-founder re-emerges as CEO of a small aca­d­e­m­ic spin­out, look­ing to re­make an old class of can­cer drugs

Tony Piscopio hadn’t worked as a bench scientist in years when, around 2011, he got put in touch with a team at the University of Colorado trying to revitalize an old approach to treating cancer.

Piscopio, who had co-founded Array Biopharma before heading to South Korea to launch a new company, was back in the states, unattached and intrigued. He founded a three-person company with two professors, Xuedong Liu and Gail Eckhardt, and while they worked on the biology side, he returned to his old chemist chair and began drawing up potential compounds on a computer, along with manufacturing processes to make them. Outsourcing companies synthesized or analyzed the results.

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 102,900+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

Af­ter three years of courtship (and turn­downs), Mer­ck pounced on the first glance of clin­i­cal da­ta in $1.85B Pan­dion takeover

It’s almost become cliché for biotech executives to talk about the importance of keeping your options open and being prepared to go all the way. But when it comes to negotiating with a giant like Merck, a little patience can indeed go a long way.

Just ask Pandion Therapeutics.

Days ago we already learned that Merck is shelling out $1.85 billion to pick up the biotech and its slate of autoimmune hopefuls. What we didn’t know until the SEC disclosure dropped Thursday is that the deal comes after Pandion turned down two other proposals from Merck over the past three years and held out until the last minute for a sweetened deal.

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 102,900+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.