Seat­tle Ge­net­ics throws in the tow­el on $2B Im­munomedics deal, CEO and CSO axed in set­tle­ment

Be­hzad Ag­haz­adeh, ven­Bio

The ac­tivist in­vest­ment group ven­Bio has brought down a high pro­file, $2 bil­lion col­lab­o­ra­tion deal — with $300 mil­lion in up front cash — be­tween Seat­tle Ge­net­ics and Im­munomedics. And the peace agree­ment they signed is tied to the res­ig­na­tions of the CEO and CSO at Im­munomedics, who led the coun­ter­at­tack against ven­Bio, which now has to­tal con­trol of the biotech.

A few months ago the two com­pa­nies tied up in a deal that gave Seat­tle Ge­net­ics glob­al rights to Im­munomedics’ IM­MU-132, putting them in charge of a late-stage study of the drug for metasta­t­ic triple neg­a­tive breast can­cer while look­ing for an ac­cel­er­at­ed ap­proval.

Clay Sie­gall, Seat­tle Ge­net­ics

But ven­Bio fought back, hard, say­ing the op­tion deal gave Seat­tle Ge­net­ics the right to ac­quire a big chunk of Im­munomedics’ stock at a deep dis­count, de­stroy­ing share­hold­ers val­ue in a “bla­tant and shame­ful ma­neu­ver by the cur­rent Board and man­age­ment to… en­trench them­selves at the ex­pense of stock­hold­ers’ best in­ter­ests.” And the group tar­get­ed CEO Cyn­thia Sul­li­van along with her hus­band and Im­munomedics chief sci­en­tif­ic of­fi­cer David Gold­en­berg for en­rich­ing them­selves at the ex­pense of in­vestors.

In ear­ly March, ven­Bio won board seats for four of their can­di­dates, and with the deal yet to close, promised a thor­ough re­view. They sought an in­junc­tion to pause the deal, and to­day Seat­tle Ge­net­ics is throw­ing in the tow­el and walk­ing away. The war­ring par­ties agreed to set­tle their dis­pute, while Seat­tle Ge­net­ics holds on to 3 mil­lion shares of Im­munomedics com­mon stock and a war­rant to pur­chase an ad­di­tion­al 8.7 mil­lion shares at $4.90 per share ex­er­cis­able un­til the end of this year.

Sul­li­van and Gold­en­berg have both agreed to re­sign from their po­si­tions at the com­pa­ny, ac­cord­ing to an 8-K filed to­day. And they will get $3.4 mil­lion and $3.6 mil­lion re­spec­tive­ly, as out­lined in their em­ploy­ment agree­ments. Gold­en­berg re­mains on the board. And ven­Bio will get re­im­bursed by the com­pa­ny for its le­gal fees in the bat­tle. CFO Michael R. Garone has been named as the in­ter­im CEO un­til they find a per­ma­nent re­place­ment for the post.

In­vestors seem to like the way this has turned out, bid­ding up Im­munomedics’ shares by 20%. But Seat­tle Ge­net­ics CEO Clay Sie­gall didn’t sound hap­py in his good­bye note.

“The Im­munomedics trans­ac­tion would have ef­fec­tive­ly uti­lized our sub­stan­tial ex­per­tise in an­ti­body-drug con­ju­gate (ADC) de­vel­op­ment to ad­vance IM­MU-132 for pa­tients in need,” said Sie­gall in a state­ment. “How­ev­er, due to sig­nif­i­cant de­lays and lack of progress to­wards clos­ing the deal, we are turn­ing our full at­ten­tion and re­sources to our promis­ing pipeline and the sub­stan­tial op­por­tu­ni­ties in front of us, in­clud­ing the up­com­ing topline da­ta read­out from the AD­CETRIS ECH­E­LON-1 tri­al and on­go­ing or planned piv­otal tri­als of vadas­tux­imab talirine (SGN-CD33A) and en­for­tum­ab ve­dotin (ASG-22ME).”

Roivant par­lays a $450M chunk of eq­ui­ty in biotech buy­out, grab­bing a com­pu­ta­tion­al group to dri­ve dis­cov­ery work

New Roivant CEO Matt Gline has crafted an all-equity upfront deal to buy out a Boston-based biotech that has been toiling for several years now at building a supercomputing-based computational platform to design new drugs. And he’s adding it to the Erector set of science operations that are being built up to support their network of biotech subsidiaries with an eye to growing the pipeline in a play to create a new kind of pharma company.

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Tar­get­ing a Po­ten­tial Vul­ner­a­bil­i­ty of Cer­tain Can­cers with DNA Dam­age Re­sponse

Every individual’s DNA is unique, and because of this, every patient responds differently to disease and treatment. It is astonishing how four tiny building blocks of our DNA – A, T, C, G – dictate our health, disease, and how we age.

The tricky thing about DNA is that it is constantly exposed to damage by sources such as ultraviolet light, certain chemicals, toxins, and even natural biochemical processes inside our cells.¹ If ignored, DNA damage will accumulate in replicating cells, giving rise to mutations that can lead to premature aging, cancer, and other diseases.

Ken Frazier, Merck CEO (Bess Adler/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

UP­DAT­ED: Mer­ck takes a swing at the IL-2 puz­zle­box with a $1.85B play for buzzy Pan­dion and its au­toim­mune hope­fuls

When Roger Perlmutter bid farewell to Merck late last year, the drugmaker perhaps best known now for sales giant Keytruda signaled its intent to take a swing at early-stage novelty with the appointment of discovery head Dean Li. Now, Merck is signing a decent-sized check to bring an IL-2 moonshot into the fold.

Merck will shell out roughly $1.85 billion for Pandion Pharmaceuticals, a biotech hoping to gin up regulatory T cells (Tregs) to treat a range of autoimmune disorders, the drugmaker said Thursday.

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Fol­low biotechs go­ing pub­lic with the End­points News IPO Track­er

The Endpoints News team is continuing to track IPO filings for 2021, and we’ve designed a new tracker page for the effort.

Check it out here: Biopharma IPOs 2021 from Endpoints News

You’ll be able to find all the biotechs that have filed and priced so far this year, sortable by quarter and listed by newest first. As of the time of publishing on Feb. 25, there have already been 16 biotechs debuting on Nasdaq so far this year, with an additional four having filed their S-1 paperwork.

Doug Ingram (file photo)

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Sarepta may be running into some trouble with its next-gen gene therapy approach to Duchenne muscular dystrophy. But when it comes to antisense oligonucleotides, the well-trodden regulatory path is still leading straight to an accelerated approval for casimersen, now christened Amondys 45.

We just have to wait until 2024 to find out if it works.

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Covid-19 roundup: Mer­ck­'s $356M sup­ply deal on hold as FDA asks for more da­ta; FDA ap­proves Pfiz­er/BioN­Tech vac­cine stor­age at stan­dard freez­er temps

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The antibody, MK-7110, had looked promising in a Phase III study conducted by OncoImmune before Merck came along and bought the biotech for $425 million. At the interim analysis, investigators looked at data from 203 patients and concluded that a single dose of the drug cut the risk of death or respiratory failure by more than 50% among severe patients. And those taking the drug had a 60% higher chance of improvement in clinical status compared to placebo.

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CEO Fred Aslan (Artiva)

NK cell ther­a­py play­er Arti­va makes some more noise, pulling in $120M Se­ries B less than a month af­ter Mer­ck deal

Not even one month after Big Pharma took notice of Artiva when Merck signed a collaboration worth nearly $2 billion in milestones, the off-the-shelf NK cell biotech already has its next big fundraise.

Artiva returns from the venture well Friday with a $120 million Series B round, money they will use to get their first program into the clinic and to file INDs for another two candidates. The raise marks the latest development in a rapidly expanding footprint for Artiva, which, in addition to the Merck deal last month, has now raised almost $200 million since its Series A last June.

Fatty liver conceptual image, 3D illustration showing fatty liver silhouette made from micrograph of liver steatosis (Shutterstock)

The path to NASH: un­der­stand­ing the role of se­vere obe­si­ty in a com­plex, mul­ti-sys­tem dis­ease

Biotech Voices is a collection of exclusive opinion editorials from some of the leading voices in biopharma on the biggest industry questions today. Think you have a voice that should be heard? Reach out to senior editors Kyle Blankenship and Amber Tong.

We often think a person’s transition from a healthy to a diseased state is binary. But that’s often not the case. In reality, the onset of a disease is not something that occurs overnight, and the majority lie on a continuum that is impacted by a multitude of factors. Some of these factors are in a patient’s control. Others are not.

This is the case in nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) and nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH), two of the most complex diseases that “live” on this proverbial continuum. The clinical onset of NAFLD — and ultimately NASH — is a complex process that is closely related to obesity, insulin resistance and impaired adipose tissue metabolism.

Steve Cutler, Icon CEO (Icon)

In the biggest CRO takeover in years, Icon doles out $12B for PRA Health Sci­ences to fo­cus on de­cen­tral­ized clin­i­cal work

Contract research M&A had a healthy run in recent years before recently petering out. But with the market ripe for a big buyout and the Covid-19 pandemic emphasizing the importance of decentralized trials, Wednesday saw a tectonic shift in the CRO world.

Icon, the Dublin-based CRO, will acquire PRA Health Sciences for $12 billion in a move that will shake up the highest rungs of a fragmented market. The merger would combine the 5th- and 6th-largest CROs by 2020 revenue, according to Icon, and the merger will set the newco up to be the second-largest global CRO behind only IQVIA.

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