Shoot­ing for $100M IPO, Schrödinger takes the wraps off its five in­ter­nal drugs and dis­clos­es deal de­tails

Just be­fore last year’s JP Mor­gan con­fab kicked off, Schrödinger un­veiled its first ven­ture round fea­tur­ing in­sti­tu­tion­al in­vestors be­fore lat­er clos­ing the Se­ries E at $110 mil­lion. This time around, the com­pu­ta­tion­al drug dis­cov­ery ex­perts are in­sert­ing them­selves in­to the queue at the Nas­daq, gun­ning for a $100 mil­lion IPO.

Ramy Farid Schrödinger

Hav­ing honed its soft­ware ex­per­tise and built out its client base over three decades, Schrödinger boasts of a rev­enue stream that to­taled $66.6 mil­lion in 2018. But as it de­votes more of its at­ten­tion to its in­ter­nal pipeline, the New York com­pa­ny said it want­ed to in­crease their cap­i­tal­iza­tion and fi­nan­cial flex­i­bil­i­ty by en­ter­ing the pub­lic mar­ket. There’s al­so a hint of M&A plans to come.

The S-1 fil­ing shines a bright light on its hith­er­to stealthy pipeline, as well as the col­lab­o­ra­tion deals that it’s inked with mul­ti­ple bio­phar­ma play­ers.

Schrödinger’s en­try in­to pop­u­lar biotech con­scious­ness had a lot to do with Nim­bus and Mor­phic, two high-pro­file star­tups it’s helped launch and still holds stakes in. Nim­bus, in par­tic­u­lar, snagged a $1.2 bil­lion deal to sell fir­so­co­stat, an in­hibitor of acetyl-CoA car­boxy­lase with po­ten­tial in NASH, to Gilead. Of the $601.3 mil­lion that Nim­bus has ac­crued, $46 mil­lion has gone to Schrödinger, the fil­ing re­vealed.

“As our col­lab­o­ra­tion strat­e­gy has evolved, we are seek­ing to take more di­rect con­trol and re­spon­si­bil­i­ty for all as­pects of a drug dis­cov­ery project and own a high­er per­cent­age of the val­ue gen­er­at­ed in the com­plet­ed pro­grams,” Schrödinger, led by CEO Ramy Farid, wrote.

Karen Akin­sanya Schrödinger

One ex­am­ple of that is the pact with Take­da, where Schrödinger is keep­ing all the IP rights un­til their Japan­ese phar­ma part­ner de­cides to ex­er­cise its op­tion to li­cense the pro­grams. While the duo ini­tial­ly start­ed with three pro­grams in schiz­o­phre­nia, on­col­o­gy, and neu­rode­gen­er­a­tive dis­ease — Take­da has washed its hands of the schiz­o­phre­nia pro­gram. Then there’s Fax­i­an Ther­a­peu­tics, Schrödinger’s 50/50 joint ven­ture with Chi­nese CRO pow­er­house WuXi, and Bright An­gel Ther­a­peu­tics, the Cana­di­an biotech it found­ed with MaRS In­no­va­tion to fight fun­gal in­fec­tions and kept 33% own­er­ship of.

But nowhere is the de­sire to chart their own ther­a­peu­tic path more ful­ly ful­filled than in their in­ter­nal drug dis­cov­ery group, which is flour­ish­ing un­der the guid­ance of chief bio­med­ical sci­en­tist Karen Akin­sanya with 70 staffers and five pro­grams. We knew that all of them are geared to­wards can­cer, but Schrödinger fi­nal­ly re­vealed the tar­gets for the IPO:

  • SD­GR1: CDC7 in­hibitor to dis­rupt DNA repli­ca­tion ini­ti­a­tion in can­cer cells for sol­id tu­mors;
  • SD­GR2: WEE1 in­hibitor to trig­ger DNA break­age and apop­to­sis in sol­id tu­mor cells;
  • SD­GR3: MALT1 in­hibitor to block onco­genic ac­ti­va­tion of NF-kB among pa­tients with non-Hodgkin’s lym­phoma and chron­ic lym­pho­cyt­ic leukemia who are re­sis­tant to or have re­lapsed on BTK drugs;
  • SD­GR4: HIF-2 al­pha in­hibitor to treat re­nal cell car­ci­no­ma;
  • and SD­GR5: SOS1/KRAS in­hibitor, its can­di­date for the hot KRAS field.
Cony D’Cruz Schrödinger

David E. Shaw and the Gates Foun­da­tion, which pro­vid­ed the first fi­nanc­ing round and the sub­se­quent three, re­spec­tive­ly, re­main the biggest stock­hold­ers, al­though their stakes aren’t spelled out.

CEO Farid took home a $633,101 pay pack­age in 2019, about half of his com­pen­sa­tion in 2018, which in­clud­ed an $80,000 bonus. Chief busi­ness of­fi­cer Cony D’Cruz was re­ward­ed $587,601 for his deal­mak­ing hus­tle while chief le­gal of­fi­cer Yvonne Tran re­ceived $547,618.

Ryan Watts, Denali CEO

Bio­gen hands De­nali $1B-plus in cash, $1B-plus in mile­stones to part­ner on late-stage Parkin­son’s drug

Biogen is handing over more than a billion dollars cash to partner with the up-and-coming neurosciences crew at Denali on a new therapy for Parkinson’s. And the big biotech is ready to pile on more than a billion dollars more in milestones — if the alliance is a success.

For Biogen $BIIB, the move on Denali’s small molecule inhibitors of LRRK2 puts them in line to collaborate on a late-stage program for DNL151, which is scheduled to start next year.

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In sur­pris­ing set­back, com­bo of Roche’s Tecen­triq and chemo fails to help pa­tients with triple-neg­a­tive breast can­cer

Roche broke ground last year when they secured the first FDA approval for a checkpoint therapy in triple-negative breast cancer, a notoriously difficult-to-treat indication that has been passed over by the wave of targeted therapies.

Now, though, doctors are puzzling over why a combination of drugs meant to make that therapy more potent instead appeared to make it less effective.

Roche said Thursday that in a Phase III trial, combining their PD-1/L1 checkpoint therapy Tecentriq with the chemotherapy paclitaxel, did not significantly improve progression-free survival for patients with locally advanced or metastatic triple-negative breast cancer over giving those patients chemotherapy alone. In fact, patients on the Tecentriq-chemo arm had lower overall survival than patients on chemo, although the drugmaker cautioned that the trial was not powered for that endpoint and the data were immature.

President Trump speaks with members of the media before boarding Marine One (AP Images)

'Oc­to­ber is com­ing,' and every­one still wants to know if a Covid-19 vac­cine will be whisked through the FDA ahead of the elec­tion

Right on the heels of a lengthy assurance from FDA commissioner Stephen Hahn that the agency will not rush through a quick approval for a Covid-19 vaccine, the President of the United States has some thoughts on timing he’d like to share.

In an exchange with Fox News’ Geraldo Rivera on Thursday, President Trump allowed that a vaccine could be ready to roll “sooner than the end of the year, could be much sooner.”

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Yvonne Greenstreet, incoming Alnylam president (Alnylam)

Al­ny­lam pres­i­dent Bar­ry Greene leaves af­ter 17 years, hand­ing po­si­tion over to Yvonne Green­street as biotech looks to­ward prof­itabil­i­ty

After 17 years helping Alnylam steer control of buzzy but unproven science they promised could change medicine, president Barry Greene is leaving the RNAi biotech just as that technology is beginning to hit prime time.

Leaving to “pursue outside interests in the biopharmaceutical industry,” the longtime executive will hand over the reins on October 1 to current COO Yvonne Greenstreet. Greenstreet, a former Pfizer and GlaxoSmithKline executive, inherits the high-profile spot at a company that’s proven its tech can work in rare diseases but now faces the daunting task of turning a couple successes and a new mountain of cash into drugs that are broadly applicable and, crucially, profitable.

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Covid-19 roundup: 34 AGs call for ‘march-in’ rights on remde­sivir; Hahn pleads with pub­lic to trust FDA's vac­cine re­view

A bipartisan group of 34 attorneys general have asked the federal government to bypass Gilead’s patent rights on remdesivir and begin scaling and distributing the Covid-19 antiviral, or to allow the states to do it themselves.

In a letter to HHS secretary Alex Azar, the AGs expressed frustrations over the $3,250 price tag Gilead placed on the the drug, citing the federal funding that went into its developments. And they noted the sustained difficulties hospitals have faced in getting supplies from either the California biotech or their contract manufacturer AmerisourceBergen.

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UP­DAT­ED: No­vavax her­alds the lat­est pos­i­tive snap­shot of ear­ly-stage Covid-19 vac­cine — so why did its stock briefly crater?

High-flying Novavax $NVAX became the latest of the Covid-19 vaccine players to stake out a positive set of biomarker data from its early-stage look at its vaccine in humans.

Their adjuvanted Covid-19 vaccine was “well-tolerated and elicited robust antibody responses numerically superior to that seen in human convalescent sera,” the company noted. According to the biotech:

All subjects developed anti-spike IgG antibodies after a single dose of vaccine, many of them also developing wild-type virus neutralizing antibody responses, and after Dose 2, 100% of participants developed wild-type virus neutralizing antibody responses. Both anti-spike IgG and viral neutralization responses compared favorably to responses from patients with clinically significant COVID‑19 disease. Importantly, the IgG antibody response was highly correlated with neutralization titers, demonstrating that a significant proportion of antibodies were functional.

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Jan Hatzius (Photographer: Christopher Goodney/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

When will it end? Gold­man econ­o­mist gives late-stage vac­cines a good shot at tar­get­ing 'large shares' of the US by mid-2021 — but the down­side is daunt­ing

It took decades for hepatitis B research to deliver a slate of late-stage candidates capable of reining the disease in.

With Covid-19, the same timeline has devoured all of 5 months. And the outcome will influence the lives of billions of people and a multitrillion-dollar world economy.

Count the economists at Goldman Sachs as optimistic that at least one of these leading vaccines will stay on this furiously accelerated pace and get over the regulatory goal line before the end of this year, with a shot at several more near-term OKs. That in turn should lead to the production of billions of doses of vaccines that can create herd immunity in the US by the middle of next year, with Europe following a few months later.

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J&J gets a fresh OK for es­ke­t­a­mine, but is it re­al­ly the game-chang­er for de­pres­sion Trump keeps tweet­ing about?

Backed by an enthusiastic set of tweets from President Trump and a landmark OK for depression, J&J scooped up a new approval from the FDA for Spravato today. But this latest advance will likely bring fresh scrutiny to a drug that’s spurred some serious questions about the data, as well as the price.

First, the approval.

Regulators stamped their OK on the use of Spravato — developed as esketamine, a nasal spray version of the party drug Special K or ketamine — for patients suffering from major depressive disorder with acute suicidal ideation or behavior.

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Douglas Fambrough, Dicerna CEO (Boehringer Ingelheim via YouTube)

Roche-backed Dicer­na push­es in­to the pack rac­ing to­ward the block­buster hep B goal line, armed with PhI da­ta

Dicerna has lined up a set of proof-of-concept data from a small cohort of hepatitis B patients in a match-up against some heavyweight rivals which got out in front of this race. And right in the front row you’ll find a team from Roche, which paid $200 million in cash and offered another $1.5 billion in milestones to partner with Dicerna $DRNA on their RNAi program for hep B.

Right now it’s looking competitive, with lots of big challenges ahead.

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