Shut­down thrusts Gos­samer Bio on­to a rarely used path for fixed-price IPO

From day 1 Gos­samer has al­ways been a biotech in a hur­ry. And they’re not about to let a lit­tle thing like a gov­ern­ment shut­down stymy their plans for an IPO.

As the par­tial US gov­ern­ment shut­down con­tin­ues to par­a­lyze the SEC, Gos­samer Bio has elect­ed to use a rare and riski­er method to make the leap in­to Nas­daq. The biotech is fore­go­ing the typ­i­cal­ly lengthy SEC re­view of their prospec­tus to green­light the list­ing in fa­vor of en­abling their reg­is­tra­tion by lock­ing in their IPO price 20 days be­fore mak­ing a mar­ket de­but.

Ac­cord­ing to the amend­ed fil­ing, it plans to of­fer 14.4 mil­lion shares priced at $16/share, which will al­low the com­pa­ny to raise rough­ly $230 mil­lion in gross pro­ceeds. Mean­while, ex­ist­ing stock­hold­ers have in­di­cat­ed their in­ter­est in pur­chas­ing about $100 mil­lion in shares in the of­fer­ing at the IPO price of $16.

The San Diego-based biotech orig­i­nal­ly filed its prospec­tus with the SEC on De­cem­ber 21, one day pre­ced­ing the shut­down, but on Wednes­day amend­ed that fil­ing to re­flect its new plan to go pub­lic via the fixed-price IPO. This type of reg­is­tra­tion will al­low it to be­gin trad­ing on Feb­ru­ary 13 on the Nas­daq un­der the sym­bol $GOSS.

The road to an IPO can be long and lit­tered with SEC com­mu­ni­ca­tion that re­flects the agency’s deep dive in­to the com­pa­ny’s dis­clo­sures be­fore the green light is sanc­tioned, fol­low­ing which in­vestors in­di­cate their en­thu­si­asm or lack there­of by mak­ing bids on the high­er or low­er end of the price band of­fered. The ab­sence of an ex­plic­it SEC en­dorse­ment could serve to haunt the com­pa­ny lat­er down the line, if the dis­clo­sures made by the com­pa­ny come up short or the SEC ques­tions them up­on re­open­ing.

The Wall Street Jour­nal ear­li­er this week sug­gest­ed that Nas­daq has balked at the 20-day rule. Nev­er­the­less, Gos­samer will test the wa­ters and per­haps in­spire oth­ers to fol­low suit. TCR2 is al­so study­ing the IPO gam­bit, ac­cord­ing to the WSJ re­port.

The com­pa­ny, orig­i­nal­ly named FSG Bio, was found­ed by for­mer Re­cep­tos CMO Sheila Gu­jrathi and Fa­heem Has­nain, the ex-Re­cep­tos CEO, in 2015, short­ly af­ter Re­cep­tos was bought out by Cel­gene. Cur­rent­ly 14 se­nior ex­ec­u­tives and di­rec­tors to­geth­er hold near­ly 33% of the com­pa­ny, whose two biggest share­hold­ers are ARCH Ven­ture Part­ners with 17.5% and Omega Fund V with 15.1%.

Fa­heem Has­nain on stage at the End­points News / Pharm­Cube #BI­IS18 sum­mit in Shang­hai, Oc­to­ber 2018End­points News

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Gos­samer’s name is tied to the sym­bol­ism be­hind the gos­samer thread, a frag­ile, in­vis­i­ble con­nec­tion that binds re­la­tion­ships. The biotech is fo­cused on im­munol­o­gy, in­flam­ma­tion and on­col­o­gy, has three drugs in the clin­ic, and an­oth­er in pre­clin­i­cal test­ing.

Bo­fA Mer­rill Lynch, Leerink, Bar­clays, and Ever­core are the joint bookrun­ners on the deal.

BiTE® Plat­form and the Evo­lu­tion To­ward Off-The-Shelf Im­muno-On­col­o­gy Ap­proach­es

Despite rapid advances in the field of immuno-oncology that have transformed the cancer treatment landscape, many cancer patients are still left behind.1,2 Not every person has access to innovative therapies designed specifically to treat his or her disease. Many currently available immuno-oncology-based approaches and chemotherapies have brought long-term benefits to some patients — but many patients still need other therapeutic options.3

Joseph Kim, Inovio CEO (Andrew Harnik, AP Images)

Caught in a stand­off with its con­tract man­u­fac­tur­er over Covid-19 vac­cine, In­ovio files suit in an at­tempt to break free while ri­vals race ahead

Inovio was one of the first vaccine developers to snag attention for a jab that their execs said promised to end the Covid-19 pandemic. Using their own unique DNA tech, CEO Joseph Kim said it took just 3 hours to work it out.

But while rivals are racing to the finish line with ambitious plans to make vast quantities of their vaccines with billions of dollars of deals, Inovio is still stuck at the starting line on manufacturing.

Is a pow­er­house Mer­ck team prepar­ing to leap past Roche — and leave Gilead and Bris­tol My­ers be­hind — in the race to TIG­IT dom­i­na­tion?

Roche caused quite a stir at ASCO with its first look at some positive — but not so impressive — data for their combination of Tecentriq with their anti-TIGIT drug tiragolumab. But some analysts believe that Merck is positioned to make a bid — soon — for the lead in the race to a second-wave combo immuno-oncology approach with its own ambitious early-stage program tied to a dominant Keytruda.

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FDA de­lays de­ci­sion on No­var­tis’ po­ten­tial block­buster MS drug, wip­ing away pri­or­i­ty re­view

So much for a speedy review.

In February, Novartis announced that an application for their much-touted multiple sclerosis drug ofatumumab had been accepted and, with the drug company cashing in on one of their priority review vouchers, the agency was due for a decision by June.

But with June less than 48 hours old, Novartis announced the agency has extended their review, pushing back the timeline for approval or rejection to September. The Swiss pharma filed the application in December, meaning their new schedule will be nearly in line with the standard 10-month window period had they not used the priority voucher.

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Leen Kawas, Athira CEO (Athira)

Can a small biotech suc­cess­ful­ly tack­le an Ever­est climb like Alzheimer’s? Athi­ra has $85M and some in­flu­en­tial back­ers ready to give it a shot

There haven’t been a lot of big venture rounds for biotech companies looking to run a Phase II study in Alzheimer’s.

The field has been a disaster over the past decade. Amyloid didn’t pan out as a target — going down in a litany of Phase III failures — and is now making its last stand at Biogen. Tau is a comer, but when you look around and all you see is destruction, the idea of backing a startup trying to find complex cocktails to swing the course of this devilishly complicated memory-wasting disease would daunt the pluckiest investors.

GSK presents case to ex­pand use of its lu­pus drug in pa­tients with kid­ney dis­ease, but the field is evolv­ing. How long will the mo­nop­oly last?

In 2011, GlaxoSmithKline’s Benlysta became the first biologic to win approval for lupus patients. Nine years on, the British drugmaker has unveiled detailed positive results from a study testing the drug in lupus patients with associated kidney disease — a post-marketing requirement from the initial FDA approval.

Lupus is a drug developer’s nightmare. In the last six decades, there has been just one FDA approval (Benlysta), with the field resembling a graveyard in recent years with a string of failures including UCB and Biogen’s late-stage flop, as well as defeats in Xencor and Sanofi’s programs. One of the main reasons the success has eluded researchers is because lupus, akin to cancer, is not just one disease — it really is a disease of many diseases, noted Al Roy, executive director of Lupus Clinical Investigators Network, an initiative of New York-based Lupus Research Alliance that claims it is the world’s leading private funder of lupus research, in an interview.

Covid-19 roundup: Mod­er­na read­ies to en­ter PhI­II in Ju­ly, As­traZeneca not far be­hind; EU ready to ne­go­ti­ate vac­cine ac­cess with $2.7B fund

Moderna may soon add another first to the Covid-19 vaccine race.

In March, the mRNA biotech was the first company to put a Covid-19 vaccine into humans. Next month, they may become the first company to put their vaccine into the large, late-stage trials that are needed to prove whether the vaccine is effective.

In an interview with JAMA editor Howard Bauchner, NIAID chief Anthony Fauci said that a 30,000-person, Phase III trial for Moderna’s vaccine could start in July. The news comes a week after Moderna began a Phase II study that will enroll several hundred people.

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José Basel­ga finds promise in new class of RNA-mod­i­fy­ing can­cer tar­gets, lock­ing in 3 pre­clin­i­cal pro­grams with $55M

Having dived early into some of the RNA breakthroughs of the last decades — betting on Moderna’s mRNA tech and teaming up with Silence on the siRNA front — AstraZeneca is jumping into a new arena: going after proteins that modify RNA.

Their partner of choice is Accent Therapeutics, which is receiving $55 million in upfront payment to steer a selected preclinical program through to the end of Phase I. After AstraZeneca takes over, the Lexington, MA-based startup has the option to co-develop and co-commercialize in the US — and collect up to $1.1 billion in milestones in the long run. The deal also covers two other potential drug candidates.

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Fangliang Zhang (Imaginechina via AP Images)

The big mon­ey: Poised to make drug R&D his­to­ry, a Chi­na biotech un­veils uni­corn rac­ing am­bi­tions in a bid to raise $350M-plus on Nas­daq

Almost exactly three years after Shanghai-based Legend came out of nowhere to steal the show at ASCO with jaw-dropping data on their BCMA-targeted CAR-T for multiple myeloma, the little player with Big Pharma connections is taking a giant step toward making it big on Wall Street. And this time they want to seal the deal on a global rep after staking out a unicorn valuation in what’s turned out to be a bull market for biotech IPOs — in the middle of a pandemic.

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