Stan­ford spin­out Forty Sev­en ar­rives at AS­CO with a snap­shot of promis­ing CD47 da­ta — and a $115M IPO in hand

CHICA­GO — Here’s a neat trick for up-and-com­ing on­col­o­gy biotechs to con­sid­er.

Irv Weiss­man

Ex­ecs for Forty Sev­en, the CD47 star found­ed by Stan­ford’s leg­endary Irv Weiss­man, filed for a $115 mil­lion IPO on Fri­day and then — in­stead of hun­ker­ing down for the qui­et pe­ri­od — prompt­ly flew out to Chica­go to tout a promis­ing set of proof-of-con­cept da­ta for their lead drug at AS­CO.

Forty Sev­en has pre­lim­i­nary da­ta on 22 pa­tients tak­ing 5F9, with an im­pres­sive ini­tial snap­shot of ear­ly da­ta for the small group. Fif­teen of the pa­tients suf­fer from treat­ment re­sis­tant dif­fuse large B-cell lym­phoma (DL­B­CL) and the oth­er 7 have fol­lic­u­lar lym­phoma. In DL­B­CL in­ves­ti­ga­tors tracked an ob­jec­tive re­sponse rate of 40% with a third achiev­ing a com­plete re­sponse; in fol­lic­u­lar lym­phoma the ORR was 71% with 43% achiev­ing a CR.

It’s still too ear­ly to set a me­di­an rate on the du­ra­tion of re­sponse, but the re­searchers say that just 1 of the 22 saw their can­cer progress af­ter 6 months.

Mark Mc­Camish

5F9 is an an­ti­body that tar­gets the pop­u­lar CD47 re­cep­tor tar­gets, which has in­spired a slate of de­vel­op­ment ef­forts. Hit­ting that tar­get is in­tend­ed to scram­ble the “don’t-eat-me” sig­nal that can­cer cells re­ly on to avoid be­ing chewed up by macrophages. And the Men­lo Park, CA-based biotech has 6 stud­ies un­der­way in sol­id tu­mors, acute myeloid leukemia, non-Hodgkin’s lym­phoma and col­orec­tal car­ci­no­ma.

The biotech plans to push its stud­ies ahead as a mono ther­a­py as well as in com­bi­na­tions with PD-1/PD-L1 and CT­LA-4 check­point in­hibitors, start­ing with Genen­tech’s Tecen­triq.

Alan Troun­son

Forty Sev­en has an in­ter­est­ing past. The 78-year-old Weiss­man was able to wran­gle sub­stan­tial sup­port for his ear­ly re­search work on CD47 from the Cal­i­for­nia In­sti­tute for Re­gen­er­a­tive Med­i­cine, even launch­ing ear­ly hu­man stud­ies — a rare feat in aca­d­e­m­ic cir­cles. Weiss­man and for­mer CIRM chief Alan Troun­son en­joyed a tight re­la­tion­ship, which ex­tend­ed to Troun­son’s ap­point­ment to the board of an­oth­er start­up that Weiss­man had helped found — Stem­Cells —short­ly af­ter his de­par­ture from the agency. And Forty Sev­en is still get­ting mon­ey from CIRM un­der its lat­est $19 mil­lion grant.

So far the com­pa­ny has raised $149 mil­lion and spent $84 mil­lion of that, ac­cord­ing to the S-1.

Mark Mc­Camish, a No­var­tis vet who en­joyed a $3.7 mil­lion pay pack­age last year, is the CEO. He al­so has 3.6% of the stock. Light­speed Ven­tures Part­ners and Sut­ter Hill Part­ners each con­trol 16.8% of the stock, fol­lowed by Clarus at 15.8%. And Weiss­man has re­tained a hefty 9.5% of the eq­ui­ty, which could soon be worth a small for­tune.

Forty Sev­en in­cludes the fol­low­ing com­pa­nies on its list of ri­vals in the field: Cel­gene Cor­po­ra­tion, Tril­li­um Ther­a­peu­tics, Alexo Ther­a­peu­tics, Arch Ther­a­peu­tics, Sur­face On­col­o­gy, Novim­mune, OSE Im­munother­a­peu­tics and Au­ri­gene Dis­cov­ery Tech­nolo­gies.

The DCT-OS: A Tech­nol­o­gy-first Op­er­at­ing Sys­tem - En­abling Clin­i­cal Tri­als

As technology-enabled clinical research becomes the new normal, an integrated decentralized clinical trial operating system can ensure quality, deliver consistency and improve the patient experience.

The increasing availability of COVID-19 vaccines has many of us looking forward to a time when everyday things return to a state of normal. Schools and teachers are returning to classrooms, offices and small businesses are reopening, and there’s a palpable sense of optimism that the often-awkward adjustments we’ve all made personally and professionally in the last year are behind us, never to return. In the world of clinical research, however, some pandemic-necessitated adjustments are proving to be more than emergency stopgap measures to ensure trial continuity — and numerous decentralized clinical trial (DCT) tools and methodologies employed within the last year are likely here to stay as part of biopharma’s new normal.

Onno van de Stolpe, Galapagos CEO (Thierry Roge/Belga Mag/AFP via Getty Images)

Gala­pa­gos chops in­to their pipeline, drop­ping core fields and re­or­ga­niz­ing R&D as the BD team hunts for some­thing 'trans­for­ma­tive'

Just 5 months after Gilead gutted its rich partnership with Galapagos following a bitter setback at the FDA, the Belgian biotech is hunkering down and chopping the pipeline in an effort to conserve cash while their BD team pursues a mission to find a “transformative” deal for the company.

The filgotinib disaster didn’t warrant a mention as Galapagos laid out its Darwinian restructuring plans. Forced to make choices, the company is ditching its IPF molecule ’1205, while moving ahead with a Phase II IPF study for its chitinase inhibitor ’4617.

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Stéphane Bancel, Getty

Mod­er­na CEO brush­es off US sup­port for IP waiv­er, eyes more than $19B in Covid-19 vac­cine sales in 2021

Moderna is definitively more concerned with keeping pace with Pfizer in the race to vaccinate the world against Covid-19 than it is with Wednesday’s decision from the Biden administration to back an intellectual property waiver that aims to increase vaccine supplies worldwide.

In its first quarter earnings call on Thursday, Moderna CEO Stéphane Bancel shrugged off any suggestion that the newly US-backed intellectual property waiver would impact his company’s vaccine or bottom line. Still, the company’s stock price fell by about 9% in early morning trading.

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'Chang­ing the whole game of drug dis­cov­ery': Leg­endary R&D vet Roger Perl­mut­ter leaps back in­to work as a biotech CEO

Roger Perlmutter needs no introduction to anyone remotely involved in biopharma. As the R&D chief first at Amgen and then Merck, he’s built a stellar reputation and a prolific career steering new drugs toward the market for everything from cancer to infectious diseases.

But for years, he’s also held a less known title: science partner at The Column Group, where he’s regularly consulted about the various ideas the VCs had for new startups.

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Ad­comm splits slight­ly in fa­vor of FDA ap­prov­ing Chemo­Cen­tryx’s rare dis­ease drug

The FDA’s Arthritis Advisory Committee on Thursday voted 10 for and 8 against the approval of ChemoCentryx’s $CCXI investigational drug avacopan as a treatment for adults with a rare and serious disease known as anti-neutrophil cytoplasmic autoantibody (ANCA)-vasculitis.

The vote on whether the FDA should approve the drug was preceded by a split vote of 9 to 9 on whether the efficacy data support approval, and 10 to 8 that the safety profile of avacopan is adequate enough to support approval.

Paul Hastings, Nkarta CEO

With no up­front pay­ment or mile­stones on the line, Nkar­ta and CRISPR join forces on CAR-NK search

Most deals in biotech come with hefty upfront payments attached, and the promise of big biobucks if a program works out. Not this one.

Nkarta has struck what CEO Paul Hastings calls a “real collaboration” with CRISPR Therapeutics to co-develop and commercialize two CAR-NK therapies, in addition to an NK+T program. The duo will split all R&D costs — and any worldwide profits — 50/50, Hastings said.

Gold­man Sachs jumps aboard Bain-backed 503(b) com­pound­ing phar­ma­cy with a $275M debt loan to sup­ply hos­pi­tals

Long the bane of the FDA’s existence, compounding pharmacies have seen a minor resurgence in the past year as short-term saviors for hospital drug shortages. Now, a 503(b) company specializing in hospital meds has earned a big backer to keep expanding its 200-drug strong portfolio.

Goldman Sachs and Owl Rock Capital Partners have doled out a $275 million debt loan to QuVa Pharma, a 503(b)-certified outsourcing facility providing compounded drugs to hospitals, the company said Thursday.

Bill Lis, Jasper Therapeutics

Jasper and its stem cell con­di­tion­ing an­ti­body earn a tick­et to Nas­daq in lat­est SPAC re­verse merg­er

Editor’s note: Interested in following biopharma’s fast-paced IPO market? You can bookmark our IPO Tracker here.

Another biotech SPAC deal has landed as the glut of blank-check companies continues to make waves in the industry.

Thursday’s winner is Jasper Therapeutics, joining forces with Amplitude Healthcare Acquisition Corp. in a $100 million reverse-merger, Jasper announced. The deal also comes with a PIPE financing of an additional $100 million, setting Jasper up with a $490 million market cap once the merger closes in the third quarter.

Brent Saunders (Richard Drew, AP Images)

OcuWho? Star deal­mak­er turned aes­thet­ics czar Brent Saun­ders flips back in­to biotech. But who’s he team­ing up with now?

Brent Saunders went on a tear of headline-blazing deals building Allergan, merging and rearranging a variety of big companies into one before an M&A pact with Pfizer blew up and sent him on a bout of biotech drug deals. That didn’t work so well, so under pressure, he got his buyout at AbbVie — which needed a big franchise like Botox. And it was no big surprise to see him riding the SPAC wave into a recent $1 billion-plus deal that left him in the executive chairman’s seat at an aesthetics outfit — now redubbed The Beauty Health Company — holding a big chunk of the equity.

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