James Li (JW)

Teamed up with Lyell, Juno/WuXi joint ven­ture files IPO bet­ting on Chi­na's CAR-T fu­ture

JW Ther­a­peu­tics got its start on the back of CAR-T tech from Juno Ther­a­peu­tics, a joint ven­ture bank­ing on the promise of mar­ry­ing cut­ting-edge Amer­i­can tech­nol­o­gy with WuXi AppTec’s state-of-the-art process de­vel­op­ment and late-stage clin­i­cal in­fra­struc­ture in Chi­na. Four years lat­er, a col­lab­o­ra­tion with a Juno co-founder’s new start­up is ce­ment­ing a bridge to the pub­lic mar­ket.

Lyell has grant­ed JW ex­clu­sive Chi­na rights to two CAR-T pro­grams tar­get­ing AFP and GPC3, anti­gens ap­plic­a­ble broad­ly across sol­id tu­mors, the com­pa­nies an­nounced last week. JW not­ed in its IPO fil­ing on the Hong Kong stock ex­change that it’s al­so nabbed rights to the T-cell an­ti-ex­haus­tion func­tion­al­i­ty.

“Sub­stan­tial” mile­stones and roy­al­ty pay­ments aren’t due un­til the first Lyell ther­a­py is ap­proved in JW ter­ri­to­ry.

Cheng Liu

The col­lab­o­ra­tion fol­lows a deal with Eu­re­ka Ther­a­peu­tics, a Cal­i­for­nia-based part­ner of both Juno and Lyell, through which JW ac­quired Syra­cuse — Eu­re­ka’s Chi­nese sub­sidiary — and its un­der­ly­ing tech plat­form. Eu­re­ka CEO Cheng Liu joined the JW board in hopes of join­ing forces to build the lead­ing cell ther­a­py com­pa­ny in Chi­na.

“Eu­re­ka still keep their in­de­pen­dence out­side Chi­na, they will do their own things,” JW chief James Li said at the time. “But in Chi­na we com­bine their ear­ly dis­cov­ery pow­er with our late-stage de­vel­op­ment and, even­tu­al­ly we are launch­ing our prod­uct next year, com­mer­cial ca­pa­bil­i­ties.”

While the terms went undis­closed, JW now re­veals that the ac­qui­si­tion was val­ued at $105 mil­lion.

Both the Lyell and Eu­re­ka pacts are ex­plic­it­ly fo­cused on sol­id tu­mors, ini­tial­ly start­ing out in he­pa­to­cel­lu­lar car­ci­no­ma.

“One thing we’ve been think­ing hard in the past cou­ple years is how we can get in­to the sol­id tu­mor space, which is ab­solute­ly — to me, it’s the fu­ture of cell ther­a­py,” Li told End­points News.

Be­ing one of the pi­o­neers along­side Fo­s­un Kite and Leg­end, he said, has al­lowed JW to think ahead of new­er ri­vals both in terms of es­tab­lish­ing the best prac­tices and think­ing ahead of the com­pe­ti­tion.

It’s not done with the deal spree. JW not­ed that it’s plan­ning to use parts of the IPO pro­ceds to ex­e­cute its op­tions on a cou­ple of  off-the-shelf nat­ur­al killer cell ther­a­py can­di­dates from Tai­wan’s Ace­po­dia, tar­get­ing HER2 and an­oth­er undis­closed tar­get.

Reg­u­la­tors at the Na­tion­al Med­ical Prod­ucts Ad­min­is­tra­tion have ac­cept­ed its NDA for rel­ma-cel, the lead CD19-tar­get­ing CAR-T ther­a­py de­vel­oped from Juno’s pro­gram. The ini­tial in­di­ca­tion is third-line dif­fuse large B cell lym­phoma — with mul­ti­ple oth­er blood can­cers lined up be­hind it.

Be­hind that there’s a BC­MA pro­gram for which JW plans to file an IND in the first half of 2021, JW wrote in its IPO ap­pli­ca­tion.

Over the years it’s raised $190 mil­lion in ven­ture fund­ing, and pre­vi­ous me­dia re­ports has sug­gest­ed it’s seek­ing to raise $200 mil­lion to $300 mil­lion in the pub­lic de­but. As is stan­dard on HKEX, JW hasn’t pen­cilled in any es­ti­mates.

Ugur Sahin, BioNTech CEO (Bernd von Jutrczenka/dpa via AP Images)

BioN­Tech is spear­head­ing an mR­NA vac­cine de­vel­op­ment pro­gram for malar­ia, with a tech trans­fer planned for Africa

Flush with the success of its mRNA Covid-19 vaccine, BioNTech is now gearing up for one of the biggest challenges in vaccine development — which comes without potential profit.

The German mRNA pioneer says it plans to work on a jab for malaria, then transfer the tech to the African continent, where it will work with partners on developing the manufacturing ops needed to make this and other vaccines.

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How one start­up fore­told the neu­ro­science re­nais­sance af­ter '50 years of shit­show'

In the past couple of years, something curious has happened: Pharma and VC dollars started gushing into neuroscience research.

Biogen’s controversial new Alzheimer’s drug Aduhelm has been approved on the basis of removing amyloid plaque from the brain, but the new neuro-focused pharma and biotechs have much loftier aims. Significantly curbing or even curing the most notorious disorders would prove the Holy Grail for a complex system that has tied the world’s best drug developers in knots for decades.

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Why is On­col­o­gy Drug De­vel­op­ment Re­search Late to the Dig­i­tal Bio­mark­ers Game?

During the recent Annual ASCO Meeting, thousands of cancer researchers and clinicians from across the globe joined together virtually to present and discuss the latest findings and breakthroughs in cancer research and care. There were more than 5000+ scientific abstracts presented during this event, yet only a handful involved the use of motion-tracking wearables to collect digital measures relating to activity, sleep, mobility, functional status, and/or quality of life. Although these results were a bit disappointing, they should come as no surprise to those of us in the wearable technology field.

Bob Bradway, Amgen CEO (Scott Eisen/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Am­gen bel­lies back up to the M&A ta­ble for an­oth­er biotech buy­out, this time with a $2.5B deal for an an­ti­body play­er fo­cused on PS­MA

Five months after Amgen CEO Bob Bradway stepped up to the M&A table and acquired Five Prime for $1.9 billion, following up with the smaller Rodeo acquisition, he’s gone back in for another biotech buyout.

This time around, Amgen is paying $900 million cash while committing up to $1.6 billion in milestones to bag the privately held Teneobio, an antibody drug developer that has expertise in developing new bispecifics and multispecifics. In addition, Amgen cited Teneobio’s “T-cell engager platform, which expands on Amgen’s existing leadership position in bispecific T-cell engagers by providing a differentiated, but complementary, approach to Amgen’s current BiTE platform.”

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Art Levinson (Calico)

Google-backed Cal­i­co dou­bles down on an­ti-ag­ing R&D pact with Ab­b­Vie as part­ners ante up $1B, start to de­tail drug tar­gets

Seven years after striking up a major R&D alliance, AbbVie and Google-backed anti-aging specialist Calico are doubling down on their work with a joint, $1 billion commitment to continuing their work together. And they’re also beginning to offer some details on where this project is taking them in the clinic.

According to their statement, each of the two players is putting up $500 million more to keep the labs humming.

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Andrea Pfeifer, AC Immune CEO (AC Immune)

Look­ing to repli­cate Covid-19 suc­cess in neu­ro, BioN­Tech back­ers bet on AC Im­mune and its new­ly-ac­quired Parkin­son's vac­cine

The German billionaires behind BioNTech have found a new vaccine project to back.

Through their family office Athos Service, twin brothers Thomas and Andreas Strüngmann are leading a $25 million private placement into Switzerland’s AC Immune — which concurrently announced that it’s shelling out $58.7 million worth of stock to acquire Affiris’ portfolio of therapies targeting alpha-synuclein, including a vaccine candidate, for Parkinson’s disease.

Rajiv Shukla, Constellation Alpha Holdings

Can­del gets busy IPO week mov­ing with down­sized raise as Ra­jiv Shuk­la's third SPAC goes pub­lic

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

In a week that’s expected to see several biotechs price their IPOs, Candel Therapeutics got things kicked off Tuesday with a muted opener.

The company helmed by former GlaxoSmithKline vet Paul Peter Tak made its way to Nasdaq thanks to a $72 million raise, which was downsized by about 15% than originally anticipated, according to Renaissance Capital. Candel priced at $8 per share after initially seeking to launch in the $13 to $15 range.

Busi­ness­es and schools can man­date the use of Covid-19 vac­cines un­der EUAs, DOJ says

As public and private companies stare down the reality of the Delta variant, many are now requiring that their employees or students be vaccinated against Covid-19 prior to attending school or to returning or starting a new job. Claims that such mandates are illegal or cannot be used for vaccines under emergency use authorizations have now been dismissed.

Setting the record straight, the Department of Justice on Monday called the mandates legal in a new memo, even when used for people with vaccines that remain subject to EUAs.

Gerry Brunk (Lumira)

What will Lu­mi­ra Ven­tures do with $220M? Stay out of the com­fort zone and off the beat­en biotech path

Lumira Ventures closed its largest fund on Monday, raking in $220 million to pump into the life sciences — but instead of targeting biotech hubs like San Francisco and Boston, the company is rolling the dice on “underserved geographies” in the US and Canada.

“We find oftentimes companies located in places like Montreal, or Fort Lauderdale, FL, or Kansas City or Phoenix, AZ just have more capital efficiency and better valuations, without having to compromise anything at all in the quality of the innovation and the management talent,” co-founder and managing partner Gerry Brunk told Endpoints News.