The $165M immunology startup Sheila Gujrathi bet on after Receptos, Gossamer is shooting for an IPO
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Sheila Gujrathi has kept herself busy since leaving the helm of Gossamer Bio in the aftermath of a mid-stage flop. She signed on to a few biotech boards, most recently to become Ventyx Bio’s executive chair.
But it turns out her connection with the biotech runs much deeper. As Ventyx revealed in its S-1, Gujrathi made a small investment in the company during the Series A — which took place between February and June 2021.
The goal is nothing short of becoming a leader in the immunology market Gujrathi knows intimately.
Ventyx, which has penciled in the standard figure of $100 million for its IPO, is looking to challenge one of the top drugs she had helped set on a path to approval while at Receptos: ozanimod, now marketed as Zeposia. Its lead drug will also be competing with the key TYK2 program at Bristol Myers Squibb, where Gujrathi used to work and which also owns Zeposia via a game of big fish eats small fish eats smaller fish.
VTX002, which is listed in second place in its pipeline, is actually the most advanced asset with a Phase II trial in ulcerative colitis slated for Q4. The drug is a S1P1 receptor modulator, and Ventyx isn’t shy to name its biggest rival.
BMS’ Zeposia (ozanimod) became the first S1P1R modulator approved for treatment of UC in May 2021. However, based on VTX002’s effects on lymphocyte lowering in our Phase 1 trial, as well as its pharmacokinetic properties that allow for rapid onset of activity and rapid normalization of lymphocyte counts upon discontinuation of therapy, may lead to an improved clinical profile relative to ozanimod. Further, based on the lack of liver function test elevations in our Phase 1 trial and our peripherally restricted drug activity, we believe VTX002 may avoid certain warnings included within the Zeposia label, including those around liver injury and macular edema screening, respectively.
VTX-958 — the oral, allosteric TYK2 inhibitor currently being developed for moderate-to-severe psoriasis — will be competing with a slate of fierce competitors including the dominant injectables like Humira, Enbrel and Stelara, as well as topical and generic therapies.
New Science Ventures, which had weaved three of its portfolio companies and their immune modulators to create Ventyx, is the largest shareholder at 42.46%, followed by venBio (11.89%) and Third Point Ventures (8.51%). CEO Raju Mohan claims 4.8% pre-IPO, dwarfing Gujrathi’s share, which stands at less than 1%.
It took less than six months for Ventyx to come out of stealth into an IPO filing, and it’s already raised $165 million along the way. As of June, the execs have burned through $87.3 million.
The biotech IPO market remains on pace to eclipse last year’s record sum of $16.5 billion, per the Endpoints News tally, but activity slowed down considerably during the third quarter.