Andrew Hopkins, Exscientia CEO

The cash won't stop for Ex­sci­en­tia as it makes a $300M+ Nas­daq de­but

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

An AI biotech with lit­tle hu­man da­ta — but lots of hype — is once again drown­ing in cash.

Ex­sci­en­tia priced its IPO late Thurs­day evening, an­nounc­ing it pulled in $304.7 mil­lion with the raise. The pub­lic de­but marks Ex­sci­en­tia’s third nine-fig­ure raise of the year, af­ter the biotech ex­pand­ed its Se­ries C to $100 mil­lion in March and raised more than half a bil­lion dol­lars in a pair of fi­nanc­ings in April. Ex­sci­en­tia shares will be­gin trad­ing Fri­day at $22 apiece un­der the tick­er $EX­AI.

Thurs­day, too, saw Ex­sci­en­tia raise more than just the IPO. In con­junc­tion with the pric­ing, the Ox­ford, UK-based biotech got an­oth­er $160 mil­lion in pri­vate place­ments from Soft­Bank and the Bill and Melin­da Gates Foun­da­tion.

With the de­but, de­tails about the big IPO win­ners are com­ing in­to fo­cus. The biggest share­hold­er is now Soft­Bank, which will get a 16.3% stake af­ter the of­fer­ing. CEO An­drew Hop­kins is sec­ond on the list with 15.8% of shares.

But al­so no­table are the stakes from Evotec, No­vo Hold­ings and Bris­tol My­ers Squibb. Evotec and No­vo will each get about 11-12% of shares when the of­fer­ing clos­es, and Bris­tol My­ers is cash­ing in on an old Cel­gene deal with a 4.7% stake. The Big Phar­ma ex­pand­ed a Cel­gene-era deal with Ex­sci­en­tia ear­li­er this year, promis­ing up to $1.2 bil­lion in mile­stones in May.

The biotech has re­mained busy at the deal­mak­ing ta­ble. Ex­sci­en­tia fol­lowed that up with a small ac­qui­si­tion for the mol­e­cule-screen­ing biotech All­cyte in June — us­ing Soft­Bank’s cash — and less than two weeks lat­er joined forces with EQRx.

AI-fo­cused biotechs have proven large­ly suc­cess­ful at lur­ing in­vestors with bold promis­es about their tech­nol­o­gy, with Ex­sci­en­tia’s ef­forts at the fore­front. The com­pa­ny has promised to cut down on the lengthy drug de­vel­op­ment process by months, if not years, and is join­ing one of its main com­peti­tors on Nas­daq in Re­cur­sion Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals.

Re­cur­sion’s IPO came in a bit larg­er at $436.4 mil­lion, but both com­pa­nies claimed to plant the im­por­tant AI mile­stone flag — be­ing the first biotech to put an AI-de­vel­oped drug in­to the clin­ic. Re­cur­sion did so in Ju­ly 2019, though the biotech has said the pro­gram came out of Dean Li’s old lab be­fore he joined Mer­ck.

Ex­sci­en­tia, mean­while, made its claim in Jan­u­ary 2020 with a can­di­date de­vel­oped in part­ner­ship with Sum­it­o­mo Dainip­pon. The pro­gram emerged af­ter the pair syn­the­sized 350 com­pounds and test­ed them in a lab be­fore de­cid­ing on one to move for­ward. But re­gard­less of which biotech is re­al­ly the first to de­vel­op a drug with AI, both con­tin­ue to at­tract sig­nif­i­cant in­vest­ment and part­ner­ships.

Al­so wait­ing in the IPO wings is the ma­chine learn­ing biotech in­sitro, which hasn’t an­nounced plans to go pub­lic just yet but raked in $400 mil­lion in a Se­ries C this past March. Ex­sci­en­tia plans to spend be­tween $50 mil­lion and $75 mil­lion on push­ing its plat­form for­ward, with an­oth­er $25 mil­lion to $50 mil­lion slat­ed to com­plete a Phase I study for EXS21546.

As the cal­en­dar turns to the fourth quar­ter Fri­day, the biotech IPO mar­ket is be­gin­ning to stir once again. Ex­sci­en­tia’s de­but pushed the to­tal com­bined raise past $13.5 bil­lion, per the End­points News tal­ly, and the in­dus­try re­mains on pace to eclipse 2020’s record raise of $16.5 bil­lion. But af­ter a sum­mer slow­down, the race will like­ly come down to the wire.

Clar­i­fi­ca­tion: This ar­ti­cle has been clar­i­fied to more ac­cu­rate­ly re­flect the na­ture of Soft­Bank’s stake in Ex­sci­en­tia. Soft­Bank con­trols the shares, not part­ner Joanne Xu.

2023 Spot­light on the Fu­ture of Drug De­vel­op­ment for Small and Mid-Sized Biotechs

In the context of today’s global economic environment, there is an increasing need to work smarter, faster and leaner across all facets of the life sciences industry.  This is particularly true for small and mid-sized biotech companies, many of which are facing declining valuations and competing for increasingly limited funding to propel their science forward.  It is important to recognize that within this framework, many of these smaller companies already find themselves resource-challenged to design and manage clinical studies themselves because they don’t have large teams or in-house experts in navigating the various aspects of the drug development journey. This can be particularly challenging for the most complex and difficult to treat diseases where no previous pathway exists and patients are urgently awaiting breakthroughs.

Christian Itin, Autolus CEO (UKBIO19)

Au­to­lus tips its hand, bags $220M as CAR-T show­down with Gilead looms

The first batch of pivotal data on Autolus Therapeutics’ CAR-T is in, and execs are ready to plot a path to market.

With an overall remission rate of 70% at the interim analysis featuring 50 patients, the results set the stage for a BLA filing by the end of 2023, said CEO Christian Itin.

Perhaps more importantly — given that Autolus’ drug, obe-cel, is going after an indication that Gilead’s Tecartus is already approved for — the biotech highlighted “encouraging safety data” in the trial, with a low percentage of patients experiencing severe immune responses.

Dipal Doshi, Entrada Therapeutics CEO

Ver­tex just found the next big ‘trans­for­ma­tive’ thing for the pipeline — at a biotech just down the street

Back in the summer of 2019, when I was covering Vertex’s executive chairman Jeff Leiden’s plans for the pipeline, I picked up on a distinct focus on myotonic dystrophy Type I, or DM1 — one of what Leiden called “two diseases (with DMD) we’re interested in and we continue to look for those assets.”

Today, Leiden’s successor at the helm of Vertex, CEO Reshma Kewalramani, is plunking down $250 million in cash to go the extra mile on DM1. The lion’s share of that is for the upfront, with a small reserve for equity in a deal that lines Vertex up with a neighbor in Seaport that has been rather quietly going at both of Vertex’s early disease targets with preclinical assets.

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WIB22: Am­ber Salz­man had few op­tions when her son was di­ag­nosed with a rare ge­net­ic dis­ease. So she cre­at­ed a bet­ter one

This profile is part of Endpoints News’ 2022 special report about Women in Biopharma R&D. You can read the full report here.

Amber Salzman’s life changed on a cold, damp day in Paris over tiny plastic cups of lukewarm tea.

She was meeting with Patrick Aubourg, a French neurologist studying adrenoleukodystrophy, or ALD, a rare genetic condition that causes rapid neurological decline in young boys. It’s a sinister disease that often leads to disability or death within just a few years. Salzman’s nephew was diagnosed at just 6 or 7 years old, and died at the age of 12.

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Ahead of ad­comm, FDA rais­es un­cer­tain­ties on ben­e­fit-risk pro­file of Cy­to­ki­net­ic­s' po­ten­tial heart drug

The FDA’s Cardiovascular and Renal Drugs Advisory Committee will meet next Tuesday to discuss whether Cytokinetics’ potential heart drug can safely reduce the risk of cardiovascular death and heart failure in patients with symptomatic chronic heart failure with reduced ejection fraction.

The drug, known as omecamtiv mecarbil and in development for more than 15 years, has seen mixed results, with a first Phase III readout from November 2020 hitting the primary endpoint of reducing the odds of hospitalization or other urgent care for heart failure by 8%. But it also missed a key secondary endpoint analysts had pegged as key to breaking into the market.

Ab­b­Vie slapped with age dis­crim­i­na­tion law­suit, fol­low­ing oth­er phar­mas

Add AbbVie to the list of pharma companies currently facing age discrimination allegations.

Pennsylvania resident Thomas Hesch filed suit against AbbVie on Wednesday, accusing the company of passing him over for promotions in favor of younger candidates.

Despite 30 years of pharma experience, “Hesch has consistently seen younger, less qualified employees promoted over him,” the complaint states.

Nashville-based CD­MO nets a $65M Se­ries B to ex­pand fa­cil­i­ty and ca­pa­bil­i­ties

Another $65 million is music to the ears of the team at August Bioservices, a contract manufacturer in Nashville.

The company announced the Series B round last week, which will fund equipment in a new building expected to open in 2023, according to CEO Jenn Adams. It was led by Oak HC/FT, the same firm that led August’s Series A round in July 2020.

August Bioservices, a producer of materials such as prefilled syringes, IV bags and vials, was formed back in 2020 after the acquisition of PMI BioPharma Solutions, also based in Nashville. Adams said the goal was to build a business that could “address the scarcity of supply relative to sterile injectable manufacturing based in the US” and provide a broad range of manufacturing services.

Rami Elghandour, Arcellx CEO

Up­dat­ed: Gilead, Ar­cel­lx team up on an­ti-BC­MA CAR-T as biotech touts a 100% re­sponse rate at #ASH22

Gilead and Kite are plunking down big cash to get into the anti-BCMA CAR-T game.

The pair will shell out $225 million in cash upfront and $100 million in equity to Arcellx, Kite announced Friday morning, to develop the biotech’s lead CAR-T program together. Kite will handle commercialization and co-development with Arcellx, and profits in the US will be split 50-50.

Concurrent with the deal, Arcellx revealed its latest cut of data for the program known as CART-ddBCMA, ahead of a full presentation at this weekend’s ASH conference — a 100% response rate among patients getting the therapy. Investors jumped at the dual announcements, sending Arcellx shares $ACLX up more than 25% in Friday’s morning session.

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WIB22: Lead­ing NK cell re­searcher re­flects on roots in Iran, the UK and Texas

This profile is part of Endpoints News’ 2022 special report about Women in Biopharma R&D. You can read the full report here.

In a small but widely-cited 11-person study published in NEJM in 2020, seven patients saw signs of their cancer completely go away after getting a new therapy made from natural killer cells. The study was one of the earliest to provide clinical proof that the experimental treatment method had promise.

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