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.

M&A: a crit­i­cal dri­ver for sus­tain­able top-line growth in health­care

2021 saw a record $600B in healthcare M&A activity. In 2022, there is an anticipated slowdown in activity, however, M&A prospects remain strong in the medium to long-term. What are future growth drivers for the healthcare sector? Where might we see innovations that drive M&A? RBC’s Andrew Callaway, Global Head, Healthcare Investment Banking discusses with Vito Sperduto, Global Co-Head, M&A.

15 LGBTQ lead­ers in bio­phar­ma; Paul Stof­fels’ Gala­pa­gos re­vamp; As­traZeneca catch­es up in AT­TR; and more

Welcome back to Endpoints Weekly, your review of the week’s top biopharma headlines. Want this in your inbox every Saturday morning? Current Endpoints readers can visit their reader profile to add Endpoints Weekly. New to Endpoints? Sign up here.

A return to in-person conferences also marks a return to on-the-ground reporting. My colleagues Beth Synder Bulik and Nicole DeFeudis were on-site at Cannes Lions, bringing live coverage of pharma’s presence at the ad festival — accompanied by photos from Clara Bui, our virtual producer, that bring you right to the scene. You can find a recap (and links to all the stories) below.

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Abortion-rights protesters regroup and protest following Supreme Court's decision to overturn Roe v. Wade. (AP Photo/Gemunu Amarasinghe)

Fol­low­ing SCO­TUS de­ci­sion to over­turn abor­tion pro­tec­tions, AG Gar­land says states can't ban the abor­tion pill

Following the Supreme Court’s historic decision on Friday to overturn Americans’ constitutional right to an abortion after almost 50 years, Attorney General Merrick Garland sought to somewhat reassure women that states will not be able to ban the prescription drug sometimes used for abortions.

Following the decision, the New England Journal of Medicine also published an editorial strongly condemning the reversal, saying it “serves American families poorly, putting their health, safety, finances, and futures at risk.”

AstraZeneca's new Evusheld direct to consumer campaign aims to reach more immunocompromised patients.

As­traZeneca de­buts first con­sumer cam­paign for its Covid-19 pro­phy­lac­tic Evusheld — and a first for EUA drugs

AstraZeneca’s first consumer ad for Evusheld is also a first for drugs that have been granted emergency use authorizations during the pandemic.

The first DTC ad for a medicine under emergency approval, the Evusheld campaign launching this week aims to raise awareness among immunocompromised patients — and spur more use.

Evusheld nabbed emergency authorization in December, however, despite millions of immunocompromised people looking for a solution and now more widespread availability of the drug.

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Yong Dai, Frontera Therapeutics CEO

Scoop: Lit­tle-known Or­biMed-backed biotech clos­es $160M round to start gene ther­a­py tri­al

Frontera Therapeutics, a China and US biotech, has closed a $160 million Series B and received regulatory clearance to test its first gene therapy stateside, Endpoints News has learned.

Led by the largest shareholder, OrbiMed, the biotech has secured $195 million total since its September 2019 founding, according to an email reviewed by Endpoints. The lead AAV gene therapy program is for an undisclosed rare eye disease, according to the source.

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Spanish Prime Minister Pédro Sanchez and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen (AP Photo/Geert Vanden Wijngaert)

EU to launch vac­cine de­vel­op­ment and man­u­fac­tur­ing part­ner­ship with Latin Amer­i­can and Caribbean coun­tries

While European companies, including BioNTech, are focused on increasing vaccine access to African countries by setting up vaccine manufacturing facilities, the European Union is looking westward to Latin America and the Caribbean.

Speaking at a press conference with Spanish Prime Minister Pédro Sanchez, EU Commission president Ursula von der Leyen said that the EU is launching a new initiative for vaccines and medicines manufacturing in Latin America, to get drugs to Latin America and the Caribbean faster.

DEM BioPharma CEO David Donabedian (L) and executive chair Jan Skvarka

Long­wood sets an­oth­er 'don't eat me' biotech in­to gear with help of for­mer Tril­li­um CEO Jan Skvar­ka

Jonathan Weissman and team are out with a cancer-fighting biotech riding the appetite for those so-called “don’t eat me” and “eat me” signals.

The scientific co-founder — alongside fellow Whitehead Institute colleague Kipp Weiskopf and Stanford biologist Michael Bassik — has launched DEM BioPharma with incubator Longwood Fund and a crop of other investors.

In all, the nascent, 10-employee biotech has $70 million to bankroll hematology- and solid tumor-based programs, including a lead asset that could enter human trials in two to three years, CEO David Donabedian told Endpoints News.

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GSK says its drug for chron­ic hep B could ‘lead to a func­tion­al cure’ — but will it be alone or in com­bi­na­tion?

GSK, newly branded and soon-to-be demerged, shared interim results from its Phase II trial on its chronic hepatitis B treatment, one that it says has the “potential to lead to a functional cure.”

At a presentation at the EASL International Liver Congress, GSK shared that in around 450 patients who received its hep B drug bepirovirsen for 24 weeks, just under 30% had hepatitis B surface antigen and viral DNA levels that were too low to detect.

De­spite a slow start to the year for deals, PwC pre­dicts a flur­ry of ac­tiv­i­ty com­ing up

Despite whispers of a busy year for M&A, deal activity in the pharma space is actually down 30% on a semi-annualized basis, according to PwC’s latest report on deal activity. But don’t rule out larger deals in the second half of the year, the consultants said.

PwC pharmaceutical and life sciences consulting solutions leader Glenn Hunzinger expects to see Big Pharma companies picking up earlier stage companies to try and fill pipeline gaps ahead of a slew of big patent cliffs. Though a bear market continues to maul the biotech sector, Hunzinger said recent deals indicate that pharma companies are still paying above current trading prices.