The pan­dem­ic IPOs keep rolling, as Gen­er­a­tion, Avid­i­ty, Vax­cyte each claim 200M+

If it wasn’t al­ready, biotech’s pan­dem­ic IPO boom is in full swing.

Af­ter a week that saw the largest Chi­nese biotech IPO in his­to­ry and an­oth­er $154 mil­lion for a com­pa­ny that emerged on­ly last Sep­tem­ber, four dif­fer­ent biotechs raised over $200 mil­lion. Each of them up­sized their of­fer­ings or priced at the top end — or more — of their orig­i­nal range.

Col­lec­tive­ly, they raised $926 mil­lion, or an av­er­age of $231 mil­lion per com­pa­ny.

The new rais­es are part of a broad­er trend, as in­vestors have flocked to biotech stocks as is­lands of sta­bil­i­ty in an in­creas­ing­ly rocky and pan­dem­ic-strick­en stock mar­ket. Large­ly, that’s meant bal­loon­ing val­u­a­tions for pub­lic com­pa­nies, such as Mod­er­na and Vir, who are mak­ing treat­ments or vac­cines for Covid-19.

But the com­pa­nies go­ing pub­lic this week don’t have large Covid-19 pro­grams. They con­sist of a Chi­nese can­cer de­tec­tion com­pa­ny and three com­pa­nies that are still pre­clin­i­cal, a stage when it used to be rare for com­pa­nies to go pub­lic, let alone raise vast cap­i­tal. The new rounds are a con­tin­u­a­tion of that trend, glimpses of which were seen be­fore the out­break hit the US, as the mar­ket showed an ap­petite for such ear­ly-stage ven­tures.

Six pre­clin­i­cal biotechs have now raised over $150 mil­lion in 2020, com­pared with just two over the pre­vi­ous three years, ac­cord­ing to num­bers from Re­nais­sance Cap­i­tal. That in­cludes David Liu’s Beam Ther­a­peu­tics, which raised $180 mil­lion on a base pair edit­ing plat­form in Feb­ru­ary, Jim Wil­son’s Pas­sage Bio, and Ver­sant’s Black Di­a­mond Ther­a­peu­tics.

Ge­off Mc­Do­nough Gen­er­a­tion

Gen­er­a­tion Bio was the first com­pa­ny to go pub­lic this week, grab­bing $200 mil­lion in a twice-up­sized of­fer­ing. Run by Gen­zyme vet Ge­off Mc­Do­nough, it’s de­vel­op­ing gene ther­a­pies that can be de­liv­ered by lipid nanopar­ti­cles in­stead of vi­ral vec­tors. The idea is that the nanopar­ti­cles can last as long as the now-com­mon ade­no-as­so­ci­at­ed virus­es, while be­ing eas­i­er to scale and sell for less than the cur­rent mul­ti-mil­lion dol­lar price tags for gene ther­a­pies.

In Jan­u­ary, the com­pa­ny raised $110 mil­lion, bring­ing their to­tal to $235 mil­lion. At the time, Mc­Do­nough told End­points News they might look for an IPO in 12 to 18 months to fund their clin­i­cal work.

Avid­i­ty Bio­sciences, an Eli Lil­ly-backed an­ti­sense biotech, priced at $14 to $16, up­sized the range to $17 to $18, and then priced at the high end of that, earn­ing $259 mil­lion in the end. The com­pa­ny works on mus­cle dis­or­ders, par­tic­u­lar­ly my­oton­ic mus­cu­lar dy­s­tro­phy. They com­bine an­ti­sense oligonu­cleotides — an old way of drug­ging RNA — with hom­ing an­ti­bod­ies to cre­ate what they call an­ti­body oligonu­cleotides con­ju­gates. The idea is that the an­ti­body will guide the an­ti­sense to se­quences that were pre­vi­ous­ly dif­fi­cult to tar­get. Their last round was in No­vem­ber, for $100 mil­lion.

Vax­cyte filed for its IPO ex­act­ly two months af­ter it raised $110 mil­lion in a Se­ries D, and end­ed up rais­ing $249 mil­lion. At the time of the last raise, it was known as SutroVax — a holdover from its days as a spin­out of Sutro Bio­phar­ma — but they changed their name and lo­go in ad­vance of fil­ing for what was orig­i­nal­ly sten­ciled as a $100 mil­lion IPO.

There may be no bet­ter time to go pub­lic as a vac­cine com­pa­ny, and the re­turn of vac­cines to the cen­ter of pub­lic at­ten­tion may have boost­ed their over­all raise, but Vax­cyte is work­ing on a far dif­fer­ent mar­ket and type of in­oc­u­la­tion than coro­n­avirus. The com­pa­ny is try­ing to cre­ate a fol­low-up to Pre­vnar13, the Pfiz­er pneu­mo­nia vac­cine that’s earned over $30 bil­lion in one of the few block­buster vac­cine mar­kets. Vax­cyte’s lead prod­uct is meant to guard against 24 strains of bac­te­ria, in­stead of Pre­vnar’s 13, and is com­pet­ing against ex­per­i­men­tal in­oc­u­la­tions at Pfiz­er and else­where.

In the fi­nal large raise, Il­lu­mi­na-part­nered Burn­ing Rock Biotech, a DNA-se­quenc­ing based can­cer de­tec­tion com­pa­ny, earned $223 mil­lion, pric­ing a dol­lar above their orig­i­nal $13.50 to $15.50 range. They got to ring the open­ing bell to­day at the Nas­daq.

And on a small­er note, AI-fo­cused Chi­nese biotech, Lantern Phar­ma had an ever-so-slight­ly up­sized IPO. They filed for $25 mil­lion and raised $26 mil­lion.

Biotech Half­time Re­port: Af­ter a bumpy year, is biotech ready to re­bound?

The biotech sector has come down firmly from the highs of February as negative sentiment takes hold. The sector had a major boost of optimism from the success of the COVID-19 vaccines, making investors keenly aware of the potential of biopharma R&D engines. But from early this year, clinical trial, regulatory and access setbacks have reminded investors of the sector’s inherent risks.

RBC Capital Markets recently surveyed investors to take the temperature of the market, a mix of specialists/generalists and long-only/ long-short investment strategies. Heading into the second half of the year, investors mostly see the sector as undervalued (49%), a large change from the first half of the year when only 20% rated it as undervalued. Around 41% of investors now believe that biotech will underperform the S&P500 in the second half of 2021. Despite that view, 54% plan to maintain their position in the market and 41% still plan to increase their holdings.

Covid-19 vac­cine boost­ers earn big thumbs up, but Mod­er­na draws ire over world sup­ply; What's next for Mer­ck’s Covid pill?; The C-suite view on biotech; 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.

You may remember that at the beginning of this year, Endpoints News set a goal to go broader and deeper. We are still working towards that, and are excited to share that Beth Snyder Bulik will be joining us on Monday to cover all things pharma marketing. You can sign up for her weekly Endpoints MarketingRx newsletter in your reader profile.

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No­var­tis de­vel­op­ment chief John Tsai: 'We go deep in the new plat­form­s'

During our recent European Biopharma Summit, I talked with Novartis development chief John Tsai about his experiences over the 3-plus years he’s been at the pharma giant. You can read the transcript below or listen to the exchange in the link above.

John Carroll: I followed your career for quite some time. You’ve had more than 20 years in big pharma R&D and you’ve obviously seen quite a lot. I really was curious about what it was like for you three and a half years ago when you took over as R&D chief at Novartis. Obviously a big move, a lot of changes. You went to work for the former R&D chief of Novartis, Vas Narasimhan, who had his own track record there. So what was the biggest adjustment when you went into this position?

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Amit Etkin, Alto Neuroscience CEO (Alto via Vimeo)

A star Stan­ford pro­fes­sor leaves his lab for a start­up out to re­make psy­chi­a­try

About five years ago, Amit Etkin had a breakthrough.

The Stanford neurologist, a soft-spoken demi-prodigy who became a professor while still a resident, had been obsessed for a decade with how to better define psychiatric disorders. Drugs for depression or bipolar disorder didn’t work for many patients with the conditions, and he suspected the reason was how traditional diagnoses didn’t actually get at the heart of what was going on in a patient’s brain.

Susan Galbraith, Executive VP, Oncology R&D, AstraZeneca

As­traZeneca on­col­o­gy R&D chief Su­san Gal­braith: 'Y­ou're go­ing to need or­thog­o­nal com­bi­na­tion­s'

 

Earlier in the week we broadcast our 4th annual European Biopharma Summit with a great lineup of top execs. One of the one-on-one conversations I set up was with Susan Galbraith, the oncology research chief at AstraZeneca. In a wide-ranging discussion, Galbraith reviewed the cancer drug pipeline and key trends influencing development work at the pharma giant. You can watch the video, above, or stick with the script below. — JC

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Roche's Tecen­triq cross­es the fin­ish line first in ad­ju­vant lung can­cer, po­ten­tial­ly kick­ing off gold rush

While falling behind the biggest PD-(L)1 drugs in terms of sales, Roche has looked to carve out a space for its Tecentriq with a growing expertise in lung cancer. The drug will now take an early lead in the sought-after adjuvant setting — but competitors are on the way.

The FDA on Friday approved Tecentriq as an adjuvant therapy for patients with Stage II-IIIA non small cell lung cancer with PD-(L)1 scores greater than or equal to 1, making it the first drug of its kind approved in an early setting that covers around 40% of all NSCLC patients.

FDA ad­comm votes unan­i­mous­ly in sup­port of a J&J Covid-19 boost­er two months af­ter one-dose shot

The FDA’s Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee (VRBPAC) on Friday voted 19-0 in favor of authorizing a second shot of J&J’s Covid-19 vaccine to follow at least two months after the initial dose.

Regulators don’t have to follow VRBPAC’s recommendation, but they almost always do. Considering that the CDC’s advisory committee has already been set to review the expanded EUA, VRBPAC’s recommendation is likely to be adopted.

Yao-Chang Xu, Abbisko Therapeutics founder and CEO

Qim­ing-backed Ab­bisko makes $200M+ Hong Kong de­but, as a SPAC and Agenus spin­out al­so price on Nas­daq

Three new entities priced their public debuts late Thursday and early Friday, including a SPAC, a traditional Nasdaq IPO and a Chinese biotech joining the Hong Kong Index.

Shanghai-based Abbisko Therapeutics raised the most money of the triumvirate, garnering $226 million in its Hong Kong debut and pricing at HK$12.46, or roughly $1.60 in US dollars. The blank check company followed up with a $150 million raise, while MiNK Therapeutics priced on Nasdaq at $12 per share and a $40 million raise.

Paul Grayson, Tentarix CEO (Versant)

Phar­ma vet­er­ans re­group with $50M and a plan to dis­cov­er new mul­ti-specifics

While a horde of drugmakers develops bispecific antibodies to more directly target tumor cells — there were about 100 programs in or nearing clinical trials back in May — a new company is emerging to go one step further.

On Thursday, Tentarix Biotherapeutics unveiled a $50 million Series A round to support its next-gen multi-specifics platform. While the field has largely focused on bispecifics, which engage two targets, Tentarix believes its multifunctional programs have the potential to be even more specific, since more conditions must be met for potent activity to occur.