This week’s Nas­daq casi­no win­nings: About $700M for 6 biotech IPOs as shares start mov­ing north

We’re look­ing at an­oth­er big round of biotech IPOs for the week. 

My tal­ly of the to­tal haul comes in just shy of $700 mil­lion, fur­ther ev­i­dence that biotech com­pa­nies can still romp and stomp with the in­vest­ment com­mu­ni­ty as the run-up of new of­fer­ings hits 38 for the year to date.

Biotech uni­corn Ru­bius $RU­BY got the bid­ding start­ed, scor­ing $241 mil­lion and a mar­ket cap of $2 bil­lion. Ru­bius’ shares ini­tial­ly spiked, but closed at $24.55 Thurs­day evening af­ter pric­ing at $23 — a mod­est surge. Cri­net­ics $CRNX was close be­hind with $102 mil­lion, but en­joyed the wel­com­ing par­ty on Nas­daq with shares zoom­ing from a $17 ini­tial price up to $22.66 last night.

In the last day or two we’ve seen four more:

— Replimune $RE­PL priced at $15, the mid­dle of the range, rais­ing $100.5 mil­lion af­ter sell­ing 6.7 mil­lion shares. 

The team that orig­i­nal­ly in­vent­ed T-Vec , the pi­o­neer­ing on­colyt­ic virus treat­ment that Am­gen bought and pushed to an ap­proval af­ter ac­quir­ing BioVex, are still play­ing in the same field. On­ly now they feel that they’re lead­ing the next-gen crowd of de­vel­op­ers — which is huge. 

— Proven­tion Bio $PRVB gained $64 mil­lion sell­ing shares priced at $4 a share.

Proven­tion is fol­low­ing a pop­u­lar strat­e­gy, pick­ing up drugs from the back shelves at Big Phar­ma. J&J hand­ed over a cou­ple of its drugs to the biotech vets at Proven­tion. And now UCSF’s Jef­frey Blue­stone will see if the com­pa­ny can make a go of his di­a­betes drug teplizum­ab. Eli Lil­ly tried and failed bad­ly years ago, but the promi­nent re­searcher nev­er stopped hop­ing that some­one would re­trieve it from obliv­ion.

— Al­lakos $AL­LK went big, bag­ging $128.4 mil­lion in cash at $18 a share, break­ing out over the top of its $15 to $17 per share range.

Their lead drug tar­gets the in­hibito­ry re­cep­tor Siglec-8, found on the sur­face of mast cells and eosinophils. And Al­lakos be­lieves it has re­al po­ten­tial in a broad range of in­di­ca­tions, in­clud­ing eosinophilic gas­tri­tis, in­do­lent sys­temic mas­to­cy­to­sis, ur­ticaria and se­vere al­ler­gic con­junc­tivi­tis.

— And Con­stel­la­tion Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals $CNST, one of the old­er com­pa­nies in this week’s class, hit the mid-range at $15, rais­ing $60 mil­lion on 4 mil­lion shares.

Af­ter re­or­ga­niz­ing, the biotech start­ed a Phase Ib/II study of CPI-1205, an EZH2 in­hibitor com­bined with Yer­voy, that they hope will high­light their po­ten­tial in di­al­ing down gene ex­pres­sion in can­cer path­ways to en­hance im­muno-on­col­o­gy drugs.

We’re sup­posed to be in line for a sum­mer lull on the mar­ket. But aside from skip­ping the first week in Ju­ly, the IPO par­ty hasn’t ac­tu­al­ly stopped…yet.

Im­age: Nas­daqSHUT­TER­STOCK

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President Trump (left) and NIAID chief Anthony Fauci in the White House press room, April 22, 2020 (Michael Reynolds/Sipa via AP Images)

White House tries to dis­cred­it An­tho­ny Fau­ci — could he be on his way out?

For two months in late winter and early spring, Anthony Fauci and President Trump stood in uneasy co-existence at White House briefings — an unlikely truce between an infectious disease official who had helped combat AIDS and Ebola and a president who repeatedly denied the danger of a virus that would go on to kill 100,000 Americans, repeatedly rejected masks and certain social distancing efforts, and promoted a drug with little scientific basis.

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Stéphane Bancel, Moderna CEO (Andrew Harnik/AP Images)

A top an­a­lyst turns the spot­light on Mod­er­na, fu­el­ing a fast-and-fu­ri­ous Street race over the fu­ture of mR­NA

Four months ago, one of the favorite talking points on the biopharma social media wave length was whether Moderna shares $MRNA were priced right or were wildly inflated.

After all, said the naysayers, the company had never actually pushed a treatment to an approval. Did messenger RNA really work, coding cells to make a drug or a vaccine? And how about all that chatter about how ‘secretive’ they are, or were?

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En­gi­neer­ing an on/off switch for CAR-T out of yeast and Juras­sic Park

Almost as soon as CAR-T emerged in the mid-2010s as a near-cure for some cancers, so did a question: How do you give this without risking killing patients?

At the time, James Patterson was wrapping an MD-PhD at a yeast lab at London’s Francis Crick Institute. Yeast may seem an unlikely place to find a fix for cancer therapy, but reading through other researchers’ solutions to CAR-T’s toxicity, Patterson wondered if a method long used by yeast biologists called auxotrophy might be useful. You genetically modify cells to make them dependent on a particular nutrient. Then you can make them live or die — proliferate or deplete — by giving or taking away that nutrient.

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Albert Bourla, AP

Covid-19 roundup: CanSi­no eyes more over­seas PhI­II sites as Cana­da tri­al re­port­ed­ly stalls; In­di­an drug­mak­er surges on 30-per­son da­ta

Having leveraged connections in Canada for a planned Phase III trial of its Covid-19 vaccine, CanSino is venturing out to a few more others as it plots a global late-stage program.

“We are contacting Russia, Brazil, Chile and Saudi Arabia, and it’s still in discussion,” Dongxu Qiu, executive director and co-founder of CanSino, said at a conference in Suzhou, China, per Reuters.

The trial is likely to start “pretty soon,” he added, with plans to recruit 40,000 participants total.

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CEO John Oyler at the Endpoints/PharmCube BIIS18 conference in Shanghai (Photo: Endpoints News)

Chi­na's BeiGene now has $5B+ cash in its cof­fers. How's the Am­gen-part­nered biotech go­ing to spend it?

When Amgen wagered $2.7 billion to grab a 20.5% stake in BeiGene late last year, execs saw themselves buying into a “world-class operation” that would help them tap into the world’s most populous country and a growing biopharma powerhouse.

It turns out they were just getting started.

Over the weekend, BeiGene $BGNE brought in a hefty $2.08 billion — $421 million from Amgen — through a direct offering of its Nasdaq shares exclusively involving existing investors. New York-based hedge fund Baker Bros. Advisors also bought a chunk of new shares.

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Steve Arkinstall, Revitope CEO

Mass­a­chu­setts biotech Re­vi­tope scores first col­lab­o­ra­tion thanks to dual-en­gag­ing T cell plat­form

Revitope Oncology began 2020 hopeful that its cancer immunology platform would be finally ready to flourish. On Monday night, that platform nabbed the biotech its first collaboration.

The Massachusetts-based company has agreed to a licensing agreement with Shanghai-based Junshi Biosciences in which Revitope can receive up to $160 million in development and commercial milestones, plus royalties. In addition, Junshi will make a direct equity investment of $10 million, equal to 9.99% of Revitope shares, as the two companies work to develop a dual-antigen targeting cancer therapies.

Nader Pourhassan, CytoDyn CEO (Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic for CytoDyn’s Pro, Getty Images)

Cy­to­Dyn shares slammed as BLA fil­ing for leron­limab in HIV hits a wall

In a press release issued in early June announcing a BLA acknowledgment letter from the FDA, CytoDyn CEO Nader Pourhassan said he is hopeful about getting a PDUFA date for its lead drug, leronlimab, on July 10.

Instead, they received a refuse-to-file letter today.

The company said the agency is just looking for “certain information needed to complete a substantive review.” No clinical trials are necessary; all that’s needed is additional analysis and a meeting with the FDA.

Play­ing catch-up, Roche out­lines plans for a PhI­II he­mo­phil­ia A pro­gram — next year

For now, the big focus in the hemophilia A gene therapy race has been centered on frontrunner BioMarin, with an expected OK just weeks away, and the crew from Sangamo/Pfizer, which has been looking to play catch-up with a pivotal study in the works.

But now Roche’s new gene therapy division at Spark has updated its own schedule, saying they’re looking at a Phase III start sometime next year as they optimize the dose and immunomodulatory regimen in order to avoid any future mishaps that could derail the program.