Three more biotechs go pub­lic Fri­day as noth­ing seems able to slow down the 2020 train

An­oth­er day, an­oth­er three biotechs price their IPOs. Such is 2020 in the biotech in­dus­try.

Fri­day’s win­ners are Kro­nos Bio, Shat­tuck Labs and Spruce Bio­sciences, all of whom are set to hit Nas­daq. Kro­nos raised the most of the bunch at $250.8 mil­lion. Shat­tuck al­so topped the $200 mil­lion-mark with a $202 mil­lion raise, while Spruce fol­lowed up with $90 mil­lion.

In terms of pric­ing, all three priced above their ranges. Kro­nos did so at $19 per share, Shat­tuck at $17 per share and Spruce at an up­sized $15 a share.

The lat­est fig­ures from in­de­pen­dent an­a­lyst Brad Lon­car peg the com­bined biotech in­dus­try raise at over $11 bil­lion across four dozen IPOs through late Au­gust. That to­tal sur­passed the en­tire amount raised by biotechs that went pub­lic in all of 2019, and more than half had raised more than $200 mil­lion on their own — a group that now in­cludes Kro­nos and Shat­tuck.

In a re­cent in­ter­view, Nas­daq’s head of health­care list­ings Jor­dan Saxe told End­points News the tal­ly was 56 IPOs with a to­tal $11.3 bil­lion raised. With three more biotechs go­ing pub­lic Fri­day, the num­ber is now clos­er to 60, a num­ber not seen in any of the last four years. And more are com­ing, with Galec­to fil­ing its S-1 on Thurs­day.

Sev­er­al fac­tors have con­tributed to the ex­plod­ing mar­ket, Saxe said, no­tably with the Covid-19 pan­dem­ic high­light­ing an al­ready-im­pres­sive amount of in­no­va­tion in the field. Saxe added that a “con­ser­v­a­tive” es­ti­mate of the fi­nal 2020 IPO num­ber will end up be­tween 65 and 70.

Kro­nos is the high­est-pro­file of the bunch, with 30-year Gilead R&D vet­er­an Nor­bert Bischof­berg­er run­ning the show since the com­pa­ny launched in 2018. The biotech re­cent­ly ac­quired en­tosple­tinib, which was shelved when Bischof­berg­er still worked at Gilead, as well as an­oth­er SYK in­hibitor, lan­raplenib.

Per the biotech’s S-1, around $80 to $90 mil­lion of the IPO funds will go to­ward a Phase II/III tri­al to study en­tosple­tinib, now called EN­TO, in com­bi­na­tion with in­duc­tion chemother­a­py to treat acute myeloid leukemia pa­tients with NPM1 mu­ta­tions. An­oth­er $20 to $30 mil­lion will fund a Phase I/II tri­al in a CDK9 in­hibitor, with the rest go­ing to­ward their SYK and oth­er pro­grams. That’s all on top of $278 mil­lion in VC mon­ey.

Shat­tuck’s move to go pub­lic is the lat­est in a busy few months. Back in June, the com­pa­ny net­ted a $118 mil­lion Se­ries B and now in­tends to use the IPO cash to push its lead pro­gram, a CD47 in­hibitor and CD40 ag­o­nist, from Phase I to Phase II in ovar­i­an can­cer. The biotech al­so plans to fin­ish a Phase I tri­al for its Take­da-part­nered can­di­date, SL-279252, for ad­vanced sol­id tu­mors and lym­phoma.

Fi­nal­ly, Spruce has al­so had a packed year af­ter pulling in a $88 mil­lion Se­ries B in Feb­ru­ary, and they fo­cus their pipeline on clas­sic con­gen­i­tal adren­al hy­per­pla­sia. The com­pa­ny is un­der­go­ing two Phase IIb tri­als for tildac­er­font, a non-steroidal treat­ment for CAH, in adult pa­tients with both good and poor dis­ease con­trol. About $5 mil­lion will be used to wrap up these tri­als, while an­oth­er $20 mil­lion will help com­mer­cial­ize the can­di­date. $40 mil­lion will help fund ad­di­tion­al CAH re­search in pe­di­atric pa­tients.

In his­toric Covid-19 ad­comm, vac­cine ex­perts de­bate a sea of ques­tions — but of­fer no clear an­swers

The most widely anticipated and perhaps most widely watched meeting in the FDA’s 113-year history ended late Thursday night with a score of questions and very few answers.

For nearly 9 hours, 18 different outside experts listened to public health agencies and foundations present how the United States’ Covid-19 vaccine program developed through October, and they debated where it should go from there: Were companies testing the right metrics in their massive trials? How long should they track patients before declaring a vaccine safe or effective? Should a vaccine, once authorized, be given to the volunteers in the placebo arm of a trial?

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Pascal Soriot, AstraZeneca CEO (Zach Gibson/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

UP­DAT­ED: FDA gives As­traZeneca the thumbs-up to restart PhI­II Covid-19 vac­cine tri­als, and J&J is prepar­ing to re­sume its study

Several countries had restarted their portions of AstraZeneca’s global Phase III Covid-19 vaccine trial after the study was paused worldwide in early September, but the US notably stayed on the sidelines — until now. Friday afternoon the pharma giant announced the all clear from US regulators. And on top of that, J&J announced Friday evening that it’s preparing to resume its own Phase III vaccine trial.

Adrian Gottschalk, Foghorn CEO (Foghorn)

Foghorn hits Nas­daq in $120M de­but as the biotech IPO boom shows no sign of slow­ing

It’s been a record year for biotech IPOs, and the execs at Nasdaq would like nothing better than to see that momentum continue into the first half of next year.

Since January, 72 biotech and biopharma companies have hit Wall Street, according to Nasdaq head of healthcare listings Jordan Saxe, together raising $13.2 billion.

The latest is Flagship’s Foghorn Therapeutics, which priced its shares last night at $16 apiece, the midpoint of a $15 to $17 range. The Cambridge, MA-based biotech — which initially filed for a $100 million raise on Oct. 2 — is netting $120 million from a 7.5 million-share offering. The proceeds will go right into its gene traffic control platform, including two lead preclinical oncology candidates.

Ul­tragenyx in­jects $40M to grab Solid's mi­crody­s­trophin trans­gene — while side­step­ping the AAV9 vec­tor that stirred up safe­ty fears

Since before Ilan Ganot started Solid Bio to develop a gene therapy for kids like his son, who has Duchenne muscular dystrophy, Ultragenyx CEO Emil Kakkis has been watching and advising the former investment banker as he navigated the deep waters of drug development.

Just as Solid is getting back up on its feet after a yearlong clinical hold, Kakkis has decided to jump in for a formal alliance.

With a $40 million upfront, Ultragenyx is grabbing 14.45% of Solid’s shares $SLDB and the rights to its microdystrophin construct for use in combination with AAV8 vectors. Solid’s lead program, which utilizes AAV9, remains unaffected. The company also retains rights to other applications of its transgene.

A top drug pro­gram at Bay­er clears a high bar for CKD — open­ing the door to an FDA pitch

Over the past 4 years, Bayer has been steering a major trial through a pivotal program to see if their drug finerenone could slow down the pace of chronic kidney disease in patients suffering from both CKD as well as Type 2 diabetes.

Today, their team jumped on a virtual meeting hosted by the American Society of Nephrology to offer a solid set of pivotal data to demonstrate that the drug can delay dialysis or a kidney replacement as well as cardio disease, while also adding some worrying signs of hyperkalemia among the patients taking the drug. And they’re hustling it straight to regulators in search of an approval for kidney disease and cardio patients — one of the toughest challenges in the book, as demonstrated by repeated past failures.

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Michel Vounatsos, Biogen CEO (via YouTube)

UP­DAT­ED: Bio­gen spot­lights a pair of painful pipeline set­backs as ad­u­canum­ab show­down looms at the FDA

Biogen has flagged a pair of setbacks in the pipeline, spotlighting the final failure for a one-time top MS prospect while scrapping a gene therapy for SMA after the IND was put on hold due to toxicity.

Both failures will raise the stakes even higher on aducanumab, the Alzheimer’s drug that Biogen is betting the ranch on, determined to pursue an FDA OK despite significant skepticism they can make it with mixed results and a reliance on post hoc data mining. And the failures are being reported as Biogen was forced to cut its profit forecast for 2020 as a generic rival started to erode their big franchise drug.

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Stephen Hahn, FDA commissioner (AP Images)

As FDA sets the stage for the first Covid-19 vac­cine EUAs, some big play­ers are ask­ing for a tweak of the guide­lines

Setting the stage for an extraordinary one-day meeting of the Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee this Thursday, the FDA has cleared 2 experts of financial conflicts to help beef up the committee. And regulators went on to specify the safety, efficacy and CMC input they’re looking for on EUAs, before they move on to the full BLA approval process.

All of this has already been spelled out to the developers. But the devil is in the details, and it’s clear from the first round of posted responses that some of the top players — including J&J and Pfizer — would like some adjustments and added feedback. And on Thursday, the experts can offer their own thoughts on shaping the first OKs.

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Adam Koppel and Jeffrey Schwartz, Bain

Bain ex­ecs Adam Kop­pel and Jef­frey Schwartz line up $125M for their first blank check deal as Wall Street con­tin­ues to em­brace biotech

Adam Koppel and Jeffrey Schwartz have jumped into the blank check game, raising $125 million for a stock listing in search of a company.

Their SPAC, BCLS Acquisition Corp, raised $125 million this week, with a line on $25 million more as it scouts for a biotech in search of money and a place on Wall Street.

The two principals at Bain Life Sciences have been on a romp since they set up the Bain operation 4 years ago. Their S-1 spells out a track record of 22 deals totaling $650 million for the life sciences group, which led to 9 IPOs.

Biond­Vax stock im­plodes af­ter a big PhI­II gam­ble for its uni­ver­sal flu vac­cine fails

After flying high on Wall Street for the last few months of a pandemic, BiondVax’s stock and dreams of getting approval for its universal flu vaccine hit the windshield.

The Jerusalem-based biotech announced on Friday that its only clinical candidate, M-001, failed both primary and secondary endpoints in a Phase III study. There was no statistically significant difference in reduction of flu illness and severity between the vaccine and placebo groups, according to the company. The vaccine did prove safe, if ineffective, BiondVax said.