Three more biotechs hit Nas­daq as the sec­tor, now with more than $13B raised, con­tin­ues bar­rel­ing to­ward record

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Af­ter a sum­mer slum­ber, the biotech IPO mar­ket is back in full swing with three new pric­ings drop­ping Wednes­day and two SPACs en­ter­ing the ring.

DiCE Ther­a­peu­tics and Tyra Bio­sciences each hit Nas­daq on Wednes­day with nine-fig­ure rais­es, while small-cap Pa­sithea Ther­a­peu­tics al­so de­buted with a $24 mil­lion raise. The pric­ings have pushed the com­bined in­dus­try raise north of $13 bil­lion so far in 2021, per the End­points News track­er, a fig­ure like­ly to eclipse last year’s record to­tal of $16.5 bil­lion.

If the pace stays the same from now un­til New Year’s Eve, the biotech sec­tor will end up rais­ing about $18.8 bil­lion this year.

Here’s a look at the in­dus­try’s newest pub­lic com­pa­nies:

A good roll for Kevin Ju­dice’s biotech

DiCE will de­but at $17 per share, the high end of its range, in what comes out to a $204 mil­lion haul for the biotech.

Kevin Ju­dice

Spec­u­la­tion about an IPO had swirled since CEO Kevin Ju­dice put out a terse press re­lease last month say­ing the com­pa­ny raised $60 mil­lion. Af­ter prov­ing an en­thu­si­as­tic in­ter­view ear­li­er this year fol­low­ing a Se­ries C, the cryp­tic Au­gust state­ment stood out as odd. The SEC does re­quire es­sen­tial ra­dio si­lence in the run-up to an IPO.

Now, the world can see where those ef­forts have led. Most of the IPO funds will be di­rect­ed to­ward their lead can­di­date, an IL-17 an­tag­o­nist, and oth­er pro­grams look­ing to hit that tar­get. DiCE ini­tial­ly slat­ed $90 mil­lion to go to­ward these can­di­dates, but that was when they ex­pect­ed a small­er IPO raise of about $144 mil­lion.

As the biotech gets ready for po­ten­tial com­mer­cial­iza­tion, the S-1 re­vealed a few weeks ago that a deal with Roche’s Genen­tech end­ed in June af­ter on­ly $6 mil­lion in pay­ments. Sanofi paid more, putting up $9 mil­lion and adding an­oth­er $9 mil­lion in a deal with up to $200 mil­lion in mile­stones.

DiCE is look­ing to com­pete with No­var­tis’ Cosen­tyx and Eli Lil­ly’s Taltz among IL-17 meds, but the biotech is go­ing af­ter an oral ad­min­is­tra­tion in the hopes of dif­fer­en­ti­at­ing it­self. DiCE is still pre­clin­i­cal but ap­plied to start a Phase I study in the UK in Ju­ly.

The biotech will trade un­der the tick­er $DICE.

A Norse is a Norse, of course, of course

Tyra, mean­while, has priced at the high end of $16, to­tal­ing $173 mil­lion for its IPO raise.

This biotech, too, was like­ly to raise more than its ini­tial $100 mil­lion es­ti­mate, giv­en that it had pulled in $160 mil­lion over its life­time be­fore fil­ing the S-1. Like DiCE, Tyra — named af­ter the Norse god Tyr — is backed by RA Cap­i­tal Man­age­ment, who owns a 20% pre-of­fer­ing stake in the com­pa­ny. Box­er Cap­i­tal al­so has the same size stake, while Al­ta Part­ners and Canaan have al­so con­tributed re­peat­ed­ly lead­ing to 13% and 14.6% stakes, re­spec­tive­ly.

Tyra has de­vel­oped a plat­form it calls SNAP, which in­volves shoot­ing X-ray beams to dis­cov­er the three-di­men­sion­al struc­ture of a par­tic­u­lar pro­tein. It’s not a new ap­proach, but Tyra’s in-house team col­lects the so-called “SNAP­shots” two to five times a week, giv­ing re­searchers an atom-by-atom look at how a drug is bind­ing to a spe­cif­ic pro­tein.

Right now, Tyra’s pipeline will be tar­get­ed at the fi­brob­last growth fac­tor re­cep­tor, or FGFR, fam­i­ly, with the lead pro­gram start­ing off at FGFR3. Known as TYRA-300, the can­di­date is be­ing stud­ied in mus­cle in­va­sive blad­der can­cer and sol­id tu­mors, and about $19 mil­lion of the IPO raise will be fun­neled here to push it through a Phase I/II study.

An­oth­er $20 mil­lion each or so will go to­ward two ad­di­tion­al pro­grams, one tar­get­ing FGFR2 and the oth­er go­ing af­ter FGFR3. Tyra will trade un­der the tick­er $TYRA.

No drugs? No prob­lem

Round­ing out Wednes­day’s group, Pa­sithea priced at just $5 per share, or the low end of its range for a $24 mil­lion raise.

The Mi­a­mi Beach, FL-based biotech is aim­ing to treat psy­chi­atric and neu­ro­log­ic dis­or­ders, per the com­pa­ny’s S-1, but does not cur­rent­ly have a pipeline. It’s still fo­cus­ing on dis­cov­ery work for three can­di­dates, with the hopes of go­ing af­ter a “moon­shot” ap­proach and com­plete­ly new mech­a­nisms of ac­tion.

As a re­sult, Pa­sithea wants to go af­ter the un­der­ly­ing pathol­o­gy of con­di­tions like ma­jor de­pres­sive dis­or­der, rather than oth­er play­ers in the field it says have de­vel­oped ther­a­peu­tics tar­get­ing symp­toms.

The S-1 makes sev­er­al men­tions of the po­ten­tial use of ke­t­a­mine in UK re­search, but it’s un­clear if the drugs Pa­sithea wants to de­vel­op will cen­ter around the psy­che­del­ic.

Two SPACs look to give biotechs a blank check 

One new SPAC priced Wednes­day and an­oth­er filed for an IPO late Tues­day, il­lus­trat­ing the SPAC at­tack is back on track. Aes­ther Health­care Ac­qui­si­tion priced at $100 mil­lion, while Ar­bor Rapha Cap­i­tal Bio­hold­ings I pen­ciled in a $150 mil­lion raise es­ti­mate.

The first blank-check com­pa­ny is run by Suren Aj­jara­pu, co-founder and CEO of TRx­ADE Health, an on­line mar­ket­place for phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal com­pa­nies. Aj­jara­pu’s com­pa­ny de­buted on Nas­daq in Feb­ru­ary 2020. Ar­bor Rapha Cap­i­tal Bio­hold­ings I, mean­while, comes from Ar­bor Re­al­ty Trust CEO Ivan Kauf­man.

SPACs are back on the move af­ter a rel­a­tive lull ear­li­er this year when reg­u­la­tors in­di­cat­ed they’d be crack­ing down on how fi­nan­cial in­sti­tu­tions are in­ter­nal­ly polic­ing the blank check com­pa­nies.

Health­care Dis­par­i­ties and Sick­le Cell Dis­ease

In the complicated U.S. healthcare system, navigating a serious illness such as cancer or heart disease can be remarkably challenging for patients and caregivers. When that illness is classified as a rare disease, those challenges can become even more acute. And when that rare disease occurs in a population that experiences health disparities, such as people with sickle cell disease (SCD) who are primarily Black and Latino, challenges can become almost insurmountable.

David Meek, new Mirati CEO (Marlene Awaad/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Fresh off Fer­Gene's melt­down, David Meek takes over at Mi­rati with lead KRAS drug rac­ing to an ap­proval

In the insular world of biotech, a spectacular failure can sometimes stay on any executive’s record for a long time. But for David Meek, the man at the helm of FerGene’s recent implosion, two questionable exits made way for what could be an excellent rebound.

Meek, most recently FerGene’s CEO and a past head at Ipsen, has become CEO at Mirati Therapeutics, taking the reins from founding CEO Charles Baum, who will step over into the role of president and head of R&D, according to a release.

Jacob Van Naarden (Eli Lilly)

Ex­clu­sives: Eli Lil­ly out to crash the megablock­buster PD-(L)1 par­ty with 'dis­rup­tive' pric­ing; re­veals can­cer biotech buy­out

It’s taken 7 years, but Eli Lilly is promising to finally start hammering the small and affluent PD-(L)1 club with a “disruptive” pricing strategy for their checkpoint therapy allied with China’s Innovent.

Lilly in-licensed global rights to sintilimab a year ago, building on the China alliance they have with Innovent. That cost the pharma giant $200 million in cash upfront, which they plan to capitalize on now with a long-awaited plan to bust up the high-price market in lung cancer and other cancers that have created a market worth tens of billions of dollars.

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Rafaèle Tordjman (Jeito Capital)

Con­ti­nu­ity and di­ver­si­ty: Rafaèle Tord­j­man's women-led VC firm tops out first fund at $630M

For a first-time fund, Jeito Capital talks a lot about continuity.

Rafaèle Tordjman had spotlighted that concept ever since she started building the firm in 2018, promising to go the extra mile(s) with biotech entrepreneurs while pushing them to reach patients faster.

Coincidentally, the lack of continuity was one of the sore spots listed in a report about the European healthcare sector published that same year by the European Investment Bank — whose fund is one of the LPs, alongside the American pension fund Teacher Retirement System of Texas and Singapore’s Temasek, to help Jeito close its first fund at $630 million (€534 million). As previously reported, Sanofi had chimed in €50 million, marking its first investment in a French life sciences fund.

Jay Bradner (Jeff Rumans for Endpoints News)

Div­ing deep­er in­to in­her­it­ed reti­nal dis­or­ders, No­var­tis gob­bles up an­oth­er bite-sized op­to­ge­net­ics biotech

Right about a year ago, a Novartis team led by Jay Bradner and Cynthia Grosskreutz at NIBR swooped in to scoop up a Cambridge, MA-based opthalmology gene therapy company called Vedere. Their focus was on a rather narrow market niche: inherited retinal dystrophies that include a wide range of genetic retinal disorders marked by the loss of photoreceptor cells and progressive vision loss.

But that was just the first deal that whet their appetite.

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FDA hands ac­cel­er­at­ed nod to Seagen, Gen­mab's so­lo ADC in cer­vi­cal can­cer, but com­bo stud­ies look even more promis­ing

Biopharma’s resident antibody-drug conjugate expert Seagen has scored a clutch of oncology approvals in recent years, finding gold in what are known as “third-gen” ADCs. Now, another of their partnered conjugates is ready for prime time.

The FDA on Monday handed an accelerated approval to Seagen and Genmab’s Tivdak (tisotumab vedotin-tftv, or “TV”) in second-line patients with recurrent or metastatic cervical cancer who previously progressed after chemotherapy rather than PD-(L)1 systemic therapy, the companies said in a release.

Dave Lennon, former president of Novartis Gene Therapies

Zol­gens­ma patent spat brews be­tween No­var­tis and Re­genxbio as top No­var­tis gene ther­a­py ex­ec de­parts

Regenxbio, a small licensor of gene therapy viral vectors spun out from the University of Pennsylvania, is now finding itself in the middle of some major league patent fights.

In addition to a patent suit with Sarepta Therapeutics from last September, Novartis, is now trying to push its smaller partner out of the way. The Swiss biopharma licensed Regenxbio’s AAV9 vector for its $2.1 million spinal muscular atrophy therapy Zolgensma.

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Time for round 2: Il­lu­mi­na-backed VC snags $325M for its next fund

Illumina Ventures closed off its second investment fund with a total commitment of $325 million, offering fresh fuel to back a slate of startups that have already included a smorgasbord of companies, covering everything from diagnostics to biotech drug development and genomics.

Fund II brings the total investment under Illumina Ventures’ oversight to $560 million, which has been focused on early-stage companies. And it has a transatlantic portfolio that includes SQZ, Twist and Encoded Therapeutics.

Volker Wagner (L) and Jeff Legos

As Bay­er, No­var­tis stack up their ra­dio­phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal da­ta at #ES­MO21, a key de­bate takes shape

Ten years ago, a small Norwegian biotech by the name of Algeta showed up at ESMO — then the European Multidisciplinary Cancer Conference 2011 — and declared that its Bayer-partnered targeted radionuclide therapy, radium-223 chloride, boosted the overall survival of castration-resistant prostate cancer patients with symptomatic bone metastases.

In a Phase III study dubbed ALSYMPCA, patients who were treated with radium-223 chloride lived a median of 14 months compared to 11.2 months. The FDA would stamp an approval on it based on those data two years later, after Bayer snapped up Algeta and christened the drug Xofigo.

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