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.

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

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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.

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.

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.

FDA ad­comm to de­cide on mol­nupi­ravir EUA; Can­cer at­las un­veils new po­ten­tial drug tar­get

The FDA has another adcomm coming down the pipeline — this time on Covid-19 oral antiviral molnupiravir.

The federal agency’s advisory committee will meet on November 30th to go over Merck and Ridgeback’s EUA request for their investigational antiviral drug, and discuss the available data supporting its use in Covid-19 patients.

This comes two weeks after Merck claimed that their antiviral pill reduced the chance that newly diagnosed Covid-19 patients would be hospitalized or die by 50%. The pharma made the announcement after interim data on 775 patients in their clinical trial showed the antiviral’s potential.