Norbert Bischofberger, Kronos CEO

Three more biotechs look to jump on­to Nas­daq amid IPO boom, in­clud­ing Nor­bert Bischof­berg­er's Kro­nos

Three drug de­vel­op­ers an­nounced plans to go pub­lic on Fri­day, a sign that the IPO win­dow for bio­phar­ma is wide open.

First up is Daly City, CA-based Spruce Bio­sciences. They filed for an $86 mil­lion IPO to de­vel­op their pipeline for clas­sic con­gen­i­tal adren­al hy­per­pla­sia (CAH). Cur­rent­ly, on­ly steroids are avail­able to treat the con­di­tion, which af­fects the adren­al glands above the kid­neys. Spruce’s tildac­er­font, a non-steroidal op­tion, is in a Phase IIb tri­al in adults with clas­sic CAH and poor dis­ease con­trol. The com­pa­ny ex­pects a topline read­out here in the next 12 to 15 months. The small mol­e­cule is al­so in a Phase IIb study in adults with clas­sic CAH and good dis­ease con­trol. Spruce ex­pects topline da­ta here in the first half of 2022.

The com­pa­ny says IPO mon­ey will help fund op­er­a­tions for at “least the next 12 months.” And they plan fur­ther R&D work to po­ten­tial­ly treat chil­dren with clas­sic CAH and oth­er rare en­docrine dis­or­ders.

Spruce raked in an $88 mil­lion Se­ries B round in Feb­ru­ary, led by Omega Funds and Abing­worth. So far, the com­pa­ny has blown through $42.9 mil­lion, ac­cord­ing to its S-1 fil­ing. Oth­er in­di­ca­tions could al­so be in tildac­er­font’s fu­ture. “In ad­di­tion to ad­dress­ing these un­met needs in CAH, tildac­er­font’s mech­a­nism of ac­tion could al­so be rel­e­vant in pa­tients suf­fer­ing oth­er ab­nor­mal­i­ties of the hy­po­thal­a­m­ic-pi­tu­itary adren­al ax­is, in­clud­ing non-clas­sic CAH, Cush­ing’s Dis­ease, and poly­cys­tic ovary syn­drome,” Wiebke Arlt, di­rec­tor of the In­sti­tute of Me­tab­o­lism and Sys­tems Re­search at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Birm­ing­ham, said in Feb­ru­ary.

Next up we have Shat­tuck and Kro­nos, who both filed for $100 mil­lion IPOs to fo­cus on can­cer treat­ments.

Austin, TX-based Shat­tuck says it’s de­vel­op­ing a new class of ag­o­nist redi­rect­ed check­points, or ARCs. Its lead can­di­date, SL-172154, is de­signed to in­hib­it CD47 and stim­u­late CD40, and is cur­rent­ly in a Phase I tri­al for ovar­i­an can­cer. Ini­tial da­ta are ex­pect­ed in the sec­ond half of next year.

The com­pa­ny al­so plans to be­gin a sec­ond Phase I tri­al in pa­tients with cu­ta­neous squa­mous cell car­ci­no­ma or head and neck squa­mous cell car­ci­no­ma, from which dose-es­ca­la­tion da­ta would be avail­able in the sec­ond half of 2022. Their Take­da-part­nered can­di­date, SL-279252, is in a Phase I tri­al for ad­vanced sol­id tu­mors and lym­phoma. Dose-es­ca­la­tion da­ta is com­ing in the sec­ond half of next year, Shat­tuck an­nounced.

Back in June, Shat­tuck reeled in a $118 mil­lion Se­ries B from Red­mile Group and over 10 oth­er in­vestors. It in­tends to use the IPO funds to push SL-172154 from Phase I to Phase II, and de­vel­op ad­di­tion­al can­di­dates. So far, the com­pa­ny has burned through $48.3 mil­lion.

“Longer-term, we are pur­su­ing ad­di­tion­al dis­ease ar­eas, in­clud­ing au­toim­mune dis­eases, where our dual-sided fu­sion pro­tein plat­forms may pro­vide ad­van­tages over cur­rent treat­ment modal­i­ties,” the biotech said in its S-1.

Then there’s Nor­bert Bischof­berg­er’s Kro­nos. The 30-year Gilead vet joined Kro­nos in 2018, pitch­ing in to an $18 mil­lion seed round to launch the biotech. Af­ter an­nounc­ing $155 mil­lion in pri­vate fi­nanc­ing in Au­gust, Kro­nos hit the $278 mil­lion mark.

In Ju­ly, Kro­nos picked up en­tosple­tinib — a drug that was shelved when Bischof­berg­er was head of R&D at Gilead. Kro­nos forked over a “few mil­lion” in cash and a slice of eq­ui­ty to get it and an­oth­er SYK in­hibitor, lan­raplenib, the CEO told End­points News fol­low­ing the deal. And now, the biotech plans on us­ing IPO pro­ceeds to fund a reg­is­tra­tional Phase II/III study of en­tosple­tinib in com­bi­na­tion with in­duc­tion chemother­a­py (IC) in acute myeloid leukemia (AML) pa­tients with NPM1 mu­ta­tions. That would in­clude a $29 mil­lion mile­stone pay­ment to Gilead.

The com­pa­ny is al­so look­ing to con­duct a Phase I/II tri­al of its can­di­date KB-0742 for the treat­ment of ad­vanced sol­id tu­mors, and to fur­ther de­vel­op its SYK and CDK9 pro­grams. Its ac­cu­mu­lat­ed deficit is $39 mil­lion.

“Sub­ject to clear­ance of an In­ves­ti­ga­tion­al New Drug ap­pli­ca­tion (IND) for KB-0742, which we plan to sub­mit in the fourth quar­ter of 2020, we plan to ini­ti­ate a Phase I/II clin­i­cal tri­al in pa­tients with ad­vanced sol­id tu­mors in 2021,” the S-1 states.

Biotech in­vestors and CEOs see two paths to growth, but are they equal­ly vi­able?

The dynamic in the biotech market has been highly volatile in the last few years, from the high peaks immediately after the COVID vaccine in 2021, to the lowest downturns of the last 20 years in 2022. This uncertainty makes calling the exact timing of the market’s turn something of a fool’s errand, according to Dr. Chen Yu, Founder and Managing Partner of TCG Crossover (TCG X). He speaks with RBC’s Noël Brown, Head of US Biotechnology Investment Banking, about the market’s road ahead and two possible paths for growth.

In AstraZeneca's latest campaign, wild eosinophils called Phils personify the acting up often seen in uncontrolled asthma

As­traZeneca de­buts an­noy­ing pur­ple ‘Phil’ crea­tures, per­son­i­fied asth­ma eosinophils ‘be­hav­ing bad­ly’

There are some odd-looking purple creatures lurking around the halls of AstraZenca lately. The “Phil” character cutouts are purple, personified eosinophils with big buggy eyes and wide mouths, and they’re a part of AZ’s newest awareness effort to help people understand eosinophilic asthma.

The “Asthma Behaving Badly” characters aren’t only on the walls at AZ to show the new campaign to employees, however. The “Phils” are also showing up online on the campaign website, and in digital and social ads and posts on Facebook and Instagram.

Casey McPherson shows his daughters Rose (left) and Weston around Everlum Bio, a lab that he co-founded to spark a treatment for Rose and others with ultra-rare conditions. (Ilana Panich-Linsman)

Fa­ther starts lab af­ter in­tel­lec­tu­al prop­er­ty is­sues stymie rare dis­ease drug de­vel­op­ment

Under bright lab lights, Casey McPherson holds his 6-year-old daughter, Rose. His free hand directs Rose’s gaze toward a computer screen with potential clues in treating her one-of-a kind genetic condition.

Gray specks on the screen show her cells that scientists reprogrammed with the goal of zeroing in on a custom medicine. McPherson co-founded the lab, Everlum Bio, to spark a treatment for Rose — and others like her. A regarded singer-songwriter, McPherson never imagined going into drug development.

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Ying Huang, Legend CEO

Lentivi­ral vec­tor ramp-up: J&J and Leg­end to in­vest $500M in New Jer­sey man­u­fac­tur­ing to sup­port Carvyk­ti

In response to a question on manufacturing scale at Legend Biotech’s R&D day yesterday, the company’s top exec said its partnership with Johnson & Johnson will be doubling its investment in its New Jersey manufacturing center and will be investing a total of $500 million.

With an eye on their BCMA-directed CAR-T therapy Carvykti (cilta-cel), approved in February as a fifth-line treatment for multiple myeloma, Legend CEO Ying Huang said that the ramp-up in production and the decision to manufacture its own lentiviral vectors — currently in shortage worldwide — means they won’t have to deal with that shortage.

Kite Phar­ma gets FDA to sign off on new Cal­i­for­nia-based vec­tor man­u­fac­tur­ing fa­cil­i­ty

Kite Pharma just got FDA approval to kick off operations at a new manufacturing campus.

The cancer-focused, CAR-T cell therapy player made the announcement Monday, saying that the federal regulatory agency gave the green light to Kite’s 100,000 square-foot, retroviral vector manufacturing facility in Oceanside, CA.

Kite’s global head of technical operations Chris McDonald tells Endpoints News that the facility has been in the works for about four years, after Kite teamed up with its parent company Gilead. Gilead acquired Kite Pharma for just shy of $12 billion in 2017.

Mar­ket­ingRx roundup: No­var­tis re­cruits NFL coach for Leqvio cam­paign; Pfiz­er pro­motes ‘Sci­ence’ merch on so­cial me­dia

Novartis is turning to a winning coach to talk about Leqvio and the struggles of high cholesterol — including his own. Bruce Arians, the retired NFL head coach of the Arizona Cardinals and Super Bowl-winning Tampa Bay Buccaneers, is partnering with the pharma for its “Coaching Cholesterol” digital, social and public relations effort.

In the campaign, Arians talks about the potential for “great comebacks” in football and heart health. Once nicknamed a “quarterback whisperer,” he is now retired from fulltime coaching (although still a front-office consultant for Tampa Bay), and did a round of media interviews for Novartis, including one with People and Forbes.

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Amy West, Novo Nordisk head of US digital innovation and transformation (Illustration: Assistant Editor Kathy Wong for Endpoints News)

Q&A: No­vo Nordisk dig­i­tal in­no­va­tion chief Amy West dis­cuss­es phar­ma pain points and a health­care 'easy but­ton’

Amy West joined Novo Nordisk more than a decade ago to oversee marketing strategies and campaigns for its US diabetes portfolio. However, her career path shifted into digital, and she hasn’t looked back. West went from leading Novo’s first digital health strategy in the US to now heading up digital innovation and transformation.

She’s currently leading the charge at Novo Nordisk to not only go beyond the pill with digital marketing and health tech, but also test, pilot and develop groundbreaking new strategies needed in today’s consumerized healthcare world.

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Marc Dunoyer, Alexion CEO (AstraZeneca via YouTube)

Up­dat­ed: As­traZeneca nabs a small rare dis­ease gene ther­a­py play­er for 667% pre­mi­um

AstraZeneca is kicking off the fourth quarter with a little M&A Monday for a gene editing player recently overcoming a second clinical hold to its only program in human studies.

The Big Pharma and its subsidiary Alexion are buying out little LogicBio for $2.07 per share. That’s good for a massive 667% premium over its Friday closing price, when it headed into the weekend at 27 cents and just weeks after Nasdaq said LogicBio would have to delist, which has been put on hold as the biotech requests a hearing. It’s one of two biotech deals to commence October, alongside the news of Incyte buying a vitiligo-focused biotech.

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Dave Marek, Myovant CEO

My­ovant board balks as ma­jor­i­ty own­er Sum­it­o­mo swoops in with a $2.5B deal to buy them out

Three years after Sumitomo scooped up Roivant’s 46% stake in the publicly traded Myovant $MYOV as part of a 5-company, $3 billion deal, they’re coming back for the whole thing.

But these other investors at Myovant want more than what the Japanese pharma company is currently offering to pay at this stage.

Sumitomo is bidding $22.75 a share for the outstanding stock, which now represents 48% of the company after Sumitomo bumped its ownership since the original deal with Roivant. Myovant, however, created a special committee on the board, and they’re shaking their heads over the offer.

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