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.

The top 100 bio­phar­ma VCs, Bob Brad­way places $2B bet in can­cer, gene edit­ing pi­o­neer's new big idea, and more

Welcome back to Endpoints Weekly, your review of the week’s top biopharma headlines. Want this in your inbox every Saturday morning? Current Endpoints readers can visit their reader profile to add Endpoints Weekly. New to Endpoints? Sign up here.

Before diving in, we had some news to share: Endpoints is launching a premium weekly report focusing on all things regulatory. Coverage will be led by our new senior editor, Zachary Brennan, who joins us from POLITICO. Arsalan Arif has more details in his Publisher’s Note.

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Robert Bradway (Photographer: Scott Eisen/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

UP­DAT­ED: Am­gen snaps up can­cer drug play­er Five Prime, adding PhI­II-ready FGFR2b drug in $2B M&A play

Amgen is making a long-awaited move on the M&A side, buying South San Francisco-based Five Prime $FPRX for close to $2 billion and adding a slate of new cancer drugs to the pipeline.

Amgen is paying $38 a share, putting the deal value at $1.9 billion. The stock closed at $21.26 last night, giving investors a 78% premium.

The jewel in the crown of this deal is bemarituzumab, which Amgen describes as a first-in-class, Phase III-ready anti-FGFR2b antibody. Amgen was drawn to the bargaining table by Five Prime’s mid-stage data on gastric cancer, satisfied by PFS and OS data helping to validate FGFR2b as a target. Amgen researchers will now expand on the R&D program in other epithelial cancers, including lung, breast, ovarian and other cancers.

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UP­DAT­ED: Not 3 weeks af­ter tak­ing Hu­ma­cyte pub­lic, Ra­jiv Shuk­la launch­es an­oth­er blank check com­pa­ny

One of biotech’s earliest SPAC investors is back with another blank-check company, less than a month after his last effort announced its intent to merge.

Rajiv Shukla is intending to take a third lucky winner public with Alpha Healthcare Acquisition III, filing to go public Thursday with a $150 million raise penciled in. The move comes just a couple of weeks after Shukla’s second SPAC said it would jump to Nasdaq in tandem with Laura Niklason’s Humacyte in a $255 million new investment.

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David Liu (Casey Atkins Photography courtesy Broad Institute)

David Liu has a new big idea: pro­teome edit­ing. It could one day shred tau, RAS and some of the worst dis­ease-caus­ing pro­teins

Before David Liu became famous for inventing new forms of gene editing, he was known around academia in part for a more obscure innovation: a Rube Goldberg-esque system that uses bacteria-infecting viruses to take one protein and turn it into another.

Since 2011, Liu’s lab has used the system, called PACE, to dream up fantastical new proteins: DNA base editors far more powerful than the original; more versatile forms of the gene editor Cas9; insecticides that kill insecticide-resistant bugs; enzymes that slide synthetic amino acids into living organisms. But they struggled throughout to master one of the most common and powerful proteins in the biological world: proteases, a set of Swiss army knife enzymes that cut, cleave or shred other proteins in everything from viruses to humans.

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The 2021 top 100 bio­phar­ma in­vestors: As the pan­dem­ic hit and IPOs boomed, VCs swung in­to ac­tion like nev­er be­fore

The global pandemic may have roiled economies, killed hundreds of thousands and throttled entire industries, but the only effect it had on biopharma venture investing was to help turbocharge the field to giddy new heights.

Below you’ll find the new top 100 venture investors in the industry, ranked by the number of deals they were publicly involved in, as tracked by DealForma chief Chris Dokomajilar. The numbers master then calculated the estimated amount of money they put into each deal — divvying up the cash by the number of players — to indicate how they managed their syndicates.

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Bruce Cozadd, Jazz CEO (Jazz Pharmaceuticals)

Jazz CEO Bruce Cozadd cam­paigned for 6 months to buy GW Phar­ma. A 90% pre­mi­um sealed the deal — along with $17.6M in ‘re­ten­tion’ in­cen­tives

Jazz CEO Bruce Cozadd didn’t beat around the bush.

In his first video meeting with GW Pharma chief Justin Gover last July 8, he offered to pay $172 a share to get the company, which had beaten the odds in getting its remarkable cannabinoid drug Epidiolex across the regulatory finish line for epilepsy. GW’s stock closed at $129 that day.

Cozadd had already done his homework on the financing to make sure he could swing it the way he wanted. He just needed to do some due diligence before making the non-binding bid firm.

Paul Hudson, Getty Images

How does Paul Hud­son's $13.5M comp pack­age stack up against oth­er CEOs? He's in the 'first quar­tile'

Paul Hudson arrived at Sanofi like a hurricane, chopping off duds in the pipeline, shaking up the C-suite, striking big M&A deals and jumping into the Covid-19 vaccine race — all in an attempt to reboot a pharma giant notorious for its setbacks.

Now, we’re getting a look at what the CEO brought home in his first year on the job.

When all is said and done, Hudson will have made about $6.7 million in 2020, about $2.5 million of which has already been paid. The bigger figure includes a $2.3 million bonus that’s subject to approval at an April meeting, and another $1.8 million in variable compensation that has yet to be paid.

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An Ar­ray co-founder re-emerges as CEO of a small aca­d­e­m­ic spin­out, look­ing to re­make an old class of can­cer drugs

Tony Piscopio hadn’t worked as a bench scientist in years when, around 2011, he got put in touch with a team at the University of Colorado trying to revitalize an old approach to treating cancer.

Piscopio, who had co-founded Array Biopharma before heading to South Korea to launch a new company, was back in the states, unattached and intrigued. He founded a three-person company with two professors, Xuedong Liu and Gail Eckhardt, and while they worked on the biology side, he returned to his old chemist chair and began drawing up potential compounds on a computer, along with manufacturing processes to make them. Outsourcing companies synthesized or analyzed the results.

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Af­ter three years of courtship (and turn­downs), Mer­ck pounced on the first glance of clin­i­cal da­ta in $1.85B Pan­dion takeover

It’s almost become cliché for biotech executives to talk about the importance of keeping your options open and being prepared to go all the way. But when it comes to negotiating with a giant like Merck, a little patience can indeed go a long way.

Just ask Pandion Therapeutics.

Days ago we already learned that Merck is shelling out $1.85 billion to pick up the biotech and its slate of autoimmune hopefuls. What we didn’t know until the SEC disclosure dropped Thursday is that the deal comes after Pandion turned down two other proposals from Merck over the past three years and held out until the last minute for a sweetened deal.

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