Two biotechs hunt $175 million in Nasdaq pursuit; Keryx CEO Gregory Madison abruptly resigns; RxCelerate buys bioanalytical CRO

→ Less than four months after reaping $47 million in Series C financing, Scholar Rock is out for a $75 million IPO. The Cambridge, MA-based company will be focused on preparing its lead program for spinal muscular atrophy, SRK-015, for a planned IND filing in the coming weeks and discovering an additional indication for the drug by the second half of next year. Unlike rivals such as Novartis and Roche/Biogen, Scholar Rock’s drug inhibits latent, not active, myostatin. In doing so, the treatment aims to boost muscle mass and strength in SMA patients. The money will also go toward other preclinical R&D activities, pursuing other targets from TGFβ1 to BMP6. Scholar Rock plans to list on Nasdaq under the symbol $SRRK.

→ Despite what Alzheon and Mereo BioPharma — both of which pulled out of their Nasdaq listings — may say, their biotech colleagues seem to think the IPO window is still wide open. Kiniksa Pharmaceuticals has filed for a $100 million IPO to fuel its pipeline of drugs for autoinflammatory and autoimmune conditions, meant to cover all three of its clinical-stage product candidates. Its most advanced asset is an approved interleukin-1 drug from Regeneron named Arcalyst (rilonacept), currently marketed for cryopyrin-associated periodic syndromes. Betting on its potential to treat the inflammatory cardiovascular disease pericarditis, Kiniksa is conducting an open-label Phase II study for the drug, with plans to enter Phase III this year. The company, which plans to list as $KNSA, is based in Lexington, MA.

Gregory Madison has resigned from Keryx Biopharma $KERX on the same day he became its CEO and president three years ago. Jodie Morrison, a current board member and former chief executive at Tokai Pharma, will lead the Auryxia maker in the interim. The Boston company thanked Madison but did not give a reason for Madison’s departure in its statement, choosing instead to focus on its outlooks for Auryxia, its only drug, currently approved for iron deficiency anemia and hyperphosphatemia in patients with chronic kidney disease. The therapy accounted for $20 to 21 million out of $21 to $22.5 million in first quarter revenue.

RxCelerate, the preclinical research specialist which has been expanding from Cambridge, UK into Cambridge, MA, has acquired the bioanalytical CRO Total Scientific. The move expands the staff at RxCelerate to 37, with the addition of Total Scientific’s 11-member crew. “Total Scientific was the first company in the world to offer Phenome-wide Association Studies as a commercial service, underpinning their status as global leaders in highly specialised bioanalysis” said RxCelerate CEO Jill Reckless. “This capability, coupled with their GLP-compliant bioanalysis platform significantly extends the range of cutting-edge capabilities available to our clients to move their projects more efficiently to the next value inflection point.”

Evelo Biosciences has set the terms for its upcoming IPO, looking to raise around $85 million by offering 5.3 million shares at $15 to $17 each.

→ It took a few months, but OrbiMed’s Sam Isaly has finally stepped down from his top post at the venture firm. Late last year STAT writer Damian Garde outlined charges that Isaly had harassed women at the firm for years, leading to a quick statement that he would be retiring from the company and his high-profile position. The firm’s five other partners — Sven Borho, Carl Gordon, Jonathan Silverstein, Carter Neild and Geoffrey Hsu — will continue their ownership.

With contribution by Amber Tong.

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Research Scientist - Immunology
Recursion Pharmaceuticals Salt Lake City, UT
Director of Operations
Atlas Venture Cambridge, MA

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