Raju Mohan, Ventyx Biosciences CEO

Ven­tyx sprints to Wall Street less than a year af­ter emerg­ing from stealth

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It took sev­en months from ex­it­ing “qui­et mode” for Ven­tyx Bio­sciences to land its very own stock tick­er, rais­ing $165 mil­lion in ven­ture funds along the way.

Now, af­ter pric­ing a mas­sive $151.5 mil­lion IPO, the Encini­tas, CA-based biotech is gun­ning for Phase II.

Ven­tyx priced close to 9.5 mil­lion shares at $16 apiece on Wednes­day, the mid­point of its $15 to $17 range. CEO Ra­ju Mo­han filed the S-1 pa­pers at the end of Sep­tem­ber, just over a week af­ter un­veil­ing a $114 mil­lion Se­ries B round. He pen­ciled in the stan­dard fig­ure of $100 mil­lion at first, like­ly know­ing that in the last year, it’s been com­mon for biotechs to raise much more than those ini­tial es­ti­mates.

Mo­han al­so tapped a fa­mil­iar face to chair the com­pa­ny’s board of di­rec­tors last month: Sheila Gu­jrathi, who has been qui­et­ly sup­port­ing Ven­tyx all along. The for­mer Gos­samer Bio CEO made a small in­vest­ment in Ven­tyx’s Se­ries A, which took place be­tween Feb­ru­ary and June 2021, ac­cord­ing to SEC pa­pers.

Sheila Gu­jrathi

Now the com­pa­ny will look to chal­lenge Zeposia, one of the top drugs Gu­jrathi de­vel­oped while at Re­cep­tos. Ven­tyx is hop­ing its S1P1R mod­u­la­tor VTX002 will prove to be a bet­ter op­tion in ul­cer­a­tive col­i­tis, par­tic­u­lar­ly avoid­ing some of Zeposia’s warn­ings around liv­er in­jury and mac­u­lar ede­ma screen­ing. That can­di­date’s head­ed for Phase II by the end of the year, ac­cord­ing to the S-1, and Ven­tyx will use be­tween $45 mil­lion and $55 mil­lion of the IPO funds to get it done.

Al­so head­ed for Phase II is Ven­tyx’s oral TYK2 in­hibitor VTX958 — the com­pa­ny’s lead pro­gram, de­spite the fact that it ap­pears to be slight­ly be­hind VTX002 on the de­vel­op­ment time­line. It’s de­signed to tar­get au­toim­mune dis­eases, with pso­ri­a­sis be­ing the first tar­get. Rough­ly $75 mil­lion to $85 mil­lion of the IPO funds are tagged to bring the can­di­date through Phase II in that in­di­ca­tion.

The re­designed pipeline com­bines pro­grams from three com­pa­nies all found­ed by Mo­han and New Sci­ence Ven­tures. VTX958 was plucked straight from the orig­i­nal Ven­tyx formed in 2019.

A third can­di­date tar­get­ing the NL­RP3 in­flam­ma­some will en­ter the clin­ic by the end of the year, the S-1 states. The NL­RP3 in­flam­ma­some is a key sig­nal­ing pro­tein com­plex in the in­nate im­mune sys­tem, and Ven­tyx thinks in­hibit­ing it could treat a range of sys­temic in­flam­ma­to­ry con­di­tions, such as car­dio­vas­cu­lar, he­pat­ic, re­nal and rheuma­to­log­ic dis­eases.

The idea re­ceived a big boost back in 2017, when No­var­tis pub­lished da­ta show­ing that in­hibit­ing IL-1ß, a cy­tokine re­leased by NL­RP3, re­duced the risk of heart dis­ease and stroke.

When all is said and done, Mo­han will hold just over 4% of shares, while New Sci­ence Ven­tures will have a 37.73% stake. ven­Bio Part­ners, which par­tic­i­pat­ed in the Se­ries B round, takes a 9.98% piece of the cake.

Ven­tyx will list un­der the tick­er $VTYX.

At the In­flec­tion Point for the Next Gen­er­a­tion of Can­cer Im­munother­a­py

While oncology researchers have long pursued the potential of cellular immunotherapies for the treatment of cancer, it was unclear whether these therapies would ever reach patients due to the complexity of manufacturing and costs of development. Fortunately, the recent successful development and regulatory approval of chimeric antigen receptor-engineered T (CAR-T) cells have demonstrated the significant benefit of these therapies to patients.

All about Omi­cron; We need more Covid an­tivi­rals; GSK snags Pfiz­er’s vac­cine ex­ec; Janet Wood­cock’s fu­ture at FDA; and more

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Usama Malik

Ex-Im­munomedics CFO charged with in­sid­er trad­ing, faces up to 20 years in prison af­ter al­leged­ly tip­ping off girl­friend and rel­a­tives of a PhI­II suc­cess

The former CFO of Immunomedics, who helped steer the company to its $21 billion buyout by Gilead last year, has been charged with insider trading, the Department of Justice announced Thursday.

Usama Malik tipped off his then-girlfriend and four others that a Phase III study for Trodelvy would be stopped early four days before Immunomedics publicly announced the result in April 2020, DoJ alleged in its complaint. The individuals then purchased Immunomedics shares, selling them after the news broke and Immunomedics’ stock price doubled.

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Merck's new antiviral molnupiravir (Quality Stock Arts / Shutterstock)

As Omi­cron spread looms, oral an­tivi­rals ap­pear to be one of the best de­fens­es — now we just need more

After South African scientists reported a new Covid-19 variant — dubbed Omicron by the WHO — scientists became concerned about how effective vaccines and monoclonal antibodies might be against it, which has more than 30 mutations in the spike protein.

“I think it is super worrisome,” Dartmouth professor and Adagio co-founder and CEO Tillman Gerngross told Endpoints News this weekend. Moderna CEO Stéphane Bancel echoed similar concerns, telling the Financial Times that experts warned him, “This is not going to be good.”

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Radek Spisek, Sotio CEO (Cellestia)

A qui­et Czech biotech bags $315M to dri­ve its blos­som­ing can­cer pipeline through the clin­ic

In the rather insular world of biotech, most innovation inevitably comes from a cluster of R&D hubs — Cambridge, San Francisco, etc. But sometimes success stories sprout from rocky soil, which is most certainly the case with Prague-based Sotio Biotech and its suddenly jam-packed pipeline of cancer drugs.

After years in quiet development, Sotio now has $315 million in new funds to play with from parent company PPF Group, an investment group founded in the Czech Republic, as the biotech looks to advance its growing pipeline through early- and mid-stage trials.

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In­cor­po­rat­ing Ex­ter­nal Da­ta in­to Clin­i­cal Tri­als: Com­par­ing Dig­i­tal Twins to Ex­ter­nal Con­trol Arms

Most drug development professionals are familiar with the nerve-racking wait for the read-out of a large trial. If it’s negative, is the investigational therapy ineffective? Or could the failure result from an unforeseen flaw in the design or execution of the protocol, rather than a lack of efficacy? The team could spend weeks analyzing data, but a definitive answer may be elusive due to insufficient power for such analyses in the already completed trial. These problems are only made worse if the trial had lower enrollment, or higher dropout than expected due to an unanticipated event like COVID-19. And if a trial is negative, the next one is likely to be larger and more costly — if it happens at all.

Ab­b­Vie tacks on a new warn­ing to Rin­voq la­bel as safe­ty frets crimp JAK class

The safety problems that continue to plague the JAK class as new data highlight some severe side effects are casting a large shadow over AbbVie’s Rinvoq.

As a result of a recent readout highlighting major adverse cardiac events (MACE), malignancy, mortality and thrombosis with Xeljanz a couple of months ago, AbbVie put out a notice late Friday afternoon that it is adding the new class risks to its label for their rival drug.

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Biospec­i­men M&A: Dis­cov­ery ac­quires Al­bert Li's he­pa­to­cyte project; PhI­II tri­al on Bay­er's Nube­qa reached pri­ma­ry end­point

Discovery Life Sciences has acquired what claims to be the Maryland-based host of the world’s largest hepatocyte inventory, known as IVAL, to help researchers select more effective and safer drug candidates in the future.

The combined companies will now serve a wider range of drug research and development scientists, according to Albert Li, who founded IVAL in 2004 and is set to join the Discovery leadership team as the CSO of pharmacology and toxicology.

Pfiz­er, Am­gen and Janssen seek fur­ther clar­i­ty on FDA's new ben­e­fit-risk guid­ance

Three top biopharma companies are seeking more details from the FDA on how the agency conducts its benefit-risk assessments for new drugs and biologics.

While Pfizer, Amgen and Janssen praised the agency for further spelling out its thinking on the subject in a new draft guidance, including a discussion of patient experience data as part of the assessment, the companies said the FDA could’ve included more specifics in the 20-page draft document.

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