Ver­sant-backed, Bris­tol My­ers-stamped Re­pare Ther­a­peu­tics guns for $100M IPO

With a Bris­tol My­ers Squibb en­dorse­ment in tow, Ver­sant-backed can­cer drug de­vel­op­er Re­pare Ther­a­peu­tics has set its sights on a Nas­daq de­but.

On Fri­day, the Mon­tre­al-based com­pa­ny with op­er­a­tions in Cam­bridge, Mass­a­chu­setts that is yet to en­ter the clin­ic, un­veiled plans for a $100 mil­lion IPO, bank­ing on its “syn­thet­ic lethal­i­ty” plat­form.

The ba­sic idea is to tar­get the ge­net­ic ba­sis of tu­mors, a com­mon idea across pre­ci­sion on­col­o­gy med­i­cines. But in­stead of tar­get­ing the per­pe­tra­tor mu­ta­tion di­rect­ly, the com­pound is de­signed to go af­ter the oth­er gene in the gene pair. The ra­tio­nale is based on the decades-old ge­net­ic prin­ci­ple that in­di­cates two mu­ta­tions are lethal on­ly when com­bined to­geth­er.

A sim­i­lar ap­proach was first so­lid­i­fied with the ap­proval of PARP in­hibitors, such as As­traZeneca and Mer­ck’s Lyn­parza, Clo­vis’ Rubra­ca and GSK’s Ze­ju­la. PARP is a pro­tein used by dam­aged cells to ini­ti­ate re­pair, and by thwart­ing it, the class of drugs is en­gi­neered to pre­vent can­cer cells from re­pair­ing them­selves, there­by cat­alyz­ing their de­struc­tion.

At Re­pare, sci­en­tists have em­ployed the use of a CRISPR-based screen­ing tool to hone in on these syn­thet­i­cal­ly lethal gene pairs and then en­gi­neered drugs to hunt them. The Re­pare ap­proach promis­es to be tu­mor-ag­nos­tic — the com­pa­ny’s lead ex­per­i­men­tal prod­uct, RP-3500, is a small mol­e­cule de­signed to block the DNA re­pair pro­tein — atax­ia telang­iec­ta­sia —  as well as an en­zyme that’s ac­ti­vat­ed by DNA repli­ca­tion stress. Clin­i­cal tri­als are an­tic­i­pat­ed to be­gin lat­er this quar­ter, and if all goes well, a Phase I/II study in the third quar­ter.

Re­pare has com­pa­ny in the field, such as its Cam­bridge neigh­bor Tan­go Ther­a­peu­tics that has CRISPR dis­cov­ered five pre­clin­i­cal pro­grams and raised $60 mil­lion in a fresh in­jec­tion of fund­ing in April. Cyteir Ther­a­peu­tics, an­oth­er ri­val, net­ted about $40 mil­lion last Oc­to­ber.

So far, 2016 formed-Re­pare has raised $135.2 mil­lion — its most re­cent cap­i­tal in­jec­tion was an $82.5 mil­lion Se­ries B fi­nanc­ing last Sep­tem­ber. The IPO fil­ing shows the com­pa­ny has pen­ciled in a $100 mil­lion IPO, but of late, the fi­nal fig­ures raised are typ­i­cal­ly far high­er.

Daniel Durocher

Days ago, Bris­tol My­ers bought in­to the dream, fork­ing over $50 mil­lion up­front and $15 mil­lion in an eq­ui­ty in­vest­ment in a col­lab­o­ra­tion with Re­pare. Pre-IPO, Ver­sant is Re­pare’s largest share­hold­er, own­ing rough­ly a 30% stake — oth­er in­vestors in­clude MPM Cap­i­tal (11.8%) and Or­biMed (11.2%).

Frank Sicheri

The ar­chi­tect of Re­pare’s tech­nol­o­gy is com­pa­ny co-founder Daniel Durocher of the Lunen­feld-Tanen­baum Re­search In­sti­tute (the re­search arm of Mount Sinai Hos­pi­tal) who is one of the first sci­en­tists who pi­o­neered the use of CRISPR to screen for syn­thet­i­cal­ly lethal gene pairs. Frank Sicheri, the oth­er co-founder, is al­so from Lunen­feld-Tanen­baum.

How one start­up fore­told the neu­ro­science re­nais­sance af­ter '50 years of shit­show'

In the past couple of years, something curious has happened: Pharma and VC dollars started gushing into neuroscience research.

Biogen’s controversial new Alzheimer’s drug Aduhelm has been approved on the basis of removing amyloid plaque from the brain, but the new neuro-focused pharma and biotechs have much loftier aims. Significantly curbing or even curing the most notorious disorders would prove the Holy Grail for a complex system that has tied the world’s best drug developers in knots for decades.

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Bob Bradway, Amgen CEO (Scott Eisen/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Am­gen bel­lies back up to the M&A ta­ble for an­oth­er biotech buy­out, this time with a $2.5B deal for an an­ti­body play­er fo­cused on PS­MA

Five months after Amgen CEO Bob Bradway stepped up to the M&A table and acquired Five Prime for $1.9 billion, following up with the smaller Rodeo acquisition, he’s gone back in for another biotech buyout.

This time around, Amgen is paying $900 million cash while committing up to $1.6 billion in milestones to bag the privately held Teneobio, an antibody drug developer that has expertise in developing new bispecifics and multispecifics. In addition, Amgen cited Teneobio’s “T-cell engager platform, which expands on Amgen’s existing leadership position in bispecific T-cell engagers by providing a differentiated, but complementary, approach to Amgen’s current BiTE platform.”

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Ryan Watts, Denali CEO

De­nali slips as a snap­shot of ear­ly da­ta rais­es some trou­bling ques­tions on its pi­o­neer­ing blood-brain bar­ri­er neu­ro work

Denali Therapeutics had drummed up considerable hype for their blood-brain barrier technology since launching over six years ago, hype that’s only intensified in the last 14 months following the publications of a pair of papers last spring and proof of concept data earlier this year. On Sunday, the South San Francisco-based biotech gave the biopharma world the next look at in-human data for its lead candidate in Hunter syndrome.

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Why is On­col­o­gy Drug De­vel­op­ment Re­search Late to the Dig­i­tal Bio­mark­ers Game?

During the recent Annual ASCO Meeting, thousands of cancer researchers and clinicians from across the globe joined together virtually to present and discuss the latest findings and breakthroughs in cancer research and care. There were more than 5000+ scientific abstracts presented during this event, yet only a handful involved the use of motion-tracking wearables to collect digital measures relating to activity, sleep, mobility, functional status, and/or quality of life. Although these results were a bit disappointing, they should come as no surprise to those of us in the wearable technology field.

Art Levinson (Calico)

Google-backed Cal­i­co dou­bles down on an­ti-ag­ing R&D pact with Ab­b­Vie as part­ners ante up $1B, start to de­tail drug tar­gets

Seven years after striking up a major R&D alliance, AbbVie and Google-backed anti-aging specialist Calico are doubling down on their work with a joint, $1 billion commitment to continuing their work together. And they’re also beginning to offer some details on where this project is taking them in the clinic.

According to their statement, each of the two players is putting up $500 million more to keep the labs humming.

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Andrea Pfeifer, AC Immune CEO (AC Immune)

Look­ing to repli­cate Covid-19 suc­cess in neu­ro, BioN­Tech back­ers bet on AC Im­mune and its new­ly-ac­quired Parkin­son's vac­cine

The German billionaires behind BioNTech have found a new vaccine project to back.

Through their family office Athos Service, twin brothers Thomas and Andreas Strüngmann are leading a $25 million private placement into Switzerland’s AC Immune — which concurrently announced that it’s shelling out $58.7 million worth of stock to acquire Affiris’ portfolio of therapies targeting alpha-synuclein, including a vaccine candidate, for Parkinson’s disease.

Rajiv Shukla, Constellation Alpha Holdings

Can­del gets busy IPO week mov­ing with down­sized raise as Ra­jiv Shuk­la's third SPAC goes pub­lic

Editor’s note: Interested in following biopharma’s fast-paced IPO market? You can bookmark our IPO Tracker here.

In a week that’s expected to see several biotechs price their IPOs, Candel Therapeutics got things kicked off Tuesday with a muted opener.

The company helmed by former GlaxoSmithKline vet Paul Peter Tak made its way to Nasdaq thanks to a $72 million raise, which was downsized by about 15% than originally anticipated, according to Renaissance Capital. Candel priced at $8 per share after initially seeking to launch in the $13 to $15 range.

Busi­ness­es and schools can man­date the use of Covid-19 vac­cines un­der EUAs, DOJ says

As public and private companies stare down the reality of the Delta variant, many are now requiring that their employees or students be vaccinated against Covid-19 prior to attending school or to returning or starting a new job. Claims that such mandates are illegal or cannot be used for vaccines under emergency use authorizations have now been dismissed.

Setting the record straight, the Department of Justice on Monday called the mandates legal in a new memo, even when used for people with vaccines that remain subject to EUAs.

Ugur Sahin, BioNTech CEO (Bernd von Jutrczenka/dpa via AP Images)

BioN­Tech is spear­head­ing an mR­NA vac­cine de­vel­op­ment pro­gram for malar­ia, with a tech trans­fer planned for Africa

Flush with the success of its mRNA Covid-19 vaccine, BioNTech is now gearing up for one of the biggest challenges in vaccine development — which comes without potential profit.

The German mRNA pioneer says it plans to work on a jab for malaria, then transfer the tech to the African continent, where it will work with partners on developing the manufacturing ops needed to make this and other vaccines.

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