Andrey Zarur, GreenLight Biosciences CEO

UP­DAT­ED: Vir­tu­al­ly un­known mR­NA up­start rides SPAC to Nas­daq with a $1.5B val­u­a­tion as RA-backed neu­ro play­er prices IPO

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

Just a few days af­ter EQRx an­nounced its in­tent to merge with Eli Cas­din’s third blank check com­pa­ny, an­oth­er SPAC deal is wrapped up and ready for Nas­daq.

RNA tech firm Green­Light Bio­sciences will re­verse merge its way to the pub­lic mar­ket, the com­pa­ny an­nounced Tues­day morn­ing, net­ting the biotech a rough­ly $1.5 bil­lion val­u­a­tion. Green­Light will merge with the SPAC En­vi­ron­men­tal Im­pact Ac­qui­si­tion Corp., which is backed by Canac­cord Ge­nu­ity Group and Hud­son Bay Cap­i­tal Man­age­ment, and will get $207 mil­lion from the SPAC as well as $105 mil­lion in PIPE fi­nanc­ing.

Green­Light is work­ing on sev­er­al ex­per­i­men­tal vac­cines us­ing mR­NA tech­nol­o­gy, in­clud­ing for sea­son­al flu, Covid-19 and sick­le cell dis­ease. Ex­ecs have set out a “blue­print to vac­ci­nate the world,” ar­gu­ing that mR­NA man­u­fac­tur­ing ca­pa­bil­i­ties are not up to snuff. Green­Light has pro­posed build­ing sev­en new mR­NA man­u­fac­tur­ing fa­cil­i­ties to try to com­bat this is­sue.

But the Med­ford, MA-based com­pa­ny got its start try­ing to shake up the pes­ti­cides mar­ket for in­dus­tri­al agri­cul­ture, spend­ing most of its ear­ly ef­forts here since be­ing found­ed in 2008 be­fore piv­ot­ing to hu­man health in late 2019, ear­ly 2020. CEO An­drey Zarur told End­points News that Green­Light’s plat­form com­bines two mR­NA ap­proach­es — one that in­volves fer­men­ta­tion-based process­es and an­oth­er uti­lized by high-pro­file com­pa­nies like Mod­er­na and BioN­Tech in­volv­ing tran­scrip­tion.

This “hy­brid” mod­el, Zarur said, can hope­ful­ly en­able Green­Light to pro­duce mR­NA-based prod­ucts at a much high­er scale and much low­er cost than the big­ger names. The re­sult is what the com­pa­ny calls “cell-free bio­pro­cess­ing.”

“We use the same types of cells that are used to make an­ti­bod­ies, used in fer­men­ta­tion process,” Zarur said. “They’re very in­ex­pen­sive and com­mon­ly used. We grow them, then we har­vest the raw ma­te­ri­als. It’s no dif­fer­ent than if plant­i­ng plants and har­vest­ing the fruits.”

Zarur added that Green­Light had nev­er planned on stop­ping at agri­cul­ture, but it was the first ap­pli­ca­tion where the com­pa­ny di­rect­ed its plat­form. He tout­ed Green­Light’s sci­en­tif­ic ad­vi­so­ry pan­el, in­clud­ing famed UPenn mR­NA re­searcher Drew Weiss­man, as piv­otal to help­ing the com­pa­ny branch out in­to life sci­ences a cou­ple years ago.

“When we de­cid­ed to move in­to hu­man health­care, we didn’t do it blind­ly,” Zarur said. “We didn’t do this half-assed.”

This past spring, Green­Light wel­comed a for­mer GSK Vac­cines staffer to help fur­ther things along in Amin Khan. Khan, a mem­ber of the group’s R&D lead­er­ship team, is at least the fourth GSK Vac­cines ex­ec to leave the com­pa­ny in the last sev­er­al months as it wait­ed and fell far be­hind in the Covid-19 hunt.

Be­fore Khan came Jef­frey Ul­mer, who de­part­ed in Ju­ly 2020; Amir Re­ich­man, for­mer head of glob­al vac­cines en­gi­neer­ing core tech­nolo­gies, who left in Jan­u­ary 2021; and Em­manuel Hanon, the for­mer chief of vac­cines re­search, who took a new job this past April. GSK al­so saw their pres­i­dent of US phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals, Jack Bai­ley, de­part in the sum­mer of 2020 to take the CEO gig at G1 Ther­a­peu­tics.

With the glut of SPAC pric­ings hav­ing slowed down from ear­li­er this year, more and more blank check com­pa­nies are find­ing part­ners to bring to Nas­daq. More than $18 bil­lion has flowed in­to the biotech sec­tor alone, per the End­points News tal­ly, fol­low­ing near­ly a dozen merg­ers an­nounced in the sec­ond quar­ter. Green­Light is the fourth biotech SPAC to an­nounce its merg­er so far in the third quar­ter.

Eliem com­pletes rapid IPO rise

Eliem Ther­a­peu­tics has com­plet­ed its quick as­cent to Nas­daq af­ter emerg­ing from stealth just this past March, rais­ing $80 mil­lion and pric­ing shares at $12.50 apiece.

The biotech had like­ly been work­ing on an IPO for a lit­tle while, as it had de­clined in­ter­view re­quests af­ter a $60 mil­lion Se­ries B back in May. Eliem is mak­ing its pub­lic de­but with a pipeline of four neu­ro as­sets led by a pro­drug of an en­do­cannabi­noid known as palmi­toylethanolamide, or PEA.

Re­search for the com­pound had been in pos­ses­sion by RA Cap­i­tal, where Eliem was in­cu­bat­ed. Eliem’s lead can­di­date ETX-810 is cur­rent­ly in two Phase IIa stud­ies look­ing at di­a­bet­ic pe­riph­er­al neu­ro­path­ic pain and lum­bosacral radic­u­lar pain. Da­ta read­outs are ex­pect­ed for the first half of 2022.

RA Cap­i­tal is the big win­ner of the IPO, as the firm con­trolled more than 52% of shares be­fore the of­fer­ing. Post-of­fer­ing, RA will still own about a 40% stake, ac­cord­ing to the S-1. The firm AI ETI, backed by Ac­cess In­dus­tries Hold­ings, al­so takes home a 16.9% stake once the of­fer­ing con­cludes.

And Va­lerie Moris­set, the long­time pain re­searcher who took the CSO job at Eliem, will win an IPO prize as well. Mor­riset gets 1.2% of shares post-of­fer­ing.

Eliem will trade un­der the tick­er $ELYM.

A new era of treat­ment: How bio­mark­ers are chang­ing the way we think about can­cer

AJ Patel was recovering from a complicated brain surgery when his oncologist burst into the hospital room yelling, “I’ve got some really great news for you!”

For two years, Patel had been going from doctor to doctor trying to diagnose his wheezing, only to be dealt the devastating news that he had stage IV lung cancer and only six months to live. And then they found the brain tumors.

“What are you talking about?” Patel asked. He had never seen an oncologist so happy.

Endpoints Premium

Premium subscription required

Unlock this article along with other benefits by subscribing to one of our paid plans.

David Ricks, Eli Lilly CEO (David Paul Morris/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Eli Lil­ly set to in­vest $2.1B in home state man­u­fac­tur­ing boost

Eli Lilly is looking to expand its footprint in its home Hoosier State by making a major investment in manufacturing.

The pharma is investing $2.1 billion in two new manufacturing sites at Indiana’s LEAP Lebanon Innovation and Research District in Boone County, northwest of Lilly’s headquarters in Indianapolis.

The two new facilities will expand Lilly’s manufacturing network for active ingredients and new therapeutic modalities, including genetic medicines, according to a press release.

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 142,700+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

US sees spike in Paxlovid us­age as Mer­ck­'s mol­nupi­ravir and As­traZeneca's Evusheld are slow­er off the shelf

New data from HHS show that more than 162,000 courses of Pfizer’s Covid-19 antiviral Paxlovid were administered across the US over the past week, continuing a streak of increased usage of the pill, and signaling not only rising case numbers but more awareness of how to access it.

In comparison to this week, about 670,000 courses of the Pfizer pill have been administered across the first five months since Paxlovid has been on the US market, averaging about 33,000 courses administered per week in that time.

Pfiz­er and CD­MOs ramp up Paxlovid man­u­fac­tur­ing with Kala­ma­zoo plant ex­pan­sion lead­ing the way

As the Covid-19 pandemic continues to evolve, pharma companies and manufacturers are exploring how to step up production on antivirals.

Pfizer is planning to expand its Kalamazoo-area facility to increase manufacturing capabilities for the oral Covid-19 antiviral Paxlovid, according to a report from Michigan-based news site MLive. The expansion of the facility, which serves as Pfizer’s largest manufacturing location, is expected to create hundreds of “high-skilled” STEM jobs, MLive reported. No details about the project’s cost and timeline have been released, but according to MLive, Pfizer will announce the details of the expansion at some point in early June.

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 142,700+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

FDA spells out the rules and re­stric­tions for states seek­ing to im­port drugs from Cana­da

The FDA is offering more of an explanation of the guardrails around its program that may soon allow states to import prescription drugs in some select circumstances from Canada, but only if such imports will result in significant cost reductions for consumers.

While the agency has yet to sign off on any of the 5 state plans in the works so far, and PhRMA’s suit to block the Trump-era rule allowing such imports is stalled, the new Q&A guidance spells out the various restrictions that states will have to abide by, potentially signaling that a state approval is coming.

Simba Gill, CEO of Evelo Biosciences

While down 87% YOY, Evelo gets Flag­ship and oth­ers to in­fuse new cap­i­tal for come­back hope

Just four years after Flagship spinout Evelo Biosciences went public in an IPO worth $85 million, the biotech has seen its share price tank from $13 a share this time last year (ultimately reaching a peak of over $17) to now under $1.50. And today, it looks like Flagship still thinks the fledging biotech, in a down market, is still worth something after initial pre-IPO backing from the likes of Google’s GV, Celgene, Mayo Clinic and Alexandria Venture.

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 142,700+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

Peter Thompson, Terremoto Biosciences interim CEO

For­mer Prin­cip­ia team looks to shake up co­va­lent small mol­e­cules again, this time at 'earthquake' scale

Terremoto Biosciences goes back a long ways, in a sense, to about a dozen years ago when Principia Biopharma was founded by UCSF professor Jack Taunton. Peter Thompson initially helmed the biotech.

The company helped expand covalent small molecule inhibitors beyond oncology and into autoimmune disease by targeting cystine. But that amino acid is uncommon in a lot of proteins, offering fewer drug targets than, say, lysine, which is present in most proteins of interest. So, over the years, Taunton went back to the drawing board to check out that second amino acid.

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 142,700+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla at the World Economic Forum (Gian Ehrenzeller/Keystone via AP Images)

All about ac­cess: Pfiz­er moves to a non-prof­it mod­el for drug sales in 45 low­er-in­come coun­tries

Leading the way to increase access to cheaper drugs worldwide, Pfizer said Wednesday it will provide all current and future patent-protected medicines and vaccines available in the US or EU on a not-for-profit basis to about 1.2 billion people in 45 lower-income countries.

Rwanda, Ghana, Malawi, Senegal and Uganda are the first five countries to sign on to this accord, which will also seek to blaze new paths for quick and efficient regulatory and procurement processes to reduce the usual delays in making new medicines and vaccines available in these countries.

Almirall is tapping artificial intelligence on behalf of its sales force for insights and efficiencies. (via Shutterstock)

Almi­rall rolls out sales rep ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence sys­tem, cut­ting pre-call prep and 'wind­shield time'

Dermatology specialty pharma Almirall is making its sales reps smarter. Not with extra training or educational courses, but instead with artificial intelligence tools.

It began a soft launch of a sales rep AI and machine learning platform it calls Polaris last August in one of its 7 US coverage regions. The platform from Aktana gathers information from across Almirall internal sources and external ones – such as claims and prescribing data – to generate insights for reps. Now, instead of spending hours prepping for a sales call, Polaris can generate details about a physician’s preferences, past behaviors and prescription habits for reps in minutes, said Almirall head of commercial operations Vincent Cerio.

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 142,700+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.