Siddhartha Mukherjee (Evan Agostini/Invision/AP)

Vor leads a new pack of IPOs to price, con­tin­u­ing steady stream of com­pa­nies mak­ing leap to the Nas­daq

Six of the 10 biotechs that were ex­pect­ed to price their IPOs this week have now of­fi­cial­ly made the jump on­to the Nas­daq, con­tin­u­ing a record pace dat­ing back to 2020.

Vor Bio­phar­ma, Sid­dhartha Mukher­jee’s cell ther­a­py start­up, of­fi­cial­ly priced its 9,828,017 shares of com­mon stock Fri­day at $18 per share, rais­ing $176.9 mil­lion. Vor’s IPO, trad­ing un­der the tick­er $VOR, will close Feb. 9, with Gold­man Sachs, Ever­core ISI, Bar­clays and Stifel op­er­at­ing as bookrun­ners.

Vor said in ear­li­er SEC fil­ings that it would use the IPO fil­ing to ad­vance the two com­po­nents of its plat­form: A CAR-T for AML and a ge­net­i­cal­ly en­gi­neered stem cell trans­plant that makes the CAR-T safer, by re­mov­ing from healthy cells the pro­tein it tar­gets. Al­so of note, Vor ex­ceed­ed both its ini­tial com­pa­ny shares and the es­ti­mat­ed price point it list­ed in ear­li­er fil­ings.

Join­ing Vor this week was Lan­dos Bio­phar­ma, the Chris Garabe­di­an-backed oral au­toim­mune com­pa­ny, and Evax­ion Biotech, a Den­mark-head­quar­tered com­pa­ny us­ing AI im­munother­a­pies to tar­get can­cer and in­fec­tious dis­eases.

Lan­dos raised the sec­ond most of the three new Nas­daq ad­di­tions, pric­ing its 6,250,000 com­mon shares at $16 per share for an ini­tial haul of $100 mil­lion. Lan­dos’ IPO, un­der the tick­er $LABP, will close on Feb. 8 with JP Mor­gan, Jef­feries and SVB Leerink as the bookrun­ners. Lan­dos will of­fer un­der­writ­ers a 30-day op­tion of buy­ing an­oth­er 937,500 com­mon shares at the $16 price point.

Lan­dos’ of­fer­ing will be one to keep an eye on, as ini­tial fil­ings in­di­cat­ed a key fo­cus mov­ing for­ward will be its lead mol­e­cule BT-11, which is now fo­cused on ul­cer­a­tive col­i­tis and Crohn’s dis­ease but missed on all its pri­ma­ry end­points in IBD dur­ing a Phase II proof-of-con­cept study.

And Evax­ion will of­fer 3,000,000 shares at a price of $10 per share af­ter rais­ing $30 mil­lion, the com­pa­ny said. Trad­ing un­der the tick­er $EVAX, the IPO will close on Feb 9 with un­der­writ­ers hav­ing a 30-day op­tion of snap­ping up an­oth­er 450,000 ADSs at the IPO price point. Op­pen­heimer & Co. is op­er­at­ing as the sole bookrun­ner on the deal.

Ear­ly fil­ings show that Evax­ion plans on us­ing the IPO to fund four dif­fer­ent pro­grams in its port­fo­lio —most no­tably its lead can­di­date EVX-01, a per­son­al im­munother­a­py that us­es an AI plat­form to iden­ti­fy the best pro­tein tar­gets in each pa­tient. It’s in Phase I/IIa for three dif­fer­ent can­cers, where it’s be­ing test­ed in com­bo with PD-1 block­ers.

For on­go­ing track­ing of biotech IPOs in 2021, check out End­points News’ data­base here.

Health­care Dis­par­i­ties and Sick­le Cell Dis­ease

In the complicated U.S. healthcare system, navigating a serious illness such as cancer or heart disease can be remarkably challenging for patients and caregivers. When that illness is classified as a rare disease, those challenges can become even more acute. And when that rare disease occurs in a population that experiences health disparities, such as people with sickle cell disease (SCD) who are primarily Black and Latino, challenges can become almost insurmountable.

David Meek, new Mirati CEO (Marlene Awaad/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Fresh off Fer­Gene's melt­down, David Meek takes over at Mi­rati with lead KRAS drug rac­ing to an ap­proval

In the insular world of biotech, a spectacular failure can sometimes stay on any executive’s record for a long time. But for David Meek, the man at the helm of FerGene’s recent implosion, two questionable exits made way for what could be an excellent rebound.

Meek, most recently FerGene’s CEO and a past head at Ipsen, has become CEO at Mirati Therapeutics, taking the reins from founding CEO Charles Baum, who will step over into the role of president and head of R&D, according to a release.

Who are the women su­per­charg­ing bio­phar­ma R&D? Nom­i­nate them for this year's spe­cial re­port

The biotech industry has faced repeated calls to diversify its workforce — and in the last year, those calls got a lot louder. Though women account for just under half of all biotech employees around the world, they occupy very few places in C-suites, and even fewer make it to the helm.

Some companies are listening, according to a recent BIO survey which showed that this year’s companies were 2.5 times more likely to have a diversity and inclusion program compared to last year’s sample. But we still have a long way to go. Women represent just 31% of biotech executives, BIO reported. And those numbers are even more stark for women of color.

Jacob Van Naarden (Eli Lilly)

Ex­clu­sives: Eli Lil­ly out to crash the megablock­buster PD-(L)1 par­ty with 'dis­rup­tive' pric­ing; re­veals can­cer biotech buy­out

It’s taken 7 years, but Eli Lilly is promising to finally start hammering the small and affluent PD-(L)1 club with a “disruptive” pricing strategy for their checkpoint therapy allied with China’s Innovent.

Lilly in-licensed global rights to sintilimab a year ago, building on the China alliance they have with Innovent. That cost the pharma giant $200 million in cash upfront, which they plan to capitalize on now with a long-awaited plan to bust up the high-price market in lung cancer and other cancers that have created a market worth tens of billions of dollars.

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When ef­fi­ca­cy is bor­der­line: FDA needs to get more con­sis­tent on close-call drug ap­provals, agency-fund­ed re­search finds

In the exceedingly rare instances in which clinical efficacy is the only barrier to a new drug’s approval, new FDA-funded research from FDA and Stanford found that the agency does not have a consistent standard for defining “substantial evidence” when flexible criteria are used for an approval.

The research comes as the FDA is at a crossroads with its expedited-review pathways. The accelerated approval pathway is under fire as the agency recently signed off on a controversial new Alzheimer’s drug, with little precedent to explain its decision. Meanwhile, top officials like Rick Pazdur have called for a major push to simplify and clarify all of the various expedited pathways, which have grown to be must-haves for sponsors of nearly every newly approved drug.

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Af­ter sell­ing to Genen­tech, the old Je­cure team is back at an RNA-fo­cused start­up — and more en­thu­si­as­tic than ever

When Genentech swooped in to buy NASH-focused Jecure Therapeutics back in 2018, a handful of the startup’s executives weren’t quite ready to disperse.

It had been just three years since Jecure launched with a preclinical portfolio of NLRP3 inhibitors — and the takeover came sooner than anyone, including CEO Jeff Stafford, had expected. So he got talking with James Veal and Gretchen Bain, two serial entrepreneurs in charge of Jecure’s R&D.

Rafaèle Tordjman (Jeito Capital)

Con­ti­nu­ity and di­ver­si­ty: Rafaèle Tord­j­man's women-led VC firm tops out first fund at $630M

For a first-time fund, Jeito Capital talks a lot about continuity.

Rafaèle Tordjman had spotlighted that concept ever since she started building the firm in 2018, promising to go the extra mile(s) with biotech entrepreneurs while pushing them to reach patients faster.

Coincidentally, the lack of continuity was one of the sore spots listed in a report about the European healthcare sector published that same year by the European Investment Bank — whose fund is one of the LPs, alongside the American pension fund Teacher Retirement System of Texas and Singapore’s Temasek, to help Jeito close its first fund at $630 million (€534 million). As previously reported, Sanofi had chimed in €50 million, marking its first investment in a French life sciences fund.

Jay Bradner (Jeff Rumans for Endpoints News)

Div­ing deep­er in­to in­her­it­ed reti­nal dis­or­ders, No­var­tis gob­bles up an­oth­er bite-sized op­to­ge­net­ics biotech

Right about a year ago, a Novartis team led by Jay Bradner and Cynthia Grosskreutz at NIBR swooped in to scoop up a Cambridge, MA-based opthalmology gene therapy company called Vedere. Their focus was on a specific market niche: inherited retinal dystrophies that include a wide range of genetic retinal disorders marked by the loss of photoreceptor cells and progressive vision loss.

But that was just the first deal that whet their appetite.

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FDA hands ac­cel­er­at­ed nod to Seagen, Gen­mab's so­lo ADC in cer­vi­cal can­cer, but com­bo stud­ies look even more promis­ing

Biopharma’s resident antibody-drug conjugate expert Seagen has scored a clutch of oncology approvals in recent years, finding gold in what are known as “third-gen” ADCs. Now, another of their partnered conjugates is ready for prime time.

The FDA on Monday handed an accelerated approval to Seagen and Genmab’s Tivdak (tisotumab vedotin-tftv, or “TV”) in second-line patients with recurrent or metastatic cervical cancer who previously progressed after chemotherapy rather than PD-(L)1 systemic therapy, the companies said in a release.