Bob Azelby, Eliem CEO

Weeks out from an $80M launch, a pain and CNS start­up is back with a fresh raise. Can an IPO be far be­hind?

Not two months af­ter launch­ing out of RA Cap­i­tal’s in­cu­ba­tor, Eliem Ther­a­peu­tics is re­turn­ing to the firm — and oth­ers — to raise an­oth­er heap of cash. And this time, an IPO could po­ten­tial­ly be in the works.

Eliem has put to­geth­er a $60 mil­lion Se­ries B round co-led by RA Cap­i­tal as it seeks to fur­ther ad­vance two lead clin­i­cal can­di­dates across four tri­als. The biotech de­clined an in­ter­view and fur­ther de­clined to com­ment on an emailed ques­tion re­gard­ing fi­nanc­ing plans, sug­gest­ing they may be hun­ker­ing down in prepa­ra­tion for an S-1 fil­ing with the SEC.

Though the Se­ries B proved to be small­er than the $80 mil­lion launch round in March, Eliem has an­nounced $140 mil­lion in funds be­tween the 60-day span of the two an­nounce­ments.

Eliem spawned out of con­ver­sa­tions from RA man­ag­ing di­rec­tor An­drew Levin and long­time pain re­searcher Va­lerie Moris­set, who had re­cent­ly re­tired from biotech to start a new chap­ter in the VC world. Dis­cus­sions re­volved around the pro­drug of an en­do­cannabi­noid known as palmi­toylethanolamide, or PEA, and af­ter ini­tial skep­ti­cism Moris­set agreed to hop on board as pres­i­dent and CSO.

The pro­drug, dubbed ETX-810, is the lead pro­gram in a pipeline of four neu­ro as­sets Eliem even­tu­al­ly hopes to bring to pa­tients. It’s part of a fam­i­ly of en­do­cannabi­noid hope­fuls that have thus far come up short for Big Phar­mas look­ing to in­vest in the area. Part of what drew Moris­set to the com­pa­ny, she told End­points News in March, was the sheer amount of clin­i­cal lit­er­a­ture show­ing how PEA could be used for chron­ic pain con­di­tions.

They’re hope­ful that the pro­drug ap­proach can lead to bet­ter re­sults. ETX-810 is cur­rent­ly in two Phase IIa stud­ies look­ing at di­a­bet­ic pe­riph­er­al neu­ro­path­ic pain and lum­bosacral radic­u­lar pain, and Eliem is now putting timeta­bles on the da­ta read­outs for the first half of 2022.

In ad­di­tion to the pain-re­lat­ed in­di­ca­tions, how­ev­er, Eliem is al­so work­ing on a host of oth­er CNS can­di­dates. Next up be­hind ETX-810 is a GA­BA-pos­i­tive al­losteric mod­u­la­tor, al­so from RA Cap­i­tal, which the com­pa­ny is call­ing ETX-155. Eliem plans to take this pro­gram in­to two Phase IIa stud­ies for ma­jor de­pres­sive dis­or­der and hor­mone-re­lat­ed de­pres­sive dis­or­ders, as well as a Phase Ib tri­al for epilep­sy.

Da­ta here are ex­pect­ed in the sec­ond half of 2022 and the first half of 2023, re­spec­tive­ly.

Fur­ther down the pipeline are two pre­clin­i­cal pro­grams: a Kv7.⅔ chan­nel open­er dis­cov­ered in-house, where Eliem hopes to go in­to pain and epilep­sy, and an­oth­er ear­ly-stage re­search pro­gram po­ten­tial­ly for gen­er­al­ized anx­i­ety and de­pres­sion.

In­ter­me­di­ate Cap­i­tal Group co-led the round with RA Cap­i­tal. Oth­er in­vestors in­clud­ed Ac­cess Biotech­nol­o­gy, Sam­lyn Cap­i­tal, Acorn Bioven­tures and LifeArc.

M&A: a crit­i­cal dri­ver for sus­tain­able top-line growth in health­care

2021 saw a record $600B in healthcare M&A activity. In 2022, there is an anticipated slowdown in activity, however, M&A prospects remain strong in the medium to long-term. What are future growth drivers for the healthcare sector? Where might we see innovations that drive M&A? RBC’s Andrew Callaway, Global Head, Healthcare Investment Banking discusses with Vito Sperduto, Global Co-Head, M&A.

15 LGBTQ lead­ers in bio­phar­ma; Paul Stof­fels’ Gala­pa­gos re­vamp; As­traZeneca catch­es up in AT­TR; and more

Welcome back to Endpoints Weekly, your review of the week’s top biopharma headlines. Want this in your inbox every Saturday morning? Current Endpoints readers can visit their reader profile to add Endpoints Weekly. New to Endpoints? Sign up here.

A return to in-person conferences also marks a return to on-the-ground reporting. My colleagues Beth Synder Bulik and Nicole DeFeudis were on-site at Cannes Lions, bringing live coverage of pharma’s presence at the ad festival — accompanied by photos from Clara Bui, our virtual producer, that bring you right to the scene. You can find a recap (and links to all the stories) below.

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Abortion-rights protesters regroup and protest following Supreme Court's decision to overturn Roe v. Wade. (AP Photo/Gemunu Amarasinghe)

Fol­low­ing SCO­TUS de­ci­sion to over­turn abor­tion pro­tec­tions, AG Gar­land says states can't ban the abor­tion pill

Following the Supreme Court’s historic decision on Friday to overturn Americans’ constitutional right to an abortion after almost 50 years, Attorney General Merrick Garland sought to somewhat reassure women that states will not be able to ban the prescription drug sometimes used for abortions.

Following the decision, the New England Journal of Medicine also published an editorial strongly condemning the reversal, saying it “serves American families poorly, putting their health, safety, finances, and futures at risk.”

AstraZeneca's new Evusheld direct to consumer campaign aims to reach more immunocompromised patients.

As­traZeneca de­buts first con­sumer cam­paign for its Covid-19 pro­phy­lac­tic Evusheld — and a first for EUA drugs

AstraZeneca’s first consumer ad for Evusheld is also a first for drugs that have been granted emergency use authorizations during the pandemic.

The first DTC ad for a medicine under emergency approval, the Evusheld campaign launching this week aims to raise awareness among immunocompromised patients — and spur more use.

Evusheld nabbed emergency authorization in December, however, despite millions of immunocompromised people looking for a solution and now more widespread availability of the drug.

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Yong Dai, Frontera Therapeutics CEO

Scoop: Lit­tle-known Or­biMed-backed biotech clos­es $160M round to start gene ther­a­py tri­al

Frontera Therapeutics, a China and US biotech, has closed a $160 million Series B and received regulatory clearance to test its first gene therapy stateside, Endpoints News has learned.

Led by the largest shareholder, OrbiMed, the biotech has secured $195 million total since its September 2019 founding, according to an email reviewed by Endpoints. The lead AAV gene therapy program is for an undisclosed rare eye disease, according to the source.

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Spanish Prime Minister Pédro Sanchez and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen (AP Photo/Geert Vanden Wijngaert)

EU to launch vac­cine de­vel­op­ment and man­u­fac­tur­ing part­ner­ship with Latin Amer­i­can and Caribbean coun­tries

While European companies, including BioNTech, are focused on increasing vaccine access to African countries by setting up vaccine manufacturing facilities, the European Union is looking westward to Latin America and the Caribbean.

Speaking at a press conference with Spanish Prime Minister Pédro Sanchez, EU Commission president Ursula von der Leyen said that the EU is launching a new initiative for vaccines and medicines manufacturing in Latin America, to get drugs to Latin America and the Caribbean faster.

DEM BioPharma CEO David Donabedian (L) and executive chair Jan Skvarka

Long­wood sets an­oth­er 'don't eat me' biotech in­to gear with help of for­mer Tril­li­um CEO Jan Skvar­ka

Jonathan Weissman and team are out with a cancer-fighting biotech riding the appetite for those so-called “don’t eat me” and “eat me” signals.

The scientific co-founder — alongside fellow Whitehead Institute colleague Kipp Weiskopf and Stanford biologist Michael Bassik — has launched DEM BioPharma with incubator Longwood Fund and a crop of other investors.

In all, the nascent, 10-employee biotech has $70 million to bankroll hematology- and solid tumor-based programs, including a lead asset that could enter human trials in two to three years, CEO David Donabedian told Endpoints News.

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GSK says its drug for chron­ic hep B could ‘lead to a func­tion­al cure’ — but will it be alone or in com­bi­na­tion?

GSK, newly branded and soon-to-be demerged, shared interim results from its Phase II trial on its chronic hepatitis B treatment, one that it says has the “potential to lead to a functional cure.”

At a presentation at the EASL International Liver Congress, GSK shared that in around 450 patients who received its hep B drug bepirovirsen for 24 weeks, just under 30% had hepatitis B surface antigen and viral DNA levels that were too low to detect.

De­spite a slow start to the year for deals, PwC pre­dicts a flur­ry of ac­tiv­i­ty com­ing up

Despite whispers of a busy year for M&A, deal activity in the pharma space is actually down 30% on a semi-annualized basis, according to PwC’s latest report on deal activity. But don’t rule out larger deals in the second half of the year, the consultants said.

PwC pharmaceutical and life sciences consulting solutions leader Glenn Hunzinger expects to see Big Pharma companies picking up earlier stage companies to try and fill pipeline gaps ahead of a slew of big patent cliffs. Though a bear market continues to maul the biotech sector, Hunzinger said recent deals indicate that pharma companies are still paying above current trading prices.