With Big Pharma castoffs in hand, Mereo files for $81M IPO; London’s Verona sees stock surge on PhIIb COPD data

→ Mereo BioPharma, a London biotech developing a pipeline of assets it snagged from Big Pharma shelves, is heading to the Nasdaq with hopes of raising around $81 million in an IPO. The company is already listed on the London Stock Exchange and plans to use the extra cash to develop at least three drug candidates through mid-stage trials. In an SEC statement signaling the stock offering, Mereo said the money would fuel two programs it picked up from Novartis and one it got from AstraZeneca. The proceeds should get BPS-804 (setrusumab), an ex-Novartis rare disease drug for patients with osteogenesis imperfecta, into Phase IIb/III trials in 2018. The cash will also fund the ex-Novartis drug BGS-649 for the treatment of hypogonadotropic hypogonadism in obese men through Phase IIb and into late-stage trials; and AZD-9668, a respiratory disease asset Mereo out-licensed from AstraZeneca last fall, through proof-of-concept trials. Mereo plans to list under the stock symbol $MPH.

→ London-based Verona Pharma saw its London-listed stock (LON: $VRP) jump 19% Monday following news that its Phase IIb study testing its chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) treatment RPL554 had promising results. The drug showed “a clinically and statistically significant improvement” in patients with COPD compared to placebo. “These results are very encouraging and strongly support the progression of RPL554 into later stage development as an inhaled treatment for COPD patients,” said Jan-Anders Karlsson, CEO of Verona Pharma, in a statement. “The future clinical development and the positioning of this novel treatment will be informed by these data as well as by the outcome of the clinical study as an add-on to established combination therapies planned to start this year, and our ongoing market research.”

ARMO BioSciences $ARMO, fresh off a $120 million IPO, reported out an early look at its PhIII trial testing AM0010 (pegilodecakin) with Folfox in patients with pancreatic cancer. The interim analysis showed the combo was cleared to proceed through the trial. The analysis, done by the Data Monitoring Committee (DMC), was meant to find out if the combo was safe based on overall survival as well as pharmacokinetics in the first 60 subjects enrolled in the study that received at least four months of therapy. ARMO’s CMO Joseph Leveque had this to say: “The DMC’s recommendation supports the safety profile we have seen with pegilodecakin when combined with 5-fluorouracyl and platinum-based chemotherapy which is the basis for a number of difficult to treat cancers.  As such, we believe that pegilodecakin in combination with Folfox could provide a safe and efficacious therapeutic option for second-line pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma patients.” Final data are expected in 2020.

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Research Scientist - Immunology
Recursion Pharmaceuticals Salt Lake City, UT
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Atlas Venture Cambridge, MA

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