Josh Hoffman, Zymergen CEO (Zymergen)

Zymer­gen's bid to dis­rupt a $3T in­dus­tri­al man­u­fac­tur­ing mar­ket goes vi­ral, earn­ing a mas­sive $500M IPO

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It’s not a sto­ry you hear every day: A biotech com­pa­ny that doesn’t use its plat­form to de­vel­op ther­a­peu­tics? De­spite some raised eye­brows ear­ly on, Emeryville, CA-based Zymer­gen has con­vinced in­vestors that its plan to dis­rupt in­dus­tri­al man­u­fac­tur­ing is worth the bet and now it’s priced an eye-pop­ping IPO to take its mis­sion to the next lev­el.

Syn­thet­ic bi­ol­o­gy firm Zymer­gen late Wednes­day priced its 16.13 mil­lion shares at $31, good for a pub­lic of­fer­ing in the range of $500 mil­lion, which would put the com­pa­ny in rar­i­fied air along with Sana Biotech­nol­o­gy as biotech com­pa­nies with half-bil­lion-dol­lar or more IPOs this year, ac­cord­ing to End­points News’ IPO track­er.

The up­sized pric­ing — Zymer­gen ini­tial­ly pen­ciled in a $100 mil­lion cash raise in its S-1 fil­ing last month  — puts Zymer­gen on track to con­tin­ue de­vel­op­ing its de­sign­er mol­e­cules it plans to use to dis­rupt a $3 tril­lion in­dus­tri­al man­u­fac­tur­ing mar­ket with ap­pli­ca­tions as far and wide as con­sumer care, agri­cul­ture and elec­tron­ics.

The com­pa­ny plans to get there by us­ing a process it calls “bio­fac­tur­ing,” us­ing ge­net­i­cal­ly en­gi­neered mol­e­cules to pro­duce in­dus­tri­al-grade prod­ucts with­out the need for tox­ic chem­i­cals of­ten used in the process or ex­pen­sive in­fra­struc­ture. All told, the com­pa­ny thinks it can cut costs by about 90% across the in­dus­try and pro­duce the same ma­te­ri­als in half the time.

It’s a fo­cus that has of­ten not been re­ward­ed among biotech in­vestors look­ing for a clear path to ther­a­pies, but Zymer­gen be­lieves it’s found its own huge un­met need — and the case keeps on flow­ing in. The $500 mil­lion cash raise comes on the heels of a $400 mil­lion Se­ries C back in 2018 and a $300 mil­lion raise in Sep­tem­ber.

All told, the com­pa­ny has raised some­where in the ball­park of $1.375 bil­lion since its ini­tial seed round way back in 2014.

While the com­pa­ny has broad am­bi­tions for its pipeline, it has just one prod­uct on the mar­ket: Hya­line, a high-qual­i­ty op­ti­cal film used in elec­tron­ics. Mean­while, the biotech is pur­su­ing can­di­dates across a trio of elec­tron­ics, agri­cul­ture and con­sumer care. Those ar­eas alone, it be­lieves, of­fer a mar­ket op­por­tu­ni­ty of about $1.2 tril­lion.

Zymer­gen plans a slate of roll­outs in those mar­kets in 2022 and 2023 and will use Hya­line as its ca­nary in the coal mine in terms of con­sumer in­ter­est. If all goes to plan, Zymer­gen thinks its bio­fac­tur­ing mod­el could prove dis­rup­tive across a range of in­dus­tries, po­ten­tial­ly crack­ing open its lofty $3 tril­lion mar­ket goals.

“Our pipeline of prod­ucts has been de­signed with rapid mar­ket adop­tion in mind,” the com­pa­ny said in its prospec­tus. “In ad­di­tion, these prod­ucts demon­strate our bio­fac­tur­ing plat­form’s abil­i­ty to de­vel­op com­mer­cial­ly rel­e­vant prod­ucts across mul­ti­ple ma­jor dis­tinct chem­i­cal class­es.”

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.

The End­points 11: They've got mad mon­ey and huge am­bi­tions. It's time to go big or go home

These days, selecting a group of private biotechs for the Endpoints 11 spotlight begins with a sprint to get ahead of IPOs and the M&A teams at Big Pharma. I’ve had a couple of faceplants earlier this year, watching some of the biotechs on my short list choose a quick leap onto Nasdaq or into the arms of a buyer.

Vividion, you would have been a great pick for the Endpoints 11. I’m sorry I missed you.

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Dave Lennon, former president of Novartis Gene Therapies

So what hap­pened with No­var­tis Gene Ther­a­pies? Here's your an­swer

Over the last couple of days it’s become clear that the gene therapy division at Novartis has quietly undergone a major reorganization. We learned on Monday that Dave Lennon, who had pursued a high-profile role as president of the unit with 1,500 people, had left the pharma giant to take over as CEO of a startup.

Like a lot of the majors, Novartis is an open highway for head hunters, or anyone looking to staff a startup. So that was news but not completely unexpected.

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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.

FDA au­tho­rizes Pfiz­er's vac­cine boost­er for se­niors, those at high risk for se­vere Covid-19

The Biden administration’s goal of kicking off its booster shot drive for the entire US population this week is not quite going as planned.

First, Pfizer applied for approval of a supplemental application for the booster shots, but since last Friday’s adcomm reviewing them, the plan has devolved into an EUA, which the FDA issued late Thursday evening.

The population that is now eligible for the booster, six months after receiving the first pair of Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines, also narrowed from what Pfizer applied for (everyone who’s eligible for the initial Pfizer shots) to just those who are 65 or older, or at high-risk of a Covid infection, including health care workers and others with occupational hazards.

Stéphane Bancel, AP Images

Fi­nal analy­sis of US-fund­ed Mod­er­na Covid vac­cine tri­al shows 98% ef­fi­ca­cy against se­vere dis­ease

A final look at the results of the placebo-controlled Moderna trial in the New England Journal of Medicine, published Thursday afternoon, shows how the vaccine continues to prevent Covid-19 and severe cases after more than five months following the second shot.

Of the more than 30,000 enrolled in the trial that ultimately led to the vaccine’s EUA, only two people in the vaccine group got a severe form of the disease, compared to 106 in the placebo group — leading to an efficacy of 98%.

Emma Walmsley, GlaxoSmithKline CEO (Credit: Fang Zhe/Xinhua/Alamy Live News)

The fire un­der Glax­o­SmithK­line's Em­ma Walm­s­ley grows as an­oth­er well-known ac­tivist in­vestor grabs its pitch­fork — re­port

Bluebell Capital Partners, a proxy brawler fresh off a campaign to oust global food giant Danone’s CEO and most of its board of directors, has bought a stake in UK drugmaker GlaxoSmithKline with its eyes trained directly on Emma Walmsley, the Financial Times reported Wednesday.

The London-based hedge fund joins another notorious activist firm in Paul Singer’s Elliott Management, which earlier this year called for a shakeup in leadership at GSK to handle what the company described as a wealth of riches across the drug giant’s portfolio hindered by limited vision from top staff.

Maureen Hillenmeyer, Hexagon Bio CEO

Hexa­gon Bio rais­es $61M to con­tin­ue ef­forts to turn fun­gi in­to drugs

A year after raising a $47 million launch round, the fungi-loving drug hunters at Hexagon Bio have more than doubled their coffers.

Hexagon announced today that it raised another $61 million for its efforts to design cancer and infectious disease drugs based on insights mined from the DNA in millions of species of fungi. The new financing brings Hexagon’s committed funding to over $108 million.

FDA+ roundup: Bs­U­FA III ready for show­time, court tells FDA to re-work com­pound­ing plan, new guid­ance up­dates and more

The FDA has now spelled out what exactly will be included in the third iteration of Biosimilar User Fee Act (BsUFA) from 2023 through 2027, which similarly to the prescription drug deal, sets fees that industry has to pay for submitting applications, in exchange for firm timelines that the agency must meet.

This latest deal includes several sweeteners for the biosimilar industry, which has yet to make great strides in the US market, with shorter review timelines for safety labeling updates and updates to add or remove an indication that does not contain efficacy data.

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