Money on the Move: March 23-29
This week, money moved in the form of equity financing, upfront partnership payments, nonprofit donations and federal funding.
IGM and Sanofi
IGM Biosciences, a clinical-stage biotech company focusing on engineered IgM antibodies, is partnering with Sanofi to develop therapies for multiple oncology, autoimmune and inflammation diseases. Sanofi paid IGM an upfront $150 million, with the potential for more than $6 billion in commercial milestones. For autoimmune and inflammation targets specifically, IGM will receive tiered royalties from Sanofi for developments. For oncology targets, the two companies will split profits evenly. Sanofi also hinted that it may be interested in $100 of IGM non-voting common stock in public financing.
“This partnership is a significant step towards exploring and validating our platform in multiple therapeutic areas, and we look forward to working with Sanofi’s impressive team,” said Fred Schwarzer, CEO of IGM.
Spine Biopharma completed a $13 million round of Series B equity financing this week. The financing will support the development of Spine’s SB-10 injection drug, which helps slow beta proteins associated with degenerative disc disease. Both investors and Spine must see ample potential in the drug to do equity financing, a deal in which investors give cash to a company in exchange for shares. Last year, Pacira Biosciences poured $3 million into the same drug, with potential for another $7 million conditional on milestones—and that was on top of a Series A financing.
But the drug still hasn’t hit clinical trials. Still, Spine’s therapy holds appeal because it’s a non-opiate and non-surgical option. After Purdue Pharma’s $8.34 billion lawsuit loss over opioid marketing and distribution, investors are looking for non-opiate solutions to chronic pain.
In a Series A2 round of financing, GeneOS secured $17 million from investors such as Flerie Invest, Santé Ventures, Korea Investment Partners (KIP) – Global Bio Fund, and INOVIO Pharmaceuticals, Inc. The funding paves the way for the development of tumor neoantigen targeted personalized immunotherapies. Part of the money will expand Geneos’ GT-30 Phase Ib/IIa clinical trial for a personalized cancer vaccine, GNOS-PV02, a vaccine for liver cancer.
If the trial goes well, Geneos said the funding could push the vaccine into other therapeutic indications as well. Another use for the money will be honing the GT-EPIC™ platform, which targets abnormal mutations from individual patient tumors to personalize immunotherapy treatments.
Harm Reduction Therapeutics
Purdue Pharma agreed to pay up to $11 million to Harm Reduction Therapeutics (HRT) to help develop an affordable, over-the-counter naloxone nasal spray. HRT is an independent, nonprofit pharmaceutical company dedicated to making naloxone more affordable and available. Naloxone, an opioid antagonist, is used as a rescue medication for patients who have overdosed on opioids.
Purdue Pharma has been in hot water for years over lawsuits related to opioid marketing and distribution. In June 2020, Purdue agreed to pay HRT $6.5 million to fund naloxone developments. Now with this additional $11 million in funding, HRT plans to file a New Drug Application with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for a low-cost naloxone nasal spray later this year.
Medical diagnostic company Visby received $25.5 million in federal funding. The money will go toward developing an at-home PCR spit kit that can test for COVID-19, influenza A and influenza B at the same time. The catch? The funding is incremental and is dependent on the test returning accurate results within 30 minutes, getting approval from the FDA and developing a digital companion system to help patients interpret the test results.
The federal funding comes from the Department of Health and Human Services, the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response, and the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority.
In a Series A round of financing, RNAimmune, a company specializing in mRNA therapeutics, scooped up $27 million. Led by shareholders such as Sirnaomics and Smooth River Limited, the funding will boost the company’s mRNA drug discovery platform. The company is committed to tackling treatments for infectious diseases, rare diseases and cancer and already has products in clinical stages.
"By sealing an additional US$27 million for RNAimmune, we can progress its clinical trial programs for critical public health concerns, and ensure we are well-positioned globally within the fast-growing mRNA-based therapeutics and vaccine industry," said Dr. Patrick Lu, who is founder, chairman of the board, executive director, president and CEO of Sirnaomics and chairman of the board of RNAimmune.