Money on the Move: March 24-30

Dollar Signs

Over $700 million dropped into IPO biotech stock this week, with hundreds of millions more pouring into company financing rounds. Here's a roundup of the top earners this past week. 

Design Therapeutics 

Three months after raking in $125 million in a Series B round, Design hit the Nasdaq with its sights set on a $240 million IPO but found favor on the ticker, closing the offering at $276 million. These fresh funds will be used to develop treatments for nucleotide repeat expansion disorders. Lead program targeting Friedreich ataxia is expected to enter clinical development in the first half of 2022. The company is developing a platform of gene-targeted chimera small molecules for the treatment of serious degenerative disorders caused by inherited nucleotide repeat expansions. 

Edgewise Therapeutics 

Tossing its name in the ring, Edgewise hoped to scoop up a $176 million IPO. Instead, the Boulder-based biopharma brought in $202.4 million to advance its muscular dystrophy program to the clinic. Edgewise’s lead candidate EDG-5506 is an orally administered small molecule designed to address the root cause of dystrophinopathies, in development for the treatment of Becker muscular dystrophy (BMD) and Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD). The drug is currently in a Phase I study. 

AffaMed Therapeutics 

Targeting both ophthalmic and neurological needs, AffaMed brought in $170 million in its Series B financing round. CEO Dr. Dayao Zhao, previous head of China R&D for Pfizer, said, “With the support of this outstanding syndicate of investors who share our vision, we are well-positioned to transform AffaMed into a leading biopharmaceutical company in our chosen therapeutic areas while advancing our pipeline and pursuing new strategic partnerships."  

Pyxis Oncology

Focused on attacking difficult-to-treat cancers with a portfolio of antibody-drug conjugates and immunotherapies, Pyxis vastly outshined the company’s previous $22 million in financing with a $152 million Series B round. Proceeds will funnel into advancing its ADC candidates – PYX-201 and PYX-203, both in-licensed from Pfizer, and PYX-202 from LegoChem Biosciences. Both target different antigens expressed in multiple solid tumor types.  

Gyroscope Therapeutics

Using gene therapies to tackle vision loss and blindness-causing diseases, Gyroscope scored an eye-popping $148 million in its Series C. The company’s lead candidate, GT005, will get the bulk of the funds to propel evaluation for the treatment of geographic atrophy (GA) secondary to age-related macular degeneration (AMD). With a Fast-Track designation by the FDA, it’s currently in Phase II trial to restore balance to an overactive complement system by increasing the production of the Complement Factor I (CFI) protein.  

Omega Therapeutics

Backed by Flagship Pioneering, Omega Therapeutics secured $126 million in a Series C financing round that will be used to advance the company’s lead epigenomic controller candidate along with other next-gen assets from the pipeline. The lead, OTX-2002, is a potential treatment for hepatocellular carcinoma. Having unveiled the candidate in January, Omega calls it the first epigenomic controller development candidate and the industry's first programmable epigenetic medicine. 

Ikena Oncology

Beginning trade at $16 a share, Ikena was hoping for $125 million from its IPO. The market was on Ikena’s side, as the oncology company announced closing on $143.8 million in proceeds. Funds will support the company’s cancer pipeline, including five clinical, preclinical and discovery programs. In January, Ikena announced IK-930, a TEAD inhibitor targeting the Hippo signaling pathway, has entered IND-enabling studies. Ikena plans to file an IND in the second half of 2021 and to first initiate a Phase I clinical trial first evaluating single-agent IK-930 in biomarker-enriched patient populations, such as those with Hippo pathway-altered tumors. 

LAVA Therapeutics 

Hopping in while the market is hot, LAVA set its IPO terms to sell 6.7 million shares at $15 a pop, with the hopes of bringing in $100.5 million. Late last year, LAVA announced $83 million in Series C financing, which the company is using to support the advancement of its two lead programs – LAVA-051 targeting CLL, MM and AML and LAVA 206x207 in mCRPC. Look for LAVA-051 to enter the clinic for relapsed and/or refractory multiple myeloma and chronic lymphocytic leukemia over the next few months with LAVA 206x207 hot on its heels for prostate cancer in the second half of 2021.  

Scipher Medicine

Precision immunology company Scipher took home $82 million from its Series C, bringing its lifetime raise total to $117 million. Scipher’s patient molecular signature test, PrismRA, ensures rheumatoid arthritis patients receive the optimal therapy for their disease. Proceeds from the round will support expansion of commercial efforts for PrismRA to bring precision medicine solutions to autoimmune diseases like RA.  

Eliem Therapeutics 

Emerging from two years in stealth mode, Eliem launched with $80 million in financing. The company’s goal is to deliver therapies that “empower patients to live on their own terms.” Developing candidates treating neuronal excitability disorders – chronic pain, depression, epilepsy and anxiety – two assets lead the pack. ETX-810 for chronic pain is already in Phase IIa trials for chronic sciatica and diabetic neuropathic pain. ETX-155 is currently in Phase I studies with big plans for 2021 in multiple indications. 

Immune-Onc Therapeutics

In addition to a strategic capital investment from The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s Therapy Acceleration Program, Immune-Onc closed a $73 million Series B1 and B2 financing. The company develops novel biotherapeutics targeting immunosuppressive myeloid checkpoints for cancer treatments. These proceeds will advance a portfolio of blood cancer and solid tumor therapies, target the LILRB family specifically.  

Leyden Laboratories 

Supported by GV (Google Ventures), Netherlands-based Leyden took in around $46 million in its Series A last week. Targeting common viruses by focusing on their commonalities, Leyden’s vaccines protect against many viruses simultaneously. With intranasal candidates in the works, the company’s products could be self-administered, democratizing accessibility globally.  

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