Money on the Move: November 10 – 16
Investors are falling in with these biotech companies, dropping dollars to fuel their work for the latest advancement in life sciences. Here's the scoop.
Just shy of a year from its Series A launch, startup ACELYRIN pulled off a $250 million Series B this week. Alongside its raise, ACELYRIN also licensed a promising interleukin-17A (IL-17A) inhibitor from Swiss biotech Affibody AB. The LA-based company scored worldwide rights to the drug, izokibep, except for in select Asian and Nordic countries. Izokibep is already enrolling in a pivotal trial for uveitis, a damaging inflammation in the eye, and a Phase IIb study for a chronic form of arthritis affecting the spine. Next up will be a IIb trial for hidradenitis suppurativa. The Series B funds will be used for licensing and acquisition of additional immunology programs, in addition to the development of izokibep.
Gastro-focused Geneoscopy scooped up $105 million through a Series B financing round. The company’s focus is on diagnostic testing for colorectal cancer screening, allowing for earlier detection of not only cancer cells but also pre-cancerous polyps that have potential to become cancerous. Colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the U.S., with over 50,000 deaths annually. With an ongoing 10,000 patient trial to back it, Geneoscopy is excited to enlist its multifactor RNA screening test to join the fight against colorectal cancer. While colonoscopies remain the gold standard screening, many patients avoid it due to the discomfort of the prep. Geneoscopy’s test hopes to offer in-home, noninvasive collection testing options, opening the door to greater patient participation. The test has already been granted Breakthrough Device Designation by the FDA.
Only five months after launching, Acrivon landed a $100 million oversubscribed Series B round to develop its cancer asset rescued from the Eli Lilly scrap pile. Now labeled ACR-358, the candidate is a potent, selective inhibitor of CHK1 and CHK2 which has shown durable activity in platinum-resistant ovarian cancer and squamous cell cancers. In over 1,000 trial patients, ACR-368 has proven itself safe and has shown “excellent pharmacokinetic and pharmacological properties.” Proceeds will also be used to expand the company’s Predictive Precision Proteomics platform to drive development of diagnostics that link drug mechanisms to the active disease-driving processes of cancer in patients.
This Dallas-based biotech had its debut on the market last week, coming in a bit lower than anticipated. Selling 6 million shares at $13 per share, as opposed to the 7 million priced at $14-16, Vaxxinity roped in $76 million with its IPO. Working on vaccines to treat and prevent chronic disease, its lead compound is targeting beta-amyloid to prevent Alzheimer’s. A Phase IIb trial is anticipated next year. Another candidate in the works is a B- and T-cell activating shot that attacks SARS-CoV-2. Other targets for the pipeline include Parkinson’s, migraine, high cholesterol and infectious diseases.
Rocketing off with $60 million in hand, Recludix launched this week to develop programs for cancer and inflammatory disease targets. Two of the programs will target the STAT protein family, an “elusive targets for drug discovery” according to CEO Nancy Whiting. Recludix’s most advanced programs focus on STAT3 and STAT6, where abnormal activation is found in various cancer types, as well as multiple inflammatory diseases. Whiting believes the team’s SH2 domain inhibiting approach will be more selectively inhibiting, bringing better tolerated results to the JAK/STAT targeting approaches.
Developing precision cancer drugs with click chemistry, San Francisco’s Shasqi has a fresh $50 million from its Series B round. The funds have been earmarked for expanding its platform and fueling the company’s lead candidate. SQ3370 is advancing to Phase I/II clinical study for the treatment of advanced solid tumors. While the current candidate requires injecting directly into the tumor, Shasqi is developing therapeutics that do not require injections to be placed in the tumor.
Jumping from Milan to Wall Street, Genenta penciled its name in for a modest $35 million IPO. The biotech plans to dedicate $25.3 million of that to finalize its current Temferon study and begin a Phase II round. Funding will also go into manufacturing activities, ongoing business development, and operating costs. Genenta will grace the ticker board with the symbol “GNTA.”