Crohn’s approval, new VC round, direct offerings, and potential asset sales.
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Life Science Today is your source for stories, insights, and trends across the life science industry. Expect weekly highlights about new technologies, pharmaceutical mergers and acquisitions, news about the moves of venture capital and private equity, and how the stock market responds to biotech IPOs. Life Science Today also explores trends around clinical research, including the evolving patterns that determine how drugs and therapies are developed and approved. It’s news, with a dash of perspective, focused on the life science industry.
Welcome to Life Science Today, your source for stories, insights, and trends across the life science industry. I’m your host, Dr. Noah Goodson. This week, Crohn’s approval, new VC round, direct offerings, and potential asset sales.
The views expressed on Life Science Today are those of the host and guests. They do not necessarily reflect the opinions of any organizations with which they are affiliated.
Crohn’s Approval for AbbVie
AbbVie continues to cut successful swathes across the immune and inflammatory spaces. Last week, the interleuikin-23 inhibitor, sold as SKYRIZI, received its third approval as an oral this time for moderate to severe active Crohn’s disease. In two trials, SKYRIZI outperformed placebo and standard of care when measured through key indicators from the Crohn’s Disease Activity Index, including stool frequency and abdominal pain. The trials showed significant reduction in symptoms and even a move to remission in many participants using both reported and objective outcomes. This approval along with robust safety will likely continue to bump sales on a medication that saw $940M in sales in Q1 which was a 65% increase year-over-year. Between HUMIRA, RINVOQ, and SKYRIZI AbbVie is set to continue market dominance in this space for the foreseeable future.
Third Rock Raises $1.1B
Third Rock Ventures has raised their third fund, this time of $1.1B to invest across the biotech space. Their track record includes names we’ve discussed on this show, include Decibel Therapeutics, bluebird bio, and Agios. This brings their total raises over the last 15 years to $3.8B, with investments in more than 60 companies and 18 products brought to market. The latest fund is more of an alignment with an ongoing trend: There is still money and investment in the biotech space. Yes there was a slowing, and yes markets are a bit bearish, but the fundamental drivers of biotech growth still seem to exist, if slightly more subdued than in 2021. And while Third Rock may not be the largest fund, they remain a key recognizable name in biotech venture capital.
Scholar Rock Sets out to Raise $205M
Scholar Rock has announced a $205M registered direct offering at $4.90/share. This raise is expected to close this week with the goal of shoring up their finances as they continue to move through a pivot. The changes at scholar kicked off in late May when they announced the loss of the CMO and the laying off of 25% of their staff. At the end of Q1, they had about $210M in the bank, but with only two clinical stage assets and one a key late-stage spinal muscular atrophy therapeutic, they are focusing their finances on getting these across the line. As with many companies, running a registered direct offering is typically not optimal, particularly when it’s paired with recent cuts. But the space for these companies stuck in the middle of pipeline development remains tumultuous. Scholar’s objective appears to be cut the bleeding and then make a push to approval – this capital raise may be their best solution with their stock down 80% on the year.
Kyowa Kirin Selling Assests
Speaking of solutions to raising capital. Reports emerged this week that Japanese pharma company Kyowa Kirin may be looking to sell up to $1B in pipeline assets in order to advance their more mature assets to full approval. Their wide spanning pipeline contains something like 17 unique therapies in 35 indications across numerous therapeutic areas spanning phase 1 through approved assets. They continue to run a financially profitable institution and it’s likely the rumors, if true, are simply a mature mechanism of garnering investment to advance pricy late phase studies. Specifically, one of their up-and-coming assets in partnership with the US-based MEI Pharma is a PI3K inhibitor used in oncology studies. Recent data has put major safety concerns around the use of PI3K inhibitors and the FDA has both withdrawn some approvals and encouraged the use of randomized over single-arm studies for PI3K inhibitors going forward. Some of this is of course, conjecture, but it remains on theme for this episode. As capital markets continue to flex, expect to see increasingly creative deals as pharma and biotech find ways to mix fund raising efforts with operational pivots seeking to see products to maturity.
Thanks for joining me for Life Science Today, your source for stories, insights, and trends across the life science industry. Learn more at LifeScienceTodayPodcast.com. If you like what you hear, please tell a friend. Once again, I’m Dr. Noah Goodson, I’ll see you next week.