East Coast Life Sciences Roundup: NY Genome Center, Acceleron, Bind, & More

9/20/13Follow @benthefidler

[Updated, 12:42 pm ET] The Big Apple has been desperate to become a regional biotech powerhouse in the mold of Boston and San Francisco, and it took a big step forward this week. That, your latest life science IPO news, and much more below:

—The New York Genome Center officially set up shop in its permanent location this week, holding a big ribbon-cutting ceremony at its new 170,000 square foot facility in lower Manhattan. The NYGC is designed, in a way, to serve as the crux of the Big Apple’s life science ecosystem: it’s a collaborative effort between 12 of the area’s biggest research institutions to harness genomic data, share information, and turn their combined research into innovative new drugs and technologies.

—Cambridge, MA-based Acceleron Pharma (NASDAQ: XLRN) priced its IPO at $15 per share, coming in at the high end of its projected range. Acceleron upsized its offering and sold 5.58 million shares to investors. With Summit, NJ-based Celgene (NASDAQ: CELG) also buying up an additional 667,000 at the IPO price in a separate deal, Acceleron was able to raise a total of about $94 million. Shares closed at $19.99 apiece after Acceleron’s first day of trading, a 33.3 percent jump.

—Cambridge-based Bind Therapeutics (NASDAQ: BIND) also priced its IPO this week. The startup, co-founded by MIT professor Robert Langer and Harvard Medical School professor Omid Farokhzad, sold 4.7 million shares to investors at $15 apiece, raising $70.5 million. Bind had set a projected range of $14 to $16 per share for its IPO two weeks ago.

—Basking Ridge, NJ-based Regado Biosciences (NASDAQ: RGDO) kicked off a massive late-stage clinical trial this week for its two-pronged anticoagulant system, REG-1. Regado will pour as much as $150 million into the trial, which will pit REG-1 head-to-head with bivalirudin (Angiomax, The Medicines Co.) in patients undergoing an angioplasty. The results have huge implications for Regado: Investors weren’t willing to take the risk in August, forcing it to price a significantly downsized IPO $4 per share. Even so, Regado’s shares nearly doubled this week as several sell-side analysts initiated coverage with lofty price targets, and high expectations for the study.

—Regado may have had a rough time on its roadshow, but Bedminster, NJ-based Aerie Pharmaceuticals is hoping for better luck. The company outlined plans this week to raise about $58 million through an IPO, and list on the Nasdaq under the ticker symbol “AERI.” Aerie is developing drug candidates for glaucoma, one of the leading causes of vision loss in the U.S. Aerie is headed by Vicente Anido Jr., the former CEO of Ista Pharmaceuticals, the eye care company that Bausch + Lomb bought for $500 million in 2012.

—[Updated with new item] Cambridge-based Sarepta Therapeutics’ (NASDAQ: SRPT) stock soared 15 percent during trading on Friday after a rival drug for Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy being developed by Prosensa (NASDAQ: RNA) and GlaxoSmithKline flopped in a big, late-stage clinical trial. Sarepta said in July it would seek FDA approval for its DMD drug, eteplirsen, based on promising data from a small, 12-patient study. Shares traded at $42.35 apiece as of 12:42 pm ET.

—Martin Shkreli was known for agitating biotech boards when he was a hedge fund manager, and his New York-based rare disease startup Retrophin took a similarly aggressive approach to M&A this week. Retrophin made a hostile, $4 per share bid for struggling Point Richmond, CA-based Transcept Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: TSPT), just days after the target adopted a poison pill strategy to ward off a potential takeover. Shkreli revealed a letter to the public claiming that Transcept’s largest shareholders aren’t happy with its strategy, and that the company rejected a $3.50 per share offer from Retrophin on Sept. 10.

—Shares of Lexington, MA-based Agenus (NASDAQ: AGEN) jumped this week after the company claimed that a mid-stage clinical trial of its vaccine for brain cancer, HSPPC-96, was a success. The company immediately responded by raising $6.5 million from Wall Street through an at-the-market offering. Agenus plans to hold a meeting with the FDA to discuss a potential Phase 3 clinical study of HSPPC-96.

—Cambridge, MA-based Genzyme, a unit of France’s Sanofi, was cleared by regulators this week to begin selling multiple sclerosis drug alemtuzumab (Lemtrada) in Europe. Genzyme expects the FDA to decide on alemtuzumab at some point this year. European regulators a few weeks ago approved another Genzyme MS drug, teriflunomide (Aubagio).

—Cambridge-based Eleven Biotherapeutics released the full results from an early-stage clinical trial of EBI-005, an experimental drug that fights dry eye disease, at a scientific meeting in Italy. Based on the results of the study, which examined the drug candidate’s safety and tolerability, Eleven plans to move EBI-005 into a pivotal study—though it didn’t indicate when that would begin. EBI-005 is supposed to block two types of interleukin-1 (IL-1) receptors that trigger the pain and inflammation associated with dry eye disease.

Ben Fidler is Xconomy's Deputy Biotechnology Editor. You can e-mail him at bfidler@xconomy.com Follow @benthefidler

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