East Coast Life Sciences Roundup: Foundation, Ophthotech, Sato, & More

Xconomy Boston — 

If there was any question whether the appetite for biotech IPOs had died down as of yet, the market answered this week with a resounding ‘no.’ That and a whole lot more below:

—Cambridge, MA-based Foundation Medicine (NASDAQ: FMI) enjoyed a warm reception from Wall Street this week. The cancer diagnostics company upsized its IPO and then sold investors 5,888,888 shares at $18 apiece, beating the $14 to $16 per share range it had previously set. Foundation raised $106 million through its IPO. It’s also the latest Third Rock Ventures portfolio to hold a successful IPO this year, following the likes of Bluebird Bio (NASDAQ: BLUE) and Agios Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: AGIO). Foundation’s shares almost doubled in the company’s first day of trading, closing at $35.35 apiece.

—Be sure to check out Steve Dickman’s guest editorial on Foundation’s IPO, and its future prospects, here.

—Investors also clearly bought into New York-based Ophthotech’s (NASDAQ: OPHT) roadshow pitch, because it ended up raising a whopping $167.2 million in its IPO this week. Ophthotech, which is developing a drug for the wet form of age-related macular degeneration, sold 7.6 million shares at $22 apiece. It beat the $19 to $20 range it set the morning of the IPO. The company also upsized its offering twice while pitching it to investors. Ophthotech shares climbed nearly 20 percent the day after the IPO.

—Vicki Sato, a professor of management practice at Harvard Business School, sat down with Xconomy’s National Biotech Editor Luke Timmerman to discuss which companies she thinks are the best ‘real life’ graduate schools for young people starting out in the industry. Biogen Idec (NASDAQ: BIIB), Alnylam Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: [[ticker:ALNY]), Infinity Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: INFI), and Celgene (NASDAQ: CELG) all made the list–you can read why Sato picked those companies here.

—Billerica, MA-based RainDance Technologies raised $20 million in equity financing just five months ago, but that didn’t stop it from adding more cash to its coffers this week. RainDance raised up to $35 million in debt financing from Houston, TX-based investment firm Capital Royalty to continue its growth push. I talked to CEO Roopom Banerjee about what led the company to not only go back and raise more cash, but why it chose to raise debt—rather than equity—to help it expand.

—Waltham, MA-based startup X-Chem made its first announcement in almost three years this week when it revealed that AstraZeneca (NYSE: AZN) has licensed three potential drug programs coming from its drug discovery work. This marks the first time X-Chem has done so. I spoke to X-chem CEO Richard Wagner and CBO Diala Ezzeddine about what they think makes their drug discovery platform stand out in an increasingly competitive field.

—Last week I attended the opening of the New York Genome Center, a big collaboration between 12 big research and medical institutions in the New York City area. This week, I figured I’d give readers a glimpse of what I saw on a tour of the facility through a mini-slideshow.

—Novo Nordisk this week became the third big drugmaker to license the technology surrounding Lebanon, NH-based Adimab’s yeast-based process for discovering antibodies, and bring it in-house. Adimab signed two similar tech transfer deals earlier this year with Biogen Idec (NASDAQ: BIIB) and GlaxoSmithKline (NYSE: GSK), which CEO Tillman Gerngross told me at the time turned the company cash flow positive.

—Data from Cambridge-based Sarepta Therapeutics’ (NASDAQ: SRPT) small, mid-stage clinical trial of Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy drug eteplirsen continued to hold up after 96 weeks. With a rival drug from Prosensa (NASDAQ: RNA) and GlaxoSmithKline suffering a major clinical setback last week, eteplirsen’s path forward will continue to be one of the industry’s most closely-watched stories. Sarepta is preparing to file a new drug application with the FDA based on the results of its 12-patient study.

—Cambridge-based Agios has added Paul Clancy, the executive vice president and CFO of Biogen, to its board of directors.

—Add another Big Pharma presence to the Cambridge biotech cluster. France’s Ipsen this week announced plans to move its U.S. R&D hub from Milford, MA, to Cambridge. Ipsen leased 62,600 square feet of laboratory and office space in the 280,000 square-foot building at 650 East Kendall Street.

—Cranbury, NJ-based Cornerstone Pharmaceuticals began a mid-stage clinical trial this week testing its experimental drug, CPI-613, in patients with myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS) who haven’t responded to earlier treatment.

—New York-based healthcare marketing startup Medikly and Burlington, MA-based healthcare consulting firm Inventiv Health agreed to work together earlier this year to help speed up the recruiting process for investigators in clinical trials. They expanded that partnership this week, with InVentiv now using Medikly’s platform to help market its services. Medikly has a cloud-based platform that tracks the online preferences and behaviors of healthcare providers, aiming to help pharmaceutical companies find the right physicians to pitch to.

—Shares of Cambridge-based Alnylam soared to all-time highs this week as the company provided a deeper look into an early-stage clinical trial of a subcutaneous RNA-based drug it is developing for a rare disease called transthyretin amyloidosis (TTR). Alnylam provided an early glimpse of the study in July. Alnylam’s shares now trade about $64 apiece—they were worth less than $20 apiece in late 2012.