Congratulations to two Stern IR clients, Prime Medicine and Scorpion Therapeutics, both of which were named to the Endpoints 11!
VC continues to attract capital with several life sciences focused groups raising new funds:
Lightstone Ventures unveils $375M third fund, this time expanding its wish list in expanding CNS field:
Lightstone Ventures recently raised $375M for its third fund, with a specific focus on expanding into the CNS space and bringing Lightstone’s total funding to $850M since inception in 2012. So far, the company has invested across roughly 30 biotech and medtech companies, generally at seed or Series A stage. Going forward, Lightstone will actively seek out CNS companies, as well as opportunities in other underappreciated therapeutic areas, such as autoimmune disease and immunology.
Rafaèle Tordjman’s women-led VC firm tops out first fund at $630M
Jeito Capital, a women-led venture capital fund, closed its first fund at $630M. Jeito Capital is ready to deploy investments across 12-15 biotechnology companies, and say they’re willing to invest as much as $100M in individual companies and pretty agnostic regarding therapeutics area. So far, it has invested in five Europe-based companies including in gene therapy, rare skeletal disorder, cell therapy, oncology, and respiratory disease.
Illumina-backed VC snags $325M for its next fund
Illumina Ventures closed its second fund with a total commitment of $325M. The fund has historically focused on early-stage companies and will pursue ambitions projects in the U.S. and Europe, while building on existing strategies from its first fund. Since launch, Illumina Ventures has made investments in more than two dozen companies.
The overall markets declined this week, with the NASDAQ, DJIA and S&P 500 closing down 4%, 3% and 3%, respectively. The VIX soared by 24% this week, sitting at 23.14 as of market close on 9/30. Biotech markets declined as well, with the NBI, XBI and BTK decreasing by 6%, 6% and 5%, respectively, underperforming broader indices.
Biotech public capital markets have picked up somewhat recently after the August and early September lull, with a number of IPOs, follow-ons and SPACs pricing in recent weeks, including the following:
- IPOs: DiCE Therapeutics ($204M), SIR Client Exscientia ($304.7M IPO with $160M private placement); Pasithea Therapeutics ($24M), Procept BioRobotics ($163.9M), Tyra Biosciences ($198.7M)
- Follow-Ons: Avalo Therapeutics ($31.5M), aTyr Pharma ($86.3M), SIR Client Faron Pharmaceuticals (€10.5M), Gritstone (PIPE, $55M), Kintara Therapeutics ($15M), Leap Therapeutics ($104M), Onconova Therapeutics ($21M), Viridian Therapeutics ($97.7M)
- SPACs: Aesther Healthcare Acquisition (closed its IPO, raising $105M), Amicus Therapeutics (business combination with ARYA IV to result in launch of Caritas, with expected ~$400M)
In addition, there were a handful of private financings, including:
Private: 54gene (Series B, $25M); 858 Therapeutics (Series A, $60M); Allay Therapeutics (Series C, $60M); Amolyt Pharma (Series B, $80M); Anjarium Biosciences (Series A, CHF 55.5M/$61M); Anji Pharma (Series B, $70M), CBMG Holdings (Series A, $120M); Elevian (Series A, $40M); Francis Medical (Series B, $55M); Garuda Therapeutics (Series A, $72M); Hexagon Bio (Undisclosed, $61M); Kytopen (Series A, $30M); ROME Therapeutics (Series B, $77M); Skyhawk Therapeutics (Crossover, $133M); Touchlight (Undisclosed, $125M); TreeFrog Therapeutics (Series B, $75M); Vanqua Bio (Series B, $85M); Ventyx (Series B, $51M); Walking Fish Therapeutics (Series A, $50M).
Finally, many analysts have called out M&A activity as a key element to turning sector sentiment positive again. To that end, this week Merck announced plans to acquire Acceleron Pharma for $11.5B. In an unconventional turn of events, Avoro Capital – which owns about 7% of XLRN – opposed the transaction on valuation grounds. While activist campaigns aren’t all that common in M&A scenarios, the Avoro team does have a track record of success in the Immunomedics setting — we’ll be interested to see how this unfolds over the coming weeks and, if Avoro is successful, how this could impact other acquisitions in the future.