Black Diamond’s Upsized IPO Raises $201M to Advance Its Cancer Drug R&D

Xconomy Boston — 

A little more than a year ago, Black Diamond Therapeutics unveiled technology that analyzes genetic data to discover new cancer drugs. Today the company has $201 million from an IPO to advance the development of drugs stemming from that technology.

Black Diamond priced its IPO late Wednesday, selling 10.5 million shares for $19 apiece. That tops the company’s earlier target of 8.9 million shares in the range of $16 to $18 each. Those shares are expected to begin trading Thursday on the Nasdaq exchange under the stock symbol “BDTX.”

Black Diamond’s technology, called Mutation Allostery Pharmacology (MAP), analyzes population-level genetic sequencing data in order to find mutations that drive cancer growth. These mutations are grouped into families, the company says in its IPO filing. Black Diamond aims to treat cancer, regardless of the type of tumor, by targeting specific families of mutations with small molecule drugs.

Lead Black Diamond drug BDTX-189 was designed to target the ErbB family of enzymes, specifically mutations in two proteins from this family: EGFR and HER2. These mutations are prevalent in breast, bladder, endometrial, gastric and colon cancers, as well as non-small cell lung cancer. In animal tests, Black Diamond reported that the drug stopped tumors from growing and also shrank them. The company expects to start a Phase 1/2 study testing BDTX-189 in the first half of this year.

Black Diamond’s pipeline also includes a preclinical drug in development for glioblastoma, an aggressive cancer affecting the brain or spinal cord. The company says in the filing that it is completing preclinical work on glioblastoma candidate leads and expects to select a candidate later this year.

The new IPO cash will be deployed across Black Diamond’s programs. According to the filing, $50 million is earmarked for completing the Phase 1 portion of the BDTX-189 Phase 1/2 study. Another $20 million is set aside for the glioblastoma program. Black Diamond plans to spend $25 million more to continue its drug discovery work.

Black Diamond was founded in 2014 by David Epstein and Elizabeth Buck. Three years later, they began working with venture capital firm Versant Ventures to develop the technology underpinning the company, according to the filing. Black Diamond was incubated in a drug discovery unit established by Versant before unveiling its technology in late 2018. Last January, the company closed an $85 million Series B round of financing. Prior to the IPO, Versant was Black Diamond’s largest shareholder, owning a 42 percent stake in the company, the IPO filing shows.

Photo by Flickr user nakashi via a Creative Commons license. Photo has been cropped to fit Xconomy publishing system standards.