Keros Therapeutics, a biotech which raised more than $50 million this month in venture capital, is now looking to tap the public markets for additional cash amid a time of historic tumult.
The Lexington, MA-based company, is a clinical-stage biotech that aims to develop new treatments for patients with blood and musculoskeletal disorders by developing drugs that inhibit a family of proteins called TGF-beta. TGF-beta signaling pathways play a key role in regulating red blood cell and platelet production as well growth, repair, and maintenance of muscle and bone.
In its prospectus, Keros said it would use the IPO cash to support its pipeline through clinical trials.
The company’s lead drug candidate, KER-050, is a therapeutic protein designed to treat low blood cell counts in patients with two blood disorders: myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS) and myelofibrosis. Keros reported promising Phase 1 clinical trial results of KER-050, and aims to start Phase 2 studies in patients with MDS this year and in patients with myelofibrosis in 2021.
Keros’s lead small molecule candidate, KER-047, is being developed to treat anemia caused by elevated levels of hepcidin, a hormone that regulates iron absorption and recycling. The drug candidate is also being evaluated as a potential treatment for patients with a rare musculoskeletal disorder called fibrodysplasia ossificans progressiva, or FOP, an extremely rare connective tissue disease in which tissues are gradually replaced by bone. That drug—which Keros licensed from Massachusetts General Hospital and the National Institutes of Health’s National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences—is being evaluated in a Phase 1 study anticipated to wrap up midyear.
The company’s third drug candidate, KER-012, is in preclinical development as a potential treatment for disorders associated with bone loss, such as osteoporosis and osteogenesis imperfecta, as well as pulmonary arterial hypertension. Keros aims to move KER-012 into the clinic in the second half of 2021.
Keros applied to list on the NASDAQ under the stock symbol “KROS,” set a preliminary target of $85.25 million.
Early this month Keros announced it had reeled in $56 million in a Series C financing led by new investors Foresite Capital, OrbiMed, Cowen Healthcare Investments, and Venrock. Some earlier investors also participated, including Pontifax, Arkin Bio Ventures, Partners Innovation Fund, Global Health Sciences Fund, and Medison Pharma. Since inception Keros has raised $78.5 million.
Pontifax is Keros’s largest shareholder, with a 32.6 percent stake, according to the prospectus. Arkin Bio holds a 14.4 percent stake; Foresite, 9.9 percent; Partners Innovation, 8.7 percent; and OrbiMed, 8.5 percent.