Three Biotechs Raise $320M in IPOs, Two Others Pass on Wall Street

Xconomy National — 

With five biotech IPOs on the calendar, this week was expected to be a big one. Three companies ended up making Wall Street debuts, raising a combined $320 million, led by Viela Bio. But two other firms didn’t like the market conditions and decided against going public for now. Here’s a recap of the week’s biotech IPO activity so far:

—Viela Bio raised approximately $150 million from its IPO. The Gaithersburg, MD, biotech said Wednesday night that it sold 7.9 million shares for $19 each, which was the low end of its planned $19 to $21 range. Viela is developing treatments for autoimmune and inflammatory diseases. Its lead therapeutic candidate, inebilizumab, is an antibody drug developed to target CD19, a protein found on the surface of B cells, which are a type of immune cell.

The company’s initial target is neuromyelitis optica spectrum disorder (NMOSD), a rare disease characterized by inflammation of the optic nerve and the spinal cord. Viela has already filed for FDA review of the drug, which is expected to receive a regulatory decision in June 2020. The company plans to use the IPO cash to fund regulatory and pre-commercialization work for inebilizumab, and to finance clinical studies testing the drug in other diseases.

Viela’s shares began trading Thursday on the Nasdaq exchange under the stock symbol “VIE.”

—Frequency Therapeutics pulled in $84 million from its IPO. The Woburn, MA, biotech sold 6 million shares for $14 apiece, which was the low end of the $14 to $16 price range it had planned.

Frequency is developing drugs for hearing loss based on research from MIT and Harvard University. The company plans to apply the IPO proceeds to Phase 2 tests of its lead drug, FX-322. A Phase 2a study is expected to start in the fourth quarter of this year; preliminary data are expected in the second half of 2020.

Frequency’s shares are expected to begin trading on the Nasdaq Thursday under the stock symbol “FREQ.”

—Aprea Therapeutics joined the public markets with an $85 million IPO. The cancer drug developer priced its offering at $15 per share, which was the midpoint of its targeted $14 to $16 price range. Aprea, which is based in Boston and has research facilities in Stockholm, Sweden, is developing drugs that reactivate the tumor suppressor protein p53, according to its IPO filing. Lead drug candidate APR-246, a small molecule drug, is being tested in blood cancers including myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS) and acute myeloid leukemia. Preliminary results from a pivotal Phase 3 test in MDS are expected in the second half of next year.

Aprea shares began trading Thursday on the Nasdaq under the stock symbol “APRE.”

—ADC Therapeutics withdrew its plans to list shares on the New York Stock Exchange, citing “adverse market conditions,” according to IPO research firm Renaissance Capital. The Switzerland-based cancer drug developer had planned to offer 8.16 million shares in the range of $23 to $26 each. ADC is developing cancer drugs called antibody drug conjugates. These drugs affix powerful cancer-killing compounds to antibodies that home in on cancer cells. ADC’s two most advanced drugs are in mid-stage testing.

—Monopar Therapeutics also cited market conditions in postponing its IPO plans, according to Renaissance Capital. The Wilmette, IL-based cancer drug developer had planned to offer 4.4 million shares priced between $8 and $10 apiece. Monopar’s lead drug, Validive, is a new formulation of the now generic blood pressure drug clonidine. Monopar is ready to start a Phase 3 study testing its drug as a way to reduce the incidence and duration of mouth sores experienced by cancer patients receiving chemotherapy and radiation treatment. The Monopar drug formulation is a tablet that the company says allows for prolonged delivery of the therapeutic to the regions of the mucus membrane damaged by cancer treatment.

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