Riding Recent Biotech IPO Wave, G1 Snags $105M to Fund Cancer Work

Xconomy Raleigh-Durham — 

Cancer drugmaker G1 Therapeutics raised $105 million in an IPO last night, the latest development in a recent uptick of biotech offerings.

G1, of Research Triangle Park, NC, sold 7 million shares at $15 apiece. G1 had to sell more shares than it had intended (6.25 million) to hit its goal, but still priced within its projected $15 to $17 per share range. It will trade on the Nasdaq under the ticker symbol “GTHX” this morning.

After a slow start to 2017, biotech IPOs have picked up as of late. Since April 26, five biotechs have gone public: Ovid Therapeutics (NASDAQ: OVID), Verona Pharma (NASDAQ: VRNA), Zymeworks (NYSE: ZYME), UroGen Pharma (NASDAQ: URGN), and BioHaven Pharmaceuticals (NYSE: BHVN). A sixth, from Netherlands-based Argenx, is expected later today.

In a positive sign for the life sciences sector, each of those companies sold shares at prices at or above their expectations. Only Ovid, at least so far, is trading below its offering price. Tocagen (NASDAQ: TOCA), which went public in early April, trades 46 percent above its IPO price, and Biohaven (34.4 percent above its IPO) and UroGen (31.8 percent) have also seen early gains.

G1 focuses on a pair of enzymes, CDK 4 and 6, that are well known as cancer drug targets and implicated in tumor growth. But its lead drug, trilaciclib, has a different intent than other therapies from Pfizer, Novartis, and Eli Lilly that block CDK4/6 enzymes. The drug is for patients whose cancers don’t depend on CDK4/6 enzymes and is given just before chemotherapy is administered to help shield patients from some of the toxic effects of such treatment. Trilaciclib is being tested in two Phase 2 studies in small cell lung cancer and one Phase 2 trial in triple negative breast cancer. Initial data are expected next year.

The company is also developing a second drug, G1T38, that would directly compete with the Pfizer, Novartis, and Eli Lilly drugs. G1 says in its prospectus that it believes it can “improve upon and address the shortcomings” of these other therapies, but that hasn’t been proven yet. G1 plans to start Phase 2 studies in non-small cell lung cancer and breast cancers next year.

G1’s largest shareholders before the IPO were Hatteras Venture Partners (19.79 percent), Medimmune Ventures (16.70 percent), Eshelman Ventures (15.38 percent), RA Capital (10.66 percent), and Lumira Capital (7.00 percent). The company had  $37.7 million in cash on hand as of March 31, had burned through $81.3 million since its inception, and has raised a total of $95.8 million in equity financing.

Here’s more on G1, which was founded in 2008 as G-Zero Therapeutics and spun out of the Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.