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Turning Point Prices IPO, Raising $166M to Test Cancer Drugs

Xconomy San Diego — 

Turning Point Therapeutics raised more than $166 million in its IPO, pricing at the top of its range and putting nearly 2 million more shares into the public markets than it had initially planned.

Strong demand ahead of the offering prompted the company, which is developing targeted cancer drugs for patients that have developed resistance to other treatments, to sell 9.25 million shares at $18 apiece, raising $166.5 million before discounts, commissions, and offering expenses.

Turning Point plans to list on the Nasdaq exchange under the stock symbol “TPTX.” It was slated to start trading Wednesday.

Strong interest in Turning Point’s shares reflect investors’s appetite for biotech IPOs. Earlier this year in San Diego, Gossamer Bio raised $276 million in an IPO that also surpassed expectations. So, too, did biotech Synthorx’s public debut, in which it raised $131 million in an upsized offering.

According to its final prospectus, Turning Point will use the funds to build out its pipeline of drugs intended for patients who aren’t being helped by existing cancer therapies. Its lead candidate, repotrectinib, is a type of cancer drug called a kinase inhibitor, which is meant to target genes that are believed to play a role in causing tumors in patients with non-small cell lung cancer and advanced solid tumors. The company calls repotrectinib a “next-generation” kinase inhibitor and expects it to enter a Phase 2 trial in the second half of this year.

The company also plans to use some of the new money to further develop some of its preclinical assets. In the second half of the year, Turning Point plans to start four new clinical trials, including a Phase 2 registration trial for repotrectinib.

Athena Countouriotis is its president and CEO. She joined Turning Point as its chief medical officer nearly a year ago, and was promoted to her current role in September. In addition to other clinical development experiences, Countouriotis, at San Diego’s Ambit Biosciences, led clinical development of quizartinib, a kinase inhibitor being developed as a treatment for acute myeloid leukemia, until the company’s acquisition by Daiichi Sankyo in November 2014. J. Jean Cui, Turning Point’s scientific founder and chief scientific officer, was the lead inventor of two kinase inhibitor drugs in use today: the Pfizer (NYSE: PFE) drugs crizotinib (Xalkori) and lorlatinib (Lorbrena). The company has about 60 employees, and anticipates growing to about 80 people by year’s end, according to Countouriotis.

Such drugs have made the companies that develop them attractive acquisition targets for major pharmaceutical companies. Roche splashed out $1.7 billion to acquire San Diego’s Ingyta, a precision cancer drug deal that was announced in late 2017.
And Eli Lilly (NYSE: LLY) made its own bet this year on drugs that treat cancers with particular genetic signatures when it agreed to pay $8 billion for Loxo Oncology, which had developed drugs targeting tumor mutations.

Prior to Turning Point’s IPO, the company has raised more than $146 million; it had $101 million in cash as of the end of 2018, according to its prospectus.

Its institutional investors include Cormorant Asset Management, Lilly Asia Ventures, OrbiMed, S.R. One, Foresite Capital, and venBio.