Amid Boom Days for Biotech, Inhibrx Lines Up Another IPO Effort

Xconomy San Diego — 

Public investors are betting big on biotechs, and Inhibrx is looking to capitalize on the industry’s recent resurgence of initial public offerings.

The La Jolla, CA-based company, which is developing drugs for cancer and a rare respiratory disease, has again applied for a listing on the Nasdaq, a filing that comes more than a year after it first outlined an IPO plan. It quietly withdrew that proposal last November.

In its second run at the public markets, Inhibrix has set a preliminary $100 million IPO goal, up by about one-third from the target it set last year. The company has applied for a Nasdaq listing under the stock symbol “INBX.”

As of late June, every biotech IPO this year had priced at or above the midpoint of its price range or offered more shares than it initially planned, according to research firm Renaissance Capital.

Inhibrx has four investigational drugs all in Phase 1 testing; three for cancers and another for a rare genetic disease called alpha-1 antitrypsin (AAT) deficiency. The drug candidates deploy single-domain antibodies, antibody fragments that the company believes may best other antibody and biologic therapies on safety and efficacy because of their smaller size and “highly modular” properties.

The company’s most advanced candidate, INBRX-109, is under evaluation in patients with chondrosarcoma and mesothelioma, two rare and aggressive cancers. The drug is designed to stimulate DR5, a member of the tumor necrosis factor (TNF) receptor superfamily, which plays a role in immune response.

Also in early testing is INBRX-106, which is intended to stimulate OX40, another TNF receptor superfamily member, in locally advanced or metastatic solid tumors, and INBRX‑105, which is designed to both inhibit the protein PD-L1 and to stimulate 4-1BB, a receptor found on T cells, to enhance the anti-tumor immune response. Based on preclinical data, Inhibrx says that both drug candidates could be used to complement or replace the use of a class of approved cancer immunotherapies called checkpoint inhibitors.

A Phase 1 study for its AAT program was paused due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but the company aims to resume enrollment in the fourth quarter. Italy’s Chiesi Group last year acquired the option to exclusively license global rights to the AAT program, excluding the US and Canada.

The company anticipates reporting initial data from INBRX-109 and INBRX-106 by year’s end, and additional data from all four programs during 2021.

With its IPO cash the company plans to advance these potential treatments through the ongoing trials and to scale up its commercial manufacturing activities. Currently the biotech’s largest outside shareholders are Lilly Asia Ventures, which owns nearly 10 percent of the company and RA Capital, which holds 8.4 percent, according to the IPO paperwork.

Since raising $40 million last year from Viking Global Investors in the form of a convertible note, Inhibrx has raised $15 million more in a similar financing, from Viking and other investors, according to its prospectus.

The company was founded in 2010 by Mark Lappe, Brendan Eckelman, and Quinn Deveraux, the company’s CEO, chief scientific officer, and head of early research, respectively.