26-Employee Cue BioPharma Seeks $40 Million IPO Eight Months After Emerging From Stealth Mode

26-Employee Cue BioPharma Seeks $40 Million IPO Eight Months After Emerging From Stealth Mode September 26, 2017
By Mark Terry, BioSpace.com Breaking News Staff

Cambridge, Mass. – It’s only been nine months since Cue Biopharma came out of stealth mode with $26 million of invested private capital. Now, the company is planning to raise $40 million in an initial public offering (IPO).

In January, the $26 million investment was led by MDB Capital Group. Cue was founded in 2015 with $10 million of seed funding, with $16.4 million in follow-on financing.

Cue focuses on second-generation immuno-oncology. Its technology platform is designed to fuse engineered T-cell costimulatory signaling molecules (ligands) with a T-cell receptor targeting complex (peptide-MHC) on a traditional scaffold of an antibody. The second-generation part is that it is similar to CAR-T, but by way of a molecule instead of an engineering process.

The company, which has 26 employees, filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) last week that it has applied to the NASDAQ Capital Market to list its stock under the ticker “CUE.”

Its tech platform is called CUE Biologics, which in its filing with the SEC it called, “a growing portfolio of precision immune-modulatory drug candidates, and two supporting technologies we call MODa and viraTopea that enable the discovery of costimulatory signaling molecules (ligands) and T cell targeting peptides, respectively.”

Max Stendahl, writing for the Boston Business Journal, said, “For many biotech startups, the time between a public unveiling and an IPO can be counted in years, not months. Cue’s race from Series A to S1 filing is the quickest for a Massachusetts-based drug developer since Boston-based Flex Pharma did it in less than four months in early 2015. WaVe Life Sciences ’ S1 filing in October 2015 also came eight months after the Cambridge firm announced the closing of a Series A round.”

The company hopes to begin clinical trials of its lead compound by the end of next year. It is also working on possible therapeutics for autoimmune diseases. The company said in its filing, “We have currently designed two promising therapeutic frameworks to support distinct and potent mechanisms of T cell activation: our pMHC/IL-2 based CUE-100 series (to enhance overall numbers of tumor specific T cells) and our pMHC/CD80:4-1BBL based CUE-200 series (to reinvigorate exhausted T cells). We expect to be able to target antigen-specific T cell populations in a variety of indications by a simple peptide exchange into validated CUE Biologics frameworks.”

The lead drug candidate is CUE-101 that is designed to target and active T cells specific to HPV-related cancers, such as cervical, head and neck, and genitoanal cancers.

The SEC filing is under the Jumpstart Our Business Startups Act (JOBS), a law filed in 2012 that helps small firms raise money with less red tape. It’s been of particular benefit to biotech companies, which are typically small companies with no revenue, but a huge capital burn. The lobbying group BIO, in April 2017, published a report indicating that JOBS had supported 212 biotech IPS in its first five years, compared to 55 in the five years before the law went into effect. Per the report, biotechs, at the time of the report, had raised $17 billion in JOBS Act IPOs.

According to the SEC filing, Cue has a deficit of $17.4 million and has not generated revenue, neither of which is very surprising, considering it’s a biotech company.

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