Contineum Dials Back Plans with $110M IPO to Fund Neuroinflammatory Trials

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Pictured: Nasdaq signage and building in New York City/iStock, hapabapa

Contineum Therapeutics went public on Friday, trading on the Nasdaq Global Select Market under the ticker symbol CTNM and dialing back its expectations to raise $110 million for clinical trials of a challenger to Boehringer Ingelheim and Roche.

The San Diego-based biotech filed to go public in March 2024 to fund development of two clinical-phase candidates. Johnson & Johnson paid $50 million upfront for one of the assets, PIPE-307, in April 2023 but Contineum still needs to fund a Phase II trial in relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis (MS). The biotech also wants cash to trial its wholly owned idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) and MS prospect, PIPE-791.

Earlier this week, Contineum set out plans to sell 8.8 million shares for $16 to $18 a piece. The biotech downgraded its target to secure its transition on to the Nasdaq, ultimately agreeing to sell almost 6.9 million shares for $16 each. Contineum expects gross proceeds of around $110 million, before deducting underwriting discounts and commissions and other offering expenses.

The company is planning to spend around $66 million on the development of PIPE-791. The candidate is an oral small molecule inhibitor of LPA1, a receptor implicated in scarring in the lung disease IPF and the promotion of neuroinflammation in MS. Studies also suggest LPA1 may limit remyelination, the holy grail of MS outcomes. Drug developers have tried for decades to promote remyelination, without success.

Contineum is planning Phase II trials of PIPE-791 in IPF and progressive MS. Boehringer Ingelheim’s Ofev and Roche’s Esbriet currently compete for the IPF market. Preclinical studies and a Phase I trial suggest PIPE-791 may have a convenience advantage. Contineum plans to study once-daily doses of PIPE-791, whereas Ofev and Esbriet are respectively taken two and three times a day.

The biotech is part of a clutch of drug developers that want to treat IPF by targeting LPA1. Bristol Myers Squibb shared Phase II data on a LPA1 antagonist in 2023, more than a decade after entering the space through the $325 million acquisition of Amira Pharmaceuticals. Contineum founder and chief scientific officer Daniel Lorrain used to work at Amira.

Other companies are racing BMS to market. Amgen’s acquisition of Horizon Therapeutics included a Phase II LPA1 drug candidate. AbbVie joined the fray by buying DJS Antibodies for $255 million in 2022.

Contineum’s exploration of LPA1 in progressive MS sets it apart from the competition. The biotech said PIPE-791 is the only brain-penetrant LPA1 receptor antagonist in clinical development progressive MS, an indication that has thwarted other companies.

The IPO will also support the Phase II trial of PIPE-307 that got underway last year. Contineum agreed to complete the study of the M1R inhibitor in relapsing-remitting MS when J&J struck a deal for the asset. The biotech has earmarked $16.2 million from the IPO haul for the study. Contineum contends inhibition of M1R may directly promote remyelination.

Contineum’s listing on the Nasdaq makes it part of the resurgence of IPOs seen in the first few months of this year. Like many other members of the class of 2024, the biotech has advanced deeper into the clinic before going public than the early-stage biotechs that listed during the IPO peak of 2021.

Nick Paul Taylor is a freelance pharmaceutical and biotech writer based in London. He can be reached on LinkedIn.

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