Foghorn Booms onto Nasdaq with $120M IPO
Adrian Gottschalk, CEO / Courtesy of Foghorn Therapeutics
The biotech IPO’s keep rolling in with the latest being Massachusetts-based Foghorn Therapeutics. Foghorn hit the NASDAQ this week with shares priced at $16 apiece. They originally filed for a $100 million raise but upped expectations by raising to $120 million via a 7.5 million-share offering.
The proceeds will go directly into their gene traffic control program. Their lead oncology candidates are currently in preclinical stages.
Foghorn was founded in 2016 on the work of Cigall Kadoch, Ph.D., then officially launched in 2018 with a $50 million investment from Flagship Pioneering and associated investors. Kadoch was one of the youngest scientists ever appointed to the Harvard Medical School faculty. She established her own lab at Dana-Farber and her research there led to the founding of Foghorn.
Foghorn’s focus is on developing therapies based on a system that directs which genes our cells express when, where, and in what order. They call their manipulation of this system “Gene Traffic Control”, targeting genetically determined dependencies within the chromatin regulatory system. This platform is currently advancing over 10 programs across a range of cancer types and is expanding to explore other diseases.
The biotech’s lead candidate is FHD-286, which is being developed for the treatment of uveal melanoma, a cancer of the eye. They expect to file an IND later this year to begin their Phase 1 trial. About $35 million from the IPO will support the FHD-286 candidate.
Another candidate heading towards an IND filing is their FHD-609 for the treatment of synovial sarcoma, which is a rare form of cancer occurring primarily in the extremities of the arms or legs. This type accounts for 8-10% of all sarcoma diagnosis, with an estimate of 900 new cases a year in the US alone. $20 million of the IPO raise will go into bringing this candidate into submitting an IND in the first half of 2021.
Foghorn has been growing this year as they nearly tripled their headquarter space in Cambridge with additional labs, offices, conference rooms and an employee café. They had no specific timeframe for filling the new office space but have regularly been adding talent to their team roster since inception.
In July, Foghorn entered into a strategic collaboration with Merck to leverage its proprietary Gene Traffic Control platform for cancer therapies. Under the deal, Merck will have the exclusive rights to develop and commercialize drugs that target dysregulation of a single transcription factor while Foghorn received an undisclosed upfront payment and will be eligible for research milestones that could add up to $425 million in addition to royalties.
Biotech IPOs have truly boomed this year, far surpassing the previous year. Since January, 72 biotech and biopharma companies have listed on Nasdaq raising $13.2 billion.