Molecular Partners Files $100 Million IPO to Advance COVID-19 and Cancers Therapies 


Swiss biotech company Molecular Partners announced yesterday it has filed for a $100 million initial public offering with the Securities and Exchange Commission in the U.S., funding which will go toward supporting the company's work in the development of protein-based treatments for COVID-19 and various cancers. 

The company said that Molecular will offer all security sold in the offering. However, the company has not yet determined the number of common shares represented by each American Depositary Shares (ADS), the number of ADSs to be offered, or the price range. 

In the announcement, Molecular said it is also applied to list its shares on the NASDAQ Global Market under "MOLN." Molecular's common shares are also listed on the SIX Swiss Exchange under "MOLN."

Joint lead bookrunners for the deal include JP Morgan, SVB Leerink, and Cowen & Co. Bookrunner and lead manager for the offering include RBC Capital Markets and Kempen & Co., respectively.

The company harnesses its proprietary DARPin molecular platform to develop candidates featuring multiple mechanisms of action to improve effectiveness and minimize toxicities of certain drugs. To help expand its drug candidates, Molecular has developed partnerships with several drug companies over the years, including collaborations with Amgen, Novartis and AbbVie.

Earlier this month, Molecular dosed its first patient in a Phase II trial of its DARPin® therapeutic candidate, ensovibep, which was designed to bind to the spike protein of the novel coronavirus at three different locations, thereby preventing cellular viral entry. This study is currently enrolling patients with symptomatic COVID-19, all of whom will receive investigational treatment. Researchers will look at the rates of viral clearance and the pharmacokinetics and tolerability associated with ensovibep. 

"In this first trial of ensovibep in patients, we hope to gain an early look at the viral clearance and the pharmacodynamic behavior of our lead COVID-19 candidate in the presence of the virus. Our preclinical trials with ensovibep have shown that it was able to bind and neutralize SARS-CoV-2 viruses both in vitro and in vivo, including against all currently known mutations of concern," said Molecular's Chief Executive Officer, Patrick Amstutz, Ph.D., in a statement. "As part of our development program, we aim to see if these results mechanistically translate into clinical efficacy in patients, with the current trial focused on examining viral presence in treated patients and the potential of the remaining virus to infect cells."

In March, Molecular and its partner Novartis entered ensovibep in the National Institutes of Health's (NIH) ACTIV-3 trial to investigate the antiviral's efficacy against COVID-19. Ensovibep is the first non-antibody treatment assessed in ACTIV-3. The clinical trial will report findings in an interim analysis after 300 patients have been enrolled and treated. ACTIV-3 is currently researching several treatment and vaccine candidates for COVID-19. The NIH selected ensovibep for inclusion after Molecular and Novartis provided the agency with independent preclinical data demonstrating the therapy's potential effects. 

"The NIH's ACTIV-3 trial provides a major expansion of ensovibep's clinical program and data collection, and recognizes the clinical and preclinical evidence we have delivered to-date supporting this candidate as a differentiated approach to COVID-19 treatment," said Amstutz in a statement. "Emerging variant strains and the challenges of vaccinating a global population create an ongoing need for effective antivirals to save lives. We will work closely with both our collaborator Novartis and the NIH to maximize support on this trial in parallel with the other clinical trials of ensovibep planned to initiate in the second quarter."

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