Report: Biotech IPOs Gave Healthcare Industry a Boost in Q2 2020

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Renaissance Capital, the global initial public offering investment advisor, released a report on June 24 that suggested IPOs are booming in the healthcare sector. Specifically, the report indicated that biotechnology companies drove the healthcare industry to make up almost two-thirds of IPO activity in the second quarter of 2020.

“Healthcare made up two-thirds of activity, driven by high-flying biotechs, which are largely insulated from the pandemic,” the advisor commented.

Massachusetts-based Forma Therapeutics, a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company focused on rare hematologic diseases and cancers, is one of the businesses that has launched an IPO as of late. On June 18, the company announced that shares of common stock at would launch at an offering price of $20.00 per share.

Avidity Biosciences also launched an IPO in mid-June, and shares soared 50% in their trading debut on the Nasdaq, according to MarketWatch. The company, which is dedicated to pioneering a new class of oligonucleotide-based therapies, focuses on a wide range of serious diseases that lack adequate treatment options.

Interestingly, not all of these biotechnology companies are a part of the race to find a vaccine or treatment for COVID-19, according to CNN. Sam Masucci, founder and CEO of ETF Managers Group, told the news source that although the pandemic is at the top of everyone’s mind, there have been a number of other pandemic and epidemic events over the past few years. In short, there is plenty for these companies to focus on, aside from COVID-19.

One company that has made strides, specifically in the Alzheimer’s disease realm, is Axsome Therapeutics. The biopharmaceutical company announced on June 26 that it had received Breakthrough Therapy designation from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for AXS-05. This novel, oral, investigational NMDA receptor antagonist is designed to address Alzheimer’s disease agitation, for which there is currently no approved treatment.

“This FDA Breakthrough Therapy designation is an important milestone in the development of AXS-05 for Alzheimer’s disease agitation, a serious, prevalent, and debilitating condition for which there is currently no approved therapy,” said Herriot Tabuteau, MD, Chief Executive Officer of Axsome. “This marks the second Breakthrough Therapy designation received by Axsome for AXS-05, the first being for the treatment of major depressive disorder, and highlights the potential of AXS-05 to address unmet medical needs in multiple difficult-to-treat CNS disorders. We look forward to working with the FDA over the coming months as we advance the development of AXS-05 for the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease agitation.”

However, it isn’t just Alzheimer’s disease treatments that are making headlines. Immunovia AB announced positive results from its current study on lung cancer on June 26 as well. The trial, which is now on Step 5 of the discovery process, is exploring how Immunovia’s proprietary test platform called IMMray™ can potentially address the disease.

"These results from [the] lung cancer [trial] demonstrate that our powerful technology platform IMMray delivers significant robustness in lung cancer, which further validates our excitement about our platform that has the potential to revolutionize differential diagnosis for the early detection of many cancers," said Mats Grahn, CEO of Immunovia.

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