Six Biotechs Launch IPO Plans in Last Days of May, While Iterum Therapeutics Adjusts IPO Goals


It’s been a busy month for IPOs. Numerous biotech companies announced their intentions to publicly list their stock on an exchange in the U.S. or abroad in order to gain new funding to advance developmental programs.

BioSpace put together a list of some of the most recent announcements. In the last week alone six companies have announced their IPO intentions before the month of May ends.

AvroBio – Cambridge, Mass.-based AvroBio, a leader in lentiviral-based gene therapies, filed a preliminary prospectus with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission on May 25 to raise $86 million in an initial public offering. In its S-1 filing, the company said it intends to use the proceeds to advance its lead clinical product, AVR-RD-01, for the treatment of Fabry disease.  AVR-RD-01 is being pushed into Phase II testing. Additional funding will be used to support the ongoing investigator-sponsored Phase 1 trial, the company said. The company also intends to use proceeds for other candidates. It will advance AVR-RD-02 for the treatment of Gaucher disease into Phase I/II clinical trials, push AVR-RD-03 for Pompe disease further into preclinical development and finally to advance AVR-RD-04 for the treatment of cystinosis. AvroBio intends to trade under the symbol AVRO.

Kezar Life Sciences – On May 24 Bay Area-based Kezar Life Sciences, with a focus on developing treatments for autoimmune diseases, filed a preliminary prospectus with the SEC to raise $80 million in an IPO. In its S-1 filing, Kezar said it intends to use the funds raised through the IPO to advance its KZR-616 drug candidate, a first-in-class selective immunoproteasome inhibitor, through the clinic for the treatment of lupus and lupus nephritis. That program is currently in a Phase Ib/II trial. Additionally, the company said it will use the funds to study KZR-616 for the treatment of idiopathic inflammatory myopathies, as well as up to three additional autoimmune indications into a Phase Ib or Phase II clinical trial, the company said in its prospectus.

Kezar closed out its first quarter of 2018 with $47.1 million in cash and cash equivalents.  The company filed its IPO plans weeks after it strengthened its leadership team with a new chief medical officer and a new chief financial officer. The company intends to list under the ticker symbol KZR.  

Xeris Pharmaceuticals – Chicago-based Xeris Pharmaceuticals also filed its preliminary prospectus for an IPO on May 24, less than one month after it secured $55 million in funding from a Series C and a loan agreement. The funds raised earlier in May will be used to prepare a New Drug Application for its ready-to-use glucagon rescue pen to treat severe low blood sugar in diabetes patients. Xeris intends to file its NDA next quarter. Additionally, the company said it intends to use the funds for potential commercialization. With the IPO, Xeris intends to raise $75 million to further support the planned commercial launch of the G-Pen device, the company said in its filing with the SEC. In February the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) granted its Orphan Drug Designation for the ready-to-use device for the treatment of Hyperinsulinemic Hypoglycemia.

At the end of the first quarter of the year, Xeris said it had $58.1 million in cash or cash equivalents. Xeris plans to list under the ticker XERS.

Magenta Therapeutics – Cambridge, Mass.-based Magenta Therapeutics said it intends to use the expected $100 million from an IPO to advance its portfolio of bone marrow transplant medications. Magenta filed its preliminary prospectus on May 24. The filing comes weeks after securing $52 million in a Series C financing. In its S-1 filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, the company said it intends to use the funding to specifically advance the development of two clinical assets, MGTA-456 and MGTA-145. The Phase II MGTA-456 is the company’s most advanced asset. Magenta in-licensed MGTA-456 last year from Novartis. MGTA- 456 is a first-in-class allogeneic stem cell therapy consisting of a single umbilical cord blood unit expanded with an aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AHR) antagonist. Magenta believes MGTA-456 has the potential to treat patients with higher cell doses than otherwise possible and to have access to better HLA-matched cord blood units. In April the company dosed the first patient in Phase II MGTA-456 trial. The patient has an undisclosed inherited metabolic disorder, the company said at the time. Magenta will trade on the Nasdaq under the symbol MGTA.

Aptinyx – On May 23, one day after strengthening its relationship with Allergan, the company set its sights on an $80 million IPO. The company is looking to raise funds to support its NMDA programs to treat neurological disorders, including depression. The lead product for Aptinyx, NYX-2925, in two Phase II studies in chronic pain. One study is testing the therapeutic in patients with painful diabetic peripheral neuropathy and the second is for the treatment of fibromyalgia. Aptinyx anticipates topline data from these two studies in the first half of 2019. The company also has a second candidate, NYX-783, for the treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder. Additionally, the company intends to move NYX-458 into the clinic for the treatment of cognitive impairment associated with Parkinson’s disease.

As of the end of March, Aptinyx had $82.4 million in available funds. The company said those funds are not sufficient enough to take NYX-2925 through Phase III studies. The company will trade under the symbol APTX.

Verrica Pharmaceuticals – On May 22 West Chester, Penn.-based Verrica Pharmaceuticals planned an IPO with the hopes of raising $86 million. The company intends to use funds gained from the IPO to advance its lead product, VP-102, a proprietary topical therapy for several common skin conditions, including Molluscum contagiosum (warts) and Verruca Vulgaris (plantar warts). It is launching two Phase III trials with top-line results expected next year. It the results are positive, the company anticipates filing a New Drug Application with the FDA. Verrica intends to trade under the symbol VRCA on the Nasdaq.

Iterum Therapeutics -- Earlier in May Iterum Therapeutics announced its intentions for an IPO with the hope of raising $92 million. However, on May 25 the company said priced its IPO at $13 per share, which was lower than expected. Now the company anticipates raising $80 million. The funds will be used to advance the Phase III clinical trials of both oral and IV formulations of sulopenem, the company’s lead compound, which is a novel penem anti-infective with oral and IV formulations. Iterum acquired sulopenem, which is in the same class of antibiotics as penicillin, from Pfizer in 2015.

Those companies filed IPOs within the last week, however, Bay Area-based GRAIL, Inc., is rumored to be looking at filing an IPO on the Hong Kong Exchange. Last week the company secured $300 million in an oversubscribed Series C financing from Chinese investors. The company, which merged with Hong Kong-based Cirina, Ltd. last year, intends to launch a screening test for the early detection of nasopharyngeal cancer this year in the area. 

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