5 cash-hun­gry biotechs crowd in­to Nas­daq in search of a $600M-plus wind­fall

The queue to get in­to Nas­daq just got a lot longer.

On Fri­day af­ter the mar­kets closed 5 more biotech’s tossed their S-1s in­to the mix, mark­ing at least 22 IPO pitch­es for the year to date. That falls in line next to the 20 biotechs that had gone pub­lic by this time last year — which marked an­oth­er busy year for pub­lic mar­ket de­buts and the cash they spin for R&D work.

We broke it out on a case-by-case ba­sis:


Vivek Ra­maswamy Roivant

Vivek Ra­maswamy is a crea­ture of habit. He cre­ates drug de­vel­op­ers un­der his um­brel­la com­pa­ny Roivant, beefs up their pipelines with drugs aban­doned or gath­er­ing dust on Big Phar­ma shelves, hires an ex­pe­ri­enced leader to run the shop, and then steers the firm to an IPO. Af­ter tak­ing Ax­o­vant and My­ovant pub­lic — in a pair of IPOs that raised more than half a bil­lion dol­lars — Der­ma­vant is be­ing groomed for a pub­lic de­but. Af­ter buy­ing tap­inarof from GSK $GSK, the biotech is gun­ning for a $100 mil­lion IPO, un­der the sym­bol $DRMT, ac­cord­ing to a fil­ing post­ed on Fri­day.


Neil Ku­mar End­points

Af­ter rais­ing about $299 mil­lion in Jan­u­ary, start­up mill Bridge­Bio is prim­ing it­self for a $225 mil­lion IPO. The Pa­lo Al­to, Cal­i­for­nia-based com­pa­ny has birthed a pletho­ra of star­tups such as Ei­dos, Navire, QED Ther­a­peu­tics and Pelle­Pharm, to fo­cus on ge­net­ic dis­eases, en­com­pass­ing der­ma­tol­ogy, on­col­o­gy, car­di­ol­o­gy, neu­rol­o­gy, en­docrinol­o­gy, re­nal dis­ease, and oph­thal­mol­o­gy. Run by Neil Ku­mar, Bridge­Bio now has 16 pro­grams, of which 4 are in or ap­proach­ing late-stage de­vel­op­ment. KKR owns a 10% stake in Bridge­Bio, which plans to list un­der the sym­bol $BBIO, ac­cord­ing to a fil­ing post­ed on Fri­day.


Bank­ing in a be­he­moth $125 mil­lion last Sep­tem­ber — in its third round of fi­nanc­ing — the pre­clin­i­cal biotech Atre­ca is aim­ing for a $100 mil­lion pub­lic de­but. Run by John Or­win — who was in charge of Re­lyp­sa un­til its $1.5 bil­lion takeover — the com­pa­ny is fo­cused on im­munother­a­pies, by us­ing tis­sue sam­ples from can­cer pa­tients to gath­er ide­al an­ti­bod­ies, em­ploy­ing B cells as their sound­ing board, for use in sol­id tu­mors.

John Or­win Atre­ca

The Red­wood City, Cal­i­for­nia-based play­er ex­pects to sub­mit an FDA ap­pli­ca­tion to test its lead ex­per­i­men­tal drug, ATRC-101, in hu­mans in late 2019, and kick off an ear­ly-stage tri­al in ear­ly 2020. Bak­er Broth­ers Life Sci­ences and its af­fil­i­ates own 22.8% of the com­pa­ny’s class A shares — and all of its B shares — while oth­er big share­hold­ers in­clude: Hadley Har­bor Mas­ter In­vestors (12.5%), Bill & Melin­da Gates Foun­da­tion (9%) and Box­er Cap­i­tal (6.9%). Atre­ca is plan­ning to list un­der the sym­bol $BCEL, ac­cord­ing to a fil­ing post­ed on Fri­day.

Pre­vail Ther­a­peu­tics

Wad­ing deep­er in­to the biotech wa­ters, for­mer Co­lum­bia pro­fes­sor Asa Abe­liovich is tak­ing his Parkin­son’s gene ther­a­py project to the Nas­daq, look­ing to raise $100 mil­lion for Pre­vail Ther­a­peu­tics af­ter clos­ing a $50 mil­lion round just two months ago.

Asa Abe­liovich Pre­vail

Found­ed in 2017 in part­ner­ship with Or­biMed and The Sil­ver­stein Foun­da­tion,  the New York-based com­pa­ny vows to de­vel­op a broad­er set of AAV gene ther­a­pies for neu­rode­gen­er­a­tive dis­eases, with a fo­cus on ge­net­i­cal­ly de­fined pa­tient pop­u­la­tions. In Parkin­son’s, that means tar­get­ing the GBA1 mu­ta­tion — an un­der­ly­ing dri­ver of the (less com­mon) neu­ro­log­i­cal man­i­fes­ta­tions of a com­mon lyso­so­mal stor­age dis­or­der known as Gauch­er dis­ease. Ad­di­tion­al pro­grams in­clude PR006 for fron­totem­po­ral de­men­tia with GRN mu­ta­tion and PR004 for the treat­ment of synu­cle­inopathies, pre­clin­i­cal stud­ies of which are to be fund­ed by the IPO wind­fall.

Abe­liovich, who helped co-found high pro­file Alzheimer’s biotech Alec­tor, owns 10.1% of the stock. But Or­biMed has the li­on’s share here: Its 48.6% own­er­ship dwarfs Re­genxbio’s 9.1%, RA Cap­i­tal’s 8.1%, Pon­tif­ax’ 5.9% or EcoR1 Cap­i­tal’s 5.8%. Pre­vail plans to list as $PRVL.

Akero Ther­a­peu­tics

It’s bare­ly been a year since Akero threw its NASH can­di­date in­to the crowd­ed space from out of left field. In the months that fol­lowed, it added $70 mil­lion to its orig­i­nal $65 mil­lion cash re­serve, wooed Gilead vet An­drew Cheng as CEO, and se­cured an IND for the next phase in the clin­ic. And if it all goes ac­cord­ing to plan, it will be cel­e­brat­ing its biotech an­niver­sary with $86 mil­lion in IPO mon­ey.

An­drew Cheng Akero

In the S-1, Akero once again out­lined the case for its FGF21 ana­log — in-li­censed from Am­gen $AMGN — in dis­rupt­ing dis­ease pro­gres­sion, start­ing from the fat ac­cu­mu­la­tion that is be­lieved to cause cell stress. Af­ter treat­ing 83 type 2 di­a­betes pa­tients with the drug, in­ves­ti­ga­tors ob­served bet­ter plas­ma lipopro­tein lev­els and in­sulin sen­si­tiv­i­ty, in­di­cat­ing “the po­ten­tial of AKR-001 to redi­rect calo­ries away from the liv­er, re­duce liv­er fat, al­le­vi­ate he­pa­to­cyte stress, in­hib­it in­flam­ma­tion and re­solve fi­bro­sis in pa­tients with NASH, as well as re­duce sus­cep­ti­bil­i­ty to car­dio­vas­cu­lar dis­ease” — a ma­jor cause of death for these pa­tients.

The biotech, now lo­cat­ed in San Fran­cis­co, al­so dis­closed that Am­gen gained a 7.8% stake from the deal in ad­di­tion to the $5 mil­lion up­front pay­ment. Clin­i­cal mile­stones to­tal $40 mil­lion and Akero could pay $75 mil­lion more if the drug makes it to the mar­ket. Ap­ple Tree Part­ners is the biggest share­hold­er here with 18.5%, while At­las, ven­Bio and Ver­sant each claims 15.2%. The pro­ceeds will go to­ward a planned Phase IIa tri­al con­firm­ing this the­o­ry as well as man­u­fac­tur­ing and oth­er ef­forts to beef up the clin­i­cal pipeline.

Im­age: Shut­ter­stock

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