A dry-powder lung disease drug and next-gen antibiotics: Two biotechs and an $880M slate of SPACs land on Wall Street with big ideas
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Another couple of biotech companies and four SPACs are hitting Wall Street, adding to yet another busy week for IPOs.
Aerovate Therapeutics is taking its dry-powder version of a popular cancer drug public, raking in more than $121 million. Acurx Pharmaceuticals snared a modest $14.8 million raise to tackle the looming threat of antimicrobial resistance. And Chamath Palihapitiya, the so-called ‘SPAC King,’ has rounded up $880 million across four blank check companies.
Here’s everything you need to know about the newest biotechs to hit Nasdaq:
Aerovate celebrates its first birthday with an upsized debut
Just shy of a full year after emerging from stealth mode, Aerovate Therapeutics is launching onto Nasdaq with an upsized offering.
The Boston-based upstart priced 8.68 million shares at $14 — the midpoint of a $13 to $15 range. Just last week, Aerovate said it would only offer 7.2 million shares. But with the upsized offering, the company is planning to rake in about $121.5 million.
Aerovate launched out of RA Capital’s incubator last August with a $72.6 million round to develop a dry-powder version of Novartis’ landmark cancer drug Gleevec, also known as imatinib. The company thinks it can improve the efficacy of imatinib in pulmonary arterial hypertension and curb some of the side effects by delivering the powder directly to the lungs via an inhaler.
Former CEO Ben Dake also told Endpoints News the product would be more attractive than a liquid nebulizer, which requires patients to mix their own solutions. Researchers have already completed a Phase I trial, which showed that repeated doses of up to 90 mg of the candidate (dubbed AV-101) were “well-tolerated” with no serious adverse events reported.
Current CEO Timothy Noyes, who took the helm just a couple of months ago, initially filed for a $100 million IPO. But in the last year or so, it has been common for companies to raise much more than what they pencil in on their S-1s.
Aerovate has tagged $71.6 million in IPO funds to conduct a Phase IIb/III trial for AV-101, which is expected to begin in the second half of this year. Another $28.1 million is going toward CMC for the candidate, according to an S-1/A, and $10.4 million will be set aside to fund a commercial launch.
The company will list under the ticker $AVTE.
Despite Big Pharma’s retreat, Acurx hits the gas on next-gen antibiotics
Acurx Pharmaceuticals has landed on Wall Street with a slate of next-gen antibiotics designed to tackle antimicrobial resistance.
The Staten Island, NY-based company — which had initially penciled in a $15 million raise on its S-1 — ended up offering 2.87 million shares at $6 apiece, pulling in about $14.8 million.
The upstart launched in 2017 to fight off infections caused by bacteria listed as priority pathogens by the WHO, CDC and FDA. The public debut comes at a time when new antibiotic innovation is starved of financing. WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said back in November that antimicrobial resistance is just as dangerous as the Covid-19 pandemic and “threatens to unwind a century of medical progress and leave us defenseless against infections that today can be treated easily.”
But despite the rising threat of antimicrobial resistance, Big Pharma has retreated from the risky field, fraught with cheap generics and poor financial returns.
Acurx is working on antibiotics designed to block the DNA Polymerase IIIC enzyme, the primary catalyst for DNA replication of several Gram-positive bacterial cells. The company previously said it plans to launch a Phase IIb trial for its lead candidate, ibezapolstat, this year in C. difficile infections. A Phase IIa was terminated early, after just 10 of 20 anticipated patients enrolled, according to the S-1/A. All 10 patients responded to the treatment, Acurx said.
About $4 million of the IPO proceeds will be set aside for ibezapolstat’s Phase IIb trial, the S-1/A states. Another $6 million will be used to complete the preclinical development of ACX-375C, a second antibiotic in the lead optimization stage.
Acurx is listed under the ticker $ACXP.
‘SPAC King’ brings in $880M across four firms
Chamath Palihapitiya, the so-called “Pied Piper of SPACs,” filed SEC paperwork earlier this month to launch four blank-check companies, each penciling in $200 million raises. On Wednesday, each of those SPACs priced at $10 a share, bringing in a total of $880 million.
The blank check companies, called Social Capital Suvretta Holdings Corps. I through IV, each target different sectors of the industry, with a focus on neurology, oncology, “the organ space subsector” and immunology. They’re co-led by president and director Kishen Mehta, who currently serves as portfolio manager at Suvretta. Each of the SPACs offered 22 million shares.
Palihapitiya has been a prominent figure in the SPAC realm, having previously launched six of them spanning multiple industries. One of those firms took fellow billionaire Richard Branson’s space tourism company Virgin Galactic public.