A pair of biotechs prepares to hit Nasdaq, as total 2021 IPO raise quickly approaches $3B
After a busy week last week when 10 biotechs went public, the industry continues to see a steady stream of companies making their debuts.
With Adagene pricing earlier this week and two more biotechs joining them late Thursday into early Friday, there have now been 16 companies to IPO so far in 2021. The total combined raise is rapidly rising and approaching $3 billion already — biotechs have pulled in roughly $2.86 billion thus far.
That growth has largely been driven by Sana’s mega IPO, which accounts for about one-fourth of the overall sum. But five other biotechs have also raised more than $200 million each: Gracell, Cullinan, Bolt, Immunocore and Vor.
Here’s a rundown of the two companies that priced after market close Thursday afternoon, as well as another biotech that filed its S-1 on Thursday night.
NexImmune debuts on heels of positive ASH results
Spun out of Johns Hopkins back in 2018, NexImmune is looking to capitalize on strong ASH data from its lead program.
The biotech priced at $17, the high end of its range, raising $110 million in the process. It plans to trade on the ticker $NEXI. Originally planning to sell 4.7 million shares, NexImmune ultimately sold 6.5 million, helping it achieve that high end.
NexImmune centers around the concept of specialized nanoparticles that act as antigen-presenting cells to incite a T cell attack on tumors. Researchers presented initial results from a Phase I/II study last December for NEXI-001, showing it induced a return to baseline levels of absolute lymphocyte counts within three to 35 days among the first five patients dosed.
The program is still in its early days, though, and NexImmune is looking to enroll somewhere between 22 and 28 total patients. Within its S-1, NexImmune said it plans to steer IPO funds toward both this program and NEXI-002, first dosed in a human last October in a multiple myeloma trial.
If the company’s tech ends up working, researchers say it could spark a more durable attack that would involve more targets and less likelihood of a setback for patients — particularly if they can make an impact on naïve and memory T cells to keep the human immune system on alert.
After pivot to gene therapy, Decibel moves quickly to IPO
Decibel Therapeutics is moving fast after a Series D just three months ago.
Back in November, the company raised $82 million in the round, and Thursday evening they priced their upsized IPO. Decibel priced at $18 per share, the high end of its range, and pulled in $127 million. They sold 7.1 million shares after announcing plans to sell 5.9 million.
When it hits Nasdaq on Friday, Decibel will trade on the ticker $DBTX.
Decibel had spent years focused on preventing hearing loss, but they pivoted last winter to gene therapies that can restore lost hearing. The move came after failing to find a biomarker that could let them run a preventative trial, as well as what they characterized as surprising advancements in genomic and regenerative technology.
It’s now one of three major Boston-area biotechs chasing these types of cures, next to the gene therapy outfit Akouos and the stem cell regeneration developers at Frequency Therapeutics.
Decibel’s first gene therapy was developed in collaboration with Regeneron, but isn’t scheduled to hit the clinic until at least 2022. Researchers are starting with fixing a single gene in people with the OTOF mutations, but the long-term goal is to build cures for more general hearing loss and balance disorders.
Small stress-focused Protagenic files its $18 million S-1
On the smaller side of things, neuro disorder biotech Protagenic Therapeutics filed for an $18 million IPO on Thursday.
The NY-based biotech is working on neuropeptides derived from the TCAP family. Protagenic’s lead program, PT00114, is being developed to treat stress-related disorders such as PTSD and drug and alcohol addictions without interfering with brain function.
The compound is expected to complete IND-enabling studies in early 2021, and subsequently enter Phase I/II trials. Protagenic said in its S-1 it plans to funnel money toward enrolling this “basket” trial, with the goal of signing up 42 patients.
Ultimately, Protagenic’s goal is to improve mental health by counterbalancing stress overdrive and restoring the health of neuronal cells. Protagenic is already listed on the OTCQB market, with securities listed at $4.14 as of Feb. 2.