Alzheon IPO take two: Will investors back a downsized offering from an Alzheimer’s biotech?
Alzheon couldn’t manage to pull off an $80 million IPO as a string of biotechs lined up to go public earlier this year. So now the biotech’s executive crew will take a shot at about half that much money as they look to engage some investors who would like to tread in the ultra-risky field of Alzheimer’s drug reclamation work.
The biotech, run by Martin Tolar, pulled back from the market just 4 months ago, unable to float shares. It filed anew on Monday, still focused on raising cash to get its drug ALZ-801 back into the clinic.
This time, though, the company has dropped plans to launch a pivotal Phase III and replaced it with a pitch for a Phase IIb trial, to get started next year.
Its strategy involves getting an amyloid beta drug that had failed at Bellus, then relying on post hoc analysis to spotlight a success in a subset of patients with two copies of the APOE4 gene and better trial design to argue they had a shot at winning the lottery in Alzheimer’s. That was the same approach that Vivek Ramaswamy had at Axovant, where it blew up with spectacular effect, likely maiming investors to the approach.
Recalibrating their plan for a downsized IPO may lower the bar sufficiently — but over the past decade and more Alzheimer’s drugs have had a very consistent record for failure, including the amyloid beta crowd that Alzheon joined. So we’ll see if it’s the dollar amount or the science that couldn’t pass muster earlier this year.