IPOs

Alzheon steps back from an IPO, further than ever from a PhIII Alzheimer’s study

Alzheon won’t be profiting from an IPO soon.

The tiny biotech, which has been trying to fund a late-stage trial for a once-failed drug called ALZ-801 (tramiprosate), notified investors on Friday that they’re postponing the IPO they filed in search of about $70 million or $80 million, according to an alert from Renaissance Capital.

We’ll have to wait and see if they try it again.

Martin Tolar, Alzheon CEO

Alzheon’s timing was bad. Its strategy involved 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.

After 15 years of near universal failure with nothing on the market to influence the course of the disease, a win would be worth a fortune.

But after Vivek Ramaswamy made the same basic argument with Axovant and its old, failed GSK drug — which went after a completely different target that has now failed in multiple attempts — it’s getting harder to find true believers. And investigators in the field are raising more cautions about the lack of certainty in the field, especially after Merck’s recent failure with its BACE drug, which cuts off the supply of amyloid beta. 

More and more, companies are turning to combo strategies as well as moving into pre-symptomatic patients, where they may have a better shot at preventing or slowing the disease down.

Whatever the case, Alzheon hasn’t succeeded yet in raising the cash it needs for Phase III. The postponement follows Mereo’s decision to pull its IPO as well after a string of successful biotech offerings in Q1.


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