Armed with deals, dollars and the promise of upcoming data, Zymeworks files $75M IPO

Ali Tehrani, Zymeworks accepts@BIOTECanada Gold Leaf award (CREDIT:@biogeniusCA)

A little more than a year ago, as Zymeworks CEO Ali Tehrani was reeling in a $61.5 million crossover round, the biotech CEO told me that he had a two-year runway and a shot at being opportunistic in filing for an IPO. This morning, Tehrani concluded that the time was right—or at least necessary.

Zymeworks $ZYME has been blitzing its way through a series of partnerships and expansion projects focused on its bispecific antibodies and armed ADCs, two platforms Zymeworks will now depend on to raise at least $75 million in an IPO.

Zymeworks has built its reputation around a slate of big biopharma deals. In addition to Lilly and Celgene, GlaxoSmithKline and Merck have jumped on board the biotech’s primary Azymetric drug development platform. Daiichi Sankyo was the last company to jump on the platform. And Zymeworks recently added a 10,000-square-foot lab in its Vancouver base.

Their lead program—ZW25—now in the clinic uses their bispecific tech “to address patient populations with all levels of HER2 expression,” reads the F-1, “including those with low to intermediate HER2-expressing tumors, who are otherwise limited to chemotherapy or hormone therapy.”

Zymeworks now joins a short list of companies that are trying to make a leap into the public market. While Tehrani wanted to pick his time, the biotech IPO market has been shaky in early 2017, with some successes and some failures. We’re a long way from the boom days of 2014.

The biotech, though, has a long list of backers. The co-lead investors in the last round were BDC Capital and Lumira Capital, first timers, with existing investors CTI Life Sciences Fund and the Fonds de solidarité FTQ jumping in. New investors in the latest financing included Perceptive Advisors, Teralys Capital, Northleaf Venture Catalyst Fund, Brace Pharma Capital, Merlin Nexus and others.

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