Two years after Aptinyx spun out of Naurex in the wake of Allergan’s $560 million buyout, the biotech is much further along in the pipeline than your average fledgling. It just tacked on a hefty $70 million B round to beef up the work and drive deeper toward a pivotal phase of development. And the new kid on the VC block, Bain Capital Life Sciences, jumped out to lead the round, with managing director Adam Koppel joining the board.
The biotech didn’t exactly have to have that kind of money right now, says CEO Norbert Riedel, but when you’re looking to keep your options open for every eventuality — including a potential IPO — a mezzanine round like this can make a lot of sense.
“We decided to do this round to remain in a really, really strong position,” says Riedel, who’s stayed in touch periodically as he explores finding just the right way to modulate NMDA receptors for a variety of diseases.
Allergan bagged the group’s work on depression, avid to leap into a late-stage study with an NMDA drug that’s prominent in their Phase III pipeline. And Allergan was fine with leaving the rest of Naurex’s experimental work in the hands of the team that had brought it along. The breakaway biotech is still focused on NMDA, but the lead program for NYX-2925 is in a Phase II for neuropathy pain with some exploratory work underway in fibromyalgia. Next there’s a Phase I for NYX-783 in PTSD and a preclinical program moving toward its first human study.
“Now we can continue to develop our pipeline until the end of 2019, about 2 years,” says the CEO. And that should give them time to collect Phase II data on the two lead drugs and make some key decisions about when to launch Phase III, if all goes according to plan.
Bain was a good fit for the lead on this round, which attracted a big group of investors following the $65 million launch round. Ricky Sun played a big part in this, right along with Koppel. Both are Biogen vets, notes Riedel, and no strangers to CNS research.
Why not do an IPO now, with the window open?
Riedel isn’t excluding that option for 2018, but he felt now was the right time to make sure the company was well financed. Partnerships, IPOs and further financings can all be studied at a measured pace.
“I think we’re in no rush,” Koppel tells me. “This is one we’re going to be patient with.”
What does Koppel see as his main role?
Playing a key role in communicating with the crossovers and public investors during a transition to focus on the “longterm investor with fundamental value creation, not just the next step.”
If the time is right for an IPO in late 2018 or early 2019, they may go for it, he says. In the meantime, he counts himself as a big fan of Riedel and the whole team at Aptinyx.
Here’s the rest of the syndicate:
New investors with Bain include Adage Capital, Agent Capital, HBM Healthcare Investments, Nan Fung Life Sciences, Partner Fund Management, and Rock Springs Capital. Existing investors also participated in the Series B round, including New Leaf Venture Partners, Frazier Healthcare Partners, Longitude Capital, Osage University Partners, Adams Street Partners, LVP Life Science Ventures, PathoCapital, Goudy Park Capital, Beecken Petty O’Keefe & Company, and Northwestern University.
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