Busy IPO week winds down as two more biotechs — and one looking to improve clinical trials — file for public debuts
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Two more biotech companies — and one that’s committed to supporting clinical research — filed for IPOs just before the long weekend.
Nobel laureate Jennifer Doudna’s Caribou Biosciences is penciling in a $100 million raise to support its off-the-shelf CAR-T therapies, one of which is making its way through a Phase I study in B-cell non-Hodgkin lymphoma. Also looking for a $100 million raise is WCG Clinical Services, which established itself as an ally to biopharma companies and CROs back in 2012. The company offers planning, patient engagement, and ethical review services, and says it was behind more than 723 Covid-19 trials. Meanwhile, transpacific biotech Brii Biosciences is looking for its own ticker on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange, and says it’ll use the funds across its broad infectious disease and CNS pipeline.
Here’s what you need to know about the latest set of companies gearing up for a public debut:
Jennifer Doudna-launched Caribou Biosciences says it’s ready for Wall Street
When Caribou Biosciences nabbed a $115 million Series C round back in March, CEO Rachel Haurwitz told Endpoints News an IPO was “conceivable one day.” Now, that day has come.
Haurwitz submitted Caribou’s S-1 papers on Thursday, penciling in a $100 million raise — though, in this market, it wouldn’t be surprising if the company ends up with more. The funds will give a boost to the company’s three off-the-shelf CAR-T therapies, the most advanced of which is an anti-CD19 candidate in Phase I for B-cell non-Hodgkin lymphoma.
“It’s been in particular over the past few years that we’ve really focused on using this next-generation CRISPR technology platform to develop our own pipeline of off-the-shelf cell therapies for oncology,” Haurwitz said in March.
The company got its start in Jennifer Doudna’s lab at Cal-Berkeley, where Haurwitz was Doudna’s first graduate student to work on CRISPR. In 2011, they launched the company with James Berger (who’s now at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine) and Martin Jinek.
What sets Caribou apart is its hybrid DNA/RNA editing platform, which Haurwitz calls chRDNA (pronounced “chardonnay,” like the wine). The biotech believes the hybrid guides can prevent off-target editing common to current CRISPR applications.
Some of the IPO proceeds will go to IND-enabling activities for Caribou’s other two candidates, CB-011 and CB-012. The former targets BCMA for the treatment of relapsed/refractory multiple myeloma and uses “immune cloaking” to avoid the immune system. That candidate is expected to hit the clinic next year. CB-012 goes after CD371, which Caribou says is an attractive target for acute myeloid leukemia.
The company’s also looking to go beyond oncology, and they’re exploring the areas of immune cell therapy, iPSC, and in vivo-gene editing. In February, AbbVie shelled out $40 million upfront with another $300 million in biobucks for two of the biotech’s allogeneic CAR-Ts.
“We view this collaboration as an external recognition of the potential for our chRDNA genome-editing technology to significantly improve genome-editing specificity and efficiency,” Caribou’s S-1 states.
Months after a $155M raise, trans-Pacific Brii Biosciences looks to make its public debut
Word spread last August that Brii Biosciences was considering a Hong Kong IPO. Now, almost a year later, the company has filed its papers.
Zhi Hong launched Brii back in 2018 to bridge the gap in innovation between the US and China. The trans-Pacific biotech hooked a $155 million Series C round in March to fund its broad infectious disease pipeline and CNS program. And now, it plans to offer about 111.6 million shares globally, according to the filing.
“Since our founding in 2018, Brii Bio has made tremendous progress toward our mission to accelerate the development and delivery of breakthrough medicines through partnerships and our own insight in highly differentiated medicine discovery,” Hong said in a March statement.
A majority of the IPO proceeds would fund Brii’s hepatitis B programs, including its core product BRII-179 which Brii in-licensed from VBI Vaccines shortly after its launch. Last week, Brii said the candidate was “well-tolerated” in a Phase Ib/IIa study for chronic HBV patients, and induced B and T cell responses when administered alone or in combination with interferon-alpha.
Brii kicked off another Phase II chronic HBV study assessing BRII-179 along with BRII-835, its candidate licensed from Vir, back in April. The company plans to launch two more Phase II studies this year testing BRII-835 in combo with other agents.
Brii’s other infectious disease programs range from HIV to Covid-19. Back in March, the NIH ejected Brii’s Covid-19 antibody combo from its ACTIV-3 trial, after the cocktail failed to show a trend toward clinical benefit. The NIH found no safety issues with the treatment — which contained two Brii antibodies dubbed BRII-196 and BRII-198 — and said the therapy would continue in the ACTIV-2 trial in mild-to-moderate Covid-19 patients who don’t need to be hospitalized.
WCG Clinical Services seeks to solve ‘pain points’ in clinical trials
WCG Clinical Services launched back in 2012 as an ally to biopharma companies and contract research organizations, seeking to address what it calls “critical pain points” in clinical trial performance. Now, it’s looking for its own stock ticker.
The Princeton, NJ-based company filed an S-1 on Thursday, penciling in a $100 million raise. It claims to have supported around 90% of global clinical trials that took place over the last two years, providing services like study planning, patient engagement, and ethical review. The team participated in more than 723 Covid-19 trials, according to CEO Donald Deieso.
The company aims to tackle issues like slow enrollment, “burdensome administrative processes,” and the under-representation of minority patients.
“We firmly believe that we must have the clinical insight to develop, the courage to advance, and the persistence to transform a change-resistant industry, while never compromising the highest level of ethical standards,” Deieso said in the S-1.