Cancer-focused Black Diamond vaults on to Nasdaq in $200M+ public debut, marking biggest biotech IPO in 2020 so far
Versant-backed Black Diamond Therapeutics has set its sights on an upsized biotech IPO to kick 2020 off.
The first startup out of Versant’s Ridgeline discovery engine in Basel is set to make its public debut on Thursday, raising gross proceeds of $201 million through the sale of 10.6 million shares priced at $19 a pop.
That exceeds the initial plan to raise $151 million by offering 8.9 million shares at a price range of $16 to $18 — a positive sign that the IPO window is still wide open for business, especially for cancer biotechs. Oncology is lucrative, with cancer fast catching up with cardiovascular disease as the most deadly condition in the developed world.
Ahead of the IPO, Black Diamond’s tumor-agnostic approach to fighting cancer spawned more than $200 million in venture funding. At the end of 2018 the company — founded by two scientists involved in the development of the cancer drug Tarceva, David Epstein and Elizabeth Buck — initially raised $20 million in its Series A. That injection was supplemented by two back-to-back to $85 million rounds of financing, led by several high profile groups including New Enterprise Associates, RA Capital Management and Boxer Group.
While inhibitors used to suppress kinase domain mutations, or TKIs, are considered standard-of-care treatment for many types of cancer, allosteric mutations are still uncharted territory. Using their tech platform, Black Diamond is looking to map allosteric mutations driving cancer to develop inhibitors that are tumor agnostic.
Oncogenes — which have the potential to cause the growth of cancer cells — are activated by kinase domain mutations or by allosteric mutations. Allostery is a common process by which proteins transmit the effect of binding at one site to another — often distal — functional site, allowing for regulation of activity.
“Worldwide sales of kinase inhibitors, one class of targeted therapies, exceeded $25 billion in 2018. Despite the success of these drugs, a recent analysis found that only nine percent of patients with metastatic cancer have tumors with genetic profiles that could make them eligible for treatment with an approved precision oncology medicine,” Black Diamond cited in its IPO filing earlier this month,
As increasing genomic profiling of cancer patients identifies clusters of uncharacterized genomic alterations, the biotech’s technology is designed to isolate “druggable mutation baskets” to create precision medicines that could benefit a broader swathe of patients.
The company’s lead experimental therapy, BDTX-189, is engineered to thwart the function of oncogenic proteins that affect both EGFR and HER2, and is being groomed for a Phase I/II trial set to kick off in the first half of this year. Black Diamond also has a preclinical candidate — among other undisclosed assets brewing in its pipeline — designed to combat glioblastoma, a particularly aggressive and deadly form of brain cancer.
Black Diamond will make its debut on the Nasdaq under the symbol “$BDTX.”