Venture raises from marquee investors? Check. Collaboration deal? Check. Clinical trial timeline? Check. For its next step, Codiak Biosciences is headed for an IPO.
The S-1 reveals little that we didn’t already know about the Cambridge, MA-based biotech, which has a platform to repurpose exosomes as drug delivery vehicles to carry a range of therapeutic payloads, from small molecules to proteins to nucleic acids. CEO Doug Williams has raised $168.2 million so far in his first gig since leaving the top research job at Biogen, and recently brought in a further $56 million in upfront payment from an alliance with Jazz.
It did disclose a licensing pact with a mysterious French company called Kayla Therapeutics, in which Codiak obtained a STING agonist presumably used in its lead product candidate, exoSTING. The upfront payment registered at $6.5 million.
By chauffeuring the compound directly to antigen presenting cells, Codiak hopes to fully unleash the cancer killing potential of the STING pathway without having to worry about systemic toxicity that stems from “leakage” out of the tumor. The clinical trial to be kicked off in the first half of 2020 will focus on “cold” tumors, i.e. those resistant or non-responsive to checkpoint therapies.
They have a similar logic for the runner up in the pipeline, exo-IL-12, for which clinical tests are planned for H2 2020.
Meanwhile, the program where they load exosomes with siRNA targeting KRAS for pancreatic cancer — an early candidate the startup has touted — is put on the backburner. Codiak licensed the relevant IP from MD Anderson Cancer Center in an agreement that could result in a one-time payment anywhere from $20 million to $150 million (in cash or stock) when the company debuts on the Nasdaq as $CDAK.
Having initiated the partnership with MD Anderson, seeded the company and led subsequent financings, Arch Venture Partners’ stake now sits at over 28%. Flagship Pioneering, whose new company creation arm provided the other half of the foundational exosome research, controls 18%. Fidelity is in for 14%. Notably, Raghu Kalluri, the MD Anderson researcher behind much of Codiak’s science, is a 7.65% stockholder, in addition to the 6.72% that the institute owns. Eric Lander of the Broad, a Codiak board director, has 6.08%.
Williams, who holds 5% of the company himself, bagged a compensation package of $2.1 million last year — with over a million in option awards. Chief business officer and Bioverativ vet Richard Brudnick got $1.5 million, while CFO Linda Bain’s package was worth around $700,000.
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