Eyeing $86M, Galera leads a pack of three modest biotech IPOs pushing past high profile stumbles
Exactly one year after kicking off a pivotal Phase III study for its lead drug — a companion for cancer patients receiving radiotherapy — Galera is looking to the Nasdaq for some new cash to complete the clinical work and fuel its commercial drive.
CEO Mel Sorensen has penciled in an $86 million ask, which was filed on the same day as liver disease company 89bio and rare disease diagnostics shop Centogene. The trio marks the first batch of IPO filings in the wake of two highly anticipated but ultimately disappointing public debuts by BioNTech and Vir, signaling dwindling biotech fervor on Wall Street. 89bio and Centogene are seeking $70 million and $69 million, respectively.
Galera’s pitch is centered squarely around GC4419, a mimetic drug of the naturally occurring enzyme superoxide dismutase. By spurring the conversion of excess superoxide— which accumulates quickly under radiation — into hydrogen peroxide, the biotech believes it can alleviate severe oral mucositis, an unpleasant side effect characterized by inflammation and ulceration of the mucous membrane lining the digestive tract. Not only that, but the hydrogen peroxide will help kill cancer cells.
The first indication they are aiming at is locally advanced head and neck cancer, and a 365-patient Phase III trial is underway. A second program for esophagitis, primarily targeting patients with thoracic tumors or lung cancer, will also benefit from the IPO, as will another similar drug primed for increasing the potency of stereotactic body radiation therapy.
That first Phase III was launched with the help of a whopping $150 million fundraise last September, including $70 million in Series C cash and an $80 million royalty agreement with what is now known as Blackstone Life Sciences. It ended up with 7.4% of the stock $GRTX, the least among the group of well-heeled major investors including NEA (20.4%), Novartis (17.0%), Novo (15%) and Sofinnova (12.2%).
Under the deal with Blackstone, it had agreed to build and train a sales force of around 40 reps in the US, Galera wrote in the S-1.
Sorensen, who took over as CEO from founder Robert Beardsley in 2012, took home a compensation worth $521,624 last year. COO Beardsley’s package came close at $423,405, while CBO Arthur Fratamico and CMO Jon Holmlund were both entitled to slightly more than $400,000.
89Bio, meanwhile, has leapt directly from Series A to the public markets just one year after emerging out of OrbiMed’s cradle. The lead product candidate is an FGF21 analog carved out of Teva’s pipeline, now with human data from healthy volunteers to boast.
Deploying FGF21 to tackle NASH — a red hot field of its own — isn’t a new concept, but 89Bio believes its glycoPEGylation methods can stand out due to better tolerability and durability.
With the new cash infusion, the company $ETNB aims to wrap up an ongoing Phase Ib/IIa trial whose topline data are expected in the second half of 2020, while also funding a Phase II in severe hypertriglyceridemia.
OrbiMed continues to control the largest chunk of equity at 41.2%, while Longitude Venture Partners claims 24.9%, RA Capital gets 21.6% and Pontifax has 11.5%.
For the busy year, CEO Rohan Palekar nabbed a compensation package worth $708,161 while Ram Waisbourd got $318,002 for doubling as CBO and COO.
Centogene $CNTG, a German outfit, is dedicating its proceeds to developing new biomarkers and doubling down outreach to potential pharma partners, in addition to expanding its tech platform.