Following the flow of the biotech industry, Lava heads to Nasdaq with a gamma delta T cell promise
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Joining in on the great IPO eruption of the last 12 months, Lava Therapeutics is flowing to Nasdaq.
With a focus on immuno-oncology, the Dutch-American biotech priced late Wednesday night in preparation for a Thursday debut, offering shares initially at $15 apiece. They managed to just eclipse the nine-figure mark, expecting an estimated raise of $100.5 million once the offering closes early next week.
Lava plans to use the ticker $LVTX once its shares hit the market.
Biotech IPOs keep chugging along as the quarter comes to a close. This follows a record 2020 when the industry saw 91 public debuts with a collective $16.5 billion raised, according to Nasdaq. So far through 2021, biotech’s collective raise is nearing $4 billion, a figure slightly off last year’s pace, per the Endpoints News tally.
And after a brief slow down at the end of February, the market started heating back up again last week when four biotechs priced, marking the second-busiest week of 2021. That title, however, still belongs to the first calendar week of February, when 10 companies went public.
The company’s scientific approach involves building bispecific antibodies that grab a receptor on gamma delta T cells and link it with a particular protein on the tumor, with the goal of the drug only activating while in the vicinity of the cancer. Lava also says its therapies can help induce immune memory of the cancer, should it appear again, due to gamma delta T cells’ similarity to antigen-presenting cells.
Lava’s pricing Wednesday night comes after a relatively busy 2020. The biotech debuted back in May 2018 with a modest $18.9 million to research what was then a nascent field: gamma delta T cells. Lava built its research on the scientific discoveries of CSO Hans van der Vliet, an oncologist at VU University Medical Center and Cancer Center Amsterdam.
They stayed almost entirely under the radar — not issuing another press release for over a year and a half — until announcing a cancer bispecifics partnership with J&J’s Janssen last May. A few months later, they returned to the venture well with $83 million in Series C financing and two programs ready for the clinic.
Within their F-1, Lava spills the beans on how it plans to spend its cash as a public company. Though they’re raising only $100.5 million, Lava outlines a $135 million business plan by including a portion of its current cash standing. Almost all of that, or $125 million, will go toward its two lead programs: $85 million for LAVA-051 in CLL, MM and AML, and $40 million for LAVA 206×207 in mCRPC.
Another $10 million is penciled in for preclinical candidates in hematologic malignancies and solid tumors.
LAVA-051, targeting CD1D, is expected to begin a Phase I/IIa clinical trial in relapsed and/or refractory multiple myeloma and CLL in the first half of 2021. LAVA 206×207, meanwhile, is looking to launch a Phase I/IIa trial in metastatic castration-resistant prostate cancer in the second half of 2021.
If all goes well, the proceeds from the IPO raise will give Lava enough cash to complete those two studies, as well as prepare two other programs to enter the clinic.