Four biotech Nasdaq wannabes outline IPO plans — and don’t miss Chi-Med’s HKEX pitch

If the string of biotech IPO filings the Nasdaq saw on market close Friday says anything other than that the window for public fundraising remains wide open, it’s about the diversity of areas these aspiring public drugmakers operate in — from immuno-oncology and Alzheimer’s to diabetic complications and cardio indications.

Keep scrolling to read about the latest marquee Chinese biopharma to file for a listing at the Hong Kong stock exchange — further defusing early worries that the city’s loosened rules for biotechs might not be enough to attract top players.

Lieping Chen-founded Yale spinoff NextCure lines up $86M-plus public listing

Lieping Chen

Last month, Yale spinout NextCure laid out the blueprint for its immuno-oncology research in Nature Medicine, after securing $40 million upfront in an R&D collaboration with Lilly and bringing its cash haul to a cool $180 million. The company — founded in 2015 by Lieping Chen, a noted I/O researcher behind Amplimmune, a company bought out by AstraZeneca five years ago — is now planning to go public in an $86.25 million IPO under the symbol $NXTC.

The Beltsville, Maryland-based drug developer is focusing on PD-L1-negative tumors to help the scores of patients for whom checkpoint inhibitors don’t work. Its lead experimental drug — NC318 — targets an immunomodulatory receptor called Siglec-15 and is currently being tested in a Phase I/II trial in patients with advanced or metastatic solid tumors.

Can a bacterial approach to Alzheimer’s win another $86M-plus from weary investors?

Biogen’s recent Phase III disaster with aducanumab dealt a huge blow to the Alzheimer’s field, but it’s also opened up an opportunity for smaller players to tout how their approaches are different. Cortexyme is seemingly taking advantage of that window to push an IPO. The South San Francisco-based biotech needs the money to fund a Phase II/III study to verify its theory — courtesy of UCSF psychiatrist Steve Dominy — that a bacterial pathogen called Porphyromonas gingivalis plays a major role in the memory wasting disease. Cortexyme’s lead drug, COR388, inhibits gingipains, the toxic protease secreted by P. gingivalis. Backed by Pfizer (14.71%) and Takeda (12.32%), the company is now shooting for $86 million in its public debut. Its Nasdaq symbol of choice is $CRTX.

New York-based startup etches path toward $86 million IPO

Founded in 2016, New York-based drug developer Applied Therapeutics has filed for a $86 million IPO, with plans to list under the symbol $APLT (no financial details were disclosed). The company, which has already raised $38 million in gross proceeds from equity and debt financings, is working on developing treatments on the basis of validated pathways for diseases that have so far yielded products with poor efficacy and tolerability. Its lead experimental drug — AT-001 — is being evaluated for use in diabetic cardiomyopathy, a fatal fibrosis of the heart, as well as diabetic peripheral neuropathy.

Milestone aims $86M IPO to push nasal spray for rapid heart rate condition over finish line

A biotech hailing from Canada is eyeing $86 million in IPO cash to develop and commercialize its sole asset: a nasal spray formulation of calcium channel blockers. Milestone Pharmaceuticals has chosen paroxysmal supraventricular tachycardia (PSVT) as etripamil’s first target indication. The rapid heart rate condition, which often comes with palpitations, chest pressure or pain, shortness of breath and fainting, is usually treated with intravenous infusions in the ER. But Milestone (which plans to list under $MIST) believes that its rapid-onset drug can help patients resolve these sudden episodes quickly on their own. A success in the ongoing Phase III, the company says, will open up a market of around 2 million Americans. And Phase II programs for atrial fibrillation and angina are coming up in the next couple of years.

Venture investors collectively claim more than 80% of the company, with New York-based RTW Investments, Novo Holdings, Québec’s development fund and BDC Capital taking the top spots. Venrock, Domain Associates, Pappas Capital and Forbion split the rest.

A biotech pioneer in China motions to join the heavyweight group on HKEX

Meanwhile, Chi-Med is kicking up some fresh activity on the other side of the Atlantic, filing for what will be its third IPO at the Hong Kong stock exchange.

Officially Hutchison China MediTech, the Hong Kong-based company celebrated a landmark approval in China last September for a major cancer drug that was discovered and developed in the country. Elunate — perhaps better known as fruquintinib, partnered with Eli Lilly — is marketed as a colorectal cancer treatment.

But looming larger in its global game plan is savolitinib, a MET inhibitor that Chi-Med is pairing with partner AstraZeneca’s Tagrisso in a Phase II study. Recent data from AACR bolstered their claim that the savolitinib add-on can tamper resistance among EGFR lung cancer patients. Throw in the neuroendocrine tumor drug surufatinib, and you have the trio of drugs at the top of Chi-Med’s spending list, primed for registrational trials and quick NDAs.

Christian Hogg

“We are targeting two further new drug approvals over the next two years, on savolitinib and surufatinib, subject to positive clinical outcomes,” said CEO Christian Hogg, who counts himself as the precursor to the now 420-member scientific team.

Previous listings on the Nasdaq $HCM and the London Stock Exchange (AIM: $HCM) left Hong Kong billionaire Li Ka-shing’s CK Hutchison untouched as the majority shareholder, owning 60.2% of the stock. But with the new listing in Hong Kong, it plans to cut back its shares to less than 50% such that Chi-Med will officially no longer be a subsidiary of CK Hutchison.

By Natalie Grover and Amber Tong

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Research Scientist - Immunology
Recursion Pharmaceuticals Salt Lake City, UT
Director of Operations
Atlas Venture Cambridge, MA

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