From protein degradation to 'toad venom': Another five biotechs will make the Nasdaq shuffle after filing SEC paperwork
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Friday proved to be another busy day for biotech IPOs, with five more companies filing their S-1s and F-1s with the SEC ahead of expected jumps to Nasdaq.
Four biotechs penciled in initial estimates of $100 million raises: protein-degradation player Monte Rosa, gene editing biotech Graphite Bio, “toad venom”-focused GH Research and monoclonal antibody developer Elevation Oncology. The fifth company, reagents provider Alpha Teknova, estimates at least $75 million with their raise.
The total number of biotechs to file or price their IPOs this year has now reached 65, according to the Endpoints News tally.
Also early on Monday, Janux Therapeutics set its IPO terms for an estimated $152 million raise by offering 9.5 million shares in the $15 to $17 range. It’s expected to price by the end of this week, according to Renaissance Capital.
Here’s a look at the latest biotechs doing the Nasdaq shuffle.
Almost at the clinic, Monte Rosa preps its IPO
Since last September, Monte Rosa has pulled in two fundraising rounds of $96 million and $95 million apiece. That momentum is leading them toward the next step of becoming a public company.
Their platform revolves around developing “molecular glues” that can reprogram the ubiquitin ligases central to protein degradation, a field that’s been producing tons of buzz among investors over the last couple years. The resulting candidates are different from other small molecule degraders, such as PROTAC, that work more like inhibitors.
Monte Rosa doesn’t have any clinical programs just yet, but they’ve been planning IND studies for their lead candidate by the end of this month. The experimental drug will target GSPT1, a regulatory protein implicated in the synthetic lethality of solid tumor cells.
Within its S-1, Monte Rosa stayed silent over exactly how far it expects to bring this program, only divulging that some of the cash will be directed toward it. The rest of the money will help fund further development of the platform and other preclinical programs.
Once it goes public, Monte Rosa plans to list under the ticker $GLUE.
Versant-backed Graphite pencils in a $100 million raise
Graphite came out of a partnership from Versant and Stanford gene therapy experts, first getting things started back in September 2020 with a $45 million round.
Now they’re ready to make the public leap less than a year later, expecting to launch their first clinical trial by the end of 2021 in sickle cell disease. The platform comes from Matthew Porteus, an academic founder of CRISPR Therapeutics, who is working alongside gene therapy expert Maria Grazia Roncarolo.
Drawing from research work led by Danny Dever while a postdoc at Porteus’ lab, Graphite’s big promise is to increase integration efficiency from less than 1% to greater than 50% “across diverse genetic lesions in a wide range of cell types.” The trio each serve as the co-academic founders at Graphite.
The biotech has since built up its pipeline into three programs, with candidates for X-linked severe combined immune deficiency and Gaucher disease on top of the sickle cell lead. All three are expected to be funneled cash with the IPO, and the two follow-up programs are still in IND-enabling studies.
Graphite plans to list under the ticker $GRPH after its debut.
Toad-ally radical: RA’s psychedelic wager keeps on trucking
The psychedelics space continues to see heavy investor interest, and RA Capital backed GH Research just two months ago with a nine-figure round. GH is taking its programs public now, with a lead inhalant centered around the substance colloquially known as “toad venom.”
Though the drug’s scientific name is a mouthful — 5-Methoxy-N, N-dimethyltryptamine is the official name — it picked up the toad venom nickname due to its presence in a certain toad species native to the southwestern US and northwestern Mexico. The psychedelic saw a rapid rise in recreational use in the mid-2010s, per a VICE News report, as individuals attempted to achieve the ‘ego death’ phenomenon.
GH is starting with treatment-resistant depression and has two other undisclosed indications on tap. The DMT inhalant, dubbed GH001, is currently being studied in the Phase II portion of a Phase I/II clinical trial.
The Dublin-based biotech is also working on an injectable formulation of the drug. GH’s IPO raise is expected to help develop both of these candidates, with a Phase IIb study planned for GH001 and a Phase IIa trial to likely be set up for the other candidate.
GH Research will list under the ticker $GHRS once it goes public.
A former Merrimack program gets a Nasdaq chance
Elevation Oncology has spent its time trying to revamp Merrimack’s high-profile seribantumab program into something that can treat solid tumors with the rare NRG1 genomic fusion.
After flopping in NSCLC, seribantumab was acquired by Elevation back in 2019 for up to $58 million. The drug candidate is a monoclonal antibody that binds to HER3 and was one in a long string of clinical busts for Merrimack, ultimately resulting in the biotech selling several assets and laying off all its staff and executives.
Elevation launched in July 2020 and quickly added a $65 million Series B round to complete enrollment in a Phase II study. Their S-1 was scant on details over how far Elevation wants to take the program with its raise.
When it goes public, Elevation plans to list under the ticker $ELEV.
Reagents provider Alpha Teknova will make its public jump
Alpha Teknova has been around since 2000, but now it’s going public on the backs of its reagents. The Hollister, CA-based company says it has about 3,000 customers spanning the entire life sciences market, including biotechs, larger pharma companies and CROs.
Alpha Teknova offers three products: pre-poured media plates for cell growth and cloning, liquid cell culture media and supplements for cellular expansion, and molecular biology reagents for sample manipulation, resuspension and purification.
Funds from the IPO will largely go toward upping manufacturing and improving efficiency, though Alpha Teknova said it couldn’t quantify exactly how much. Once it goes public, the company plans to list under the ticker $TKNO.