IPO floodgates open up after summer lull as five more biotechs file for Nasdaq
It’s once again open season for biotech IPOs, as the summer drought has given way to an autumn flood.
Five companies filed to go public on Friday, including four penciling in $100 million fundraises: Evotec, Entrada Therapeutics, Aura Biosciences and Vaxxinity. The fifth biotech, Blue Water Vaccines, is estimating a more modest $24 million.
The combined industry raise surpassed $14 billion last week after two more biotechs priced, per the Endpoints News tally, and the sector remains on pace to eclipse last year’s record of $16.5 billion. It could come down to the wire, however, after a third quarter lull that saw the lowest levels of IPO numbers since the start of 2020.
After swinging deals, Evotec swings public
German biotech Evotec has racked up a veritable stable of biopharma partners, and now it’s taking its talents to Nasdaq.
Evotec has made its name with its range of platform plays aimed at helping its collaborators develop drugs. The biotech has, over the last 25 years, built a suite of five different technologies that it utilizes in partnerships covering small molecules, omics, biologics, cell therapy and gene therapy.
Some of Evotec’s more prominent recent deals come from Takeda, shooting for the first small molecule ligand for RNA in a March partnership, and Novo Nordisk, which plans to shell out nearly $180 million per kidney disease program. Additionally, Evotec has spent time building out its manufacturing capabilities, acquiring a former GlaxoSmithKline R&D site in Italy over the summer after buying a French plant in April.
Novo Holdings and T. Rowe Price are the big winners from the IPO, holding 11% and 10% stakes in Evotec, respectively, according to the F-1. Mubadala Investment Company, the UAE’s sovereign wealth fund that purchased $236 million worth of shares last October, also nets a 5.6% stake pre-offering.
The biotech also says its pipeline contains more than 130 drug candidates. Most of the IPO funds will be directed toward continued manufacturing expansion.
When Evotec starts trading, it will do so under the ticker $EVO. — Max Gelman
Entrada looks to ride endosomal escape vehicles to Nasdaq
Half a year after locking down a hefty $116 million crossover round, Entrada Therapeutics says it’s ready for its public debut.
The Boston-based biotech filed its S-1 papers on Friday, penciling in a $100 million raise, which has become the standard for companies that often go on to raise much more.
The platform, based on Dehua Pei’s lab research at Ohio State University, involves a new technology Entrada calls endosomal escape vehicles. EEVs are essentially cyclic peptides that trigger a process enabling cell membranes to take in biologic conjugates, CEO Dipal Doshi told Endpoints News back in March.
Priority number one is neuromuscular diseases like Duchenne muscular dystrophy. In such diseases, patients have mutations that prevent the translation of RNA into proteins — in Duchenne’s case, dystrophin.
Oligonucleotides connected to the EEVs force the cells to skip these mutations in their genetic code, Doshi said, allowing for the creation of dystrophin. Through this method, the dystrophin can then get into the appropriate muscles.
Entrada’s lead candidate, ENTR-601-44, is expected to enter the clinic in DMD next year — and some of the IPO funds will be used to help get it there.
Before pivoting to oligonucleotides, Entrada’s main focus was enzyme replacement therapies, with a primary target of the mitochondrial disease known as MNGIE. While the startup has completed IND-enabling studies, it’s now looking for another company to take the program into the clinic.
“We continue to believe that the program will have an important role in the future treatment of patients with MNGIE,” the company said in the S-1, noting that it’s still exploring potential partnerships.
MPM Capital and 5AM Ventures, which have been around since the launch round, hold a considerable proportion of shares, with 20.74% and 19.94% pieces of the pie, respectively. Doshi, on the other hand, has a 5.14% stake, according to the S-1.
The company plans to trade under the ticker $TRDA. — Nicole DeFeudis
Laser-focused on solid tumor platform, Aura sets its sights on Wall Street
Aura Biosciences CEO Elisabet de los Pinos hinted at a forthcoming IPO after securing a Series E round back in March.
That day has apparently come, as the company submitted its S-1 papers last Friday, penciling in a $100 million raise.
Aura’s platform centers around virus-like particles, which can be conjugated with drugs or loaded with nucleic acids to create virus-like drug conjugates, or VDCs. The viral nanoparticles — modeled after the human papillomavirus — are light-activated, meaning they selectively destroy the membrane of cancer cells upon activation with an ophthalmic laser.
AU-011, Aura’s first VDC candidate, is being developed for primary choroidal melanoma, an eye cancer for which no other drugs exist. The current approach to treatment is radioactivity, which can cause irreversible damage to the retina and lead to blindness.
“The cytotoxic payload for the drug in the clinic is activated with light, so it’s very safe,” de los Pinos told Endpoints News in March. “And because of the cell activity of the virus-like particles, not binding to retina, it preserves vision.”
Aura plans to present six- to 12-month data from a Phase II dose escalation trial in 2022, and if all goes well, launch a pivotal trial in the second half of 2022, according to the S-1. There’s also an IND coming in the second half of 2022 for choroidal metastases, the company said.
Matrix Capital Management and Medicxi, which led Aura’s Series E and D rounds, respectively, each hold 10.1% of the company’s shares. De los Pinos has a 3% stake.
Aura will trade under the ticker $AURA. — Nicole DeFeudis
All my vaxxes live in Texas
Dallas vaccine biotech Vaxxinity, rebranded from the consolidation of COVAXX and United Neuroscience in April, is shooting for a quick IPO.
The biotech centers its efforts around developing peptide-based vaccines for chronic diseases, arguing the current vaccine market struggles to ward off persistent conditions. Vaxxinity also believes this approach can capture some of the market share from monoclonal antibodies, saying its candidates can be manufactured more cheaply.
As its former name implies, the company has a Covid-19 vaccine candidate in development and has secured $2.8 billion worth of advance purchase commitments with Brazil, Ecuador, Peru and other countries to deliver more than 140 million doses of its vaccine. There are also pipeline programs for Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases, as well as migraines.
Most of the IPO funds will go toward clinical trials for the neurodegenerative indications, according to the S-1. Vaxxinity did not spell out the stakes of its principal shareholders but said there had been investment from United Biomedical and Prime Movers Lab.
When Vaxxinity goes public, it will trade under the ticker $VAXX. — Max Gelman
Blue Water taking universal flu shot public
Blue Water Vaccines is penciling in $24 million to take its flu shot programs public.
Everything is preclinical so far, but the biotech is working on a universal flu vaccine as well as what it calls an “H1 pre-pandemic shot” that it hopes will provide long-lasting protection. Both programs are licensed from the University of Oxford.
Preclinical proof of concept studies are slated to begin for the universal shot in the first half of next year, while the pre-pandemic shot will launch IND-enabling studies in the same time period. Blue Water also has two norovirus vaccine candidates under its belt, in addition to a vaccine program for the bacteria Streptococcus pneumoniae.
When the offering is completed, the company will hire a new CEO in Joseph Hernandez, who pre-offering owns about 37% of shares. Cincinnati Cornerstone Investors owns the highest stake, however, at about 41%.
Once Blue Water goes public, it will trade under the ticker $BWV. — Max Gelman