Led by BioNTech, six biotechs line up for October IPOs
October: The season of swirling red leaves, Jack-o-lanterns, postseason baseball and this year, a fresh harvest of six biotech IPOs ripe with clinical-stage drugs, trying to raise a combined $817 million next week.
All of the companies have earmarked a substantial portion of the expected proceeds to clinical work, pushing such therapies as mRNA for melanoma, inebilizumab for NMOSD, and antibodies for blood cancer and solid tumors closer to trials.
The biotechs, in order of market cap: BioNTech (BNTX), ADC Therapeutics (ADCT), Viela Bio (VIE), Frequency Therapeutics (FREQ), Aprea Therapeutics (APRE), and Monopar Therapeutics (MNPR).
BioNTech is hoping to raise $251 million at $18-$20 per share. For them, the IPO will function at least partly a way to gather the lost cash that would have come in through a $100 million investment from Hong Kong. BioNTech revealed in their first filing for the IPO in September that the investment was held up, possibly due to the protests in Hong Kong and the US-China trade standoff, but updated IPO filings reveal the cancer company is no longer expecting that investment and have retaken those shares.
BioNTech’s mRNA platform has attracted some notable buzz and investor interest. It will use the bulk of the IPO to push through its trials on advanced melanoma, HPV+ head and neck cancer, and triple-negative breast cancer, along with the trials of four drugs being developed in partnership with Genentech, Sanofi and Genmab. Its target market cap is $4.5 billion.
ADC Therapeutics is aiming at $200 million at $23-$26 per share. The IPO is part of their surge toward a possible 2020 approval application on their lead drug — the CD19-targeted ADCT-402 (loncastuximab tesirine) for relapsed or refractory diffuse large B-cell lymphoma. The IPO comes on the heels of a whopping $303 million E round and, in addition to seeing the ADCT-402 Phase II trial to completion, will fund earlier and similar stage trials on other drugs and ADCT-402 combination treatments. The S1 lays out a plan to push toward ADCT-402 approval following the Phase II study and then conduct post-market confirmatory trials. They aim for a $1.8 billion market cap.
Viela Bio, an AstraZeneca spinoff, is asking for $150 million at $19-$21 per share, an IPO that would bring them closer towards unicorn status. They will use the bulk of proceeds to support the BLA approval process and the commercialization of inebilizumab, a CD-19 antibody used to treat neuromyelitis optica spectrum disorder, a rare and often debilitating autoimmune disease characterized by optic nerve and spinal cord inflammation. In advance of the BLA, they signed a licensing deal with Chinese pharma Hansoh worth up to $220 million.
Frequency Therapeutics hopes to bring in $101 million at $14-$16 per share. The degenerative disease biotech, which recently brought in $147 million in Series C funding, will advance clinical development for its lead drug, FX-322. FX-322 targets sensorineural hearing loss and, like the rest of Frequency’s platform is a small molecule drug. They have their eyes on a $526 million market cap.
Aprea Therapeutics seeks $75 million at $14-16 per share. Aprea is undertaking a Phase III trial for APR-246 for TP53 mutant myelodysplastic syndromes, a group of disorders involving disruptions to blood cell productions. That indication has received fast track and orphan drug status. The largest share of proceeds, however, will go to conducting Phase Ib/II trials on APR-246 for hematological and solid tumors. The small Stockholm-based biotech aims for a $325 million market cap.
Lastly, tiny Monopar Therapeutics, based in the quiet Chicago suburb of Wilmette, Illinois is seeking $40 million at $8-$10 per share. A small startup with a star founder — BioMarin co-founder Christopher Starr — the biotech has a Phase III clinical program validive for severe oral mucositis caused by chemoradiotherapy in head and neck cancer patients and a Phase II trial on camsirubicin for soft tissue sarcoma. The funds will go in large part towards building out a team that can support the trials. They aim for a market cap of $130 million.