Menlo bags $119M IPO on promise of ex-Merck drug

That IPO window appears to remain propped open. Menlo Therapeutics, a low-profile biotech with a single asset picked up from Merck for $1 million upfront, just pulled off an upsized IPO raising $119 million.

The Redwood City biotech snagged rights back in 2012 to a drug called serlopitant, which Merck was studying in alcohol dependence and overactive bladder.

Steven Basta, Menlo CEO

Menlo, however, thinks the drug could take on severe itching and chronic coughing. Serlopitant is an NK-1 receptor agonist, which Menlo suspects is a key player in the urge to scratch or cough. Control the urge, and the drug may help people with a variety of conditions tied to severe itching (pruritus) and coughing. Menlo is testing the drug in dermatologic conditions such as atopic dermatitis, psoriasis and prurigo nodularis.

The company plans to head into Phase III trials for prurigo nodularis itch during the first half of this year, which will trigger a $3 million payment to Merck. That’s on top of up to $75 million in biobucks down the road if the drug reaches the market.

The company, founded in 2011, hopes to submit NDAs for up to three indications in 2020, according to an SEC statement.

Menlo will trade on the Nasdaq Global Select Market under the ticker symbol $MNLO.

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

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