Nuvalent joins the IPO party less than 6 months after launch, while Icosavax kicks its 'soccer ball' VLPs to Nasdaq
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Less than six months after emerging from stealth, the Deerfield-backed biotech Nuvalent is already prepping a jump to Nasdaq. And it’s a leap that could prove highly profitable for the blue chip firm.
Nuvalent filed its S-1 paperwork Wednesday, penciling in the $100 million raise estimate that’s become commonplace during the IPO boom of the last 15 or so months. The final figure may end up higher given the biotech’s crossover raise in May hit the $135 million mark, but even if it falls short, it’s a rapid ascent for Nuvalent after its January debut.
It’s also a big win for Deerfield, which placed a big wager on the company earlier this year. Deerfield helped launch Nuvalent to the tune of a $50 million Series A and currently owns more than 65% of shares.
Nuvalent got started based on solving a problem that can sometimes occur in targeted cancer therapies, where the target is always changing. Even though newer generations of drugs can appear to hit the target, mutations will usually pop up that thwart the therapies from accomplishing their missions.
Harvard professor Matt Shair, founder and head scientific advisor of Nuvalent, believes chemistry can evolve fast enough to keep pace with the diseases, he told Endpoints News in January. While in stealth, he pushed the biotech to utilize structure-based drug design to develop two compounds that target the tumor drivers ROS1 and ALK for the clinic.
That approach, Shair said, is complemented with Nuvalent’s efforts to seek out physician input for what kinds of properties they want in a drug.
Both programs have yet to reach their first in-human studies, but IPO funds are expected to help launch Phase I portions of planned Phase I/II studies for each candidate and push them through to completion. Some of the cash will also be earmarked for preclinical programs targeting ALK, IXDN and HER2 Exon 20 Insertions.
In addition to Deerfield, Bain Capital also owns a significant chunk of the company, clocking in at 7.3%. Fidelity Management has a 6.1% stake, while Shair himself owns 6.5% of shares. CEO James Porter has taken home a modest 1%.
When Nuvalent goes public, it will trade under the ticker $NUVL.
Icosavax kicks its ‘soccer ball’ VLPs to Nasdaq
Icosavax also filed its S-1 paperwork Wednesday with a $100 million placeholder figure, aiming to kick its VLP platform to the public sector.
The technology comes out of Neil King’s lab at the University of Washington, where his team built on years-old research of how some viral proteins could spontaneously assemble themselves. Their work resulted in what’s essentially a virus-like particle shaped like a soccer ball — the “white” parts making up the structure and the “black” spots representing the displayed antigens, King told Endpoints in April.
It’s the same tech King is using to develop a “super-seasonal” flu vaccine with the NIH, though Icosavax is not involved in that research.
The biotech’s bivalent vaccine program, which will soak up most of the IPO cash, is going after respiratory syncytial virus and human metapneumovirus. Icosavax’s plan is to start with the RSV “soccer ball” and then layer the hMPV vaccine on top of it as the new funds will help complete a Phase IIb study for the program.
It’s not yet clear when the data from this candidate will be ready, however, as it’s not expected to begin a Phase I study until the second half of 2022. Other IPO funds will be directed toward the biotech’s Covid-19 vaccine, with Icosavax looking to wrap up a Phase I/II trial thanks to the incoming windfall.
Five different firms hold stakes in Icosavax that range between 10.8% and 13% — RA Capital Management, Qiming, Adams Street Partners, Aventis and NanoDimension. Chair Tadataka Yamada owns 4.8%, CEO Adam Simpson has a 3.1% stake and CSO Doug Holtzman clocks in at 1.2%.
When Icosavax goes public, it will trade under the ticker $ICVX.