OrbiMed's TKI play makes its Nasdaq debut as Theseus prices IPO
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A Boston biotech with a hefty backing from OrbiMed is making its Nasdaq debut Thursday.
Theseus Pharmaceuticals priced its IPO at $16 per share, the high end of its range, jumping to the public market roughly six months after OrbiMed led the biotech’s nine-figure Series B. Theseus netted $160 million for the public offering, bringing the sector’s total combined 2021 raise to $13.74 billion across 86 different companies, per the Endpoints News tally.
The IPO will make a big winner out of OrbiMed, which owned almost 60% of shares prior to the pricing and has been involved in the company since it led a Series A back in 2018, according to the S-1. Once Theseus starts trading under the ticker $THRX, that slice will dwindle to about 45%.
Foresite Capital is also involved in the biotech, having joined on to the Series B round in April. When Theseus completes its offering, Foresite will own an 8.5% stake.
Theseus got started by a group of colleagues at Ariad Pharmaceuticals following its $5.2 billion buyout from Takeda in 2018, striking a deal with their former company to license some patents, compounds and a chemical library to get started. Ariad nabbed a 5.9% slice of the company in exchange.
After getting off the ground with OrbiMed’s $20 million backing, the company laid low until the big Series B earlier this year when it unveiled its lead program, but the biotech has still not tested any of its programs in humans. Theseus is developing “pan-variant” tyrosine kinase inhibitors to treat different types of cancer, with the hope that the candidates can inhibit a heterogeneous mix of resistance mutations.
Its lead program is dubbed THE-630 and targets the KIT kinase, which researchers believe can hit all major classes of activating and resistance mutations related to that kinase in gastrointestinal stromal tumors. Theseus is planning to launch the Phase I portion of a Phase I/II study sometime between late in the fourth quarter this year and mid-first quarter in 2022. The biotech will aim to recruit patients who have received at least four prior lines of therapy.
Theseus also has an EGFR inhibitor designed to beat C797S-mediated resistance to first- or later-line Tagrisso treatment for patients with non-small cell lung cancer. This program is well behind the lead, as Theseus is yet to nominate a candidate for the clinic. Current plans have that nomination pegged for the first half of next year.
Biotech remains on pace to topple last year’s record IPO sum of $16.5 billion, but the torrent of cash seen earlier this year slowed significantly in the third quarter. Even though things still look good for 2022 when taking the last five years into account, IPO figures in the last three months were at their lowest levels since the start of 2020, per DealForma numbers maestro Chris Dokomajilar.
A new start for Nuvectis
A small New Jersey biotech is looking to get into the IPO action as well, filing on Wednesday for a $30 million debut.
Founded in 2020, Nuvectis Pharma is working on pushing two in-licensed cancer programs into the clinic, with a lead program that’s ready for Phase I. That candidate, brought in from London’s Institute for Cancer Research, is an inhibitor of the heat shock factor 1 pathway. Nuvectis is seeking to initiate a Phase I study in ovarian clear cell carcinoma by the end of the year.
The biotech’s second program comes from the University of Edinburgh in Scotland, with a deal signed this past August. It’s a candidate trying to inhibit the SRC and YES 1 kinases, and Nuvectis is aiming to launch IND-enabling studies in the fourth quarter.
Nuvectis was founded by a pair of executives from Stemline Therapeutics and a third biotech veteran, Ron Bentsur, who used to be the CEO of UroGen. Bentsur owns the biggest stake in the company at about 26%.
Once Nuvectis goes public, it will trade under the ticker $NVCT.