Prepping PhIII for Soliris rival, Apellis rides a boisterous market to a $150M IPO

The second time proved the charm for Apellis Pharmaceuticals’ IPO plans. The Kentucky biotech, which has been racking up venture cash and positive data, priced their IPO at $14 a share — right in the middle of the range. That translates into a $150 million score for 10.7 million shares in the latest example of Wall Street’s newfound passion for biotech.

Underwriters now have a shot at 1.6 million shares at the same price for the biotech, which will begin trading under the $APLS symbol. That would be worth a $22 million add-on. Apellis tried to mount an IPO in early 2016 for about half of what it gained this week, but had to recoil from a chilly market.

Cedric Francois

The big investor here is Morningside, which held 28% of the stock. CEO Cedric Francois holds 4.3% of the stock, now worth $24 million at the first price.

Apellis bagged a $60 million crossover round in August after producing positive data from two tiny studies of its Soliris rival for paroxysmal nocturnal hemoglobinuria (PNH). In 3 patients never treated with Soliris, investigators reported that all of them experienced a quick correction on a key biomarker for lactate dehydrogenase, or LDH. In 6 patients not responding well to Soliris, the average hemoglobin level was brought up an average of 36%, LDH was corrected and transfusions dropped from 3.4/month on eculizumab monotherapy to 0.3/month when APL-2 was added to eculizumab. And the biotech raised no unusual red flags on the safety side.

Apellis now wants to move from the early study straight into Phase III next year, with the support of the FDA.

A specialist in the complement C3 inhibitor class, Apellis followed up with positive mid-stage trial for age-related macular degeneration. The biotech is now preparing a Phase III study for the PNH drug, with plans to take on one of the world’s most expensive therapies if everything works according to plan.

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

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