Seattle-based Athira, aiming for tough Alzheimer's and Parkinson's targets, raises $204M for IPO
Following an $85 million Series B round back in June, Athira Pharma is set to become the third biotech in the last three days to go public Friday.
Athira raised $204 million for its IPO after pricing shares at $17 apiece, the high-point of its expected range. Initially pegging $100 million in financing, Athira said it offered 12 million total shares and will trade under the ticker $ATHA.
Now that Athira plans to hit the Nasdaq, there have been more than 50 biotech IPOs this year, more than the total from last year. Combined, the companies have raised more than $11 billion. Over half of those biotechs, including Athira, raised at least $200 million each.
It’s also approaching the 56 industry IPOs to occur two years ago, per independent analyst Brad Loncar.
Athira provided a detailed outline within its S-1 of how it plans to use funds from the raise, illustrating that much of the money will be used to boost development for its lead ATH-1017 program, formerly dubbed NDX-1017. About $75 million will fund two trials in Alzheimer’s disease, including a Phase II/III trial measuring two dosage levels and a separate Phase II trial, while another $20 million will fund a Phase II study in Parkinson’s dementia.
An additional $30 million is slated to fund IND-enabling studies of two products further down the pipeline — ATH-1019, for the treatment of neuropsychiatric indications, and ATH-1018, in neuropathy. It’s worth noting, however, that these estimates were based on assumptions of lower IPO raises.
ATH-1017 follows a familiar strategy in Alzheimer’s research in targeting the damaged synaptic network. But the compound focuses on a relatively unexplored pathway, the hepatocyte growth factor (HGF), as well as its MET receptor. If successful, the program would regenerate afflicted tissue.
The company has gotten this far thanks to a Perceptive-led $85 million Series B back in June, buoyed by data in a Phase Ib that showed patients taking the ATH-1017 candidate were able to recognize a series of repeated tones more quickly than the placebo group. For those with dementia, the normal recognition falls within a 400 to 450-millisecond range, and the trial’s baseline was 390 milliseconds. The drug arm of the trial, which enrolled just seven patients, saw the average fall to 311 milliseconds, compared to no change in the four-patient placebo arm.
Athira will be going up against some strong headwinds, as many Alzheimer’s programs that have come before have not proved promising. Most prominently, Biogen registered failures in several high-profile studies looking into the amyloid beta theory. The company courted controversy after including APOe4 carriers, who are at a higher risk of the disease, in the lower-dose arm of one of their trials without taking them out of the placebo group.
Perceptive’s Joe Edelman will own an 11.6% stake in the company, with CEO Leen Kawas getting 9.3% of shares.