The Ides of March bring no misfortune to biotech, as industry logs second-busiest IPO week of 2021
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After a slow couple of weeks, the biotech IPO market is heating back up with four more companies hitting Nasdaq.
Instil Bio, Connect Biopharma, Finch Therapeutics and Gain Therapeutics are this week’s winners, with the fearsome foursome all making their public debuts Thursday or Friday. Instil led the way with a heavily upsized $320 million raise, marking the second-biggest IPO raise of 2021 behind Sana, and Connect and Finch also pulled in nine-figure funding.
By the Endpoints News tally, there have been 22 companies to complete their IPO raises so far in 2021. The group has combined to raise about $3.81 billion.
In terms of activity, nothing will likely top the first week of February anytime soon when 10 — yes, 10 — biotechs made the public leap. But this week’s four debuts mark the second-busiest IPO week of the year.
With $320M megaraise, Instil seeks to make its mark in the TIL space
Instil had originally penciled $100 million into their S-1, but it soon became apparent they had a much higher raise in mind.
Earlier this week, the Dallas company upsized its estimate to $250 million and increased its potential range from $17-$19 to $19-20 per share. They ultimately priced at $20, the high end of the new range, and pulled in the $320 million raise.
Pre-IPO, Instil $TIL had raised $380 million in venture funding.
Instil faces some high-profile competition not just with TIL players like Iovance, Adaptimmune and PACT Pharma, but also CAR-T and TCR-T cell therapy developers like Gilead’s Kite and Bristol Myers Squibb’s Juno. But they’re all-in on their tech platform, and believe they have the proper manufacturing capabilities to boot.
The company plans to submit its first IND to the FDA later this year and head straight into a Phase II trial for melanoma with its lead TIL candidate, ITIL-168. Instil is hopeful that could lead to a submission for approval sometime in 2023.
But given the CMC issues that seem to trip up every gene therapy player nowadays, Instil likely faces a long road ahead.
Connect looks to sidle up to the competition — and Dupixent is up first
Connect Biopharma came up with the second-highest raise of this week’s group, netting $191 million in their IPO haul.
The figure is slightly higher than the terms they set out late last week, when Connect $CNTB estimated $150 million in a $15 to $17 share range. Ultimately, the Chinese company priced at the high end of that spectrum: $17.
Connect’s IPO comes after the old pals from a university in Guangzhou, China who founded the biotech secured a $115 million Series C last August. As they transition to becoming a public company, they come with a pipeline of immune modulators.
Their portfolio is led by an anti-IL-4Ra antibody that they hope can treat inflammatory allergic diseases such as atopic dermatitis, asthma, and chronic rhinosinusitis with nasal polyps — markets that have seen big investment from world’s biggest pharma companies. Connect’s lead experimental drug hits the same target as Regeneron and Sanofi’s Dupixent.
How will their program match up? All eyes are on a Phase IIb trial expected to read out topline data in the second half of 2021. Connect believes the assays they used in drug discovery could make them a best-in-class contender.
Finch hopes to move past the struggles of the microbiome field
Finch Therapeutics also raised more money than originally estimated. After penciling $100 million into their S-1, Finch returned from the IPO well with a $128 million raise.
They also priced at the high end of their range, debuting on the market Friday at $17 per share. The public debut comes roughly six months after its $90 million Series C round.
Born from the ashes of an implosion at Seres Therapeutics that clouded the microbiome field in 2017, Finch $FNCH is focusing its research on an oral therapy program that can deliver a complete microbiome to the gut. The candidate, CP101, is being tested in patients with a C. difficile infection and has so far returned positive results for recurrence-free bacteria clearance.
A second trial for the program is expected to begin not long after the IPO, with topline data expected sometime in 2023. The study will likely have a similar design and size to the earlier trial. Among 206 patients, patients given CP101 had a 74.5% chance of recurrence-free bacteria clearance versus 61.5% on the placebo arm.
The compound itself is a capsule made of freeze-dried stool samples from healthy donors. The biotech is also planning other clinical studies in chronic hepatitis B, inflammatory bowel disease and autism spectrum disorder.
Gain goes public with protein misfolding programs
Gain pulls up the rear this week, successfully raising the $40 million they originally outlined in their S-1. The biotech priced at the midpoint of its range, debuting Thursday at $11 per share.
Gain $GANX focuses on protein misfolding, with an initial goal of treating lysosomal storage disorders. They have exclusively in-licensed a proprietary platform to accomplish this, and are targeting the GLB1 gene to create therapies for GM1 gangliosidosis and the GBA1 Gaucher’s disease and Parkinson’s.
As described in their SEC paperwork, the biotech is planning to direct its IPO funds toward these candidates, hopefully pushing them into Phase I/II trials for their respective indications. Gain emerged from stealth last July with a $10 million Series B round, using that fundraise to set up two IND-enabling studies.