Although the general markets have bounced around in June and the BioWorld Biopharmaceutical index has dipped almost 5% in the period, the uncertain capital environment has not affected investor appetite for biopharma IPOs. Three more companies just joined the U.S. public ranks, pricing upsized offerings to add their names to the five other companies that have already completed their IPOs so far this month. And all received a warm welcome on debut.
Not having a product in clinical trials also doesn’t seem to be an impediment to garnering investor support. Preclinical biopharma Avidity Biosciences Inc., of La Jolla, Calif., for example, is developing antibody-oligonucleotide conjugates for oligonucleotide-based therapies using the tissue selectivity of monoclonal antibodies to access previously undruggable tissue and cell types,
The company’s lead candidate, AOC-1001, is designed to treat myotonic dystrophy type 1, a rare monogenic muscle disease. It expects to submit an IND for AOC-1001 in 2021 and begin a phase I/II trial before that year ends. It also has candidates in programs targeting muscle atrophy, Duchenne muscular dystrophy, facioscapulohumeral muscular dystrophy and Pompe disease.
Today, it priced an IPO raising $259.2 million from an offering of 14.4 million shares at $18, the high end of the range of $17 to $18. Both the number of shares and share pricing had been revised; it originally planned to offer 10 million shares at $14 to $16. Avidity has granted the underwriters a 30-day option to purchase up to an additional 2.16 million shares of common stock at the IPO price. The company’s shares began trading on Nasdaq under the symbol RNA, ending their first day at $28.50, up $10.50, or 58.3%.
Another preclinical company, Vaxcyte Inc., of Foster City, Calif., joined the public ranks, raising $250 million from an upsized offering 15.6 million shares at $16, the high end of the planned range of $14 to $16. The company had originally filed to raise $210 million from an offering 14 million shares. The underwriters have been granted a 30-day option to purchase up to an additional 2.34 million shares of common stock at the IPO price. The company, which listed on Nasdaq under the symbol PCVX, saw its shares climb 63.4% to close June 12 at $26.15.
Formerly known as Sutrovax, it has two pneumococcal conjugate vaccines in development, VAX-24 and VAX-XP, and is working on other vaccines, including a prophylactic vaccine to prevent group A strep infections (VAX-A1) and a therapeutic vaccine to treat periodontal disease (VAX-PG). The company expects to submit an investigational new drug application for lead product VAX-24 to the FDA in the second half of 2021 to evaluate it for the prevention of invasive pneumococcal disease. The 24-valent pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV) includes 11 incremental strains over and above the 13 in the current standard of care, Prevnar 13, including strains responsible for high case-fatality rates, antibiotic resistance and/or meningitis. Preclinical proof-of-concept studies for VAX-24 evaluating the surrogate immune endpoints used for adults and children demonstrated comparable responses to the 13 common strains in Prevnar 13 and superior responses to the 23 common strains in Pneumovax 23, the non-conjugate polysaccharide-only vaccine.
In March, Vaxcyte closed a $110 million series D preferred stock financing, co-led by new investors RA Capital Management and Janus Henderson Investors.
The third preclinical-stage company to graduate to the public ranks in recent days is Cambridge, Mass.-based Generation Bio Co., pricing an upsized IPO of 10.52 million shares at $19 per share, for gross proceeds of approximately $200 million, and it has granted the underwriters a 30-day option to purchase up to 1.57 million additional shares.
The genetic medicines company said it is focused on creating a new class of gene therapy to provide durable, redosable treatments for patients suffering from both rare and prevalent diseases. It is working on a nonviral gene therapy platform that uses closed-ended DNA. In addition, it also has a cell-targeted lipid nanoparticle delivery system as well as a capsid-free manufacturing process. The company is developing eight programs for rare and prevalent diseases of the liver and the retina, which result from single-gene mutations with well-established biomarkers.
It partnered with Vir Biotechnology Inc. in March to research the potential of its nonviral gene therapy platform in extending the application of Vir’s current or future human monoclonal antibodies against SARS-CoV-2.
Generation Bio saw its shares (NASDAQ:GBIO) move up $5.69, or almost 30%, to end the first day of trading at $24.69.