Kymera Therapeutics Inc. debuted on Nasdaq Friday by pricing its upsized IPO of 8.68 million common shares at $20 each as it eyes gross proceeds of $173.3 million. By the end of the day, Kymera stock (NASDAQ:KYMR) had soared 66.3%, with shares closing at $33.26 each.

The launch continues a blistering pace of global IPOs that has avoided COVID-19 pitfalls to outpace last year’s totals even with four months remaining on the calendar.

There have been fewer IPOs in 2020 than 2019’s 64, yet the dollar total this year is far higher than last year. The total value of IPOs so far in 2020 is $12.95 billion, with 54 IPOs completed.

The stock opened at $35 per share, 75% above the IPO price, and peaked at $37.48 around noontime Friday. The launch upped the ante from Aug. 17, when the company planned to raise $125 million by offering 7.4 million shares in the $16 to $18 range. Morgan Stanley, BofA Securities, Cowen and Guggenheim Securities are acting as joint book-running managers.

Kymera is developing small-molecule therapeutics using the body’s natural E3 ligase-directed protein disposal system, the ubiquitin-proteasome system, to target and degrade disease-causing proteins in immunology-inflammation and oncology. The three essential elements of its small-molecule protein degraders are an E3 ligase binding moiety, a target protein binding moiety and a linker connecting the two.

The company’s initial programs include IRAK4, IRAKIMiD, and STAT3, each focusing on a single critical signaling node within genetically and clinically validated IL-1R/TLR and JAK/STAT pathways.

The IPO follows a July billion-plus dollar deal in which Sanofi SA tapped Kymera to advance two new protein degrader programs, one targeting IRAK4 in patients with immune-inflammatory diseases and another for an undisclosed target. Each program could yield multiple therapies. Sanofi said it liked Kymera’s data showing it could credibly advance a protein degrade for IRAK4 capable of being used for chronic oral dosing in immune-inflammatory disease. Sanofi also said it liked the approach as it complements the company’s immunology portfolio, Dupixent (dupilumab). Kymera will receive $150 million up front in the deal and is eligible for more than $2 billion in potential milestones plus royalties.

In late June, Kymera offered positive preclinical data on its STAT3 degraders plus the first data from its IRAKIMiD degraders combining IRAK4 and IMiD substrate degradation at the American Association for Cancer Research’s virtual meeting. STAT3 is an attractive but elusive target known to regulate genes implicated in oncogenesis, tumor immune evasion, inflammation and fibrosis, the company noted. The company disclosed data demonstrating that its STAT3 degraders down-regulated immune checkpoint signals on tumor cells and positively modulated composition and activity of immune cells in the tumor microenvironment, leading to in vivo antitumor activity in a solid tumor model refractory compared to standard anti-PD-1/L1 immunotherapy.

Kymera also presented the first data from its IRAKIMiD degraders in development for the treatment of MYD88-mutant lymphomas. IRAKIMiDs demonstrated improved cell death and breadth of activity relative to IMiDs or IRAK4-selective degraders, and drove strong in vivo tumor regressions in multiple models of MYD88-mutant B-cell lymphoma that Kymera said are superior to what has been observed in preclinical studies with other agents.

In March, Kymera, closed a series C round of $102 million.

The vast and profitable IPO landscape

Despite the grip COVID-19 has on certain parts of the economy, biopharma IPOs shrugged it off as 2020’s total through August has outpaced 2019 by 41.3%. In 2019, when there were 64 global IPOs completed, bringing in $8.64 billion.

The highest number of IPOs in a single year is 84 in 2014, followed by 83 in 2000.

When looking at only U.S. IPOs, there were 13 in June worth $4.82 billion and 11 in July worth $2.5 billion. This makes June 2020 the best single month for IPOs, global or U.S.-only, since BioWorld began tracking them in 2000. July 2020 is the third largest single month total for all IPOs, but the second largest for U.S. IPOs.

The top biotech IPOs in Shanghai or Hong Kong this year have been from companies focused on developing or discovering first-in-class or best-in-class products. For example, synthetic human insulin specialist Gan & Lee Pharmaceuticals Co. Ltd., which raised $360 million from an IPO in Shanghai in early July, developed Basalin (glargine), China’s first long-acting human insulin analogue, and the premixed insulin analogue injection Prandilin. In February, Bio-Thera Solutions Ltd. launched a $241 million IPO on the Shanghai Stock Exchange’s STAR board.

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