A rare biotech IPO lands on Nasdaq, boosted by RA Capital and a former Eli Lilly drug

15 Nov 2022
IPODrug Approval
Another biotech backed by RA Capital Management is making the Nasdaq jump Tuesday, braving the cold bear market waters. Acrivon Therapeutics priced its IPO at $12.50 a share, below the expected range of $16 to $18, roughly a year after it put together its last financing round — and less than 18 months after launching out of stealth. In total, the IPO brought the company just short of a nine-figure raise, coming in at $99.4 million. The offering is expected to close Thursday, at which point the final raise total could end up higher or lower than the $99.4 million figure. Unlike the environment in which Acrivon launched, when the Covid-19 pandemic fueled interest and hefty sums of VC capital into the life sciences, the IPOs froze over in 2022. Though there have been a handful of $100 million IPOs this year — if Acrivon surpasses the threshold, it would be the eighth — it pales in comparison to 2021 when there were 62 such raises, per the Endpoints News tally and data from DealForma’s Chris Dokomajilar. Nearly two-thirds of those companies, or 40 out of 62, also completed their IPO raises in the first half of 2021. But that environment didn’t scare off Acrivon, which is going public with an old Eli Lilly asset as its lead compound. The program, formerly known as prexasertib, was a top mid-stage drug for Lilly a few years ago but was swept out in the first quarter of 2019 after it failed to make significant headway. It spawned out of Lilly’s efforts to develop a CHK1/CHK2 drug for ovarian cancer. In June 2021, Acrivon exchanged equity for Lilly’s rights to the drug — now called ACR-368 — and is now pursuing a slate of Phase II studies. Almost all of Tuesday’s IPO funds will go toward advancing this program into three indications, with the rest funding preclinical research, according to the S-1. The IPO raise is expected to push Acrivon’s runway through “at least into the fourth quarter of 2024,” giving it a two-year timeline to complete the Phase II trials before needing more cash. Researchers plan to start testing the drug in patients with platinum-resistant ovarian, endometrial and bladder cancer. Per the SEC filings, the biggest IPO winner is a firm called Chione Limited, whose sole stockholder, Wiaczeslaw Smolokowski, is one of Poland’s wealthiest individuals and has also previously invested in Karyopharm Therapeutics. Chione will own about 18% after the offering closes, followed by RA at 7.5% and Perceptive at 6.4%. CEO Peter Blume-Jensen and his wife, co-founder and EVP of business ops Kristina Masson, also collectively own 7.3%. Once the biotech officially lands on Nasdaq, it will trade under the ticker $ACRV . Acrivon is just the third biotech in the last two months to go public. It follows Third Harmonic Bio, which priced at $185 million in September , and David Liu’s Prime Medicine, which priced at $175 million in October .
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