J&J-allied Contineum files for IPO to take fight to BMS, Roche and more

Phase 2IPOAcquisitionPhase 1Clinical Result
J&J-allied Contineum files for IPO to take fight to BMS, Roche and more
Source: FierceBiotech
Boundless Bio and now Contineum Therapeutics have kept the IPO market ticking over in March.
The biotech IPO class of 2024 could be getting another member. Contineum Therapeutics is the latest company to test the waters, filing paperwork to raise money for phase 2 clinical trials of its lead prospect and a Johnson & Johnson-partnered molecule.
Contineum, a biotech previously called Pipeline Therapeutics, wants the money to fund phase 1b and 2 trials of its lead drug candidate in idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) and progressive multiple sclerosis (MS). The molecule, PIPE-791, is designed to inhibit LPA1, a receptor that studies suggest may drive scarring in IPF and promote neuroinflammation and limit remyelination in MS.
Based on preclinical studies and tests in healthy volunteers, Contineum believes once-daily doses of the molecule could treat IPF. The schedule would set PIPE-791 apart from existing IPF therapies. Boehringer Ingelheim’s Ofev and Roche’s Esbriet are, respectively, taken two and three times a day.
Other drug developers have hit on the idea of targeting LPA1 to treat IPF. Bristol Myers Squibb picked up a LPA1 candidate in 2011 through its $325 million acquisition of Amira Pharmaceuticals, a biotech at which Contineum founder and chief scientific officer Daniel Lorrain, Ph.D., worked. BMS posted phase 2 data on the LPA1 antagonist BMS-986278 last year.
Amgen acquired a phase 2 LPA1 drug, now called AMG 670, as part of the Horizon Therapeutics buyout. AbbVie entered the LPA1 space in 2022 by paying $255 million for DJS Antibodies. Structure Therapeutics has also discovered inhibitors of the receptor.
The progressive MS space is less competitive. Contineum contends PIPE-791 is the only brain-penetrant LPA1 receptor antagonist in clinical development in the indication. Progressive MS has proven a tougher nut to crack than other forms of the disease, with Contineum noting that studies of would-be rivals have generated “almost uniformly disappointing results.” But the mechanism of PIPE-791 suggests it may be able to improve outcomes by addressing chronic neuroinflammation and demyelination.
Contineum has earmarked another chunk of the anticipated IPO haul for a phase 2 trial of PIPE-307, the drug candidate covered by the J&J agreement, in relapsing-remitting MS. The terms of the J&J deal require Contineum to run a phase 2 trial in the indication. Enrollment in the study began in November.
Interest in developing PIPE-307 in relapsing-remitting MS, a setting where effective immune-modulating treatments exist, is underpinned by evidence that the M1R inhibitor may be the molecule that finally achieves direct promotion of remyelination. Decades of failed programs have made remyelination the holy grail of MS drug development.
Contineum had run up an accumulated deficit of $75 million pursuing remyelination and other projects by the end of last year. The spending left the biotech with $125 million in cash, cash equivalents and marketable securities from its private financing rounds, which include an $80 million series C it closed in 2021.
The biotech’s identification of public investors as the people to bankroll the next steps in its evolution keeps the IPO stream trickling along. While the pace of new listings slowed after a flurry early in the year, Boundless Bio and now Contineum have kept the IPO market ticking over in March.
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