While it hasn't exactly
been a banner week for the markets in general, the IPO market has been humming
along, thanks to the continued strong performance of pharma and biotech deals.
In fact, each of the nine pharma or biotech IPOs to price this week priced at
the mid-point of expectations or better, with several pricing above
Today, cancer therapy company Autolus Therapeutics (AUTL) saw its up-sized 8.82 mln share IPO price at $17, the high end of the $15-$17 expected price range. The deal was originally expected to consist of 7.8 mln shares. In all, it raised nearly $150 mln in gross proceeds, about 20% more than anticipated. AUTL ended up opening for trade at $28 on the Nasdaq.
The deal was led by Goldman Sachs and Jefferies.
AUTL aims to treat cancer by way of programmed T cell therapies. These therapies better recognize cancer cells and eliminate these cells in both hematological cancers and solid tumors.
Autolus expects to complete
the proof-of-concept phases of four Phase 1/2 clinical trials in hematological
cancer indications by early 2019. Its most advanced product candidate, AUTO1, has
the potential for treating adult patients with acute B lymphocytic leukemia (ALL), for which there are currently no programmed
T cell therapies approved.
Other therapies, AUTO2 and AUTO3, are designed with a duel-targeting mechanism to address mutations in the cancer cells that stop expression of target antigens. Without these antigens the cancer cells can’t be effectively destroyed. By having duel targets these therapies provide a back-up way of identifying the cancerous cells.
A major concern with many cancer treatments is that in order to kill the cancerous T cells, it is sometimes necessary to kill all T cells, including healthy cancer cells, leaving the patient immunocompromised. In an effort to address this, AUTO4 is designed to kill cancerous T cells while preserving a portion of the patient's healthy T cells to maintain immunity.
Autolus is also developing AUTO6 NG, which aims to extend persistence and combat the defensive measures of cancer cells against T cell killing. It builds upon AUTO6.
Like most clinical stage biopharmas, Autolus has never been profitable since its inception in 2014. It has no products approved for commercial sale, has not generated any product revenue, and expects to incur losses over the next several years.