Evgen pitches downsized IPO to support trials of vegetable-inspired pipeline

Evgen Pharma has rebooted its IPO plans months after abandoning an attempt to raise £20 million ($30 million) on the London Stock Exchange. The aim now is to tap investors for £5 million, a sum that will support Phase II trials of Evgen's vegetable-inspired drug in breast cancer and stroke.

Liverpool, United Kingdom-based Evgen originally filed to go public on London's AIM late in 2014, only to scrap that plan early the following year. Evgen has since topped up its bank balance with a £2 million private financing round, the proceeds from which are being used to get a Phase II trial of its lead candidate SFX-01 underway in people with subarachnoid hemorrhage, a form of stroke. The trial and other R&D activities will ultimately suck up more than £2 million, though, leaving Evgen in need of extra money if it is to advance its pipeline as quickly as it would like.

Evgen has advanced in a few areas since it last made its IPO pitch. But while the publication of preclinical breast cancer data, advance of early-stage osteoarthritis research and in-licensing of IP are all positives, the big thing to change between then and now is the financing goal. "In retrospect we tried to raise more than we needed," Evgen CEO Stephen Franklin told The Financial Times. The scaled-down IPO target is intended to give Evgen the cash to move toward the readout of data from its mid-stage breast cancer and stroke trials while also running preclinical multiple sclerosis studies.

The big idea behind all of the programs is to stabilize a synthetic version of sulforaphane--which is released naturally during the digestion of vegetables such as broccoli and cabbage--and deliver it in far higher doses than are possible through eating alone. "You would need to eat 2.6kg [of broccoli] to get even close to what is in one pill," Franklin said. Evgen is hoping that when the dose is boosted to such levels, the widely researched benefits of sulforaphane will translate into improved outcomes for people with various forms of cancer and neurological diseases.

- read the statement
- here's the FT's piece

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