Corvus shoots for $80M in an IPO to support its immuno-oncology pipeline

Corvus CEO Richard Miller

Corvus Pharmaceuticals, founded by some of the brains behind Pharmacyclics, set terms for an IPO that could raise as much as $80 million, hoping to brave choppy waters for biotech on Wall Street and fund its pipeline of cancer drugs that harness the immune system.

The Burlingame, CA, company is looking to price 4.7 million shares at between $15 and $17 each, setting aside another 705,000 shares for its underwriters to cover overallotments. The plan is to trade on the Nasdaq under the symbol "CRVS," going public after fewer than 18 months of existence.

With the funds, Corvus plans to push forward with four cancer therapies in early development. The most advanced, CPI-444, targets one of the body's G protein-coupled receptors to help the immune system home in on cancers, and Corvus began a Phase I trial in patients with solid tumors in January. Behind that is a preclinical antibody targeting the cancer-related antigen CD73, which Corvus expects to get into clinical trials next year. The biotech is also in the lead-optimization stage with two other cancer programs, aiming to select a development candidate for each this year.

Corvus got off the ground in 2014, co-founded by former Pharmacyclics executives Richard Miller and Joseph Buggy, plus OrbiMed Partner Peter Thompson. The firm closed a $33.3 million Series A round the following year, raising $74.8 million more in September from a syndicate that includes OrbiMed, Novo A/S, Roche ($RHHBY) Venture Fund and Fidelity.

The company is attempting to go public in an uncertain climate for biotech IPOs. The year began with a drought as industry indexes slumped and investors seemed to lose interest in drug developers. But successful February offerings from Editas Medicine ($EDIT) and BeiGene ($BGNE) cracked the IPO window back open for biotech, and a handful of companies have managed to make their way to Wall Street in the weeks since.

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