Abivax, Lexeo go public while sleep apnea biotech Apnimed bides its time

AbiVax and Lexeo Therapeutics are jumping into the lukewarm public waters, each filing an initial public offering late last week as a potentially active fall filing season begins. 

The companies disclosed their plans late Friday, though neither included how much they aimed to raise. 

Lexeo is a clinical-stage gene therapy maker with a lead asset for patients with Friedreich’s ataxia currently being tested in a phase 1/2 trial. The company hinted in its filing that the drug is already showing early signs of increasing production of the frataxin protein in one patient, which is deficient in people with the condition. More data is slated for the middle of 2024. The company also has a phase 1/2 Alzheimer’s treatment that’s expected to complete trial enrollment before the end of the year with initial data slated for the second half of 2024. 

The progress to date was further validated in August thanks to a strategic investment from Sarepta, meant to help fund Lexeo’s cardiovascular gene therapies. The first of which, LEX2020, was just given clearance by the FDA to start an initial clinical trial and dosing is set to begin early next year. Lexeo reported having $45.5 million in cash on hand as of the end of June. 

Abivax’s efforts center on immunology med obefazimod, currently being tested in a phase 3 trial for patients with ulcerative colitis. A phase 2 study testing the treatment in patients with Crohn’s disease is set for the first quarter of next year. Though obefazimod and associated indications make up Abivax’s entire pipeline, the company expects to select a new preclinical candidate next year. Abivax, which is already listed in France, reported having about $120 million in cash on hand to get obefazimod to the FDA’s decision desk and beyond. 

While Lexeo and Abivax take the public plunge, at least one other biotech poised for a potential IPO is undecided. Apnimed, which is developing a small molecule to treat sleep apnea, raised a nearly $80 million series C extension round at the beginning of 2023 to help fund two phase 3 trials. CEO Larry Miller, M.D., said in a recent interview that the company is well-financed for 2024 but that money gets “a little tight” getting into 2025. 

“We will certainly raise more money, whether that's public or private,” he said, “Frankly, our board has not made a decision on how to proceed on that.” He said the board was still divided on which route to take at a recent meeting. Miller joked that over the course of his career, he’s learned it's nearly impossible to predict the trajectory of the public markets at a given moment.

“I have confidence that I have no confidence in my ability to time public markets,” he said.