Adaptimmune hauls in $191M in an upsized immuno-oncology IPO

Adaptimmune Therapeutics ($ADAP), at work on cancer treatments that harness the body's natural defenses, pulled off a $191.3 million IPO, riding onto Wall Street amid investor exuberance for immuno-oncology.

The company, headquartered in Oxford, U.K., priced 11.25 million shares at $17 each, setting aside another roughly 1.7 million shares to cover overallotments and set its maximum deal value at nearly $220 million. With the proceeds, Adaptimmune plans to hit the gas on a stable of treatments based on T cell receptor, or TCR, technology, through which the biotech can sharpen the immune system's weaponry and train T cells to better cancers.

A cousin to high-profile CAR-T technology, TCR therapies are designed to train a patient's T cells to seek out specific antigens expressed by tumors liquid and solid. Adaptimmune's lead project, partnered with GlaxoSmithKline ($GSK), targets the NY-ESO antigen and is in the midst of clinical trials in 5 cancer varieties with more studies on the way, the company said. And the biotech has a wholly owned TCR aimed at the MAGE A-10 antigen now in preclinical development.

Adaptimmune's big Wall Street splash follows a now-well-trodden path for innovators in immuno-oncology. Juno Therapeutics ($JUNO), a leader in CAR-T, pulled of a $265 million IPO last year, just after competitors Bellicum Pharmaceuticals ($BLCM) and Kite Pharma ($KITE) raised about $140 million each in debuts of their own.

Each is reaping the benefits of widespread optimism that cancer immunotherapy can usher in a new era of efficacy in oncology, lining the pockets of innovators and their investors in the process. Newly launched immunotherapies from Merck ($MRK) and Bristol-Myers Squibb ($BMY) have thus far supported the idea, and many analysts believe cell treatments like CAR-Ts and TCRs could be the next big thing in a fast-growing market.


Special Report: FierceBiotech's 2014 Fierce 15 - Adaptimmune