Aduro pulls off a $119M IPO to fund its immuno-oncology pipeline

Berkeley, CA's Aduro Biotech ($ADRO) banked $119 million in an upsized IPO with plans to hit the gas on its pipeline of treatments that use the body's immune system to battle cancer.

The company, a 2014 Fierce 15 honoree, priced 7 million shares at $17 each, setting aside another 1.1 million shares for its underwriters to put its potential deal value at more than $130 million. Concurrently, Aduro sold off a $25 million stake in a private placement before making its first trade on the Nasdaq exchange Wednesday.

All that cash will support CRS-207 and GVAX, two immunotherapies designed to attack pancreatic cancer in tandem. The combination won the FDA's coveted breakthrough-therapy designation in July, guaranteeing Aduro a speedy review and access to senior agency staff as it works through the regulatory process.

The treatments are now in the midst of an Aduro-sponsored Phase IIb trial with 240 patients in three treatment arms: one receiving the combination treatment, one taking CRS-207 alone and another on standard chemotherapy. The study's primary endpoint is overall survival, and Aduro hopes it'll back up the safety, immune response and efficacy CRS-207 and GVAX have demonstrated thus far. The pair of treatments are also part of an ongoing Phase IIb trial that matches them with Bristol-Myers Squibb's ($BMY) Opdivo, an immunotherapy that targets the PD-1 pathway.

Aduro is also earmarking some of its funds to study CRS-207 against mesothelioma and ovarian cancer, and the company plans to invest in a pair of early-stage treatments for brain cancer and solid tumors.

The biotech's Wall Street debut comes on the heels of a watershed 2014. After securing the breakthrough tag, Aduro inked a partnership with Johnson & Johnson ($JNJ) in which the company's Janssen unit signed on to use the biotech's immunotherapy platform to churn out some candidates of its own and licensed a pair of candidates in deals that could bring in more than $1 billion for Aduro. The company also raised more than $100 million in venture cash over two rounds, leaning on a syndicate that includes OrbiMed, J&J, Morningside and Janus Capital Management.

Meanwhile, 2014's bracing pace of biotech IPOs has largely continued into the new year. As Aduro prepared to ring the Nasdaq opening bell, biotech Cidara Therapeutics ($CDTX) executed a $76.8 million IPO of its own, pricing 4.8 million shares at $16 each to support its work in anti-infectives. And XBiotech, a Texas drug developer at work on cancer treatments, pulled off a $76 million debut. Still in line are aTyr Pharma and Blueprint Medicines, looking to raise more than $200 million combined in hopes the industry's IPO window remains open.

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Special Report: FierceBiotech's 2014 Fierce 15 - Aduro BioTech