After bagging Yescarta exec as CMO, T-cell biotech NexImmune files for $86M IPO

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Just a few days after NexImmune bumped up its credentials with the hiring of Gilead Sciences and Kite Pharma alum Robert Knight, M.D., the T-cell biotech is now gunning for an $86 million IPO.

The startup wants the cash to boost its work on immunotherapy, with its platform designed to employ the body’s own T cells to generate a potent and durable immune response that mimics natural biology.

“Our mission is to create therapies with curative potential for patients with cancer and other life-threatening immune-mediated diseases,” the Maryland biotech said in its Securities and Exchange Commission filing.

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It’s early-stage but in the clinic, unusually for a lot of biotech IPO attempts these days, with two candidates in human trials: NEXI-001 in acute myeloid leukemia (AML) and NEXI-002 in multiple myeloma (MM). Early data for these should be out by year-end.

NEXI-001 is a donor-derived, or allogeneic, ACT in a phase 1/2 test for treatment of patients with relapsed AML after allogeneic stem cell transplantation. NEXI-002, meanwhile, is a patient-derived, or autologous, ACT in a phase 1/2 for MM patients that have failed at least three prior lines of therapy.

“The backbone of our approach is our proprietary Artificial Immune Modulation, or AIM, nanoparticle technology platform. The AIM technology enables us to construct nanoparticles that function as synthetic dendritic cells capable of directing a specific T cell-mediated immune response. Like natural dendritic cells, the AIM nanoparticles employ natural signaling proteins to deliver specific instructions to specific T cells directing a desired immune response,” the company said in the filing.

It said what sets it apart is, unlike other cell therapy approaches, it's is accomplished “without any genetic manipulation of the T cell,” thereby creating T-cell products designed to maintain natural target identification, engagement and killing mechanisms.

It now has Knight on board to help with the approach and can tap his vast experience in immunotherapy, which includes work on cell therapy Yescarta with Gilead-Kite as well as stints at Celgene and Sorrento.

The decade-old company, which licensed its core AIM tech from Johns Hopkins University, plans to list on the Nasdaq under the symbol "NEXI."