Antibody developer Vaccinex files $46M IPO to support its NSCLC, Huntington’s studies

The company began dosing in a phase 1b/2 study with its lead candidate in NSCLC last October, in collaboration with Merck KGaA and its anti-PD-L1 therapy Bavencio. (Nasdaq)

Rochester, New York-based antibody developer Vaccinex hopes to raise $46 million in an IPO, listing on the Nasdaq under the symbol VCNX. The clinical-stage company focuses on monoclonal antibodies and antibody-drug conjugates targeting cancer, autoimmune disorders and neurodegenerative diseases.

Share pricing terms were not disclosed, according to IPO firm Renaissance Capital, which cited $300,000 in sales for the 43-person-strong company over a 12-month period ending March 31.

Last October, in a clinical collaboration with Merck KGaA, Vaccinex began dosing the first non-small cell lung cancer patient in a phase 1b/2 study of its humanized anti-semaphorin 4D IgG4 monoclonal antibody, VX15/2503. The company’s lead product candidate is being developed in combination with the German biotech’s anti-PD-L1 antibody Bavencio (avelumab).

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The open-label study hopes to evaluate the safety and efficacy of the regimen in up to 40 advanced NSCLC patients that have not previously received immunotherapy—a very competitive indication, as biotech companies race to find the winning combination that extends the benefit of their cancer immunotherapies.

In preclinical research, Vaccinex found that anti-semaphorin 4D antibodies can increase infiltration of tumoricidal immune cells, while reducing multiple types of immunosuppressive cells, the company said.

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Founded in 2001, Vaccinex describes SEMA4D as an extracellular signaling molecule that regulates the migration of immune and inflammatory cells to sites of injury, cancer or infection.

VX15 is also being developed for Huntington’s disease, to preserve normal glial cell function and protect neurons from degeneration by blocking inflammatory responses. An adaptive phase 2 study was launched in July 2015, and has enrolled 125 of the 200 patients planned for its second cohort, with study completion expected in May 2020. The FDA granted VX15 an orphan designation and Fast Track status for Huntington’s, the company said in its prospectus filed with the SEC.

Other research plans for VX15 include being studied in osteosarcoma and melanoma. The company also partnered with Catalent Pharma Solutions late last year for the preclinical development of an antibody-drug conjugate against an undisclosed cancer target, using Vaccinex’s antibody discovery platform.