Arcellx raises $124M in Wall Street debut to bankroll study of multiple myeloma CAR-T

Cell therapy biotech Arcellx might prove biotech initial public offerings aren't dead despite the ongoing bear market for drug developers and a dearth of recent Wall Street debuts.

The one-trial biotech will begin trading on the Nasdaq Friday at $15 per share, the low end of its proposed $15 to $17 range as filed on Jan. 31. That should give the Novo- and Takeda-backed biotech proceeds of about $124 million. 

Arcellx is taking a bet on the public markets amid a continuing downturn in stock performances for the 2021 biotech IPO class and other drugmakers. The proceeds are nearly identical to the biotech's last private financing round, a $115 million series C in April 2021.

The biotech will deploy $75 million to $85 million of the Wall Street raise on a planned phase 2 trial of its lead CAR-T BCMA therapy, which is being tested in patients with relapsed/refractory multiple myeloma, the company said in its IPO paperwork.

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The trial, dubbed iMMagine, is slated to kick off in late 2022 and could lead to an FDA regulatory submission if successful, Arcellx said. Proceeds will also bankroll studies of the cell therapy as an earlier line MM therapy in a separate clinical trial, iMMagine-2. 

Another $10 million to $20 million will fund the start of phase 1 trials this year for ACLX-001 in relapsed/refractory MM and ACLX-002 in patients with r/r acute myeloid leukemia or high-risk myelodysplastic syndrome.

These assets will go up against stiff competition from Big Pharmas with experience and money on their side. Arcellx listed CAR-T, cell therapy and anti-BCMA competitors like Abbvie, Amgen, Bristol Myers Squibb, GlaxoSmithKline, Johnson & Johnson and other big whigs like Pfizer and Novartis as its comparables. 

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Arcellx's management includes CEO Rami Elghandour, Chief Medical Officer Christopher Heery, Chief Commercial Officer Neeraj Teotia and Chief Technical Officer David Hilbert, Ph.D., who founded the Maryland biotech in December 2014. Elghandour joined in January 2021 after holding the CEO and president posts at medtech company Nevro, where he also led an IPO.

With increased calls for diversity in biotech, Arcellx listed out some stats about its 78-employee workforce. The executive team is nearly one-third women and 36% diverse. Managers and senior scientists are also nearly one-third women and 45% diverse. The rest of staff is 71% women and 49% diverse, the company said in its prospectus.