BerGenBio completes IPO, raising $49M for cancer trials

Oslo, Norway
Oslo, Norway

BerGenBio has completed (sub. req.) its IPO in Oslo. The Norwegian cancer biotech hit its target price and sold out the overallotment, resulting in it pulling in NOK 425 million ($49 million) to invest in a clutch of phase 2 trials of Axl inhibitor BGB324.

Bergen, Norway-based BerGenBio sold 16 million shares at NOK 25 apiece as planned. And, with investors snapping up the 1 million shares offered through the overallotment, its final haul has edged up toward $50 million. That would be a standout sum for a European biotech to raise on a local stock exchange in most years. And in an IPO market that lacks the fizz of recent years, it is a particularly notable haul.

BerGenBio’s next step is to turn the money into data, primarily on lead candidate BGB324.

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“The IPO proceeds will support our plans to take BGB324 through multiple phase 2 clinical trials during the next 18 months, which we believe will deliver further compelling efficacy data for this novel medicine,” BerGenBio CEO Richard Godfrey said in a statement.

BerGenBio plans to put BGB324 through four phase 2 trials. The current roster of clinical trials of BGB324 include a 45-patient acute myeloid leukemia study that is giving the Axl kinase inhibitor in combination with chemotherapy drug cytarabine. BerGenBio’s interest in the indication is based on research suggesting up to 50% of AML patients overexpress the Axl surface membrane protein kinase receptor.

The company is in the middle of a 66-patient non-small cell lung cancer trial, too. That study is looking at BerGenBio in combination with erlotinib, the receptor tyrosine kinase inhibitor sold by Roche as Tarceva. More recently, BerGenBio became the latest company to pen a pact with Merck to use its drug in combination with anti-PD-1 therapy Keytruda. The companies will look at the combination in patients with advanced lung and breast cancer.

Emboldened by the IPO cash, BerGenBio is also planning to expand its clinical-phase pipeline. Anti-Axl antibody BGB149 is set to transition into the clinic and come through a phase 1 on the back of the IPO funds.