Buoyed by new eczema data, AnaptysBio hits the fundraising button

CEO Hamza Suria says phase 2b trial of ANB020 will start next year.(AnaptysBio)

Just a few months after its $80 million IPO, AnaptysBio is looking to raise another block of cash and accelerate development of its lead drug for atopic dermatitis, also known as eczema.

The San Diego biotech said it is hoping to raise around $99 million from the placement, which could rise to $113 million if underwriters exercise options, which would add to the approximately $117 million it had on hand at the end of September.

The funds will be needed, as AnaptysBio is in the midst of ramping up trials for its in-house projects as well as advancing high-priority partnered programs with Celgene and Tesaro that are in early-stage clinical trials in inflammatory diseases and immune-oncology, respectively.

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Heading the company’s home-grown clinical programs are anti-interleukin-33 antibody ANB020—being looked at for atopic dermatitis, peanut allergy and eosinophilic asthma–and ANB019, which targets the IL-36 receptor and is in development for two rare forms of psoriasis.

Interim data from a phase 2a trial of ANB020 in moderate-to-severe atopic dermatitis whose symptoms were poorly controlled on current drugs have just been released, and provide “a solid foundation for the continued development of [the drug] across a number of atopic diseases,” said CEO Hamza Suria on a conference call.

After a single dose of ANB020, 75% of the 12 enrolled patients achieved an Eczema Area Severity Index score improvement of 50% (EASI-50) or more at day 15, 83% of patients at day 29 and 75% of patients achieved EASI-50 after 57 days or around two months. That was also accompanied by a reduction in itching and the infiltration of inflammatory white cells (granulocytes) into skin lesions.

“We’ve already met the key objective of the trial as of this interim analysis,” said Suria, who said the plan is now to start a phase 2b trial to look at multiple doses of the antibody in around 200-300 patients in the first half of 2018, with results expected in 2019. That will use a new subcutaneous formulation of the drug rather than the intravenous dosing in the phase 2a trial.

Around 280,000 people have moderate-to-severe atopic dermatitis in the U.S., suffering intense itching and inflamed skin lesions that until the approval of Sanofi and Regeneron’s IL-4 and IL-13 inhibitor Dupixent (dupilumab) earlier this year was treatable only with steroids and topical immunosuppressants such as cyclosporine and methotrexate, which can cause side effects with chronic use.

There are quite a few drugs coming through the pipeline for atopic dermatitis, but Suria thinks that ANB020’s long duration of effect, activity-high upstream in the inflammatory cascade and a favorable safety profile set the drug up well among the pack of Dupixent followers.

AnaptysBio also has a phase 2a trial of ANB020 in peanut allergy due to generate results before the end of the year, with an eosinophilic asthma study expected to read out in the first half of next year, said Suria, who said other indications could also be targeted with the antibody. Earlier Phase 1 data have suggested it could be dosed just once every month or two.

AnaptysBio lost its chief scientific officer Matthew Moyle over the summer and has yet to announce a replacement, although it shored up its board-level scientific expertise by naming Anthony Ware—senior vice president of product development of Lilly Bio-Medicines—as a director in August.