It's worth letting out a "hooray" when a biotech does an initial public offering. NewLink Genetics, a cancer vaccine developer, made its public debut today, raising about $43.4 million through the sale of 6.2 million shares for $7 a pop, according to an Associated Press report. The company is now trading under the symbol "NLNK."
Like a lot of biotechs that go public, Ames, IA-based NewLink had to lower its offering price to get the deal done. The company, which announced initial plans for the offering in December, said last month that it was looking to sell 5.5 million shares with a price range of $10 to $12. With the money it raised in the IPO, the biotech plans to advance its late-stage candidate called HyperAcute Pancreas, which is a therapeutic vaccine intended to spur immune system attacks against pancreatic cancer.
While therapeutic vaccines offer relatively new ways to combat cancer by harnessing immune responses to fight tumors, the first commercial mover in this field, Dendreon ($DNDN) has faced an uphill battle getting doctors to prescribe its $93,000 prostate cancer vaccine Provenge. The high expense of making the drug has also played a role in the profitability of the business. NewLink might face similar challenges as its pancreatic cancer vaccine advances, yet the drug first must be proven in the ongoing Phase III trial.
NewLink previously announced plans to recruit 700 patients with stage I and stage II pancreatic cancer into its Phase III study, targeting full enrollment in the trial in 2013. The FDA has granted fast-track and orphan status for the therapy, which is being tested for use to wipe out cancer cells after surgeries to remove tumors.