Centessa Pharma, wasting no time, tees up $100M IPO

Just two months after launching with $250 million, four clinical programs and a deep bench of earlier-stage prospects, Centessa Pharmaceuticals is aiming for the public markets. The company filed on Wednesday to raise up to $100 million in its Nasdaq IPO, but, if recent deals are any indication, it will likely rake in considerably more.

The news comes a month after chief scientific officer, Moncef Slaoui, M.D., departed the company amidst allegations of sexual assault at his former employer, GlaxoSmithKline.

The proceeds will fund several clinical trials that are already underway, including a phase 3 safety study for lixivaptan, a treatment for autosomal dominant polycystic kidney disease, and a phase 2a study for SerpinC, a treatment for the blood disorders hemophilia A and B, the company said in a securities filing

RELATED: GSK cuts ties with Slaoui over sexual harassment allegations as CEO Walmsley vows to rename R&D site 

The funds will also bankroll future clinical trials, including a pivotal phase 3 trial for lixivaptan; a phase 1 study for ZF887, a treatment for the genetic disorder alpha-1-antitrypsin deficiency, which can cause liver and lung disease; and a phase 2 study for imgatuzumab, an anti-EGFR antibody for the treatment of cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma, the second most common form of skin cancer. 

Centessa will also invest in its discovery, manufacturing and R&D capabilities, as well as the design and execution of preclinical and clinical studies for its earlier-stage pipeline. And the capital could go toward acquiring and developing yet more programs, according to the securities filing. 

The company came out of the shadows in February, having acquired 11 biotech companies and raised $250 million in series A funding. Its goal was to create an asset-centric drug developer without the R&D inefficiencies that strike “classical pharmaceutical companies,” in the words of co-founder Francesco De Rubertis, Ph.D., a partner at Medicxi and chairman of Centessa’s board of directors. 

The companies that merged to become Centessa continue to develop their assets under the leadership of the Centessa team and with access to centralized resources such as manufacturing, regulatory and operational support as well as capital. 

RELATED: Slaoui's Centessa adds ex-FDA commish Califf, biotech bigwigs to its board 

“This approach encourages an environment where scientific teams are incentivized to maintain an unwavering focus on advancing medicines to key go/no-go inflection points based on data-driven decisions," said Centessa CEO Saurabh Saha, M.D., Ph.D., previously senior vice president of R&D and global head of translational medicine at BMS. 

Centessa started out with Saha at the helm and Slaoui, the former co-leader of the U.S. government’s Operation Warp Speed effort and longtime GlaxoSmithKline executive, as chief scientific officer. But Slaoui’s tenure at the new biotech was short-lived. Barely a month after Centessa’s launch, his former employer cut ties with him following allegations from an employee of sexual harassment that occurred several years ago at GSK. A day later, he stepped down from his role at Centessa.