Clinical-stage cancer biotech Actuate latest to eye summer IPO

Could the IPO window really be reopening for the summer? The second biotech proposition in May seems to suggest the public markets are regaining their allure.

This time, it's Actuate Therapeutics, which has a glycogen synthase kinase‐3 beta (GSK-3β) drug called elraglusib in a phase 2 trial for pancreatic cancer. The Texas- and Ireland-based biotech hasn’t yet set out how many shares will be offered nor at what price but said in a related Securities and Exchange Commission filing (PDF) that the proceeds from an IPO would allow it to complete the midstage trial as well as a phase 1 dose- escalation trial in pediatric refractory cancer.

The biotech also hopes to use some of the IPO funds to initiate a phase 2 portion of that study assessing elraglusib in refractory Ewing sarcoma.

Elraglusib is designed to bind to GSK-3β, disrupting cancer pathways associated with the invasion of tumor cells and resistance to chemotherapeutic agents and radiation. In preclinical tests, the intravenous small molecule showed promise against diseases including urothelial cancer and renal cell carcinoma, leading Actuate to move it into human studies in 2018.

The phase 2 pancreatic cancer study has already seen some success, demonstrating a 57% disease control rate and 39% objective response rate when given in combination with the chemotherapy Gemzar.

A New Year resurgence of biotech IPOs died down by March. After a break, Actuate is the second company to have announced interest this month in going public. Third Rock Ventures and Johnson & Johnson-backed Rapport Therapeutics unveiled IPO ambitions to push its clinical-stage seizure disorder asset into phase 2 last week.

While neither Rapport or Actuate have set out their IPO pricing, it doesn’t seem like either company has been put off by the mixed fortunes of this year’s first wave of publicly listed biotechs. While most of the January and February crop received warm reactions from the markets initially, their valuations have dropped off since.

A Fierce Biotech analysis of data from S&P Capital IQ shows that only one company—CG Oncology—is still trading above its IPO price. It’s an even more impressive feat for CG considering the bladder-cancer-focused company was not only the first biotech to go public this year but also brought in the most money via a significantly upsized $380 million offering.

Still, this month’s announcements by both Rapport and Actuate give credence to the predictions of Medicxi Partner Francesco De Rubertis, who told Fierce Biotech earlier this month that he expected the biotech IPO window to reopen this summer.