Feeling the biotech chill, CytomX stumbles onto Nasdaq with an $80M IPO

The biotech IPO window may not be closed, but it's also not wide open--at least for now. You can add CytomX to the list of biotechs that have now stumbled their way into an IPO. 

With biotech shares floundering in the recent turmoil, it was no great surprise to see the preclinical drug developer pricing 6.7 million shares at $12 each--well below the $14 to $16 range it had set for itself. Still, the newly made-over biotech now has raised an additional $80 million to work on its pipeline programs.

A string of less-than-impressive debuts has now afflicted Nabriva ($NBRV), Edge ($EDGE) and Mirna ($MIRN). Just a day earlier Aclaris also had to settle for an under-the-range IPO, setting a pattern for others to fear.

CytomX followed a well-traveled road to get to this stage, raising a $70 million crossover round to set itself up for an IPO. The round came after CytomX--which prides itself on its antibody engineering skills--rustled up a new PD-L1 checkpoint inhibitor to act as a lead program. That therapy won't be in the clinic until later next year, which may have helped chill expectations for the biotech at a time of general uncertainty in the biotech sector.

The three-year biotech bull market ran headlong into bear territory after the drug-pricing controversy spurred by Turing Pharmaceuticals CEO Martin Shkreli inspired a tweet heard round the world from Hillary Clinton, in which the presidential contender raised the specter of finding new measures to control prices. That's a long way from any actual action on Congress' part, but with sensitivities about a biotech bubble running high, it was more than sufficient to deflate valuations.

Investors may not be as enthusiastic about biotech as they were a year ago, not surprising after a lengthy run of the bulls. But even as the underperformance persuades some like Shield Therapeutics in the U.K. to delay their own IPOs, companies like MyoKardia and Dimension--two other Fierce 15 companies--are all in the queue, preparing for their own offerings and hoping that a quick rebound will improve their prospects.

Special Report: FierceBiotech's 2013 Fierce 15 - CytomX | FierceBiotech's 2015 Fierce 15 - MyoKardia | FierceBiotech's 2014 Fierce 15 - Dimension Therapeutics