Pandemic or no pandemic, biotech IPOs just keep on coming. Let’s add another two to the list: Forma Therapeutics, which pulled off a $278 million listing, and Repare Therapeutics, which bagged $220 million in its Wall Street debut.
Both companies outraised their respective goals of $150 million and $100 million, following in the footsteps of Pliant Therapeutics, ORIC Pharmaceuticals, ADC Therapeutics and Zentalis Pharmaceuticals, all of which blew past their original targets.
Forma’s IPO comes six months after a $100 million series D to advance its lead program, FT-4202, a treatment that could change the course of sickle cell disease. It’s earmarked about $115 million of its IPO haul to push that program through a phase 1 study and—if all goes to plan—kick off a phase 2/3 trial in sickle cell and another clinical trial in beta thalassemia, according to a securities filing.
The company has also tagged about $15 million to bankroll FT-7051, a treatment for metastatic castration-resistant prostate cancer through the dose escalation phase and into the dose expansion phase of a phase 1 study.
Repare’s IPO comes on the heels of a synthetic lethality pact with Bristol Myers Squibb that netted it $65 million upfront but could end up being worth more than $3 billion. Repare’s CRISPR-based platform identifies synthetic lethal gene pairs, which cause cell death when both genes are inactivated. In cancer cells, one of these genes is inactivated by a mutation; the other will be switched off by a drug.
There are multiple drugs on the market that bring about this type synthetic lethality, including AstraZeneca and Merck’s Lynparza and Zejula from Tesaro, now part of GlaxoSmithKline. Both block the enzyme PARP to treat BRCA-mutant ovarian cancer. BMS and Repare are on the hunt for more targets like PARP.
Repare will use about $50 million of its IPO proceeds to push its lead program, RP-3500, through a phase 1/2 trial, according to a securities filing. The treatment inhibits ATR, which protects cells from replication-related stresses. Another $110 million will fund “other research and development initiatives,” which presumably include its second program, code-named “Manchester,” which targets a synthetic lethal pair involving the CCNE1 gene.