Inflammatory disease biotech Applied Molecular Transport aims for $100M IPO

Just eight months after breaking cover, Applied Molecular Transport is gunning for a $100 million IPO to bring its lead program, an oral IL-10 agonist, into phase 2 studies.

The company is already testing the drug, dubbed AMT-101, in patients with ulcerative colitis in a phase 1 study. It hopes to start phase 2 trials this year in that indication, as well as in pouchitis, the inflammation that can develop after a patient has surgery to treat ulcerative colitis. It will also explore the use of AMT-101 as an add-on to anti-TNF therapies in ulcerative colitis and rheumatoid arthritis.

The cash will also bankroll an earlier-stage program, AMT-126, an IL-22 agonist that it’s investigating for defects in the intestinal epithelial barrier, the company said in a securities filing. Along with the $16.1 million Applied Molecular Transport had in the bank as of March 31, the IPO haul will give the company one year of runway, according to the filing.

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Applied Molecular Transport was incorporated in 2010, but its current iteration came to be in 2016. It officially launched in September 2019, having raised $70 million in its series A and B rounds, CEO and co-founder Tahir Mahmood, Ph.D. told FierceBiotech in a previous interview. At the time, the company had dosed the first patient in a phase 1b study of AMT-101.

AMT-101 is a fusion protein of the anti-inflammatory cytokine IL-10 that works selectively in the gut.

“In diseases like ulcerative colitis, the immune system is revved up and inflammation is not just in the gut, but in other parts of the body,” said Bittoo Kanwar, M.D., who leads clinical development at Applied Molecular Transport. “What IL-10 can do is turn that needle back to homeostasis, so what we’re doing is providing this cytokine as an agonist, where most approaches use antagonists: anti-TNFs, anti-JAKs and so on.”

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IL-10 has been used in the past to treat inflammatory bowel disease, but it can lead to nasty side effects because it had to be delivered systemically, in high doses. To avoid these safety issues, AMT-101 targets inflammation in the gut by “harnessing the body’s natural biologic transport mechanisms to bring very large, complex therapeutic payloads across the highly selective barrier of the intestinal epithelium,” Mahmood said.