Lantern files for IPO to study 5-time phase 3 cancer failure

Lantern Pharma wants cash to study LP-300 in female nonsmokers with non-small cell lung cancer adenocarcinoma. (Nasdaq)

Lantern Pharma has filed IPO paperwork to raise money to test a failed cancer prospect. The drug, LP-300, failed five phase 3 trials between 2006 and 2013, but retrospective analyses of data from two of the studies have convinced Lantern it has a future in a subset of lung cancer patients.

Working with partners including Baxter, BioNumerik Pharmaceuticals assessed LP-300, also known as BNP7787, dimesna and Tavocept, in five phase 3 clinical trials, three of which enrolled patients with non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) or advanced primary lung adenocarcinoma. The drug advanced into phase 3 on the back of evidence it prevents side effects associated with chemotherapies, but a clean sweep of primary endpoint failures derailed its progress.

BioNumerik completed the last of the five phase 3 trials in 2013. Three years later, Lantern struck a deal to evaluate the drug. Lantern went on to buy the drug in 2018 for $25,000 upfront plus royalty commitments.

Lantern’s interest in LP-300 is underpinned by a retrospective analysis of a phase 3 adenocarcinoma trial. The trial failed, but the subsequent analysis linked LP-300 to improved overall survival in female non-smokers. Lantern said a retrospective analysis of a Japanese trial generated similar findings.

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Coupled to a mechanistic explanation of the findings, the retrospective analyses have encouraged Lantern to study LP-300 in female nonsmokers with NSCLC adenocarcinoma. Lantern is talking to Fox Chase Cancer Center about running a phase 2 trial.

With $1.2 million in the bank as of the end of the end of 2019, Lantern needs to raise money before entering phase 2. To do so, Lantern has filed to raise $29 million from public investors. Lantern raised a $3.5 million series A round last year.

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If Lantern hits its IPO target, it will use some of the money to fund clinical trials of LP-300, while also keeping some cash back for work on earlier-stage candidate LP-184. The earlier-stage candidate is an alkylating agent that Lantern hopes to start testing in humans around the end of 2021. 

In theory, the current financial instability could make it harder for Lantern to raise money. However, unlike during earlier downturns, biotechs have continued to go public amid the pandemic, with Imara, Keros Therapeutics and Zentalis all listing shares for the first time in recent weeks.