Metagenomi, Telomir head to Nasdaq this morning in double test case for preclinical IPOs

After a string of IPO success stories for clinical-stage biotechs so far this year, two companies look set to test whether they can expect the same warm reaction on the public markets despite not having a single candidate in human trials between them.

Metagenomi set out plans earlier this week to offer 6.25 million shares priced between $15 and $17 apiece. This morning, the genetic medicines biotech revealed that its debut share price will be $15, the lower end of the predicted range.

The IPO looks set to bring in $93.7 million in gross proceeds—rising by around $14 million if underwriters take up their 30-day option to buy an additional 937,500 shares.

Led by CEO and founder Brian Thomas, Ph.D., Metagenomi is using next-generation gene editing technology to develop potentially curative therapies. The biotech’s metagenomics-powered discovery platform finds novel cellular machinery sourced from otherwise unknown organisms.

The company’s in vivo pipeline spans metabolic diseases, hemophilia A, cardiovascular diseases, central nervous system diseases and cystic fibrosis. The ex vivo targets are both in immuno-oncology. All are in preclinical development.

Metagenomi has signed a couple of high-profile deals, including a Moderna pact that saw the famed mRNA company finally enter into gene editing. Ionis Pharmaceuticals also snagged a slot with the gene editor, inking a collaboration that could add up to $3 billion all told.

With all its programs in preclinical development, Metagenomi will bean early test of whether biotechs without an asset in the clinic can still enthuse the public markets this year. But Telomir Pharmaceuticals' announcement yesterday evening that it will also list on the Nasdaq this morning means investors will get two opportunities to test the waters.

The Baltimore-based company is focused on developing Telomir-1, which is designed to “lengthen the DNA’s protective telomere caps in order to affect age reversal.” Telomir will offer 1 million shares at $7 apiece—expecting a far more modest $7 million haul than the eight- and nine-figure sums pursued by other biotechs that have listed so far this year. Underwriters will have the option to buy a further 150,000 shares.

In an IPO prospectus back in November, Telomir explained that its initial focus will be on developing Telomir-1 as an oral treatment to inhibit the production of pro-inflammatory cytokines such as IL-17. “Our goal is to advance the clinical development of Telomir-1 in the U.S. for the treatment of age-related inflammatory conditions such as hemochromatosis and osteoarthritis, as well as in post-chemotherapy recovery, with our initial targeted indications being hemochromatosis and post-chemotherapy recovery,” the company explained.

Metagenomi and Telomir’s shares are due to list on the Nasdaq this morning under the tickers “MGX” and “TEL,” respectively. The leadership of both biotechs will no doubt be hoping to receive a similarly warm welcome to that received by four of their five peers that went public so far this year. The most recent was autoimmune-focused Kyverna Therapeutics, which saw its stock rise 36% to $30 by the end of its first day of trading yesterday.

However, a potential warning could be interpreted in the fate of Fractyl Health, with the metabolic disease company's shares losing over 30% of their value in the week since they began trading. Despite having an endoscopic procedure licensed in Germany, Fractyl’s lead therapeutic is a GLP-1-based pancreatic gene therapy that’s still in preclinical development.