Next-gen CAR-T biotech Autolus files for IPO

Autolus is developing autologous cell therapies against targets such as CD19, CD22 and BCMA. (Nasdaq)

Autolus files for a Nasdaq IPO after kicking off three phase 1/2 trials of its CAR-Ts and bringing its private financing haul up to $173 million.

London, U.K.-based Autolus now wants to tap public investors for more cash but details of its plans are scarce. Autolus and two of its publicly traded investors—Arix Bioscience and Syncona—revealed the cell therapy startup has filed a registration statement with the SEC. But, as the statement itself is confidential, details about Autolus’ operation and fundraising plans remain under wraps for now.

Biotechs often take advantage of the confidential filing provisions available to small companies but details of these submissions only come to light shortly before they start roadshow presentations to potential investors. Autolus has broken cover earlier by disclosing the filing but not its contents.

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Autolus, Arix and Syncona all emphasized that the IPO plan is in the preliminary stages and that the timing and terms are yet to be nailed down. The IPO could even fall through altogether. 

If Autolus completes the IPO, it will join many of the companies it hopes to usurp on public markets. Like other CAR-T players, Autolus is developing autologous cell therapies against targets such as CD19, CD22 and BCMA. But the firm thinks the way it is going after these targets sets it apart. 

RELATED: Next-gen CAR-T firm Autolus takes funding tally to $173M

AUTO3, one of Autolus’ clinical-stage assets, targets CD19 and CD22 to make it harder for tumor cells to evade the immune attack. The other clinical-phase drug, AUTO2, targets BCMA and TACI. BCMA is a popular target in the CAR-T field and beyond, with bluebird bio among the biotechs active in the space. Autolus thinks its dual-targeted approach, which is based on the work of founder Martin Pule, Ph.D., offers a more effective line of attack.

The overall strategy is to develop cell therapies that bypass tumor defenses and are less affected by the off-target effects and runaway activity that has harmed the safety profiles of early CAR-Ts.

Autolus’ first clutch of candidates, like those of its peers, are aimed at hematological indications. The AUTO2 and AUTO3 trials are enrolling patients with diffuse large B cell lymphoma, multiple myeloma and B cell acute lymphoblastic leukaemia. The next two assets coming down the pipeline target different groups of T cell lymphoma patients. Further down the line, Autolus has plans to treat solid tumors.