Nimbus tacks on $210M in funding as investors swat away IRA concerns

Boasting a seasoned leadership team, a proven R&D platform and a boatload of financing, Nimbus Therapeutics presents like a company poised to thrive on the public markets.

Boatload may now be a bit of an understatement. The company has just closed its latest private financing, raking in $210 million and surpassing $600 million in total financing since launching roughly 14 years ago.

The new fundraising, announced Wednesday, provides Nimbus with fresh capital to further develop HPK1-targeting cancer med NDI 1150-101. Just don’t call it a crossover round. 

“So we don't call things, we don't call raises, we don't give them letters,” CEO Jeb Keiper said in an interview. Instead, Keiper refers to stages of the company in chapters, with each chapter marked by the sale of another asset. After the company sold a midstage plaque psoriasis drug to Takeda for $4 billion upfront earlier this year, Nimbus turned the page to chapter 3. The first chapter closed after Nimbus sold an ACC program for nonalcholic steatohepatitis to Gilead Sciences in 2016. 

The unconventional nature of Nimbus that’s defined the biotech so far doesn’t seem to be going anywhere. Keiper continues to question when it genuinely makes sense for a smaller biotech company to barge into the commercial landscape and evolve into a multinational pharmaceutical company, listing Alnylam Pharmaceuticals and Kite Pharma as some successful counterpoints to his skepticism.

“So I do think it matters in this ecosystem, whether you're going to be an R&D innovation player, which is what Nimbus is, working on new novel, small molecules, or not,” said Keiper. “I do think it matters, as opposed to: ‘you sure you just don't want to be a blockbuster drug company?’”

While it’s impressive and exciting for a biotech to see a drug through approval, selling said drug is a whole different (and costly) animal. That’s not to say that Nimbus hasn’t considered it, however, with Keiper noting that the company was whipping up a plan B had Takeda elected to not buy the company's TYK2 inhibitor. But by steering clear of building a commercial wing, Nimbus hasn’t felt an urge to go public to further finance such efforts.

The company's intention to remain private in light of this new cash remains, the CEO added.

Meanwhile, the quest to write another tantalizing chapter has been threatened in the last year since the passage of the Inflation Reduction Act. Namely, small molecules, the foundation of Nimbus’ research, have a shorter life span than large molecules before the government can start negotiating prices. Keiper was clear that those policies have already impacted biotechs' R&D plans, but he says Nimbus’ therapeutic diversity has served the company well. 

“What investors like about the Nimbus story is that we have been and continue to be a multi-therapeutic story,” he said. “So I do actually think—and we've talked to investors who believe—that is an advantage in managing risk.” 

The company's focus is now on ND1 1150-101, a novel immunotherapy meant to unlock a stronger and more diverse immune response in solid tumors compared to other immunotherapies, namely checkpoint inhibitors. The drug is through dose escalation and into dose expansion in a phase 1 trial, the CEO said. Data are expected at an upcoming medical conference, but the chief executive wouldn’t specify whether that would be this year or next.

Nimbus is taking on Pfizer in this field, with the Big Pharma testing its own HPK1 med in a phase 1 trial. Keiper is emphatic that the drug must show it’s effective as a monotherapy compared to PD-1 alone.

“What drug regulators want to know is whether that new agent actually alone really helps fight the cancer, and that's what we're trying to prove,” he said. “It's about integrity and credibility at this point.”