Obesity and diabetes-focused Carmot plans IPO to push GLP-1 drugs through clinic

Obesity and diabetes-focused Carmot Therapeutics has unveiled plans to go public, braving icy IPO waters that have remained largely frozen over for biotech for more than a year. 

The 2023 Fierce 15 winner intends to list its stock on the Nasdaq under the ticker “CRMO” before the end of the year, according to Securities and Exchange Commission documents filed Nov. 17.

Founded in 2008, the California-based biotech currently touts a clinical pipeline of three GLP-1 candidates with the goal of developing transformative therapies for people with metabolic diseases.

One of those assets, dubbed CT-996, is designed to be an equivalent to Novo Nordisk’s Ozempic and Wegovy, with one key difference—it’s not an injection. The oral small-molecule weight loss candidate is currently in phase 1 development, running alongside candidates from Eli Lilly and AstraZeneca.

“We're really excited about the prospects of this molecule because we think we have designed a molecule that is once-daily, really potent and highly bioavailable,” Carmot CEO Heather Turner told Fierce Biotech this summer. “We think it could be a really great alternative for patients.”

Carmot's candidate will have to wow on safety and tolerability, as Pfizer dropped its own oral obesity candidate, also a GLP-1 receptor agonist, after seeing elevated liver enzymes in clinical trials.  In October, Carmot announced that preliminary phase 1 results support once-daily oral dosing of CT-996, with tolerability results consistent with the GLP-1 RA class and with most adverse events gastrointestinal-related and mostly mild in severity. The company did not share data with the announcement.

Just last week, Carmot also revealed that it had launched a phase 2 trial for daily GLP-1/GIP dual receptor modulator CT-868 among patients with overweight or obesity and type 1 diabetes. Patients with diabetes are normally insulin deficient and can end up becoming insulin resistant as the body starts to need higher amounts of insulin to manage blood sugar. More insulin leads to weight gain, a cycle that CEO Turner believes Carmot’s CT-868 is “uniquely situated to break” because it is designed for both weight loss and glucose control.

GLP-1s and obesity drugs are largely a Big Pharma game for now—something Carmot doesn't expect to change. Turner thinks the biotech is well positioned to develop the programs for the time being but, once approved, it may need help from pharmas to successfully reach as many patients as possible.

Carmot is running with a $150 million series E equity round raised this May that included participation from the Column Group, a healthcare VC that owns a large chunk of the company.   

Carmot will join the thin ranks of biotechs entering the frozen-over IPO waters this year, including recent additions Cargo Therapeutics and Lexeo Therapeutics.