One IPO attempt pulled, a drug on partial hold and a pandemic, but ADC tries again

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One of the more surprising elements of the pandemic is how well biotech IPOs have managed, and now Swiss startup ADC Therapeutics is hoping for a second-time lucky attempt despite COVID-19.

The cancer drug biotech isn’t just gunning for a $100 million IPO for the sake of it, however: It needs that capital for its pivotal phase 2 test for loncastuximab tesirine, or “Lonca,” which targets CD19, a protein on the surface of tumor cells, in patients with relapsed diffuse large B-cell lymphoma.

Final data should be ready soon, and a filing with the FDA is expected in the second half of this year.

The Swiss biotech is also working on camidanlumab teririne, or “Cami,” which targets the CD25 cancer protein and is in trials with partner Genmab for relapsed or difficult to treat Hodgkin lymphoma, non-Hodgkin lymphoma and solid tumors.

But a phase 2 of the med in Hodgkin lymphoma has been hit with a partial clinical hold, meaning ADC can’t add new patients to the test, and comes after two patients were diagnosed with Guillain-Barré syndrome, a rare disorder in which the immune system attacks the nerves.

According to its Securities and Exchange Commission filing, one patient is recovering at home, but the other is on a ventilator in a hospital. This is a case of history repeating: Back in 2017, the FDA had slapped a partial hold on an early clinical test of Cami, also due to several patients having Guillain-Barré. That hold was was lifted in 2018.

In the same year, ADC also abandoned one of its mid-pipeline candidates for HER2-positive cancers because of toxicity issues in a phase 1 trial in solid tumors.

It said Cami is now on track to read out next year, but timelines are changeable dependent on how the FDA handles this latest partial hold.

ADC sought an IPO last year worth between $150 million and $200 million on the New York Stock Exchange (unusually, not on the Nasdaq, the exchange of choice for most biotechs), but later pulled the offering. Now, it hopes a scaled-down $100 million on the NYSE will bring it more luck.

Back in June of last year, ADC expanded its series E by $76 million, bringing the financing to a massive $276 million and its total haul to $558 million. By the end of last year, however, it was down to just over $100 million in cash.