Ovid raises $75M in IPO, teeing up Levin to run CNS trials

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Ovid is running trials of GABA agonist OV101 in Angelman syndrome and fragile X syndrome.

Ovid Therapeutics has hit the bottom of the range in its IPO, resulting in it grossing $75 million. The listing gives Jeremy Levin’s Ovid enough money to take two treatments for rare neurological disorders through clinical trials and adds to the burst of biotech IPO activity.

New York, New York-based Ovid set out the offload shares for between $15 and $17 apiece. The listing ultimately priced at $15 a share, a sum that means Ovid will net enough from the IPO to forge ahead with plans to invest $35 million in the clinical development of its lead candidate OV101 in adults and adolescents with two types of neurodevelopmental disorder: Angelman syndrome and fragile X syndrome.

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Ovid picked up the rights to selective GABA agonist OV101 from Lundbeck before starting a phase 2 proof-of-concept trial in adults with Angelman syndrome, a genetic disorder affecting the nervous system. Researchers are also assessing the effect of the candidate in adolescents with Angelman syndrome or fragile X syndrome in a phase 1 study. Ovid has earmarked $35 million from its IPO for these studies.

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Those trials will build on earlier work performed by Lundbeck and Merck, the Danish drugmaker's partner on OV101. Lundbeck and Merck took OV101—then known as gaboxadol—as far as phase 3 as a treatment for insomnia, but discontinued development in 2007 after concluding it was unlikely to succeed. Earlier trials of the candidate in drug abusers were associated with hallucinations, although only at doses above those needed for sedation.

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The other significant line item on Ovid’s post-IPO budget is OV935, the asset it added to its pipeline in January through a deal with Takeda. Fueled by $17 million from the IPO, the CH24H inhibitor is set to enter a phase 1b/2a in patients with Dravet syndrome, Lennox-Gastaut syndrome and tuberous sclerosis complex this year.

That public investors were willing to bankroll the early clinical work of a biotech operating outside of the hot fields of CRISPR and immuno-oncology—and in a scientifically challenging niche—suggests the IPO market may be thawing. Ovid relied on existing investors for around $20 million but went outside for the rest. Having someone of the standing of Levin, a former Bristol-Myers Squibb SVP and Teva CEO, may have helped Ovid part investors from their cash.

By pulling off the IPO, Ovid has added to a rare burst of biotech IPO activity. News that Ovid had hit the bottom of its range followed shortly after Biohaven’s $168 million IPO and UroGen Pharma’s $58 million listing.