Ovid seeks metamorphosis into public company with $86M IPO

The rare disease biotech is looking to list on the Nasdaq.

Ovid Therapeutics, which already has deals and backing from Takeda and Lundbeck, as well as a pharma vet CEO in the form of former Teva chief Jeremy Levin, is now looking to the next stage in its biotech journey: an $86 million IPO.

The three-year-old company, which is working on candidates for rare neurological disorders, says in its SEC filing that it aims to list on the Nasdaq under the symbol $OVID.

This follows on from a fairly quiet start to the year in terms of public offerings from biotech, although just this week Biohaven Pharmaceutical filed to raise up to $100 million in its IPO attempt to help fund the company’s mid- to late-stage clinical work.

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Ovid’s current lead product candidate, OV101, is in development for the treatment of symptoms of Angelman syndrome (a genetic disorder that can cause delayed development, seizures, sleep problems and others medical issues) and fragile X syndrome.

Also known as gaboxadol, the drug, according to Ovid, is the only small molecule highly selective extrasynaptic GABA(A) receptor agonist that has been tested in clinical trials.

The med was licensed from Lundbeck in 2015, with the company also taking a minority stake in the biotech.

A few months back, it also inked an unusual pact with perennial dealmaker Takeda, a deal that will see Ovid help out on the Osaka-based company’s work on a selective CH24H inhibitor in rare pediatric epilepsies.

Takeda has already put the med been through a phase 1 test, and it is now set to move into phase 1b/2a trials in rare epileptic encephalopathies. This includes Dravet syndrome, Lennox-Gastaut syndrome and tuberous sclerosis complex.

Under the deal, Takeda gets equity in Ovid and could also gain milestone payments based on the progress made on TAK-935. If all goes well, other orphan CNS indications “may also be pursued,” the pair said at the time.

And in early February this year, Ovid also penned a collaboration with NeuroPointDX as the two seek out new biomarkers of the rare disorder Angelman syndrome.

The money, should it be raised, will be put toward its phase 2 STARS trial of OV101 in adults with Angelman syndrome, as well as a phase 1 for OV101 in adolescents with Angelman syndrome or fragile X syndrome.

It’s also earmarked well for other midstage studies in adolescents and pediatric patients in these indications, and for a phase 1b/2a trial of the Takeda candidate, OV935, in patients with epileptic encephalopathies.

Future deals could be on the cards, as it says in its SEC filing: “Our strategic plan includes the intent to expand our portfolio of drug candidates through business development. We believe opportunities may exist from time to time to expand our current business through acquisitions or in-licenses of complementary companies, medicines or technologies.”

Levin currently owns 26.8% of the biotech’s shares with Matthew During, its founder, president and CSO, owning just under 25%. Takeda currently owns 9%, according to its paperwork, and Shira Capital owns 5%.

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