Relay passes the baton from private to public biotech, making $400M in the process

Fierce 15 winner Relay Therapeutics has pulled off a major upsized IPO worth $400 million to propel a pipeline of treatments aiming at previously undruggable targets.

The $400 million figure is a lucky one for the biotech, given it's also the exact amount it raised in a series C. That figure is, in fact, an upsized amount: It had originally priced 14.7 million shares at $16 to $18, but this week offered 20 million shares at $20, above the upwardly revised range of $18 to $19.

Relay is working to understand how proteins move and how changes in their shape and structure can affect their function. It aims to create new drugs that can modify these changes to treat cancer, although it has held its cards pretty close to its chest over the past few years on exact targets.

From its Securities and Exchange Commission filing, we know they are in phase 1 testing now: “We initiated a phase 1 clinical trial for RLY-1971, our inhibitor of Src homology region 2 domain-containing phosphatase-2 (SHP2), in patients with advanced solid tumors in the first quarter of 2020,” Relay said in the filing.

“We have completed Investigational New Drug, or IND, enabling activities for RLY-4008, our inhibitor of fibroblast growth factor receptor 2 (FGFR2) and expect to initiate a Phase 1 clinical trial for RLY-4008 in patients with advanced solid tumors having oncogenic FGFR2 alterations in the second half of 2020.”

It expects its third program, known as RLY-PI3K1047 and aimed at molecules targeting cancer-associated mutant variants of phosphoinostide 3-kinase alpha, to be in IND-enabling studies in 2021.

Relay—alongside a series of other young startups—hopes its platform, known as Dynamo, can drug the undruggable.

While its initial focus is firmly in cancer, it says its approach can “also be broadly applied to other areas of precision medicine, such as genetic disease.”

It lists on the Nasdaq under the ticker "RLAY."