Singapore’s Aslan stalks $86M IPO to fund cancer pipeline

Aslan wants to list on the U.S. exchange under the ASLN symbol. (Image: Nasdaq)

With a pivotal data readout for lead drug varlitinib due next year, Aslan Pharma has pushed the button on a U.S. listing to help fund the next stage of its development.

The Singapore biotech—which listed on the Taipei exchange last year—confirmed (PDF) this morning that it had filed an IPO registration with the Securities and Exchange Commission seeking to raise $86 million. It intends to list on the Nasdaq under the ASLN symbol.

According to the IPO prospectus, the cash injection will allow it to accelerate the development of HER1-, HER2- and HER4-targeting varlitinib, which is currently in a pivotal phase 2/3 trial (TreeTopp) for metastatic biliary tract cancer as well as clinical studies in gastric, breast and colorectal cancer. It will also use the proceeds to build manufacturing capacity in preparation of a commercial launch.

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“Based on guidance from the U.S. FDA, we intend to seek accelerated approval for this product candidate if we see an increase in response rate over the current standard of care” in biliary cancer, says the company. Initial data from a phase 2/3 gastric cancer trial are due before the end of the year.

The IPO will also help the biotech advance its other clinical candidates including DHODH inhibitor ASLAN003—a potentially first-in-class therapy in midstage trials for acute myeloid leukemia—and add to its portfolio of immuno-oncology candidates currently headed by Bristol-Myers Squibb-partnered RON/cMET inhibitor ASLAN002. RON is a receptor expressed on macrophages, and Aslan is exploring whether blocking it will enhance T cell activity.

Aslan focuses on cancers that are rare in the U.S. and Europe, which can make enrolling patients into trials difficult. It says its presence in Asia gives it an advantage “in diseases where either the cancers are more prevalent or the availability of suitable patients is greater” and overcome those recruitment obstacles.

The biotech also has a drug for atopic dermatitis and asthma in preclinical development but wants to partner that program after phase 1 and retain its in-house focus on cancer.

Leerink Partners and Piper Jaffray are the joint bookrunners on the IPO offering.