Soon-Shiong planning to take cancer vaccine subsidiary public: report

Billionaire healthcare mogul Patrick Soon-Shiong hopes to take public later this year one of his companies that is spearheading development of a cocktail of biologics as a vaccine aimed at multiple facets of cancer, according to an interview with Reuters.

Plans are in the early stages, with the amount of the IPO still undetermined and Soon-Shiong in talks to hire bankers, the report said. The financing would be used to support the development of six drugs, currently in clinical trials against nine tumor types.

Falling under Soon-Shiong’s NantWorks corporate umbrella—which also includes the subsidiaries NantHealth, NantCell and NantKwest—the new, currently private company, solely called Nant, received a greenlight from the FDA on June 3 to begin a phase 1 clinical trial of its vaccine in previously treated patients with various cancers.

Speaking at the Jefferies healthcare investment conference in New York last week, Soon-Shiong described the vaccine cocktail as a personalized immunotherapy combining experimental natural killer cells, dendritic cells and T cell therapy with viral and yeast-based vectors—and, of course, the protein-bound chemotherapy Abraxane, which has formed much of Soon-Shiong’s success, being the subject of a $2.9 billion acquisition deal with Celgene in 2010.

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Nant hopes to, at once, overcome the signaling that allows a tumor to evade the immune system, boost responses against the cancer cells and tweak the tumor microenvironment to be more receptive to checkpoint inhibitors.

In a previous, smaller trial of just three patients with late-stage metastatic pancreatic cancer launched last year, the vaccine demonstrated extended survival and stable disease between 7 and nearly 10 months, compared to a historical median in patients who received no surgery or best supportive care of 1.1 month.

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Other treatments in Nant’s portfolio include ganitumab (AMG 479)—a phase 3 compound previously developed by Amgen, which abandoned it in 2012—currently being studied in a phase 3 trial in first-line Ewing’s sarcoma. Another compound, N-803, is being studied in phase 2 trials in bladder cancer, with bacillus Calmette-Guerin, and in first-line metastatic lung cancer in combination with anti-PD-L1 inhibitors.