Summit shoves rival Duchenne MD drug into public spotlight with $40M IPO

A biotech with scientific roots at the University of Oxford and a new approach to treating Duchenne muscular dystrophy is coming to America with a $40 million IPO.

Summit filed its F-1 outlining plans to go public on Nasdaq, a popular strategy for European companies looking to find a more enthusiastic embrace from the investment community. Summit is a few months away from reporting out top-line data from its second Phase Ib study for SMT C1100 and also has a second program in development for Clostridium difficile infection.

Up until now three biotechs have been in the spotlight for DMD R&D: Sarepta ($SRPT), PTC ($PTCT) and Prosensa, which was recently bought out by BioMarin ($BMRN). All three have experienced some giddy highs and nauseating lows as the FDA and EMA have gradually warmed to their differing approaches to spurring enough dystrophin to mend some of the damage wrought by the slowly lethal disease. Now Summit is looking to join the pack with its own particular take on the disease.

The biotech's lead drug is an oral therapy that is designed to spur utrophin, a protein Summit describes as structurally similar to dystrophin which is able to trigger muscle development. The drug comes out of the Oxford lab of Professor Kay Davies, who developed the prototype. Summit has since developed some second-gen treatments and also has been working on next-gen drugs in preclinical development.

Oxfordshire-based Summit is pitching utropin as a significantly superior approach to the exon-skipping tech that the lead pack are looking to. Those drugs, including PTC's Translarna, recently provisionally approved in Europe, can only expect to treat about a third of all patients, according to Summit. Utrophin, they claim, would be generally applicable to the rare disease. And Summit says that it can market the drug alone.

The rough-and-tumble world of DMD drug development has seen several key mid- and late-stage trial failures. GlaxoSmithKline bowed out of its partnership with the Dutch biotech Prosensa, which also went public on Nasdaq. And Sarepta has sent mixed signals on just how interested the FDA is in providing an accelerated review of its drug.

Summit will now try and jump into one of the most closely watched rivalries in biotech as it sets out to raise its profile considerably. The company plans to trade under the symbol $SMMT.

- here's the F-1