Themis pulls out of IPO, looks into 'strategic options' to fund phase 3 vaccine trial

Themis Bioscience has postponed its planned IPO in Amsterdam. The Austrian biotech is now looking into “all strategic options” to secure the cash it needs to move its chikungunya vaccine into phase 3.

Themis outlined plans to list its stock in the Netherlands in the middle of last month and set a price range for an anticipated €40 million ($45 million) offering two weeks later. Biotech stocks have been on a wild ride since Themis first revealed its plans, causing the Nasdaq Biotechnology index to fall by as much 9% from its Oct. 15 price.

Although Themis planned to list in Amsterdam, not New York, it has still encountered “adverse market conditions” that led it to conclude an IPO would be bad for its existing shareholders. The IPO is only postponed, but Themis thinks the delay will be long enough to necessitate a new funding plan.

Themis said it will “investigate all strategic options, including financings, for the development of its programs.” The Vienna-based biotech ended June with a little more than €5 million in cash. Tranches of a series C round subsequently added €5.5 million to Thermis’ bank balance. But the biotech will need more money to see it through a period in which its cash burn will accelerate. 

Themis posted phase 2 data on its lead chikungunya vaccine this week and detailed plans to enter phase 3 “in the near term.” In anticipation of the start of the phase 3 trial, Themis has struck a €2.3 million contract manufacturing agreement and otherwise increased its operating expenses. 

The phase 3 trial itself will be a sizable undertaking. Themis expects to enroll about 3,000 subjects across three regions and require until 2021, at the earliest, to gather the data and materials it needs to file for marketing approval. The biotech planned to allocate around €30 million of the cash raised in the IPO to the phase 3 trial.

Themis will now need to find another way to fund the trial. The choppiness of financial markets has put other biotechs in similar positions. Late last month Nicox pulled out of a planned listing in the U.S., citing similar reasons.