Using an old Merck drug, Menlo hopes to scratch an itch with $98M IPO

The biotech plans to list on the Nasdaq under the symbol MNLO.

Six months after getting off a $50 million series C, late-stage California dermatology biotech Menlo Therapeutics is looking to take advantage of the strong IPO window with a $98 million offering.

The biotech, founded in 2011 and originally called Tigercat Pharma, has one midstage pipeline drug in the form of serlopitant, predominately focusing on various causes of skin itch and refractory chronic cough.

This NK-1 receptor antagonist, taken as a once-daily oral treatment, is being tested against pruritus (itch) associated with atopic dermatitis, psoriasis and prurigo nodularis.

Its tests into prurigo nodularis, a skin disease characterized by pruritic nodules which usually appear on the arms or legs, are the most advanced. Menlo is prepping for a phase 3 trial next year and results are slated to be known in the first half of 2020.

“We believe that serlopitant may be effective as an oral therapy adjunct to standard of care topical or systemic treatments for pruritic dermatologic conditions, and may also be effective as a monotherapy for patients for whom management of the pruritus or refractory chronic cough symptoms is the primary patient need,” the biotech said in its SEC-1 posted yesterday.

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It expects data from the ongoing phase 2 in pruritus associated with atopic dermatitis in the second quarter of 2018 and from its other midstage test, in pruritus associated with psoriasis and refractory chronic cough, by “late 2018 or early 2019.”

“We could potentially submit an NDA for up to three indications in 2020: pruritus associated with atopic dermatitis, psoriasis and prurigo nodularis,” the company added. Currently, common treatment options for these patients are antihistamines and steroids, and the biotech believes it may have an answer to an unmet medical need on its hands.

And it got the medication in its hands from Merck, who licensed serlopitant out to Menlo back in 2012; the Big Pharma maintains an interest in the biotech.

According to its SEC-1 form, Vivo Capital is its largest organizational stockholder, with just a whisker under 25%, with Remeditex Ventures, Presidio Partners, Merck, venBio Global Strategic Fund II, and F-Prime also among its principal stockholders.