That was fast: 3 months after uncloaking, Zentalis guns for IPO

Just before Christmas, Zentalis Pharmaceuticals announced itself formally to the world as a midstage cancer biotech, but with some quiet funding rounds under its belt.

Now, after nabbing a series C as part of its coming out of stealth in December, this quiet biotech is turning up the volume with a $100 million IPO attempt.

After uncloaking last year, its CEO Anthony Sun, M.D., a longtime venture capitalist, told FierceBiotech keeping quiet for its first few years was deliberate: "From my background as a partner at Aisling Capital, I've seen a lot of companies go public or come out of stealth, I think, prematurely, when it's basically a science project," he said.

"This is not really an early-stage company. It's probably a midstage company and we wanted to show people that this is real," he said. "We have three programs in the clinic in the span of five years that we built in our own labs … I wanted the team—including myself—to focus on execution."

It got off an $85 million series C, and now, as part of that execution, wants to go public, according to its filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. The cash will be put toward developing ZN-c5, a selective estrogen receptor degrader, for the treatment of ER-positive, HER2-negative breast cancer.

Zentalis inked a clinical development deal with Pfizer in May 2018 to test the drug alongside the Big Pharma’s CDK4/6 inhibitor Ibrance (palbociclib). It expects to report data from a phase 1/2 study of ZN-c5 in combination with Ibrance, as well as a single agent, in 2020.

Its clinical pipeline also includes ZN-c3, which targets the WEE1 kinase to treat solid tumors, and an EGFR med for lung cancer. Zentalis plans to move its fourth program, a drug targeting BCL-2 in blood cancers, into the clinic by the middle of 2020, Sun told us last year. The preclinical pipeline comprises a pair of programs in blood cancers and solid tumors.

The New York-based company was founded in 2014 and plans to list on the Nasdaq under the symbol "ZNTL."