Bucking the trend, Big Pharma-partnered Nuevolution upsizes IPO

Nuevolution has upped the size of its IPO to SEK 250 million ($29.5 million) in response to strong demand. The upsizing means Nuevolution, which lists Johnson & Johnson ($JNJ), Merck ($MRK) and Novartis ($NVS) among its partners, is on course to pull off the biggest biotech IPO of the year on Nasdaq First North.

Nuevolution CEO Alex Haahr Gouliaev

Copenhagen, Denmark-based Nuevolution initially set out to raise SEK 225 million but ratcheted up its ambitions this week after gauging the level of investor interest in the offering. The listing, which is set to take place before the end of the year, will give Nuevolution the financial might to advance its in-house pipeline of drugs targeting cancer and inflammatory diseases toward the clinic. By funnelling up to 80% of its IPO haul into its most advanced candidates, Nuevolution thinks it can move five or six programs into late preclinical or early clinical testing.

Nuevolution plans to put three or four programs up for outlicensing, keeping one or two back to advance to clinical proof-of-concept internally. The strategy marks a ramping up of Nuevolution's ambitions. To date, the company is best known for landing deals with a who's who of top biopharma players. J&J, Merck and Novartis are joined on Nuevolution's list of collaborators by Boehringer Ingelheim, GlaxoSmithKline ($GSK) and Lexicon Pharmaceuticals ($LXRX). The signing of these deals has generated revenue of SEK 370 million for Nuevolution.

Each of Nuevolution's big-name allies was attracted by the potential of its Chemetics drug discovery platform, a resource the company is now tapping into to further its in-house ambitions. Chemetics uses a mix of wet chemistry and molecular biology to perform fragment-based research, enabling Nuevolution to synthesize, screen and optimize billions of druglike small-molecule compounds. Merck licensed a drug discovered using the platform last year. Since 2013, Nuevolution has used the tool to generate drugs for its own pipeline.

The in-house work has given Nuevolution four unpartnered programs that have reached the hit to lead stage of research. Work on RORγt antagonists designed to treat chronic inflammatory diseases is the most advanced program. Having shown potential in animal models, Nuevolution is gearing up to perform IND-enabling studies next year.

- read the release (Swedish)