High-flying immuno-oncology player Adaptimmune pitches $150M IPO

Adaptimmune Therapeutics CEO James Noble once told FierceBiotech that the biotech had only £1 million in the bank back in June. But in quick order the Oxford company became one of the brightest hopes in the U.K. biotech scene, scoring a $350 million collaboration pact with GlaxoSmithKline ($GSK) and a whopping $104 million venture round. And with expectations for its immuno-oncology tech running at a feverish high, Adaptimmune--a 2014 Fierce 15 company--will now see if it can keep the hot streak rolling with a $150 million IPO pitch.

Adaptimmune CEO James Noble

Adaptimmune believes it can go well beyond the current leaders in the CAR-T field like Juno Therapeutics ($JUNO), Novartis ($NVS) and Kite Pharma ($KITE), which are reengineering T cells into antigen-specific cancer cell hunters. Adaptimmune is working on T-cell receptors (TCRs) with an affinity for cancer-specific peptides, a process that could make for new therapies that go after intracellular as well as extracellular cancer targets--greatly expanding on the potential therapeutic range of its drugs. And the biotech believes it can make rapid progress in the clinic.

The biotech's lead drug targets the NY-ESO cancer antigen and is now in a slate of Phase I/II studies for a variety of cancers. In its F-1, Adaptimmune notes that investigators have seen responses in 6 of the first 10 patients with treatment-resistant synovial sarcoma.

"Results from the multiple myeloma trial following autologous stem cell transplant, or auto-SCT, showed a 59% complete or near complete response rate at 100 days post-administration in 22 patients with active disease at the time of transplant," the F-1 continues. "The NY-ESO engineered T cells have persisted in the myeloma trial for six months in all but one patient and, in a subset of patients, for two years following administration. In addition, based on our clinical data to date, we believe our NY-ESO TCR therapeutic candidate has a promising tolerability profile." 

If the data continue to run positive, Adaptimmune notes that it has a shot at breakthrough drug status as well as accelerated approvals at the FDA, something the whole immuno-oncology field is in hot pursuit of.

That potential for rapid progress is what drew GlaxoSmithKline to Adaptimmune and ultimately helped recruit the pharma giant's cancer R&D leader, Rafael Amado, to the biotech as chief medical officer as the pharma giant was shedding much of the rest of its oncology portfolio in a swap with Novartis.

Like a lineup of European biotechs, Adaptimmune is going where the money is for the IPO. The biotech plans to list on Nasdaq under the "ADAP" symbol.

New Enterprise Associates, which invested $35 million in cash in the Series A, is the lead investor with 16% of the shares. OrbiMed has a 7% slice of the pie while R&D notable Elliott Sigal invested $150,000 of his own money to take a small piece of the action along with one of the board seats.

There's more riding on Adaptimmune than the venture cash and whatever IPO money it can raise. After years residing in the U.K. investment community's doghouse, Adaptimmune helped illustrate the industry's potential. Its success, or failure, will influence the industry's reputation in the U.K. for years to come.

- here's the F-1

Special Report: FierceBiotech's 2014 Fierce 15 - Adaptimmune

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