Opsona edges closer to an IPO decision as PhIIb trial gets underway

Big Pharma-backed Opsona Therapeutics has looked into its future and seen a possible IPO on the horizon. The Dublin, Ireland-based immunology drug developer made the pronouncement as its lead candidate graduated to the second part of an adaptive Phase II trial.

Opsona CEO Martin Welschof

Executives at Opsona have budgeted approximately €8 million ($8.8 million) to trial OPN-305 in around 200 renal transplant recipients that are highly susceptible to early graft dysfunction. Opsona has the cash from its €36 million Series C round--which attracted investment from the VC units of Amgen ($AMGN), Baxter ($BAX), Novartis ($NVS) and Roche ($RHHBY)--to wrap up the Phase IIb trial. But by the time the data roll in late in 2016, Opsona will need to refuel for the next phase.

"We might look at a strategic partnership or at an IPO, it will depend on the data we get," Opsona CEO Martin Welschof told the Irish Independent. The data will provide an early hint at whether Opsona can turn its big-name credentials into drug development success. As well as the who's who of big biopharma VCs on its list of investors, Opsona has a trio of scientific founders who command respect in the world of immunology.

The founders include the man the Independent describes as Ireland's best-known scientist, professor Luke O'Neill, as well as professors Dermot Kelleher and Kingston Mills. The group spun Opsona out of Trinity College Dublin in 2004 to develop immunomodulating drugs. Opsona's fully-humanized anti-toll-like receptor (TLR) antibody OPN-305 has emerged as the lead candidate. A lot rests on the drug for Opsona--OPN-305 is its only clinical-phase asset--and the healthcare system.

If OPN-305 lives up to Opsona's expectations, it could enable surgical teams to transplant organs that would currently be considered borderline. Such organs typically come from donors aged over 60 years old or from people who have complications such as a history of hypertension.

- read the Irish Independent's article