Antibody expert arGEN-X pulls off a $54.5M IPO

Dutch biotech arGEN-X has raised €40 million ($54.5 million) in a Brussels IPO, planning to bankrolling its internal candidates and expand its in-demand antibody technology.

The company flipped about 4.7 million shares for €8.50 ($11.56) each, setting its market cap at €131.7 million ($179.2 million). Institutional and corporate investors across Europe and the U.S. bought up the majority of arGEN-X's offering, the company said, including stakeholder and collaborator Shire ($SHGP), which now owns 9.1% of the company.

With the new cash, arGEN-X intends to accelerate its in-house development programs. Furthest along is ARGX-110, which targets the CD70 immune checkpoint to block tumor growth and galvanize a patient's immune system. The biotech is working through a Phase Ib trial of the drug in blood cancers and solid tumors, and it has struck a $4.5 million deal with the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society to team up on a Phase II trial on the rare lymphoma Waldenström's macroglobulinemia.

Next up is ARGX-111, which aims at the metastasis-related receptor c-Met, also in Phase Ib study for hematological and solid tumors, and the antibody fragment ARGX-113, a preclinical treatment for severe autoimmune diseases.

Each of arGEN-X's pipeline therapies stems from its in-house Simple Antibody system, a discovery platform based on the immune system of llamas that the company tours as better than traditional transgenic mouse models in churning out antibodies that match variable genes in humans. The system has fueled arGEN-X's development deals with Shire, Bayer, Boehringer Ingelheim and others, and the biotech believes its partnerships could bring in as much as €1.3 billion ($1.8 billion) in the long run.

Tim Van Hauwermeiren

The biotech's plan is to pour that revenue into its own clinical development operation, advancing its three therapies until they're ready to pay off, CEO Tim Van Hauwermeiren said.

"This strategy is designed to yield clinical data demonstrating their therapeutic utility for treating cancer and severe autoimmune diseases, and this data will be leveraged to partner these therapeutic antibodies for development and commercialization across a number of major indications in these areas," Van Hauwermeiren said in a statement. "... We believe that this approach will allow arGEN-X to become an important player in the fast-growing therapeutic antibody market and to generate significant value for its shareholders in a timely and efficient manner."

- read the release (PDF)