U.K. biotech Evgen plots a $31M IPO to push its vegetable-derived pipeline

Evgen Pharma has mapped out a £20 million ($31 million) IPO on the London Stock Exchange to bankroll its work on a broccoli-derived treatment with applications in cancer and other diseases.

The Liverpool-headquartered company expects to make its market debut this month, trading on the AIM market. With the proceeds, Evgen plans to roll into the proof-of-concept stage with a proprietary formulation of sulforaphane, a naturally occurring compound that has demonstrated strong therapeutic potential in more than 1,200 peer-reviewed studies, the company said.

Raw sulforaphane, derived from broccoli and other cabbages, has historically been too unstable for commercial development, according to Evgen, so the biotech has developed a synthetic analog it believes can capture the compound's pharmaceutical potential. The candidate, dubbed Sulforadex, proved itself safe and tolerable in a Phase I trial earlier this year, and Evgen aims to put its IPO raise toward advancing into mid-stage development.

The plan is to launch Phase I/II studies in prostate and breast cancers, kick off a Phase II study to see whether Sulforadex can reduce cognitive impairment in cases of brain hemorrhage and mount a preclinical program in multiple sclerosis, the company said.

Meanwhile, the long-running boom in U.S. biotech IPOs hasn't quite been mirrored across the Atlantic, as a confluence of factors has kept European life sciences floats few and far between. In the spring, the U.K.'s Circassia pulled off a $332 million offering, leading many to predict a coming slew of continental filings, but that never came to be.

Switzerland's Molecular Partners came through with a downsized $100 million offering in November, and Danish biotech Forward Pharma ($FWP) made a $221 million splash on the Nasdaq in October, but numerous others have been forced to delay or call off their planned debuts.

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