MacroGenics trumpets cancer immunotherapies in $60M IPO pitch

MacroGenics CEO & co-founder Dr. Scott Koenig

MacroGenics has taken aim at an initial public offering, joining the crowded ranks of biotech companies that either have or plan to hit the public markets this year. The Rockville, MD-based company, a developer of next-generation antibodies against cancer and autoimmune diseases, seeks up to $60 million in its public debut.

MacroGenics would follow at least 30 biotech companies that have gone public this year, which has marked a comeback for the IPO market in life sciences after the deals became scarce in the aftermath of the 2008 financial crash. (For an update on the 2013 IPO trend, check out this feature.)

A comeback story itself, MacroGenics recovered from a busted partnership with Eli Lilly ($LLY) after a late-stage trial failure involving their preventive therapy for Type 1 diabetes called teplizumab in 2010. Its recovery resulted from a string of partnerships on next-gen antibody drugs with Pfizer ($PFE), Servier, Gilead ($GILD) and Boehringer Ingelheim. The company says it is hunting for a new collaborator for teplizumab too after recent upbeat results in a midstage study.

MacroGenics could capitalize on interest in targeted cancer therapies that unleash the body's natural antitumor attacks. Its cancer immunotherapy, MGA271, is an Fc-optimized monoclonal antibody that homes in on B7-H3 to release a brake of sorts that cancer cells use to escape the immune system. The company plans to complete Phase I development of the drug in multiple tumor types by the end of 2014.

The company has also begun early-stage clinical development of margetuximab, an Fc-optimized therapy against HER2. The candidate is designed to take out cancer cells with lower levels of HER2 than those that existing drugs against the target such as Herceptin can tackle.

All four of the company's large pharma partners have also paid millions of dollars to access its dual affinity retargeting (DART) platform, which the company uses to build antibody-like drugs that home in on specific disease targets while recruiting immune cells to the cause of beating diseases such as cancer.

MacroGenics, which aims to list its shares on the Nasdaq under the symbol "MGNX," was founded 13 years ago. Company CEO and co-founder Dr. Scott Koenig is a former senior vice president of research at MedImmune and has built a team of more than 150 employees. Some of the company's lead backers include Alta Partners, TPG, InterWest Partners and MPM.

An IPO would help augment expected revenue from pharma partnerships. The company had an accumulated deficit of $179.1 million and cash and equivalents of $33.8 million as of June 30.

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