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Erasca’s IPO leads the way as three cancer biotech companies raise $534 million for clinical trials




Erasca's IPO leads the way as three cancer biotech companies raise $534 million for clinical trials


Erasca, a biotech company developing therapies designed to hit a notoriously difficult cancer target, now has $300 million in fresh money to continue the clinical development of its lead programs and a number of additional drug candidates for human testing. to bring.
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The San Diego-based company initially planned to offer 17.5 million shares in the range of $14 to $16 each. But Erasca was able to upgrade the deal up to 18.75 million shares offered at the high end of the expected price range. On Friday, those stocks began trading on the Nasdaq under the stock symbol “ERAS.” Erasca closed its first day of trading at $17.43 per share, up nearly 9% from the IPO price.

The name Erasca is a portmanteau of ‘erase cancer’, which the company embraces as its mission, repeated many times during its IPO application. The company playfully reveals that it calls its employees ‘Erascals’. But the company name also betrays its approach: “Eradiate breed-driven CAancer,” founder and CEO Jonathan Lim wrote in a letter to the prospectus.

RAS genes encode proteins that play a role in cell signaling and act as an on/off switch that regulates cell growth. Mutations can cause the switch to remain in the “on” position. The result is unregulated cell growth that causes cancer. While the role of RAS in cancer is understood, drugging it has been difficult. Erasca is developing therapies that knock out the RAS gene and the MAPK pathway, which are one of the most altered signaling pathways in cancer.


Of the company’s 11 pipeline programs, two have reached the clinic. ERAS-007 is in Phase 2 testing in patients whose solid tumors have been altered by RAS/MAPK, regardless of the type of tissue in which the tumor has developed. ERAS-601 is in Phase 1 testing in RAS/MAPK-altered tumors. Both are small molecule oral drugs. But Erasca isn’t tied to any particular type of drug, and while its sole focus is on shutt ing down RAS/MAPK, it says it can do this with small molecule, large molecule or protein-degrading drugs. Additional programs are making progress toward clinical trials.


“We expect to have four product candidates in the clinic within the next six quarters, plus an additional [Investigational New Drug application] filing every 12 to 18 months for the next five years,” Erasca said in the prospectus.


While RAS is difficult to stun, it can no longer claim the cloak of being incurable. In May, Amgen has received FDA approval for Lumakras, a non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) drug that targets a rare mutation of KRAS, part of the RAS family. But NSCLC tends to spread to the brain, and this is one area where Erasca thinks it can differentiate itself. In the IPO filing, Erasca cites animal testing of the approved Amgen drug and Mirati Therapeutics’ experimental adagrasib, showing that those drugs poorly penetrate the central nervous system. Erasca says it is developing drugs that follow the same rare KRAS mutation and offer comparable or even better efficacy, while also being able to cross the blood-brain barrier.

City Hill Ventures is Erasca’s largest shareholder, according to the prospectus, with a 10.3% stake after the IPO. ARCH Venture Partners owns 9.5% of the company after the IPO. Before going public, Erasca had raised a total of $320.4 million. At the end of the first quarter of this year, the company reported having $217.3 million in cash. That money, combined with the IPO proceeds, will be deployed across the Erasca pipeline.

According to the prospectus, the company plans to spend between $90 million and $100 million on a series of Phase 1b/2 trials of its lead drug candidate through reporting data in one or more of those studies. An additional $45 million to $50 million will be spent on developing ERAS-601 through data readout from the ongoing Phase 1 clinical trial. The company has budgeted between $75 million and $90 million for the continued discovery and development of the other RAS/MAPK drugs in the pipeline, potentially allowing one or more of these drugs to be tested in humans. The company estimates it has enough money to fund operations for at least the next two years.

Imago IPO Raises $134 Million, Plus $20 Million More from Pfizer


Imago BioSciences raised $134.4 million to continue clinical development of its lead drug, which is being developed as a treatment for bone marrow cancer. The South San Francisco-based company planned to sell 7 million shares, ranging from $14 to 16 each. Imago was able to increase the size of the deal by offering 8.4 million shares at the higher end of the target price range. Those shares are traded on the Nasdaq under the stock symbol “IMGO.”

Concurrent with the IPO, Pfizer agreed to purchase $20 million worth of Imago shares at the IPO price, according to the IPO. prospectus.

Imago’s research focuses on small molecules that target lysine-specific demethylase 1 (LSD1), an enzyme that is key to the production of blood cells in the bone marrow. The Imago pipeline is one drug candidate so far, bomedemstat. That drug is being developed to treat various myeloproliferative neoplasms (MPNs), a family of chronic cancers that affect the bone marrow. The three most common of these conditions are myelofibrosis, essential thrombocythemia, and polycythemia vera. Phase 2 studies are underway to evaluate bomedemstat in myelofibrosis and essential thrombocythemia.

Since its inception in 2012, the company has raised $164.8 million, according to its IPO filing. The company’s largest shareholder is Clarus Lifesciences, with a 10.5% stake following the IPO. Frazier Healthcare Partners and Omega Fund will each hold a 9% stake in the company after the IPO.

At the end of the first quarter of this year, Imago reported a cash position of $82.7 million. With the funds available, Pfizer’s investment and proceeds from the IPO, the company plans to spend $50 million on the clinical development of bomedemstat for essential thrombocythemia through the completion of both Phase 2 and Phase 3 clinical trials. Another $10 million is earmarked for drug development for Phase 2 testing for myelofibrosis. The capital will also be used for the production of bomedemstat, the development of the drug for other indications and in-house R&D.

With First Clinical Trials Ahead, TScan’s IPO Raises $100 Million


TScan Therapeutics, a company that develops T cells from patients to manufacture its cancer immunotherapies, has raised $100 million to advance its programs toward their first human trials. The Waltham, Massachusetts-based biotech offered nearly 6.7 million shares at $15 each, which was the lowest point of the expected price of $15 to $17 a share. TScan shares are traded on the Nasdaq under the stock symbol “TCRX”.

TScan analyzes the T cells of cancer patients who have had exceptional responses to immunotherapy. The biotech said in his IPO application that its TargetScan technology learns the targets recognized by T-cell receptors (TCRs), providing the company with a TCR/target pair that can be converted into a therapeutic candidate. A second technology called ReceptorScan identifies TCRs that are active against targets previously identified and validated. The top TCR candidates identified by both technologies will be added to TScan’s collection of TCRs, called ImmunoBank.

A TScan therapy is made by obtaining white blood cells from a patient or a healthy donor. At the company’s manufacturing facility, T cells are isolated and developed using ImmunoBank’s TCR sequences. Those cells are returned to the hospital and inserted into the patient. Those cells are expected to multiply in the patient, triggering an antitumor response.

TScan’s pipeline includes six programs for both liquid and solid tumors. The two most advanced programs are for liquid tumors. TSC-100 and TSC-101 are under development for acute myeloid leukemia, myelodysplastic syndrome, and acute lymphoblastic leukemia. The company expects to file both drug discovery applications with the FDA in the fourth quarter of this year.

The solid tumor programs – TSC-200, TSC-201, TSC-202 and TSC-203 – are being developed for head and neck, cervical and anal cancers, as well as non-small cell cancer and melanoma. Those programs are in the lead optimization phase.

Since TScan was founded in 2018, the biotech has raised $160 million, most recently a $100 Million Series C Round of funding in January. Baker Bros. Advisors is the largest shareholder according to the prospectus, with a stake of 18.2% after the IPO.


TScan plans to spend approximately $30 million on Phase 1/2 trials of TSC-100, TSC-101 and TSC-102, with each completing the Phase 1 portion and part of the Phase 2 trial. will continue. An additional $35 million is being earmarked to bring three preclinical programs into Phase 1 testing; $25 million has been earmarked for the development of discovery phase programs.

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