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8 Biotech Stocks With IPOs This Week

Regina Borsellino

Sometimes, when it rains, it pours. That’s definitely the case for biotech initial public offerings this week.

This week, there are a whopping eight biotech companies going public. Biotechnology isn’t an easy sector to grasp — it takes dedication to understand investment thesis, beginning the journey from drug development and ending at the drugstore.

When it comes to investing in biotech stocks, the question is not just how well is this business run but whether their products fulfill a need in a growing industry … for biotechs, this can get complicated. When there are six biotech companies going public all in a single week, it can be downright overwhelming.

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So what do these biotech companies actually do?

What do their pipelines look like?

The following list of eight biotech stocks going public this week will break down the science behind each company so that potential investors can focus on the business side.

8 Biotech Stocks With IPOs This Week: Eidos Therapeutics (EIDX)

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Proposed Ticker: EIDX

IPO Price: $23.56

IPO Date: June 19, 2018

Eidos Therapeutics (NASDAQ:EIDX) is a clinical-stage biotech that focuses on diseases caused by transthyretin amyloidosis. Eidos says that its treatments fill a “large and growing unmet need.” Currently, Eidos is subsidiary of BridgeBio, a privately held biotech focused on genetically targeted therapies for a number of different types of disease.

Transthyretin (TTR) is a protein in the blood responsible for transporting thyroxine (a thyroid hormone primarily affecting metabolism) and retinol (also known as Vitamin A1, which has a key role a number of body functions). With transthyretin amyloidosis, transthyretin proteins become unstable and change shape.

Thus, they cannot be broken down and accumulate as amyloids in the heart or peripheral nerves. These buildups can lead to cardiomyopathy (heart disease) or polyneuropathy (a progressive, fatal disease which affects ability to move, feel, and digest food as well as cardiovascular function).

There is currently no treatment for TTR polyneuropathy, and TTR cardiomyopathy is treated only with liver and heart transplants. But Eidos believes it has a better answer to serve this virtually untapped market. Eidos has developed AG10, which binds to TTR in the blood and stabilizes it, stopping the shape changes that cause TTR to build up.

AG10 entered Phase 1 Clinical Trials in 2017, and results have confirmed its stabilizing properties, its safety and its effectiveness in all three major forms of these diseases. Phase 2 started in April of this year, and Phase 3 is slated to start in early 2019.

8 Biotech Stocks With IPOs This Week: Avrobio (AVRO)

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Proposed Ticker: AVRO

Anticipated Price: $16-$18

IPO Date: June 21, 2018

Avrobio, Inc. (NASDAQ:AVRO) is a biotech focused on diseases “where a faulty gene results in the lack of an essential enzyme or protein”. Specifically, Avrobios current drug candidates are all treatments for lysosomal storage disorders.

Lysosomes act as cell “recycling centers,” breaking down and either reusing or destroying unneeded materials within a body cell. There are different lysosomal enzymes which break down different types of materials within the lysosomes. Occasionally gene mutations can render a person unable to make one of these enzymes and the corresponding cell material will accumulate in the lysosome, leading to a range of dangerous symptoms.

Avrobio has four drugs currently in its pipeline. The furthest along, AVR-RD-01, is a gene therapy for Fabry Disease currently undergoing Phase 1 trials. In Fabry disease, the lysosomal enzyme alpha-galactosidase is missing, which can lead to a range of pain, kidney, heart and skin symptoms.

The kidney and heart symptoms often shorten the lifespan of those with Fabry disease. With AVR-RD-01, Avrobio modifies a patient’s own stem cells to correctly express the gene that helps the body create the missing enzyme. Avrobio uses a similar method for all of their current drug candidates.

Avrobio plans to begin phase 2 trials for AVR-RD-01 in mid-2018 and initiate Phase 1 trials for two more drug candidates within the next 12 months.

8 Biotech Stocks With IPOs This Week: Magenta Therapeutics (MGTA)

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Proposed Ticker: MGTA

Anticipated Price: $14-$16

IPO Date: June 21, 2018

Magenta Therapeutics (NASDAQ:MGTA) is a biotech focused on revolutionizing bone marrow transplants.

A bone marrow transplant replaces unhealthy bone marrow with the healthy bone marrow of another person. Bone marrow is responsible for the production of blood cells, including red blood cells, white blood cells (immune cells) and platelets (which control bleeding).

Bone marrow transplants can treat and can be the only cure for blood cancers, bone marrow diseases (like anemia) and other immune system and genetic disorders (such as sickle cell disease). Because of this, they are hugely valuable as a life-saving technique, but they are currently a very high risk, complicated procedure.

Magenta seeks to not only make bone marrow transplants a safer, more viable option, but they hope to expand the number of diseases that can be treated with bone marrow transplants. There are four major steps to bone marrow transplants. And Magenta aims to increase the safety and efficacy of each of them.

One of their programs, MGTA-456, is already in clinical trials. MGTA-456 increases the number of healthy stem cells that can be obtained from umbilical cord blood. Umbilical cord blood is often used in bone marrow transplants for patients who don’t have a suitable bone marrow donor.

In addition to MGTA-456, Magenta has six other bone-marrow-transplant-focused programs in either the discovery or pre-clinical stages of development.

8 Biotech Stocks With IPOs This Week: Electrocore (ECOR)

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Proposed Ticker: ECOR

Anticipated Price: $14-$16

IPO Date: June 21, 2018

Electrocore NASDAQ:ECOR)  is another biotech not focused exclusively on creating new drugs—but they are focused on creating new treatments.

Specifically, Electrocore is focused on non-invasive vagus-nerve stimulation and the potential this technology has to treat a range of diseases. The vagus nerve is the longest cranial nerve in the body.

The branching nerve communicates information between the brain and other organs. Stimulating the vagus nerve can affect many important functions “in the brain and in the body, including neurotransmitter levels, inflammation levels and metabolism.”

Electrocore has developed the gammaCore, a small handheld stimulator which allows the vagus nerve to not only be stimulated through the skin, but to be stimulated discreetly, by the patient themselves.

Electrocore is in clinical trials for their treatment both in the areas of neurology and rheumatology. Gammacore is already commercially available and FDA approved to treat migraines and cluster headaches, but Electrocore hopes to expand its uses to treat other types of headaches and rheumatoid arthritis.

8 Biotech Stocks With IPOs This Week: Kezar Life Sciences, Inc. (KZR)

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Proposed Ticker: KZR

Anticipated Price: $14-$16

IPO Date: June 21, 2018

Kezar Life Sciences (NASDAQ:KZR) is a clinical-stage biotech focused on small molecule therapeutics to treat cancer and autoimmune diseases.

Their approach involves protein homeostasis — or the regulation of protein creation, function and degradation within body cells. For its lead drug candidate, KZR-616, Kezar focuses on blocking on the immunoproteasome. Proteasomes control protein degradation. Immunoproteasomes are proteasomes specifically found within immune cells.

In autoimmune diseases, immune cells attack healthy body cells, so by inhibiting immunoproteasomes, Kezar can slow or halt these diseases.

KZR-616 is currently beginning Phase 2 trials in lupus and lupus nephritis. Lupus is an autoimmune disease in which the body’s own immune cells attack the healthy tissue of many parts of the body.

KZR-616 is also poised to begin Phase 1b/2 clinical trials for four other autoimmune diseases, several of which have orphan disease status.

8 Biotech Stocks With IPOs This Week: Xeris Pharmaceuticals (XERS)

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Proposed Ticker: XERS

Anticipated Price: $14-$16

IPO Date: June 21, 2018

Xeris Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ:XERS) is a bit unique when it comes to biotechs. Instead of solely focusing on developing new drugs, Xeris is focused on developing a new type of drug-delivery system. Speficially, Xeris develops “liquid-state injectables” for subcutaneous (under the skin) and intramuscular injections of stable drugs. This enables drugs to be kept a room temperature longer, reduces the volume needed to inject a drug and eliminates the requirement for some drugs to be delivered via an IV.

Traditionally, injected drugs have relied on being mixed with water in order to make them injectable. Many drugs are not very water soluble, however, and are not stable once mixed with water.

This makes the drugs less effective (meaning a higher dose of the medication is needed, often to the point of delivering a drug slowly through an IV) and less storable (so they might need to be immediately used or refrigerated once mixed with water).

Xeris uses its XeriSol and XeriJect non-aqueous formulation technology platforms in order to create new drug suspensions that do not rely on being mixed with water. These drugs can be sold as auto-injectors, pre-filled syringes and vials, multi-dose pens or infusion pumps.

Thus far, many of Xeris’ later-stage trials focus on diabetes and blood-sugar related drugs. It’s Glucagon rescue pen, used for severe hypoglycemia or low blood sugar, is in Phase 3b trials. Glucagon is used to treat extremely low blood sugar–which can often be fatal. Xeris CEO Paul Edick believes that the “G-Pen” can save lives, because it is much faster to administer during a life-threatening emergency than current glucagon treatments.

In fact, Xeris filed for IPO in order to fund the G-Pen’s NDA submission. So potential Xeris investors likely won’t have to wait very long for a commercial product to become available.

8 Biotech Stocks With IPOs This Week: Aptinyx (APTX)

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Proposed Ticker: APTX

Anticipated Price: $14-$16

IPO Date: June 21, 2018

Aptinyx (NASDAQ:APTX) is a clinical-stage biotech focusing on neurologic disorders. Specifically, Aptinyx is addressing diseases in which there are abnormalities synaptic plasticity, or the process by which nerve cells learn how to respond to stimuli.

The nerve cells that make up the brain and nervous system communicate using neurotransmitters. NMDA receptors are the part of the nerve cell that that can receive signals from neurotransmitters, and activating these receptors can stimulate synaptic plasticity. Aptinyx targets the NMDA receptors without overstimulating them or blocking them, both of which can lead to different issues for a patient. Aptinyx compounds have demonstrated “optimal modulation of NMDA receptors,” facilitating synaptic plasticity without causing other damage to nerve cells.

Aptinyx’s lead drug candidate, NYX 2925, is in Phase 2 trials for both Painful Diabetic Peripheral Neuropathy and Fibromyalgia. Both of these indications are characterized by intense chronic pain. NYX-2925 modifies the nervous system’s reaction to the stimuli which cause these pain, leading to relief for these patients.

Aptinyx also has drugs in its pipeline for PTSD and Parkinson’s Disease Cognitive Impairment.

8 Biotech Stocks With IPOs This Week: Autolus Therapeutics (AUTL)

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Proposed Ticker: AUTL

Anticipated Price: $15-$17

IPO Date: 6/22/2018

Autolus calls itself “a leader in T cell programming technologies.” Autolus aims to target T cells in order to treat a range of different cancers.

Cancer develops when an abnormal or cancerous cell evades the body’s immune system, which is supposed to destroy such cells before they can replicate. When they are able to replicate, they become tumors or other cancers. T cells are immune cells which are supposed to detect and destroy such cells, but if cancers have developed, it means that the T cells did not recognize the danger of these cells.

The company aims to “reprogramme” these T cells so that they can recognize and destroy these cancerous cells. Therefore, the treatment would come from the body’s own immune system rather than high side effect chemotherapies, radiation treatments or surgeries.

Autolus’ therapies introduce Chimeric Antigen Receptors (CARs) into the body’s existing T cells. These embed in a T cell and act as an antibody to recognize the cancerous cell. This directs the T cell to destroy the cancerous cells within the body.

Autolus’ AUTO-1 is currently in two Phase 1 studies for two different types of cancers, and Autolus has announced a license agreement to develop and commercialize a novel CAR T cell therapy.

As of this writing, Regina Borsellino owned no positions in the aforementioned securities.

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