Monday, February 26, 2024

Moderna & Ionis-Partnered Biotech Lands $94M in IPO Cash for Gene-Editing R&D – MedCity News

Metagenomi, a company that creates novel gene-editing tools to correct disease-causing mutations, has raised $93.75 million from its IPO to support its research of potential disease cures.

Late Thursday, Metagenomi priced its offering of 6.25 million shares at $15 apiece, which was the low end of its planned $15 to $17 per share price range. Those shares now trade on the Nasdaq under the stock symbol “MGX.”

Metagenomi’s research starts by analyzing the genetics of microbes found in the natural environment. The company says high-throughput screening and artificial intelligence technology enables it to mine billions of novel proteins to create new gene-editing tools. In the IPO filing, Metagenomi says new tools are needed because genetic diseases are caused by a diverse set of mutations largely inaccessible by genome engineering approaches to date. Also, many diseases lack a genetic cause but have the potential to be addressed by gene editing. The company’s approach is conveyed by its name.

“We are harnessing the power of metagenomics, the study of genetic material recovered from the natural environment, to unlock four billion years of microbial evolution to discover and develop a suite of novel editing tools capable of correcting any type of genetic mutation found anywhere in the genome,” the company said in the filing.

With a diverse and modular set of tools, the company says it can choose the right one for a particular disease. The company’s preclinical pipeline spans 13 programs targeting the delivery of therapies to the liver, the central nervous system, and the lungs.

Metagenomi’s work has drawn the interest of larger biotech companies. Moderna signed on as a partner in a 2021 deal that paired the respective technologies of the two companies. No disease targets were disclosed at the time, but the IPO filing now shows the partnered program is a therapy for primary hyperoxaluria type 1, a rare metabolic disorder. Ionis Pharmaceuticals is a partner on therapies for transthyretin amyloidosis and cardiovascular disease. Metagenomi is also working with Affini-T Therapeutics to develop a cancer cell therapy.

Metagenomi is led by founder and CEO Brian Thomas, a metagenomics expert who spent more than 20 years at the University of California Berkeley. Bayer HealthCare is Metagenomi’s largest shareholder with a 10.8% post-IPO stake, according to the filing. Moderna owns 4.5% of the company. Prior to the IPO, Metagenomi had raised $325.5 million. The most recent financing was a Series B round that was extended last year to a total of $275 million. The company reported a cash position of $292.9 million at the end of the third quarter of 2023.

Metagenomi’s cash, combined with the IPO proceeds, will support ongoing research. The company plans to spend about $125 million for advancing therapeutic candidates through preclinical-proof-of concept. Another $85 million is planned for the preclinical research that would support an investigational new drug application with the goal of at least two such submissions. Those programs that have yet to be selected. The IPO filing provides no timelines for these plans, but the company said it expects its capital is enough to last into 2027.

Telomir Taps the Public Markets for a $7M IPO

Telomir Pharmaceuticals, a preclinical biotech developing an “age reversal” drug, joined the Nasdaq with a $7 million IPO. The Baltimore-based company priced its offering of 1 million shares at $7 apiece, which was right on target with the financial terms the company set last month. Those shares will trade on the Nasdaq under the stock symbol “TELO.”

Most of the IPO proceeds will support TELOMIR-1, a small molecule that inhibits metals, such as zinc and copper, that play a key role in enzymatic reactions involved in pro-inflammatory pathways. In the IPO filing, Telomir said its drug candidate is intended to inhibit production of IL-17, a pro-inflammatory protein. Doing so may protect stem cells by elongating and stimulating telomeres, repetitive DNA sequences that form a protective cap at the end of chromosomes. Telomeres become shorter each time a cell divides, eventually become so short that a cell can no longer divide. By supporting telomeres, the Telomir drug is intended to allow the chromosome to be replaced properly during cell division.

“To the best of our knowledge, there is no approved oral IL-17 inhibitor,” the company said in the IPO filing. “Our goal is to advance the clinical development of TELOMIR-1 in the United States for the treatment of age-related inflammatory conditions such as hemochromatosis and osteoarthritis, as well as in post-chemotherapy recovery, with our initial targeted indications being hemochromatosis and post-chemotherapy recovery.”

Telomir plans to submit an investigational new drug application with the FDA in the third quarter of this year.

Photo: iLexx, Getty Images 

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