In the first biotech initial public offering of the year, La Jolla-based INmune Bio took in $8.16 million during its trading debut. The Nasdaq listing also raised the profile of what’s been a quiet operation.
INmune Bio skipped the large funding rounds – and media fanfare – that typically precede an IPO. That was so management could keep control of the company, and because INmune Bio expects its clinical trials will be relatively inexpensive, a company executive said.
The company wants to reengineer the immune system to stop cancer recurrence. During its inaugural day of trading on Feb. 1, INmune Bio sold 1,020,560 shares of common stock at $8 per share.
"Most of the community has not heard of us, and we've done that somewhat on purpose,” Chief Financial Officer David Moss told the San Diego Business Journal.
The company’s INKmune is designed to make NK cells that would otherwise ignore cancer attack the disease. It will start clinical trials in women with refractory ovarian cancer around the end of March, Moss said.
"We focus on properly signaling the NK cells so that they can resume immune surveillance and help clean up residual disease, with the hope that people may not relapse as much,” Moss said.
INmune’s second program, INB03, seeks to inhibit myeloid derived suppressor cells, which often cause treatment resistance. INB03 started a phase 1 trial in Australia in the third quarter of 2018.
INKmune and INB03 could potentially be used alone, together, or in combination with other therapies. They’re aimed at a wide range of cancers.
By holding clinical trials in the United Kingdom and Australia, the company intends to keep costs down. The countries offer tax rebates.
The $8.16 million raised, according to Moss, should advance the programs to Phase 2 trials. From there, he envisions the company turning to grants, partnerships or the public markets -- or all of the above.
"Our belief is that the biotech industry is driven by data. If we drive data for our programs, that will certainly drive value, and that will certainly drive the ability to finance them further,” Moss said.
Although the government shutdown halted IPOs, INmune Bio wasn’t affected. The company got approval to list shares right before the shutdown furloughed U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission employees who review IPO paperwork, but held off on account of the holidays and attention being on the annual J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference in January.
INmune Bio, which contracts out clinical trial work, has three employees. The company plans to add workers.
Elsewhere in San Diego biotech, Gossamer Bio plans to go public Feb. 8. During the shutdown Gossamer sought to sidestep SEC review, but later reverted to a traditional IPO path with the government reopening.
In addition, Cirius Therapeutics, Cibus and Poseida Therapeutics have put in IPO paperwork, but have yet to list shares.