Healthcare Trends: Principia BioPharma Goes Public to Raise Money for New Drug
August 23, 2018 | by Anca Spanu

Healthcare Trends: Principia BioPharma Goes Public to Raise Money for New Drug

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The clinical-stage biopharmaceutical firm Principia Biopharma, which researches and develops pharmaceutical treatments for inflammatory and autoimmune diseases, has gone public in order to obtain up to $86.2 million in funding.

IPOs are a growing trend in the health industry

Filing IPOs to finance ongoing research seems to be a healthcare trend for many biopharma companies lately. Renaissance Capital states 133 IPOs have priced this year, which marks almost a 45 percent increase from last year – 49 of those companies operate in healthcare, the most compared to any other area.”

After Entasis Therapeutics, Principia Biopharma aims is to move the company’s BTK inhibitor, which is currently in phase 2 trials, into phase 3 with the money raised by going public. The BTK inhibitor is meant to treat the autoimmune skin disease pemphigus, while also being developed for a bleeding disorder, the immune thrombocytopenic purpura (ITP).

Finding cures for inflammatory and autoimmune diseases, and cancer

Principia Biopharma (PRNB) intends to raise gross proceeds of $86.25 million from a U.S. IPO, according to an S-1 registration statement, the amount being same as that wanted by Entasis. Both companies have filed to go public in order to raise money to finance clinical trials of their novel experimental drugs.

PRNB has collaboration agreements with major pharma firms and the potential for very large payouts if successful.

San Francisco, California-based Principia Biopharma was founded in 2008 to research and develop drug treatments for inflammatory and autoimmune diseases, and cancer.

Management is headed by Director and CEO Martin Babler, who has been with the firm since 2011, after previously serving as the President and CEO of Talima Therapeutics, Board Member at MMA (Marketing Management Analytics) and Vice President of Sales and Marketing of Immunology at Genentech, among other functions.

Principia BioPharma raised a total of $89,901,817 in funding over four rounds, the latest being on Aug 10th, 2015.

The lab “stars” of Principia

The company’s star drug candidate PRN1008 is designed to form a reversible covalent bond with Bruton’s Tyrosine Kinase (or BTK) enzyme. The aim is to treat many autoimmune diseases, such as pemphigus and immune thrombocytopenic purpura, rheumatoid arthritis, systemic lupus erythematosus, vasculitis, skin diseases, and cancer.

The company’s second lead drug candidate PRN2246 is an irreversible covalent BTK inhibitor. This one is supposed to cross the blood-brain barrier and influence immune cell function in the brain. One possible treatment could be for central nervous system diseases, such as Multiple Sclerosis. The drug works by impacting B cell–driven inflammation in the periphery and central nervous system. The double blind, placebo controlled, single and multiple ascending dose trial is evaluating the pharmacokinetics, BTK receptor occupancy, safety, and tolerability of PRN2246 given orally to over 70 healthy volunteers. PRN2246 has been well-tolerated in the study, achieving high peripheral BTK occupancy at clinically relevant dose levels studied.

How the novel drug molecules work

Principia BioPharma says they are challenging the premise of oral drug design by using their proprietary Tailored Covalency platform to create therapies. The company believes that their platform enables them to purpose-design and develop small molecule inhibitors of enzymes and receptor ligands with potencies and selectivities similar to those of injectable biologics, but in the form of a pill.

Think about having the same potential efficacy injectable drugs have, by just taking a pill. Besides the obvious convenience of the pill, this form also reduces the potential side effects of being injected, the risk of further infection being only one of them.

How does the formula work? The molecules bind to specific targets, but have low residency time. This means that the amount of time needed for the molecule to exit the body in order to avoid any unwanted side effects is significantly lower. Drugs from this platform have been proven to rapidly clear the body, thus avoiding any unpleasant effects.

Standard small molecule drugs have a short residence time and, therefore, require dosing regimens that sustain minimum concentration levels in the blood at all times to maintain beneficial effects on the target, Principia states.

Collaboration brings funds and power to advance research

Filing for an IPO comes after a series of collaborations Principia initiated with various companies. In June 2017, Principia signed an agreement with AbbVie (NYSE:ABBV), which also supported Alector in its quest to find a cure for Alzheimer’s disease, for the development of oral immunoproteasome inhibitors.

In November 2017, the company signed an exclusive license agreement with Sanofi (NYSE:SNY) for the development of BTK inhibitor PRN2246. The deal, worth up to $765 million, will see Sanofi focus on Principias’ tyrosine kinase (BTK) inhibitor PRN2246, an experimental oral treatment for MS.

In July 2018, according to Bloomberg, Principia Biopharma announced it has started a clinical trial for PRN1008, a reversible covalent Bruton’s Tyrosine Kinase (BTK) inhibitor, in patients with Immune Thrombocytopenia Purpura (ITP) in the US.

In relation to this latest funding, Principia said it wants to use the money raised to advance PRN1008 “to commercialization.” Principia also said it intends to expand its pipeline by “creating additional highly selective, oral drug candidates against important targets in immunology and oncology.”

Principia has raised $177.3 million from investors, including New Leaf Venture Partners, OrbiMed, Morgenthaler Venture Partners, SR One Limited, Sofinnova Ventures, and Mission Bay Capital. The funding total includes a $50 million Series C round this month led by Cormorant Asset Management, HBM Healthcare Investments, RTW Investments, and Samsara BioCapital, among other previous investors. Principia spent $25.3 million on research and development in 2017, up 10.8 percent compared to 2016.

Anca Spanu
Healthcare Weekly Staff

Anca's career in journalism spans over 2 decades. She has served as staff writer, editor and deputy chief editor at various media outlets all over the world. At Healthcare Weekly, Anca writes about current events, innovations in the healthcare space and events/ conferences with a focus on investing & startups.

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