7:34 AM
Sep 14, 2018
 |  BC Extra  |  Financial News

Ex-Kite execs prep quick IPO for CAR T play Allogene

Editor's Note: This article was updated on Sep 14, 2018 at 11:57 AM PDT

Cell therapy start-up Allogene Therapeutics Inc. (South San Francisco, Calif.) filed to raise up to $100 million in an IPO on NASDAQ underwritten by Goldman Sachs, J.P. Morgan, Cowen and Jefferies. Launched in April with a $300 million series A round, Allogene has raised $420 million in private funding to date.

Founded in November 2017, Allogene is developing a pipeline of off-the-shelf allogeneic CAR T products spun out from Pfizer Inc. (NYSE:PFE) in April, including lead program UCART19. Pfizer had held the programs' rights under a 2014 deal with Cellectis S.A. (Euronext:ALCLS; NASDAQ:CLLS).

The company's management team includes former executives of CAR T company Kite Pharma Inc., which Gilead Sciences Inc. (NASDAQ:GILD) acquired for $11.9 billion last year. Allogene's executive chairman is Arie Belldegrun, who was Kite's founder, chairman, president and CEO; Allogene's president and CEO is David Chang, who was Kite's CMO and EVP of R&D. Kite developed Yescarta axicabtagene ciloleucel, an autologous CAR T therapy targeting CD19 which FDA approved in October 2017 to treat relapsed or refractory large B cell lymphoma (see "Some of the Parts").

Building on its massive series A round, Allogene raised $120 million this month through the sale of convertible notes. Perceptive Advisors led that offering (see "Allogene Raises $120M in Convertible Notes").

Shareholders with stakes larger than 5% include TPG Capital; Pfizer; entities associated with Belldegrun including Vida Ventures, of which he is co-founder and senior managing director; Gilead; and Chang.

Allogene has exclusive, U.S. rights to UCART19. It is developing that therapy in partnership with Servier (Suresnes, France), which retains its rights outside the U.S. The allogeneic therapy targeting CD19 is in the Phase I CALM and PALL trials; a pivotal study is to begin in 2H19.

The company's pipeline also includes ALLO-501, which is identical in molecular design to UCART19 that is manufactured using a different process and is in development to treat relapsed or refractory non-Hodgkin leukemia; and ALLO-715, which targets BCMA (tumor necrosis factor receptor superfamily member 17; TNFRSF17; CD269) to treat relapsed or refractory multiple myeloma. The company plans to submit INDs for both CAR T therapies next year.

Yescarta and Kymriah tisagenlecleucel, the other approved CAR T therapy, are autologous therapies engineered from an individual patient's own cells. Allogene's pipeline consists of allogeneic therapies derived from healthy donors' cells.

Kymriah is indicated in the U.S. to treat relapsed or refractory B cell precursor acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) and diffuse large B cell lymphoma (DLBCL). Yescarta and Kymriah are also approved in the EU.

In addition to Chang and Belldegrun, Allogene's nine-member board includes four former Kite directors: David Bonderman, a founding partner of TPG; Franz Humer, a former chairman and CEO of Roche (SIX:ROG; OTCQX:RHHBY); Joshua Kazam, a co-founder and partner at Vida; and Owen Witte, a professor at the University of California Los Angeles.

Also holding board seats are John DeYoung, who is VP of worldwide business development for Pfizer's oncology unit; Todd Sisitsky, a managing partner at TPG; and Robert Abraham, who is SVP and group head for oncology R&D at Pfizer. Abraham intends to resign from the board immediately prior to the IPO.

Allogene's CFO is Eric Schmidt, a former managing director and senior research analyst at Cowen.

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