- Adagio Therapeutics has filed for an initial public offering to support development of an antibody drug meant to treat or prevent infections from SARS-CoV-2 and, potentially, other coronaviruses as well.
- The IPO is the latest step in a fast rise for the Waltham, Massachusetts-based startup, which formed last year with rights to a portfolio of coronavirus-fighting drugs from antibody developer Adimab. Adagio has already raised $465 million and brought its lead program, called ADG20, into two late-stage trials.
- With the planned offering, Adagio is capitalizing on investor interest in COVID-19 treatments and vaccines. Antibody drug developer AbCellera and antiviral maker Atea Pharmaceuticals raised close to $300 million combined in initial stock offerings last year, while vaccine makers Moderna and BioNTech have outperformed all other biotechs that have gone public since 2018, according to BioPharma Dive's IPO database.
Adagio is well behind other antibody drug developers for COVID-19. But the company claims a few advantages it hopes will help it play a role in this pandemic and any future ones, too.
ADG20 binds to a different target than rival drugs from Regeneron, Vir and Eli Lilly, a difference Adagio says could better neutralize a variety of coronaviruses as well as variants. The drug is given through a single intramuscular injection, rather than via multiple shots or infusions at a healthcare facility. Early testing also showed the drug may last longer than its competitors.
Those factors would give Adagio an edge if ADG20 is proven safe and effective in the two ongoing trials. Lilly's two COVID-19 antibody drugs have proven less effective against certain circulating variants, causing one to be pulled from the market and the U.S. to stop distribution of another. Regeneron and Vir's treatments haven't had those problems, but both face logistical challenges that have slowed the overall uptake of COVID-19 antibody treatments.
The drugs could become more relevant in the U.S. as infections are once again rising due to the spread of the Delta variant, which has become the dominant strain in the U.S. and elsewhere.
While vaccines from Moderna, BioNTech and others have proven safe and strongly effective at preventing COVID-19 in real-world use, substantial portions of the eligible U.S. population still have not received a shot for reasons ranging from distrust to access.
Adagio estimated high levels of hesitancy may result in as many as 100 million people in the U.S. remaining susceptible to COVID-19. A significant portion of those already partially or fully vaccinated may forego their second shot or a booster, the company argues, leaving long-term protection uncertain. Globally, the problem could be more acute, as most countries have little or insufficient supply of the currently available vaccines.
Though antiviral pills from Merck & Co. and others could become an alternative option, Adagio claims in its IPO filing that a single shot might be preferable to a course of pills taken over multiple days.
Manufacturing could be a hurdle for Adagio, though. Proceeds from the IPO are meant to help boost capacity. But the company doesn't have the backing of the U.S. government or a large pharmaceutical partner to help produce its drugs at scale. The company said previously it could make 200,000 doses this year and aims to make 3.5 million more in 2022. The company is working with WuXi Biologics but is pursuing a second contract manufacturer to "meet anticipated demand."
Adagio is developing a second antibody that works differently than ADG20 and could eventually become part of a combination regimen. Human testing is expected to begin early next year.
The biotech is 31% owned by Adimab, a privately held company that licenses its antibody technology to dozens of biotech and pharma companies.