- Billionaire Patrick Soon-Shiong had a pretty excellent Monday, driven by the smash-hit (and for biotech, record-setting) IPO for his cancer immunotherapy company NantKwest (formerly Conkwest). The stock started from an offering price of $25 and went as high as $37.29 in early trading—up 49%. It's risen even more on Day 2 of trading.
- NantKwest specializes in a unique type of chimeric antigen therapy (CAR-T) but is currently a long way from having any approved products.
- Soon-Shiong is a highly successful biopharma billionaire-entrepreneur. He is a trained surgeon and part owner of the Los Angeles Lakers.
The money from the IPO will be used to fund R&D, much of it based on using NantKwest's CAR-T platform, which uses NK cells that have been re-engineered with CD16 receptors. The receptors bind to antibodies and can enhance antibody-based drug activity. Currently, NantKwest is in early-stage testing of its immuno-oncology therapies and has not targeted a "launch" date.
However, NantKwest has targeted another IPO later this year, at which time, Soon-Shiong plans to take NantHealth, which will focus on helping doctors create targeted treatment plans for patients based on medical and genetic information, public.
Industry observers will note that massive, blockbuster IPOs are becoming the latest hot trend in biopharma. Just last year, Juno had its own record-setting IPO, and last month, Axovant's massive public offering fueled conversations about a biotech bubble (the company has just one clinical asset, and it's nowhere close to market). The success of Soon-Shiong's NantKwest will only add to that conversation.