What: Excitement surrounding biotech companies that are developing next generation cancer cures lead to shares in the newly IPO'd ProNAi Therapeutics (NASDAQ: DNAI) leaping 80% above its initial offering price today.
So what: ProNAi Therapeutics is a clinical stage company that is developing cancer therapies that target oncogenes involved in cancer cell survival and cancer cell reproduction.
Its most advanced drug is PNT2258, a therapy for non-Hodgkins lymphoma that targets BCL2, an oncogene that is over-expressed in many forms of cancer. ProNAi Therapeutics estimates that BCL2 is over-expressed in more than 60% of all new cases across the top 10 most common cancers diagnosed in the United States.
In a recently completed (and small) phase 2 trial, 11 of 13 patients experienced a complete response, partial response, or stable disease.
Now what: ProNAi Therapeutics' approach is intriguing, but investors should remember that the company is in the very early stages of research and that many things could go wrong and derail its efforts. Historically, more than 90% of drugs that enter human trials never make it to market.
Additionally, investors should also consider that ProNAi Therapeutics expenses are expected to surge as it launches new trials. According to the company's S-1 filing, ProNAi Therapeutics just kicked-off a 60 patient phase 2 trial as a third line therapy for the treatment of DLBCL, the most common form of non-Hodgkin lymphoma. Another 50-patient trial for a rare form of lymphoma known as Richter's is also slated to begin this year. In 2016, three more trials will be initiated too.
Although the company's IPO will provide funding for these research efforts, trials are incredibly expensive. Absent any approved products, I expect that ProNAi Therapeutics is likely to return to equity investors to raise additional money down the road. ProNAi Therapeutics estimates that cash on hand tied to its IPO will keep the lights on for about 18 months.