Donate to Science & Enterprise

S&E on Mastodon

S&E on LinkedIn

S&E on Flipboard

Please share Science & Enterprise

Covid-19 Drug Biotech Raises $300M in IPO

Wall Street sign

(A. Kotok)

30 Oct. 2020. A company developing a treatment for Covid-19 infections taken as a tablet instead of infusion issued its initial public offering, or IPO, for common stock. Atea Pharmaceuticals Inc. in Boston is offering 12.5 million shares at $24.00, raising $300 million, and trading on the Nasdaq exchange under the symbol AVIR.

Atea Pharmaceuticals develops antiviral prodrugs, precursor compounds that metabolize in the body to become active drug ingredients. The company says it has a library of some 1,000 prodrug candidates made of nucleic acid components that act against specific RNA polymerases, enzymes that help transcribe DNA to RNA and promote replication of the virus in the body. Atea says it refines these candidates into working therapies by enhancing their antiviral potency, selectivity, and tolerability as oral drugs.

The company’s lead product, code-named AT-527, is an oral antiviral drug to treat patients with Covid-19 infections, while most other therapies are given by clinicians as infusions. Atea first designed AT-527 as a treatment for hepatitis-C infections, where the company says early and mid-stage clinical trials demonstrate its safety. When its potential to treat coronavirus infections was discovered, Atea began testing AT-527 as a Covid-19 therapy. The company says its hepatitis-C studies show AT-527 is safe for patients for up to 12 weeks with a daily dose of 550 milligrams. The results also show the drug is absorbed quickly by patients and has a long shelf life.

AT-527 is now being tested in a mid-stage clinical trial with hospitalized patients having moderate Covid-19 infections. The 190 trial participants are older, age 45 to 80, and have additional risk factors such as obesity, hypertension, or diabetes. Participants are randomly assigned to receive one or two tablets of AT-527, each 550 milligrams, or a placebo, on the first day, followed by one tablet a day for another four days.

The study team is looking primarily for changes in participants’ respiratory capacity and blood oxygen levels, as well as signs of adverse effects from the drug. Researchers are also tracking time needed for patients to recover, or if they encounter respiratory failure or death.

As reported by Science & Enterprise last week, drug maker Roche and Atea Pharmaceuticals are collaborating on clinical trials and manufacturing of AT-527. Atea will be responsible for distribution of AT-527 in the U.S., although it has the option to call on Roche’s Genentech subsidiary if needed. Roche is responsible for distribution outside the U.S. Atea is earning $350 million from Roche at the outset, with more payments later as unspecified milestones are achieved.

Atea’s share price opened today at $24.00, the IPO price, and rose by the closing bell to $30.32, an increase of 26 percent. In contrast, the overall Nasdaq composite index fell 274 points, or 2.5 percent for the day.

More from Science & Enterprise:

*     *     *

Comments are closed.