A Cancer Genetics IPO From Accelerated Pharma
When we talk about cancer genetics, there are a lot of directions we can take so we need to define this broad topic. Firstly, it’s important to understand that cancer itself is a genetic disorder. What happens with cancer is that certain genetic mutations cause cells to start replicating uncontrollably resulting in tumors. How do these genetic mutations happen? Well, they are either inherited or acquired. How can we address prevention and treatment using genetics? There is a multitude of ways. One way would be to use gene editing to remove the “inherited” genetic defects that cause cancer. That’s the ultimate form of prevention. Make that isht extinct. But what about genetic mutations that you acquire from doing things like smoking or boozing too much? There’s always healthy living, but we hardly want to tiptoe through our lives just to arrive safely at death’s door. In order to visualize the ultimate end state of cancer genetics, we need to take a page out of science fiction.
We came across an interesting story recently about some Westerners who were attending a science fiction (sci-fi) fair in China. Sci-fi hasn’t been very popular in China in the past, so these inquisitive Western observers asked the Chinese why sci-fi now? The Chinese replied that they were promoting science fiction because they thought it would help spur innovation in disruptive technologies. You see, the Chinese had spent some time observing successful Western entrepreneurs, and most of these male “nerds” just loved sci-fi. It’s true man. The Chinese thought that if they promoted science fiction, they would then be able to innovate more. The idea is that we can often imagine an end state for cancer genetics by taking a page from sci-fi.
In this case, let’s imagine that you’ll wake up one day in the future and go to your futuristic bathroom in the morning. As you do a #1 in your smart toilet, your urine stream will be analyzed using some very advanced technology chipsets from Illumina (NASDAQ:ILMN) that are automatically integrated into your toilet bowl. Your toilet realizes you have acquired a genetic mutation in your bloodstream because you’ve been going out too hard every weekend for the past 40 years and all those vices have finally caught up to you. Your toilet also knows that you had a hard night of drinking last night and the last thing you want to do is hear that you have cancer now. Instead, your toilet just sends a note to your intelligent fridge. Your intelligent fridge not only keeps your food cold but it also has a small medicine factory that can produce any sort of medication you would ever need. The little factory spits out your morning “health cocktail” and on your way out the door to your robot maintenance job, you swig that cocktail down and voila! You’re now cancer-free.
The problem is that we’re a long way from that futuristic scenario. However, we are making good progress down the path of cancer detection with “liquid biopsies” or blood tests that detect cancer using cancer genetics. We’ve talked about at least 8 companies that are playing in this space. In addition to detection, genetics is also being used to improve the effectiveness of cancer treatments. One good example of this is coming to us in the form of a company called Accelerated Pharma which just filed for an IPO.
Founded in 2014, Illinois based startup Accelerated Pharma has taken in just $2.8 million in debt funding so far to develop a business model that uses genetics to determine which patients are most likely to positively respond to certain chemotherapy treatments. It’s really that simple. Not all patients respond to chemotherapy treatments the same way, and genetic profiling can be used to determine which cancer treatments you’ll respond to best. Here’s a quick summary of the Accelerated Pharma value proposition taken from their website.
There is a type of chemotherapy called “platinum-based chemotherapy” and these types of platinum-based drugs are prescribed for 50% of newly diagnosed cancers. These types of platinum drugs have two shortcomings though. They cause severe side effects and they don’t work for everybody. Can you imagine taking a drug with horrible side effects only to discover that it’s not actually working? What we need is a way to test if the patient will respond to platinum-based drugs before administering them. That’s where Accelerated Pharma steps in.
The Company obtained rights for a platinum-based chemotherapy drug called Picoplatin that they want to become the dominant drug of this type. They expect to be able to predict the effectiveness of their Picoplatin drug using genetics with an accuracy of 95%. At least then, patients will know that all those horrible side effects aren’t being suffered in vain. So far the Company has only spent around $8 million and they expect their IPO funding to last them two years as they progress along the timelines seen below:
With your entire company hedging on a single drug (for now), you would hope that the senior management team has a great deal of confidence in this sort of thing. In this case, we see that the CEO and President, Michael Fonstein, has plenty of experience taking biotech ventures from concept to publicly traded companies. He also owns the majority share of the company’s stock so this should assure investors that he shares their best interests.
In the past we covered a company called Diatech Oncology (now Pierian Biosciences) which was using assays to determine which chemotherapy treatments were going to be most effective against your particular tumor. This sort of personalized cancer treatment using cancer genetics is the way forward. Soon, you’ll see that your genetic “fingerprint” will be a requirement before any effective cancer treatment can take place. Companies like Accelerated Pharma are seeing this future and looking to make some money from it. If you think that you want a piece of Accelerated Pharma, they plan to list their stock on NASDAQ under the symbol “ACCP.” And if you want to see where the future is heading, maybe you should start reading some more sci-fi.
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