Nanopharmaceutical research company Liquidia Technologies submitted an IPO related document on Thursday, which will be listed on the NASDAQ under the ticker symbol “LQDA”.
Founded in 2008, Liquidia is licensed by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill to gain better-performing drugs with independent intellectual property through technological improvements in small molecule drugs. Since most of these pre-improved compounds have already completed the safety and efficacy evaluations required for FDA filings, they are undoubtedly a quicker way to develop patented drugs.
Liquidia’s core technology is its unique Particle Replication In Non-wetting Templates, also referred to as “PRINT”. The ability to control many key parameters of drug nanoparticles, such as volume and shape, to improve the uniformity of drug nanoparticles, the company claims that its products are well-suited to FDA production standards. The company’s key to revealing this technology is the introduction of standardized mold processing in the pharmaceutical production line to achieve the stability of nanoparticle production.
The first drug developed by the company was LIQ861, which was modified on the basis of treprostinil, for the treatment of pulmonary hypertension (PAH). Treprostinil is a non-patented drug, and existing dosage forms include inhalation preparations, injections, and pills.
Liquidia has made technical improvements based on the original inhaled formulation and developed a more permeable dry powder formulation in the lungs, claiming that this improvement will expand the therapeutic coverage of inhaled formulations while delaying PAH patients from inhalation. The treatment was changed to the time of injection treatment. It is reported that the phase III clinical trial of this product has started in March this year, and the safety data of the trial is expected to be announced in the first half of 2019.
Liquidia once felt the threat of United Therapeutics, a leader in PAH drug discovery, as Tyvaso’s 2017 inhaled solution accounted for more than 40% of United Therapeutics’ total revenue. To this end, United Therapeutics spent $140 million to acquire SteadyMed to obtain the company’s transdermal prostaglandin transdermal formulation. The acquisition is likely to be approved by the FDA in the fourth quarter of this year.
Of course, Liquidia’s R&D pipeline is not the only PAH treatment, and the company’s second drug candidate is LIQ865 (bupivacaine injection) for postoperative pain. Liquidia uses its proprietary technology to achieve control of the release of active substances in the drug, extending the action of the drug to 5 days. Phase II clinical trials of this preparation will begin in the second half of this year.
In the corporate cooperation project, Liquidia also achieved very good results. In 2013, the company participated in the formation of a subsidiary, Envisia Therapeutics, using PRINT for the development of ophthalmic drugs. The company was controlled by Aerie Pharmaceuticals in 2017.
Liquidia has also been involved in the research and development of oral medicine. In 2014, it established a subsidiary Lq3, but due to many factors, the company went bankrupt after two years of operation.
To date, Liquidia has raised nearly $117 million through equity financing. It is reported that the company is one of the first companies to invest in the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. It has received nearly 10 million US dollars in funding from the foundation. The Gates Foundation currently owns 7.5% of Liquidia. The company’s largest shareholder is New Enterprise Associates, which currently holds 18.7% of the company’s shares. Other shareholders of the company include Canaan Partners, Xeraya Capital and Morningside Venture Investments.
According to the media, the main reason for the company’s IPO fundraising may be related to the decline in revenue of cooperative projects in recent times. After investing in the Gates Fund, the two sides also launched a partnership project for vaccine development research in developing countries. The last part of the investment was in place last December. The company said that the current work has not involved the projects in the agreement, and it is expected that this cooperation agreement will not continue to bring profits to Liquidia.
In the past two years, most of Liquidia’s profits have come from cooperative R&D income with GlaxoSmithKline’s inhaled drug and vaccine programs. However, GlaxoSmithKline refused to continue to sign cooperation agreements in 2016, despite the cooperation of inhalation preparations. R&D projects are still going on, but revenues have shrunk dramatically, and this has caused the departure of some of Liquidia’s staff.
Liquidia’s IPO document states that the company’s revenue in 2017 was $7.5 million, a 43% decrease from 2016. The company had a net loss of $2.91 million in 2017. As of March this year, Liquidia still had a liability of $17.5 million.