These Are the Five Best-Performing Biotech IPOs from H2 2022

It has been a challenging year for biotech companies that have gone public within the last two years. However, a quick glance at the Nasdaq Biotechnology Index suggests things are much calmer than they actually are.

It's roughly flat over the last 12 months and down only 2% year to date. However, investors should keep in mind that this index is calculated using a modified capitalization-weighted methodology. A closer look at the stock-price performances of the biotech firms that have gone public in 2022 and 2023 reveals just how challenging it is to present novel treatment ideas to investors.

Biopharma Drive compiled a chart to track the performances of biotech companies that have gone public since 2018. You can track their performances in real time here.

Now as the second half of 2023 approaches the midway point, here are the top five performers among the biotech firms that went public during the second half of 2022, meaning they've been public for about a year or nearly a year. 

The performance percentages are taken from Google Finance as of shortly after midday on Sept. 11. They are based on each company’s performance since their initial public offering. Investors shouldn’t be taken aback by all the negative post-IPO performances because there are many excellent things about these stocks over the long term. In fact, many of those positives are reflected in the more recent stock-price moves, as outlined below. 

1. Coya Therapeutics (+4%)

Coya Therapeutics (COYA) is by far the most stable of the eight biotech firms that went public during the second half of 2022 — even though its initial public offering was the most recent, in December. In fact, Coya shares are up 32% over the last five days through midday on Monday.

Coya is developing treatments for neurodegenerative diseases by targeting regulatory T cells, or Tregs. These cells are a type of lymphocyte, which is a type of white blood cell that modulates the immune response in the body. Tregs are anti-inflammatory immune cells that play a critical role in establishing equilibrium within the body and regulating its functions.

Coya Therapeutics' two leading drug candidates include COYA 302 for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, better known as ALS or Lou Gehrig's disease, and COYA 301 for Alzheimer's disease. So far, both have shown promising results in preclinical trials. 

2. Prime Medicine (-19%)

Prime Medicine (PRME) popped by as much as 12% on Monday, showcasing how quickly and dramatically things can change for the better within the biotech sector. The company went public in October.

Prime is developing a gene-editing platform to treat debilitating diseases by addressing their genetic causes while potentially providing long-lasting cures for patients. The Prime Editing platform searches the genome for the faulty DNA and replaces it with the correct copy of that DNA.

The company is currently running 18 different programs, with its treatment for the blood disorder chronic granulomatous disease being the furthest along. Prime Medicine categorizes its treatments into "immediate," which includes "diseases with a fast, direct path to treating patients," and "differentiation," which "includes diseases with high unmet need not currently addressable using other gene-editing approaches."

3. Acrivon Therapeutics (-32%)

Acrivon Therapeutics (ACRV) (performance from TipRanks because Google Finance does not list Acrivon) is roughly flat shortly after midday on Monday but off by 4% over the last five trading days and down 45% over the last six months. The company went public in November.

Despite the weakness seen in its shares since the IPO, Acrivon has some interesting science. The company is developing a proprietary patient selection method for drug development in precision oncology. The company's AP3 platform matches drug mechanisms to patients by focusing on the biologic drivers of cancer and discovering drug sensitivities that can't be achieved through genomics.

Acrivon's treatments for platinum-resistant ovarian cancer and endometrial cancer have been granted fast-track designation by the Food and Drug Administration. The company also has a treatment for bladder cancer in its pipeline.

4. Third Harmonic Bio (-65%)

Third Harmonic Bio (THRD) tumbled by as much as 5% during regular trading hours on Monday, although it is up more than 50% over the last six months — despite being off 65% since its September IPO.

The company focuses on dermal, respiratory and gastrointestinal inflammatory diseases. Third Harmonic's lead product candidate, THB335, is expected to enter clinical trials in the first half of 2024.

THB335 is aimed at treating multiple mast cell-mediated inflammatory diseases of the gastrointestinal tract, airway and skin. Third Harmonic will be testing THB335 in chronic urticaria, a skin disease that affects up to 1% of the population and is a severe, yet undertreated inflammatory condition.

5. MAIA Biotechnology (-69%)

MAIA Biotechnology (MAIA) is down 13% over the last month. The company went public in July 2022. Despite the company’s steep decline since its IPO and over the last 30 days, there are some excellent things to like about it and its science over the long term. 

MAIA is working on telomere-targeting immunotherapies for cancer. Telomeres are structures made of DNA sequences and proteins at the ends of chromosomes. In fact, telomeres actually protect the ends of those chromosomes, and they are a necessary part of cell division.

MAIA's pipeline consists of several targeted immuno-oncology therapies for hard-to-treat cancers. The company believes its THIO is a first-in-class small molecule that's the only direct telomere targeting agent in clinical development currently.

According to the company, telomerase is found in more than 85% of human cancers and significantly contributes to the spread and immortality of cancer cells. THIO is currently in a Phase 2 clinical trial in non-small cell lung cancer. MAIA has also begun an early-state research and discovery program to identify new compounds that can act through similar mechanisms of action as THIO.

Other top performers that went public in 2022 or 2023

Although all but one of the biotech companies that went public in the second half of 2022 are in the red since their IPOs, several that went public during the first half have posted tremendous gains. Other top performers include Nuvectis Pharma (NVCT), which has more than tripled since its February 2022 IPO, and Belite Bio (BLTE), up nearly 200% since its IPO in April 2022. Additionally, Arcellx (ACLX) is up more than 100% since its February 2022 IPO.

Turning to 2023, we have several names that are in the green since their IPOs. The big standout performer is Genelux (GNLX), up 266% since its January IPO. Other honorable mentions include ACELYRIN (SLRN), which has gained 18% since its IPO in May, and Apogee Therapeutics (APGE), which has jumped 10% since its July IPO.

Investing in biotech IPOs

It's important for investors to realize that biotech stocks can sometimes be among the most volatile names on the stock market. This is why it's not uncommon to see individual biotech stocks soaring by triple digits or plummeting by high double digits.

Of course, with great risk comes the possibility of great reward, but investors are always advised to do their due diligence before making any investment.

Ari Zoldan is CEO of Quantum Media Group, LLC. Coya Therapeutics is a client of Quantum Media Group.

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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Ari Zoldan

Ari Zoldan is the CEO of Quantum Media Group and Adjunct Professor at Yeshiva University. As an on air TV personality, Zoldan can be seen regularly on FOX News, CNN and CNBC covering business and technology. He holds press credentials on Capitol Hill and the United Nations and is a member of The National Press Club in Washington, DC. Ari is one of the few selected individuals to hold the position as an "IBM Watson Futurist."

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