20 Things You Didn’t Know About Akero Therapeutics Inc.
Akero Therapeutics is a biotech company with the goal of creating innovative new medicines to help patients who currently have no treatment options for certain metabolic diseases. The company has recently gone public, and this has stimulated great interest in its function, its progress, and potential profitability in the near future. Patients and healthcare providers who deal with metabolic diseases with an unmet medical need are also stakeholders with an interest in the progress of this new biotech startup. Regardless of the reason for your interest in the company, here are 20 things you didn’t know about Akero Therapeutics that may be helpful information.
1. Akero Therapeutics, Inc may save lives
The overarching goal of Akero Therapeutics is to conduct meaningful research into the identification and discovery of new treatments to address potentially life-threatening metabolic diseases for which there is currently limited or no medical options. This is a goal that has gained a great deal of attention from those who have an interest in the outcomes of their efforts. There are two major goals embraced by Akero as of this time. The first is in developing medicines to ease human suffering, and the second is to create products that will be FDA approved, commercialized and profitable for the company.
2. The company is relatively new
Akero was founded in January of 2017 and is headquartered in San Francisco, California with facilities in Cambridge, Massachusetts. It’s been in operation for just under 3 years, but the progress that the dedicated professionals have made so far has been nothing short of impressive. It’s rare for a biotechnology firm to already have candidate drugs in the second phase of testing with FDA approval. Akero is one of them and they’re on a fast-paced trajectory for reaching goals.
3. Akero is testing AKR-001
The leading candidate drug that Akero is currently testing is AKR-001. Akero has engineered ARK-001 to imitate the benefits of a hormone named FGF21, to help in the regulation of the metabolic functions of lipids, proteins, and hormones. The purpose of the drug is to impact the underlying metabolic drivers of NASH and to reverse the effects of the condition which affects the liver causing inflammation, fibrosis, and damage to liver cells. NASH can lead to cirrhosis, cancer, liver failure and death, and before the development of AKR-001, there was no medical option for treatment. There is hope that this new drug can reverse the condition.
4. Akero has entered the Phase 2a stage of clinical trials
The lead candidate AKR-001 received approval from the FDA to test the new treatment on patients who have been diagnosed with NASH. Screening of participants commenced at the end of May 2019, with approximately 80 persons involved in the study. This is significant information for all stakeholders with an interest in the company. The trials are necessary to test human tolerance to the drug for dosing information and to assess its effectiveness and identify any potential side-effects and measure its safety. It’s one step closer to final FDA approval for commercialization as well as a step nearer offering a treatment for NASH where there previously was none for those diagnosed with the condition.
5. Akero Therapeutics has partnered with Insphero
Akero is collaborating with Insphero to use their 3D insight human liver disease platform. This is a special technology that has the capacity to characterize thy physiological effects of the treatment to determine the effect it has upon different types of liver cells. The announcement of the collaboration was made on October 3, 2019. This is a powerful technology for screening the effects of the treatment. Their hope is to confirm the belief that AKR-001 can restore whole-body metabolic balance while at the same time reducing liver inflammation and fibrotic scarring of the organ. This technology allows for a more rapid investigation of the effects of the drug and it will yield the data necessary to include as proof of findings to the FDA upon submission for approval.
6. Akero Therapeutics is led by competent and knowledgeable professionals
The co-founder of Akero Therapeutics is Jonathan Young, Phd, JD. He also serves as the Chief Operating Officer of the company. He is joined in executive leadership by qualified experts who have the capacity and passion to carry the company forward into achieving established goals. Andrew Cheng was recently named as Chief Executive Officer of Akero. He brings nearly 20 years of experience with him, after a long career as the chief medical officer at Gilead. He joins the team at Akero for the opportunity to be in on the ground floor of the exciting new breakthroughs in the newly emerging NASH field.
7. Jonathon Young moved over to make room for Cheng
It’s impressive to learn that the founder and former CEO of the company was looking for the best people to fill important leadership positions. He previously served as CEO of Akero until a suitable professional was found for the position. Young is still an integral part of the leadership equation. He changed his title to the Chief Operating Officer, which is an area of strength for his skill set.
8. Akero Therapeutics offers new execs an exciting future
We learned that seasoned pros from other companies have left stable jobs to pursue new interests in an exciting new company because of the tremendous potential for achievement in an area of unmet need. There was a mass exodus at Gilead when executives started leaving the company to pursue new challenges recently. Top researchers, as well as executives, have joined the team at Akero because this is their chance to get in on the ground floor of something that will escalate from a small biotech startup to something very big and lucrative.
9. The CSO is a Pfizer vet
Tim Rolph is the CSO at Akero. He’s yet another seasoned veteran in the biotech industry. He has spent 8 years working with the FGF21 hormone and he’s seen interest in the research grow exponentially. This hormone is key in restoring cells under stress and this is one of the things about the research on this hormone that has captivated his interest. Now he’s on the teak of Akero where the research and development are on fire, and progressing at a rapid pace.
10. Akero Therapeutics started with a gang of investors
Before the company ever went public, there was enough interest on the part of venture capital firms to fund the launch of the new startup. They began operations with $65 million in startup funds. Jonathon Young was a partner at Apple Tree Partners and this is the company that initially seeded the project that would become Akero Therapeutics, Inc. They were joined by a host of other investors anxious to get in on the deal. This includes Atlas Venture, venBio Partners, along with Versant Ventures. They took the lead in a round of investing.
11. Akero Therapeutics went public
Akero Therapeutics Inc made the announcement of pricing on its initial public offering at $16.00 per share. Previous estimates had placed the pricing between $14 and $16 and it opened with the higher estimate. Trading commenced with the first day of the initial public offering on June 20, 2019. Akero offered 5,750,000 shares of its common stock. The company is registered as a publicly-traded company on the Nasdaq Global Select Market under the ticker symbol AKRO. The company had hoped to raise $92 million. The closing date for the IPO was set for June 24, 2019. Underwriters were given a 30-day option to purchase an additional number of shares up to 862,500 at the IPO price. The book-running management of the IPO for Akero Therapeutics was led by JP Morgan Securities LLC, along with Jefferies LLC, and Evercore Group LLC. Roth Capital Partners acted as lead manager for the offering.
12. Akero’s Finances
Akero Therapeutic is not yet a profitable company. It’s only been in operation since 2017 and the business launched with seed money from investors. The first year of startup the company lost $4.5 million. For the following year, in 2018, the loss was considerably more, amounting to $81.71 million. A reckoning of the financial picture for the first three months of 2019 show a loss of $5.36 million.
13. The increase in loss is an indicator of progress
Akero Therapeutic has not yet completed the process for gaining FDA approval of their lead candidate AKR-001. Although the time is nearing it has not yet been accomplished, therefore, the company is not generating any revenues because it has not product to sell. The nearly three years of research and development is actually a fairly short timeline.
14. It’s expensive to conduct clinical trials
They’re to the stage of clinical trials after receiving FDA approval for trials on patients. The partnership with Insphero 3D will hasten the compilation of necessary data to present the candidate to the FDA for approval after the clinical trial phases have concluded. It takes money to make money and Akero Therapeutic is pulling out all the stops in securing approval for their first commercial treatment which they believe will be highly marketable.
The opening price for Akero Therapeutic stock was slightly above the anticipated price. The opening price on the first day of trading was $16.16. The average trading price has settled around $16.71 per share with fluctuations up and down.
16. Akero could bring about changes in world health
NASH is a potentially deadly disease which causes severe damage to the liver. it can lead to a variety of illnesses and even death. At this time, there is no FDA approved treatment for this metabolic disease. Akera Therapeutic’s leading candidate treatment has shown promise for reversing the damages to the liver as well as protecting liver tissue from stress. This is the hope that many are awaiting, because there is not currently anything that medical science can do for them. Treatment for untreatable diseases could mean a change in the health of the people of this world for the better.
17. Akero Therapeutics has taken a bold step
Proof that this company is fully vested in the development of a marketable product lies in the fact that they’ve taken a bold step forward in going public. The fact that several well-paid executives and experts in the field of biotechnology left solid jobs with vetted companies to join Akero is a confidence builder.
18. Big money is betting on their success
When considering whether to invest in a new company there are several factors which are weighed. These include the research itself and the feasibility of the claims made, backed by facts and data. They’re not concerned as much with profitability as they are with the potential for a strong return on investment.
19. Akero Therapeutics could use more candidates in the pipeline
Our only real concern about Akera Therapeutics is that their focus is upon AKR-001. Although approval of this candidate could become a gold mine for the company as well as for investors, it might inspire greater confidence if there were more projects in the pipeline for further research.
20. Akero Therapeutics is a company to watch
Our conclusion is that Akero Therapeutics represents a risk as any investment. It’s a company that is well worth watching. There is every indication that their lead candidate treatment will be a success, however, the future of the company, as with any new biotech business, is still unknown. There is a tremendous potential for it to become profitable within a few years, pending approval of the FDA for their candidate product. Only time will tell and any investment is a risk.