Aprea Therapeutics is a biotechnology company specializing in the discovery and development of compounds that are anti-cancer in nature. They maintain a focus on the development of these which can reactivate the protein p53, which is a tumor suppressor. The company has recently gone public and it has been the topic of interest for a variety of reasons. Those interested in research in cancer, as well as investors who are considering adding to their portfolios, might be intrigued by learning more about the company. To satisfy curiosity, here are 20 things about Aprea Therapeutics that you probably didn't know.
1. Aprea is a gene research company
The research that Aprea Therapeutics conducts involves the TP53 gene. There is a protein known as p53 which becomes a mutated gene in cancer cells. This protein is believed to be key in suppressing tumor growth. What this means is that reactivating the gene has the potential for preventing cancer in patients who test positive for the p53 mutant gene. It is vital to understand the functions of these genes to develop effective treatments in the fight against a wide range of cancers.
2. They've found a molecular reactivator
Aprea has identified a product known as APR-246, which they believe has the potential to reactivate the p53 gene, to overcome the cancer-causing mutation, allowing it to suppress tumor development and growth. This product is a small molecule and it has just reached the clinical stage for testing and placement on the fast track designation for FDA approval for use in the treatment of ovarian and other cancer types.
3. Aprea Therapeutics recently went public
Aprea Therapeutics' Initial Public Offering date was October 2, 2019. The company commenced trading of its common shares on this date with a selling price range between $14 to $16 per share. They offered 5.7 million common shares for sale in an $85 million IPO to raise funds for expansion of the company. Aprea Therapeutics is listed on the Nasdaq Stock Exchange under the ticker symbol APRE.
4. The company is small
Aprea Therapeutics was founded in 2003 by founders Galina Selivanova, and Klas Wiman. It is headquartered in Boston, Massachusettes with other locations in Stockholm, Sweden. There are a total of 24 employees working at Aprea. It's a small company with big aims that have far-reaching implications for those who are diagnosed with a range of cancer types.
5. Aprea is backed by multiple funders
In Sweden, Aprea is financially backed by investors KDev Investments AB, owned by Karolinska Development AB, as the main shareholder, along with Rosetta Capital Ltd., Ostersjostiftelsen, Praktikerinvest, and KI Co0Investment Fund KB. The company has only been publicly trading for about a week as of this writing.
6. The research results are showing great promise for cancer remission
Aprea's drug candidate has been tested for use in the treatment of acute myeloid Leukemia, or AML, and mutated myelodysplastic syndrome, or MDS in a study with 20 patients. In this clinical study of the drug, combined with standard chemotherapy treatment, there was a response rate of 95%, and additionally, 70% of the patients receiving the candidate achieved complete remission. Clinical testing and evaluation are still ongoing and there has not yet been a safety rating or tolerability for the drug established, but more information is expected in these areas sometime in 2019.
7. Aprea has plans for the third phase of studies
Further clinical studies are planned for patients with TP53 mutated MDS. The second phase of the trial will consist of evaluating APR-246 throughout 2019 with a submission to the FDA for approval in 2019. Approval would allow Aprea to start the clinical development of a next-generation p53 reactivator and the goal is to develop a drug that may be taken orally. The results of Phase III are expected to be available in 2020. Aprea is getting closer to developing targeted treatment for cancers caused by the mutated p53 gene.
8. There is a massive market for the candidate drug
The implications for the use of APR-246 are tremendous, upon its FDA approval. there are many different cancer types that feature p53 mutations. Fifty percent of all diagnosed cancers fall into this category. The current prognosis is poor for individuals who are found to host this genetic mutation, however, there is hope that APR-246 will be useful in preventing the development of such cancers. The demand for a drug of this nature is currently extremely high, so as research and development move forward it is with the knowledge that this could become one of the most widely used treatments for cancer of all time.
9. Aprea has made significant progress in finalizing approval of APR-246
Funding was the first consideration to be made in the research and development phase for the p53 reactivator. Investments were procured from Rock Springs Capital and Redmile Group in December 2018. Both are new investors who joined the pool of previous funding sources to allow the work to continue. The first patient was included in teh Phase III study in January of 2019. Promising preclinical results for the drug were presented to the American Association for Cancer Research at their Annual Meetin in April of 2019. The FDA granted APR-246 a fast track designation as well as an orphan drug designation to begin treatment of patients with TP53 mutated MDS in April of 2019. Aprea Therapeutics has established and met significant milestones in the initial phases of the study.
10. New investors joined Aprea's efforts
After Redmile Group and Rock Springs Capital led a round of fundraising, they were joined by several other financial supporters. These included 5AM Ventures, HealthCap, Versant Ventures, Sectoral Asset Management, and Karolinska Development AB. One of the most recent investors is Janus which broadens the United States investor base. The proceeds from the funding are designated for advancing the clinical development of the candidate drug APR-246 with the goal of its categorization as a first in class anticancer agent for the reactivation of the mutated p53 protein. Clinical trials are currently underway and going according to plan.
11. Aprea Therapeutics is maintaining high transparency
We reviewed the available information on the research that is being conducted by Aprea Therapeutics. We were impressed by the level of transparency the company provides for shareholders and all stakeholders. Their strategic plan is kept simple for a biotech company. We like the manner in which the company explains the complex processes involving the research and development of a new anticancer treatment. It's complicated, but Aprea does a nice job of rephrasing the process and relating it in lay terms so practically anyone can understand their goals, what they've done so far, where they're at in the process and how they plan to use funding obtained.
12. Aprea as an investment resource
Investors who are interested in diversification with a life science company may wish to consider investing in Aprea Therapeutics shares. Any investment in this company is best when shareholders are looking for a long holding time frame. The company has just recently gone public and shares are at a reasonable price currently. Aprea sought to raise $75 million at IPO but went above the figure raising $10 million showing the desirability of the stock. It's at least a company to keep on the radar.
13. Aprea is an international collaboration
With headquarters in Sweden and in the United States, Aprea is an international company based in two prominent countries within the biomedical and pharma technology industry. It's a joint effort between the two countries to serve as the home for what could become one of the most significant providers for cancer treatment. Highly skilled professionals from both countries are working to find effective treatment.
14. The current CEO and Director is Christian S. Schade
For potential investors, the management is led by Christian S. Schade. He joined the company in 2016. Schade brings his previous experience in leadership and management of biopharmaceutical operations. Prior to joining Aprea Therapeutics, he was the Chief Operating Officer of Novira Therapeutics, which is also a publicly-traded company under the ticker symbol JNJ. Aprea has a strong management team, although it's not a large operation.
15. Schade brings expertise in corporate finance
In addition to over 30 years of experience in both private and public biotechnology and pharmaceutical industry corporations, Mr. Schade has extensive experience within the corporate world of business. He served as Executive Vice President adn Chief Finacial Officer at Omthera. He also has experience in the investment banking industry. He also served as Executive VP and CFO at NRG Energy, as the CFO at Medarex, and he led the negotiations for the sale and merger of Medarex by Bristol-Myers Squibb. Mr. Schade was also a managing director at Merrill Lynch at their London offices, as well as for JPMorgan. He is a well-rounded leader with experience in multiple aspects of the industry.
16. Aprea's CEO has an ivy league education
Mr. Schade received his education from some of the most prestigious institutions of higher learning in the United States. He was accepted into the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. He successfully completed his MBA degree from the University. He continued forward in his education and was accepted at Princeton University where he received his A.B. degree. Both schools have a reputation for being extremely selective in their approvals for admissions. Only a small percentage of applicants are accepted.
17. Aprea offers yet more hope for improving lives
In addition to the end goal of arresting cancers, there are other benefits which are indicated by the promising new candidate drug. There is a firm belief by management that since p53 has the ability to sense damage to DNA, and it can induce cell cycle arrest, there is hope that it can lead to a repair of the damage which has been done to DNA. This has the potential for improving the quality of life and longevity for cancer patients, but it could also go beyond that. Management stands behind their findings and they're excited about the future implications for the use of this drug.
18. The world has its eyes on Aprea Therapeutics
Aprea isn't the first biomedical pharma company to conduct research on the components of genes, but the work they're presently doing and the drug they're developing is the intellectual property of the company. This means they're the only ones working on the disease along with a treatment from this particular angle. Aprea has the attention of millions in the world for different reasons. Some are considering an investment in the company with the hope of a future return on investment, and others are hopeful of a cure for cancer. Either way, they're a hot commodity at this point in time.
19. Aprea Therapeutics has hired qualified management
In addition to a CEO with impressive credentials, the rest of the leadership and management team follows suit. The Sr. Vice President and CFO is Scott M. Coiante. He joined the company in August of 2019. He was formerly employed as Sr. VP and CFO of Agile Therapeutics.
He has extensive leadership experience within the industry as well as finance and treasurer experience from Medarex Inc. His financial experience extends to his management responsibilities at Ernst & Young LLP. He received his BS in accounting from Villanova University. Eyal C. Attar MD is the Sr VP and Chief Medical Officer with clinical experience at the Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center, as well as his tenure at Harvard Medical School as Assistant Professor of Medicine.
Lars Abrahnsen is the Sr VP and Chief Scientific Officer with over 30 years of research and drug development experience from Genentech, Biovitrum, Pharacia& Upjohn, and other related companies. Gregory A Korbel is the VP of Business Development and brings 12 years of biotech and pharmaceutical experience.
He served at Novira Therapeutics as Director of Business Development and Operations, and prior to that, as Senior Scientist at Invitrogen/Life Technologies. He holds an MBA from the Wharton School, a Ph.D. in chemistry from Harvard and a BA from Vanderbilt.
20. Aprea Therapeutics bears watching
Aprea is a well-organized research and development company within the biotech industry. The work that they're performing is relevant and has the potential to save millions of lives and to alter the face of medicine in the years to come. They're on solid footing with a strong and capable leadership base and initial clinical trials hold great promise that a new anticancer drug is not far away. Whether you're interested in cancer treatment of a new investment option, they're a company that bears watching.
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Written by Allen Lee
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