Alpine raises $91M to fuel the Seattle biotech’s clinical trials for lupus and cancer

Alpine’s pipeline. (Alpine Graphic)

Alpine Immune Sciences will move a potential treatment for immune conditions into human testing and support its ongoing trials for cancer thanks to around $91 million in new funding.

The publicly traded biotech is raising the funds through a private placement, announced Wednesday, offering securities to a select group of investors. The private offering, led by Seattle-based Frazier Healthcare Partners, will close on Friday.

The funding will fuel Alpine’s program developing ALPN-303, designed to treat lupus and other inflammatory diseases. The company expects to initiate a phase 1 study for the agent by this winter.

The funding will also support clinical studies of ALPN-202, which is designed to prompt an immune response against tumor cells. The company presented data from its phase 1 study on ALPN-202 this year, suggesting that the agent is well-tolerated and appeared to have a clinical benefit in a small group of cancer patients.

Alpine is also collaborating with Merck to test the pharma giant’s blockbuster cancer immunotherapy drug Keytruda in combination with ALPN-202 in a separate phase 1 trial.

James Topper, managing general partner of Frazier Healthcare Partners. (Frazier Photo)

“As a long-term backer of Alpine, we are impressed by the company’s progress and their emergence as a leader in both immunology and immuno-oncology,” said James Topper, managing general partner of Frazier’s life sciences team, in a statement.

Alpine had $100 million on hand in June in cash, cash equivalent, restricted cash and investments, and was expecting to receive $45 million in a milestone payment from AbbVie this fall, according to an August statement.

That payment is part of a licensing deal inked last year with the pharmaceutical giant for clinical testing of another immune-modulating agent, ALPN-101, for lupus. Alpine’s phase 2 trial for ALPN-101 is ongoing.

The company’s research and development expenses reached $14.6 million for the last quarter, almost double the amount spent the same quarter in 2020, according to the August update. The company also raised $60 million last year in a previous private offering.

Alpine develops therapeutic proteins through a process designed to mimic evolution to engineer agents that modulate the immune system.

ALPN-303 operates by interfering with the growth and survival of B cells. By calming down these key immune cells, ALPN-303 has the potential to treat B-cell mediated autoimmune conditions such as lupus and multiple sclerosis.

ALPN-202 operates as a checkpoint inhibitor, a class of immunotherapy drug that includes Keytruda. Checkpoint inhibitors awaken the immune response by interfering with molecules that put a “check” on the immune system and normally dampen it. ALPN-202 is additionally souped up to interfere with two molecular “checks” and also to more directly boost the function of T cells.

Alpine’s pipeline also includes a cell therapy program.

As part of the new offering, Alpine will issue approximately 6.5 million shares of common stock and 3.2 million pre-funded warrants, pricing them at $9.40. That’s a 4.4% premium over the closing price of $9 on Tuesday.

The current round of investment also included Decheng Capital, BVF Partners, TCG X, Avidity Partners, OrbiMed, Omega Fund, and Logos Capital. Alpine’s stock closed at $9.81 on Wednesday.

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Health/life sciences Alpine immune sciences Biotech Frazier healthcare partners Funding James topper