Alpine Immune Sciences Raises $25 Million in Private Placement of Stock + Warrants

Edward Kim  |

We discussed Alpine Immune Sciences ALPN previously in this space, when the company announced positive preclinical data for its lead oncology asset, ALPN-202, at the 33rd annual meeting of the Society for Immunotherapy of Cancer (SITC) in November 2018. The company has since released positive data for its lead candidate in autoimmune and inflammatory diseases, ALPN-101, which showed promising efficacy in preclinical models of acute graft versus host disease (GvHD) and hemophagocytic lymphohistiocytosis (HLH), at the American Society of Hematology’s 60th annual meeting in December 2018.

This morning, Alpine announced that it has signed an agreement for a private placement of about $25.3 million in gross proceeds via units of common stock and warrants, led by Decheng Capital with participation from existing investors OrbiMed, Frazier Healthcare Partners, Alpine BioVentures and BVF Partners. The company's CEO, Mitchell Gold, MD, is the founder and managing partner of Alpine BioVentures.

While there is no Form 8-K on file yet with the SEC as we go to print, the company disclosed in its press release that it's selling about 4.7 million units at $5.37, with each unit consisting of one share of ALPN common stock and one five-year warrant to buy 0.39 share of common stock at an exercise price of $12.74, about a 115% premium to yesterday's closing price. The price per unit was based in part upon the average of the last five closing prices of ALPN.

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Source: Alpine Immune Sciences

ALPN-101 preclinical data presented at 60th annual ASH meeting

Alpine's lead compound is an antagonist of both ICOS (inducible T-cell costimulator) and CD28, immune system checkpoint molecules that are engineered to reduce pathogenic immune response. ALPN-101 has been shown in preclinical models to significantly improve survival in GvHD. GvHD is a life-threatening disease in which donor T cells attack recipient tissue following an allogeneic stem cell transplant.

Notably, the preclinical data presented at the ASH meeting showed that ALPN-101 enhanced survival and suppressed disease activity in GvHD after administration of only a single dose. The compound also demonstrated superior efficacy to belatacept [marketed as Nulojix by Bristol-Myers Squibb BMY ], a CD28 pathway inhibitor, in survival and disease activity.

Alpine also presented data on ALPN-101 in a preclinical model of HLH, a rare, life-threatening inflammatory disease in which the body produces an excess of activated immune cells including T cells and macrophages. The compound was shown to reduce CD4+ T cell activation and liver inflammation in HLH, while not appearing to affect the activity of viral-specific T cells directed against lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus (LCMV), the virus used to induce the model.

Investment issues to consider

ALPN stock has bounced from its Christmas lows and is trading at $5.75 at mid-afternoon today. Even with the recent strength, the stock is still trading at about half its value of a year ago. While it's still at a very early stage of development, the price cut over the past year seems excessive given the promise of the pipeline, and we believe that investors in the latest private placement have found good value at $5.37 per unit. Readers who have followed Alpine since it went public in 2015 will recall that the stock, traded north of $80 in Q3 2015, adjusted for the 4-for-1 split in 2017.

Dr. Gold has successfully managed the FDA gauntlet in his previous life as CEO of Dendreon, whose Provenge (sipuleucel-T), a prostate cancer treatment, was the first approved immunotherapy made from a patient's own immune cells. Although sales of Provenge ultimately disappointed, with Dendreon's assets later swallowed by Valeant, now Bausch Health BHC, we view Dr. Gold's previous regulatory experience purely in a positive light.

We're encouraged also by Alpine's ongoing collaboration with Kite Pharma, now part of Gilead GILD, to develop protein-based cancer immunotherapies targeting the immune synapse, or the space between immune cells. Alpine is eligible to receive up to $530 million in research, clinical, and regulatory milestone payments from Kite, and, when the deal was signed, Arie Belldegrun, MD, FACS, Kite's founder and CEO and currently Allogene Therapeutics' ALLO Executive Chairman, said that Alpine's Transmembrane Immunomodulatory Proteins (TIP) and Secreted Immunomodulatory Protein (SIP) technologies would be "incorporated into engineered T cell therapies to advance CAR and TCR product candidates into multiple tumor types."

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DISCLOSURE: The author has no positions or any beneficial interest in, and has received no compensation from, the companies mentioned in this article.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors, and do not necessarily represent the views of Readers should not consider statements made by the author as formal recommendations and should consult their financial advisor before making any investment decisions. To read our full disclosure, please go to:

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