RARE Daily

Sickle Cell Drug Developer Imara Raises $75 Million in IPO

March 12, 2020

Sickle Cell Drug Developer Imara Raises $75 Million in IPO

Rare Daily Staff

Imara raised $75 million in an initial public offering to develop therapeutics to treat patients suffering from sickle cell disease and other rare inherited genetic hemoglobinopathies.

The Boston-based biotech went public during an extremely volatile time with global markets tumbling over fears that the spread of the coronavirus remain unabated.

Imara sold 4.7 million shares at $16 per share, at the low end of its range. The company’s stock will trade on the Nasdaq Global Select Market under the ticker symbol “IMRA.”

Sickle cell disease (SCD) is a rare, genetically inherited condition that alters hemoglobin, the protein in red blood cells that transports oxygen throughout the body, distorting red blood cells into a sickle, or crescent, shape. Painful episodes can occur when sickled red blood cells, which are stiff and inflexible, get stuck in small blood vessels. These episodes deprive tissues and organs of oxygen-rich blood and can lead to permanent damage to organs including the liver, spleen, kidney, and brain.

In June 2019, Imara reported promising interim, 13-week phase 2a data on IMR-687, an experimental, orally administered, highly potent and selective phosphodiesterase 9 (PDE9) inhibitor being evaluated as a potential disease-modifying therapeutic for SCD. Data demonstrated that treatment with IMR-687 in adult patients was generally well tolerated. The data also support the dual mechanism of action of IMR-687, with activity seen across both red and white blood cell biomarkers.

In cell and animal models it increases fetal globin, which prevents the polymerization of the sickled hemoglobin, thus reducing red blood cell sickling, red blood cell death, and occlusion of blood vessels. PDE9 also reduces white blood cell “stickiness,” which further reduces the blockage of blood vessels.

Proceeds from the IPO will be used to advance IMR-687 into later-stage clinical trials, fund development of IMR-687 as a potential treatment for thalassemia, and expand the company’s pipeline.

IMR-687 has been granted Orphan Drug, Rare Pediatric, and Fast Track designations by the Food and Drug Administration.

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