Arch, Hutch Stand to Gain From “Hibernation on Demand” Through Ikaria IPO

11/2/10Follow @xconomy

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10,000 shares of preferred stock at that time. So did the Washington Research Foundation.

Ikaria’s stock ownership is a little more complicated than that of some companies, because it took an unusual route to its IPO. Ikaria merged with Clinton, NJ-based INO Therapeutics in February 2007 in a deal valued at the time at $670 million. That transaction combined the Ikaria’s high-risk, high-reward proposition of hibernation-on-demand with a steady, stable operations team at INO that already had a moneymaking product on the market. The combined entity, back in 2007, had a team of 300 employees, $160 million in annual revenue, and the only FDA-approved therapy for hypoxic respiratory failure in infants, a potentially deadly condition sometimes called “blue baby” syndrome.

Fast forward to the upcoming IPO. Ikaria has pitched itself to investors as a relatively safe option for cautious investors, because it generated $274 million in revenue in 2009, and turned a $13 million profit that year. Yet investors who yearn for big upside potential can still get a piece of the hibernation-on-demand concept from Roth, which made the pages of Science in 2005, and lots of coverage from mainstream media ever since.

The idea is essentially to develop drugs that can, in an emergency, or surgery, slow down breathing, heartbeat, and other metabolic functions without going too far and suffocating people. Medically, this could have significant value because it might, say, buy time for a trauma surgeon trying to save a car accident victim before he or she bleeds to death, or prevent brain damage from occurring in a stroke patient.

The company has developed an experimental drug, IK-1001, that’s a form of sodium sulfide designed to be given in a single dose, Ikaria said.

Back when Ikaria filed its original IPO prospectus in May, it described some of its progress with IK-1001 in clinical trials. As I wrote then, Ikaria started a mid-stage clinical trial of the drug for coronary artery bypass surgery, but terminated the study when it decided it needed a “rapid and reliable assay methodology for IK-1001.” The company said at the time it plans to re-start the trial to get some data on effectiveness once it has developed the assay.

The latest investor prospectus I’ve seen, dated October 26, doesn’t say much about IK-1001, other than it is in preclinical development. That’s a long way from proof of concept in clinical trials, much less FDA approval. So it will be interesting to see how far and fast this sexy drug development program can go if Ikaria rakes in the cash it is counting on through this IPO.

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