Casino-Backed Startup Eyeing Alzheimer's Cure Worth $2.5 Billion
(Bloomberg) -- It hasn’t found a cure for Alzheimer’s disease and doesn’t have any drugs on the market. Yet, TauRx Pharmaceuticals Ltd. says the company’s worth about $2.5 billion as it embarks on its latest trial funded by shareholders including casino operator Genting Bhd.
If the trial proves successful, the Singapore-based company plans to apply to European and U.S. regulators for conditional or accelerated approval of its drug, TauRx Deputy Chairman Tay Siew Choon said in an interview in the city-state last month. It will also need to raise about $150 million to conduct a more comprehensive phase III trial, though at that point, it would evaluate options including an initial public offering or sale.
TauRx is pressing ahead in a field that has seen many of the largest pharmaceutical players from Pfizer Inc. to Axovant Sciences Ltd. exit or fail. Just last month, Merck & Co. said it will end a trial of its most advanced Alzheimer’s drug while Biogen Inc.’s shares tumbled after saying it was making changes to its trial. TauRx disappointed investors in 2016 when it said its LMTX drug failed to meet a primary goal of slowing the rate of disease progression when taken in combination with other Alzheimer’s drugs.
“We have consistently seen that our theory works, and there’s no reason to give it up,” said Tay. “Shareholders’ support and faith in us has not weakened.”
On top of a $71 million rights issue in October to fund the current trial, TauRx had already raised more than $500 million since 2002, according to Tay. The last financing round in 2016 valued the company at about $2.5 billion, he said. Billionaire Lim Kok Thay’s Genting invested $112 million in TauRx in 2012, becoming its biggest shareholder with about a 20 percent stake.
TauRx has been recruiting patients since November for the current trial, where it plans to test its drug on 200 patients with mild Alzheimer’s disease who aren’t taking any other medication. The results are expected in early 2019.
©2018 Bloomberg L.P.