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News / Business / Clark County Business

Just months after public offering, Absci heading for clinical trials with a biologic drug candidate

Vancouver-based company saw Q1 loss of $21.98 million

By Sarah Wolf, Columbian staff writer
Published: May 14, 2024, 2:39pm

After raising nearly $90 million in its recent public offering, Vancouver-based Absci is advancing toward clinical trials for what would be its first biologic drug candidate.

Absci uses its database and artificial intelligence platform to discover biologic drugs, speeding up the drug discovery process. The work can potentially bring drugs to the market faster than the traditional process.

“Our solid progress this quarter on both partnered and internal program assets confirms the significant potential of our generative AI platform to design better biologics for patients, faster,” Sean McClain, founder and CEO of Absci, said as the company released its latest earnings report.

The company reported revenues of $898,000 for the first quarter of 2024, down from $1.27 million in the same period if of 2023.

The company said the current mix of partners and internal programs caused the decline.

Absci took a loss of $21.98 million, or 22 cents per diluted share, in the first quarter of 2024, compared with a $23.36 million loss, or 26 cents per share, in 2023.

McClain said the company’s lead asset — ABS-101, created to treat inflammatory bowel disease — was designed in just 14 months. He expects human clinical trials to begin in early 2025.

“This potential best-in-class therapeutic demonstrates the power of AI to change the traditional drug discovery paradigm,” McClain said.

The company is also working on dermatology and immuno-oncology treatments in house, in addition to its drug partnerships. Executives plan to sign at least four more partnerships this year.

“ABS-101 is an early example of the power of our platform, and we see additional opportunities to demonstrate similar results through our other current and future pipeline programs,” McClain said during an investor call Tuesday morning.

The company is operating on a hybrid business model — introduced in 2023 — to develop internal programs up to phase 2 clinical trials before selling, partnering or licensing them.

“A primary rationale for our strategy stems from our platform’s ability to create differentiated antibody drug candidates in a highly efficient manner,” Zach Jonasson, Absci’s chief financial officer and chief business officer, said during Tuesday’s call.

Absci’s executives believe their strategy will allow them “to create and capture more of the overall value of these internally generated programs,” Jonasson said.

The company can generate a drug candidate and complete investigational new drug studies for around $15 million, the CEO said.

“This could enable a new paradigm in biotech, where capital typically allocated for one asset is spread across multiple candidates, improving the overall probability of success,” McClain said.

Absci trades on the Nasdaq as ABSI. Its stock closed Tuesday at $4.82 per share, down from $5.06 on Monday.

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