In the media world, print products appear to be going extinct. But the PRINT technology platform developed by Morrisville-based drug development company Liquidia Technologies is drawing eyeballs and investment in a very public way.

Liquidia Technologies logo

Liquidia shares began trading on the Nasdaq Capital Market yesterday, July 26, under the ticker symbol “LQDA,” opening at $12.45 and closing at $11.10.

The company stands to raise more than $50 million in this initial public offering of stock, based on the share price it set for the IPO. It priced about 4.5 million shares of common stock at $11 per share, for gross proceeds of about $50 million. It also gave underwriters the option to buy about 680,000 more shares, which, if fully exercised within 30 days, would boost total proceeds to about $57.5 million before underwriting commissions and discounts.

Liquidia will use the IPO proceeds to advance two product candidates now in development.

LIQ861, intended for treating pulmonary arterial hypertension, is undergoing safety testing in a Phase 3 clinical trial, and results are expected in the first half of 2019. The company is aiming to submit a new drug application to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in the second half of that year.

The second drug candidate, LIQ865, intended for treating local post-operative pain, is an injectable, sustained-release formulation of bupivacaine, a generic, non-opioid anesthetic that is sold under brands including Marcaine, Exparel and Sensorcaine. Liquidia’s formulation, which recently completed a Phase 1b clinical trial, has the potential to provide significantly longer pain relief compared to currently marketed formulations of bupivacaine, the company said.

If approved, LIQ861 has the potential to be the first-to-market inhaled dry powder form of treprostinil, a generic vasodilator that is sold under other brands including Tyvaso, Remodulin and Orenitram, the company said. Liquidia’s formulation would be delivered using a palm-sized, disposable, dry powder inhaler, with the aim of delivering higher doses into the lungs.

Liquidia photo

Microscopic photos of various Liquidia particles and, second from left, a mold for round ones.
Liquidia bases its businesses on the discovery that where particles are concerned,
form defines function.

Liquidia holds worldwide commercialization rights to both LIQ861 and LIQ865. The drug candidates are based on the company’s proprietary PRINT technology, a particle-engineering platform that enables precise production of uniform drug particles with independent control over their size, shape and chemical composition.

By controlling these parameters, PRINT enables desirable benefits to be engineered into product candidates, including prolonged duration of drug release, increased drug loading, more convenient routes of administration, the creation of novel combination products, enhanced storage and stability and the potential to reduce adverse side effects.

Liquidia said PRINT can overcome the constraints of conventional drug formulation and production methods to improve the safety, efficacy and performance of a wide range of therapies.

In addition to developing its own product candidates, Liquidia is collaborating with other pharmaceutical companies to develop their own product candidates across a wide range of therapeutic areas, molecule types and routes of administration, using the PRINT technology.

Liquidia was spun out of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2004 by scientists and entrepreneurs Joe DeSimone and Ed Samulski. It subsequently gained equity financing from heavy-hitter investors including the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, GSK, PPD, Pappas Ventures, Morningside Group, Wakefield Group, Canaan Partners and New Enterprise Associates.

Liquidia has about 60 employees.

The North Carolina Biotechnology Center helped Liquidia’s product commercialization activities in 2011 and 2012 by funding postdoctoral industrial fellowships totaling more than $83,000. The company’s chief executive officer, Neal Fowler, now serves on the NCBiotech board of directors.