July 12 French gene therapy company GenSight
Biologics said on Tuesday it had raised 40 million
euros ($44 million) in an initial public offering, in the latest
sign of growing interest in the technology to fix faulty genes.
The Paris IPO was priced at 8 euros a share, which was at
the lower end of the previously indicated range of 7.80 to 9.20
euros. The issue is the largest French biotech IPO so far this
year and may be increased to 45.9 million euros if an
over-allotment option is fully exercised.
Bernard Gilly, founder and chief executive, said the IPO's
reception was rewarding given "a difficult stock market
GenSight is developing treatments for neurodegenerative eye
disorders and diseases of the central nervous system. Its most
advanced product, for Leber`s Hereditary Optic Neuropathy, is
potentially two years away from filing for regulatory approval
in Europe and the United States.
Early investors in GenSight include Novartis,
Abingworth, Versant, Medixci, FBIMR and Bpifrance
Research into gene therapy goes back a quarter of a century
but has experienced many setbacks, including the high-profile
death of an American patient in 1999 and some disastrous
clinical trial results in the late 1990s and early 2000s.
Now, though, optimism is building, helped by the discovery
of better ways to carry replacement genes into cells.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has yet to approve any
gene therapies but Europe has approved two -- a treatment from
GlaxoSmithKline for a rare immune disorder in babies and
one from Uniqure for a serious blood condition.
($1 = 0.9026 euros)
(Reporting by Ben Hirschler; Editing by Ruth Pitchford)