AlloVir rides IPO boom on first market day, soars after bagging $276 million
Massachusetts-based AlloVir hit Wall Street Thursday, joining the ranks of drug makers to strike big in the 2020 IPO boom.
The biotech’s 16.3 million shares priced at $17 each — the midpoint of a $16 to $18 range — earning $276 million. AlloVir, which survived on mostly grant money and was known as ViraCyte until last year, initially registered for a $100 million IPO on July 6. But in the footsteps of other pharmas going public for the first time this year, it upsized by 1.5 million shares.
Shares $ALVR kept rising throughout the day, closing up 49.35% at $25.39.
Many have benefited from the “historic” boom, including a collective $772 million-plus haul last week by iTeos, Nurix, Annexon and Inozyme, all of which priced at the high end or above their expected ranges.
The first signs of a boom appeared in January, then gave way to a slower period as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. But a resurgence is underway — by June, all 23 newly public companies priced above their midpoint or upsized their offering. SPACs (special purpose acquisition companies) also played a part; they now represent nearly 35% of listings, as opposed to 3% in 2014, the Nasdaq’s Jay Heller told Endpoints earlier this month.
AlloVir launched from the Baylor College of Medicine’s Center for Cell and Gene Therapy in 2013, and was tapped by David Hallal last year to be ElevateBio’s first portfolio company. The deal meant a $120 million round of funding for AlloVir’s late-stage drug development.
Hallal owned 28.39% of shares after the offering, according to AlloVir’s S-1/A filing. Vikas Sinha, Ansbert Gadicke and Morana Jovan-Embiricos, all on ElevateBio’s board of directors, owned 23.26%, 21.99% and 25.36% respectively.
The company will use its IPO funds to advance its allogeneic T cell therapies for treating viral diseases. Its current programs span 12 different viruses, but the lead candidate, Viralym-M, targets BK virus, cytomegalovirus, adenovirus, Epstein-Barr virus, and human herpesvirus-6. The company has three Phase III pivotal trials and three Phase II proof-of-concept trials for use of Viralym-M in pediatric and adult patients planned for 2020 and 2021.
In a Phase II proof-of-concept trial of Viralym-M including 58 participants, 93% of stem cell transplant patients who were infected with target viruses showed a “clinical response,” according to the S-1. The drug earned priority medicines (PRIME) designation by the EMA to treat infections caused by targeted viruses in HSCT patients, and regenerative medicine advanced therapy (RMAT) designation by the FDA to treat hemorrhagic cystitis caused by BKV in adults and children.
“While these designations may not lead to a faster development process and do not increase the likelihood that a product candidate will receive approval from the FDA or EMA, we expect that PRIME and RMAT designations will result in increased EMA and FDA interactions to support our development efforts and may enable an expedited regulatory review process,” AlloVir’s S-1 filing states.
Other drugs in the pipeline include ALVR106 to treat respiratory syncytial virus, influenza, parainfluenza virus and human metapneumovirus; ALVR107 to treat hepatitis B; ALVR108 to treat human herpesvirus-8; and ALVR109 to treat SARS-CoV-2. AlloVir’s mechanisms include what CSO Ann Leen has called “an immune system in a dish”: virus-specific T cells from blood donors that are used to restore immunity in those with T cell deficiencies.