Gilead-partnered immunotherapy developer Hookipa has been working on technology using arenaviruses — a family of viruses typically hosted by rodents — to turbocharge the human immune system to fight infectious diseases and cancers. The Vienna-based company on Wednesday priced a downsized IPO at the low end of its range at $14, raising gross proceeds of $84 million.
Co-founded by Rolf Zinkernagel — who was awarded the 1996 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for his arenavirus-based work — the company will begin trading under the ticker symbol “HOOK” on Thursday.
Hookipa’s tech platform is based on engineering arenaviruses to carry and deliver disease-specific proteins (antigens) directly into patients to dendritic cells. The immune system detects these antigens and shores up its defenses to target them, killing any cell that expresses them and by inactivating infectious intruders.
On Wednesday, the company said it had sold 6 million shares of common stock (down from the 6.7 million it had filed for) at low end of its range ($14-$16) at $14/share to shepherd its pipeline of drugs through clinical development. The funds will be used to take its lead experimental drug, HB-101, for the prevention of cytomegalovirus infections through completion of the ongoing Phase II clinical trial; to advance HB-201 and HB-202, its lead oncology drugs for cancers caused by human papilloma virus into and through completion of Phase I clinical trials; as well as to advance its prostate cancer drug HB-301, into and through a Phase I study.
Last year, Hookipa joined forces with Gilead to develop immunotherapies for the hepatitis B virus and HIV. Under the deal, Gilead forked over $10 million upfront, and Hookipa is eligible to receive milestone payments of up to $400 million, in addition to tiered royalties on potential net sales.
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