Jim Wilson's gene therapy startup Passage Bio bucks market sentiments, raising upsized $216M IPO
A coronavirus fear-induced bloodbath on the Nasdaq has not stopped Passage Bio from making a public debut — and an exuberant one.
By pricing an upsized offering at $18, the top of the range, the gene therapy biotech bagged $216 million from its IPO, 72% more than it’s originally penciled in.
The proceeds likely reflected confidence in Jim Wilson, who gathered all the tools he’s built over decades of gene therapy research to assemble the startup and teamed up with Frazier and OrbiMed to hone its focus on rare, monogenic disorders of the central nervous system. Just before the IPO, Deerfield partner Bruce Goldsmith took over from OrbiMed’s Stephen Squinto as CEO.
Passage indicated that the majority of the new funds will be dedicated to seeing its top three programs through the first parts of Phase I/II. More precisely, around $43 million will go toward PBGM01 for GM1 gangliosidosis; $45 million to PBFT02 for a subtype of frontotemporal dementia; and $37 million to PBKR03 for infantile Krabbe disease.
The rest will help advance the discovery and candidate selection stage programs, of which there are plenty: Passage’s pact with Wilson’s Gene Therapy Program at the University of Pennsylvania covers rights to 12 therapies at maximum, to be exercised by 2022.
The company, which had 20 full-time employees at the end of last year, will begin trading today under the symbol $PASG.