Less than 3 months after launch, the AveXis crew’s Taysha raises $95M Series B. Is an IPO next?
The old AveXis team is moving quickly in Dallas.
Three months ago, they launched Taysha with $30 million in Series A funding and a pipeline of gene therapies out of UT Southwestern. Now, they’ve announced an oversubscribed $95 million Series B. And the biotech is declining all interview requests on the news, the kind of broad silence that can indicate an IPO is in the pipeline.
Biotechs, including those relatively fresh off launch, have been going public at a frenzy since the pandemic began. Investors have showed a willingness to put upwards of $200 million to companies that have yet to bring a drug into the clinic. Still, if Taysha were to go public in the near future, it would be perhaps the shortest path from launch to IPO in recent biotech memory.
Taysha launched in April as the brainchild of former AveXis CEO Sean Nolan and former AveXis corporate strategy chief RA Session II, who now serve as Taysha’s chairman and CEO, respectively. The idea was to tap into a line of AAV9 vector gene therapies that were being developed at UT Southwestern, particularly from the labs of Steven Gray and Berge Minassian. The group already had 50 translational scientists at work and a GMP facility.
The biotech would take a portfolio approach to gene therapy, akin to the one pursued by BridgeBio (where Session had been CBO of gene therapy). They licensed 15 gene therapies in epilepsy, neurodevelopment and neurodegenerative disorders, with an option to license 4 more. The company pursued new technologies that can be built on top of AAV9, including bicistronic plasmids (a vector with 2 genes instead of 1), microRNA knockdown (a method to inhibit the tiny strands of RNA that control gene expression), and redosing.
When they launched, Taysha said they planned to clinical studies on a gene therapy for Tay-Sachs disease and then file three more INDs in 2021. Despite the pandemic, the company said they are still on track for that plan.
Gene therapy trials, of course, can cost a fair bit of cash. And the company said that it hopes to eventually construct its own commercial scale production site in Dallas – a prospect that perhaps could come sooner rather than later.