Waksal’s gene therapy spinoff MeiraGTx says it’s time to fly with an $86M IPO

Alexandria “Zandy” Forbes

Three years after Sam Waksal’s Kadmon spun out its gene therapy tech into a startup called MeiraGTx, the New York-based biotech says it’s ready to come out to play on Nasdaq.

Waksal, an ex-con once sentenced to prison for his insider trading conviction involving Martha Stewart, had to leave Kadmon before the company was able to complete its own IPO. And now his brainchild — under the direction of former Kadmon commercial chief Alexandria Forbes — has penciled in an $86 million raise in its own S-1.

MeiraGTx has been largely flying under the radar in the gene therapy field, but Waksal offered his trademark brand of hype in pumping the tech. The S-1 is sticking closer to outlining where the biotech’s early-stage work is focused, and where it hopes to expand its pipeline work.

The company has been building out gene therapy manufacturing operations to support its work, which is initially focused on ophthalmology, or eye diseases, where the first generation of developers found some early successes in the field. Like Spark’s pioneering RPE65 therapy Luxturna, MeiraGTx — which has burned through $81 million to get to this point — has the same basic target in mind. 

Its three ongoing Phase I/II studies also include a trial involving achromatopsia related to mutations in CNGB3 and X-linked retinitis pigmentosa related to mutations in RPGR.

The company’s S-1 also includes an outline of its plans to use its viral vectors to deliver small molecules. And there’s an active neurodegeneration segment focused on ALZ and Alzheimer’s, specifically regarding “restoring normal endosomal function to the neurons that are the first to be affected in Alzheimer’s disease…”

Kadmon — whose shares have been bumping along at a fraction of their peak — still owns 17% of the company, the biggest minority shareholder. Alexandria Forbes, who was a serious scientist before she dove into hedge fund work, has kept a 4.5% stake in the biotech.

BofA Merrill Lynch, Barclays and Evercore ISI are the joint bookrunners on the deal.

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