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Menlo Park's Avalanche Biotechnologies (AAVL) Rolls Onto Nasdaq, Raises $102 Million For Its IPO



7/31/2014 6:43:09 AM

Menlo Park's Avalanche Biotechnologies Rolls Onto Nasdaq, Raises $102 Million For Its IPO Menlo Park's Avalanche Biotechnologies Rolls Onto Nasdaq, Raises $102 Million For Its IPO
July 31, 2014
By Krystle Vermes, BioSpace.com Breaking News Staff

Avalanche Biotechnologies, Inc. (AAVL), a California-based biotechnology company that focuses on developing gene therapy for ophthalmic diseases, announced today that it has raised $102 million in its IPO by pricing six million shares at $17 a piece. Originally, share projections were targeted between $13 and $15.

Avalanche Biotechnologies’ shares are under the symbol “AAVL” on NASDAQ. The company is providing 5,400,000 shares in its initial offering. The offering is being led by Jefferies, Cowen, Piper Jaffray, and William Blair, who is the co-manager. Avalanche has given its underwriters a 30-day option to purchase up to 900,000 additional shares of common stock.

Development partner and shareholder Regeneron made an agreement with Avalanche Biotechnologies to purchase $10 million worth of stock.

Avalanche Biotechnologies was founded in 2006. The company focuses on creating unique gene therapies for severe eye diseases, and it will likely use its IPO income to propel its AVA-101 treatment for macular degeneration. Avalanche calls its form of gene therapy Ocular BioFactory.
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Patients who undergo treatment for macular degeneration receive an injection of AVA-101 into their eye during a brief surgical procedure. AVA-101 secretes therapeutic protein, which blocks the vascular endothelial growth factor in the eye and treats the disease.

There is still skepticism surrounding Avalanche’s form of treatment and its level of safety. However, the company recently completed a Phase 1 trial in Australia that subjected eight macular degeneration patients to its treatment method with successful results. Currently, Avalanche is conducting Phase 2a which will expose 32 patients to its treatment. The results of this experiment will be released in 2015.

In addition to putting its IPO money toward AVA-101, Avalanche is expected to use it on AVA-201, another preventative gene therapy for macular degeneration. Through its deal with Regeneron, the company is predicted to focus on the development of AVA-311 as well. This gene therapy would be used to treat X-linked retinoschisis, a rare eye disease that currently has no treatment.

Gene therapy has not been embraced over the past 20 years. Today, there is only one gene therapy in the world that has been approved for use, sold by UniQure, and it is solely available in Europe. Avalanche is paving the way with its new forms of treatment that utilize adeno-associated viruses to address severe eye diseases, and it’s one of many companies using this method.

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