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Medimmune-born Viela files $150m IPO, eyes first product launch

Funds will help to push a number of pipeline candidates

Viela Bio

Almost two years after spinning out of AstraZeneca’s Medimmune biologics unit, Viela Bio has filed for an initial public offering that it hopes will raise around $150m.

The money raised in the IPO will give the Maryland-based biotech the financial muscle it needs to start building the commercial platform for its lead drug inebilizumab, which has just been filed for approval with the FDA for a rare autoimmune disease that can lead to blindness and paralysis.

Inebilizumab is an anti-CD19 antibody developed initially to treat neuromyelitis optica spectrum disorder (NMOSD), also known as Devic’s disease, that attacks the optic nerves and spinal cord and can be fatal.

The antibody completed a phase 3 trial in NMOSD earlier this year, showing that it was able to reduce the risk of an NMOSD attack by 77% when compared to placebo in patients with autoimmune antibodies to anti-aquaporin-4 (AQP4) – a biomarker for the disease – after 28 weeks of treatment.

NMOSD patients have few treatment options, although Alexion’s blockbuster complement C5 inhibitor Soliris (eculizumab) recently became the first drug to be FDA-approved for this indication. It is estimated there are around 16,000 people with NMOSD in the US.

Meanwhile, Japan’s Chugai also has positive phase 3 data with its NMOSD candidate satralizumab, an interleukin-6 inhibitor partnered with Roche.

Viela thinks inebilizumab has a dosing advantage over both these rivals however as it can be delivered just twice a year, but it will need resources to challenge its deep-pocketed rivals. The $150m IPO adds to a $75m second-round fundraising that completed in June.

Viela’s prospectus for the IPO notes it is also planning to start mid-stage studies of inebilizumab in other autoimmune conditions, including myasthenia gravis, kidney transplant desensitisation and immunoglobulin G4-related diseases, in the remainder of 2019 and 2020.

Other uses for the proceeds of the fundraising include advancing the development of VIB4920, a fusion protein designed to bind to CD40 ligand (CD40L) on activated T cells, for kidney transplant rejection and Sjögren’s syndrome.

It will also help push anti-ILT7 antibody VIB7734 into clinical testing for cutaneous lupus erythematosus (CLE).

Article by
Phil Taylor

3rd September 2019

From: Regulatory

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