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TxCell plans listing as EU biotech wakes up to IPOs

Move follows UK allergy therapy developer Circassia's listing

The return of the biotech initial public offering (IPO) in 2013 was largely a US phenomenon, but France's TxCell is flying the flag for Europe with a decision to list on NYSE Euronext.

The Valbonne-based specialist in personalised cell therapies announced its intention to float at the same time as it unveiled a €76m ($108m) deal giving Ferring Pharmaceuticals an exclusive option to license worldwide rights to its lead candidate Ovasave for ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease.

TxCell's move comes shortly after UK allergy therapy developer Circassia raised £200m ($333m) via an IPO on the London Stock Exchange and raises the prospect of other European biotechs going it alone rather than partnering with larger pharma companies at an early stage.

Reuters suggests three other European biotechs - AC Immune, Novimmune and Molecular Partners - are also thinking about going public at the moment, indicating rising confidence among the investment community about the prospects for Europe's sector.

There were 23 biotech IPOs in the US last year, rising from 13 a year earlier and well ahead of the low single-digit levels seen when the global economy first took a dive in 2008, according to an analysis in BiotechNOW. Over the same period there have only been a handful of EU listings each year.

TXCell's technology platform is based on the use of antigen-specific regulatory T cells - known as 'Tregs' - and the company is due to start a phase 2b trial of Ovasave later this year in patients with refractory Crohn's disease.

The Tregs are made by harvesting blood from a patient, stimulating T cells to respond to a particular antigen and expanding their population to provide enough material to treat a patient over multiple years.

Ferring is paying €3m upfront for rights to Ovasave, and will be responsible for funding and carrying out development of the therapy after TxCell completes the phase 2b trial. It is estimated that around 100,000 Crohn's disease patients in the US and Europe are refractory to current treatment.

Article by
Phil Taylor

19th March 2014

From: Research

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