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A who's-that of biotechs snags $119M as the IPO market thunders on

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At the end of a banner quarter of biotech IPOs that put millions into the pockets of drug developers, a few smaller players are sneaking out while the window stays open. Thanks to a prolonged public appetite for life sciences companies, the little-known Ignyta, Dipexium Pharmaceuticals and Galmed Pharmaceuticals have banked a combined $119 million to fund their top prospects.

First up, cancer biotech Ignyta ($RXDX) cleared $48 million in an up-sized offering of 5.2 million shares at $9.15 apiece. With the proceeds, Ignyta hopes to push its lead candidate, the tyrosine kinase inhibitor RXDX-101, into a mid-stage study. In preliminary Phase I results released last month, Ignyta's drug showed no dose-limiting toxicities and came through with promising signs of antitumor activity, the company said.

Next, New York's Dipexium ($DPRX) picked up $33 million by selling 2.8 million shares at $12 each, hitting the low end of its expected range. The company is developing Locilex, a Phase III antibiotic cream designed to treat skin infections in diabetic foot ulcers. The biotech believes its candidate also shows progress in more serious bacterial infections, including MRSA. Dipexium is in the midst of discussions with the FDA to get started on two parallel late-stage studies with eyes on eventual approval, the company said.

Finally, Israel's Galmed ($GLMD) banked $38 million in a 2.8 million-share offering, pricing at $13.50 after upping its tender by 17%. The company's lead drug, aramchol, is a synthetic combination of fatty acid and bile designed to treat nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH), one of the industry's en vogue disease targets. Galmed is working through a mid-stage study of the drug in NASH patients with obesity and glucose intolerance, planning to roll aramchol into Phase III in 2015.

These latest entrants into the biotech IPO boom are no-frills operations--some pages of Dipexium's website are titled "Page Title," and Ignyta's pipeline graphic bears telling red squiggles where Microsoft Word contends it has misspelled an abbreviation--but each was able to pull off a within-range public debut, demonstrating that investor excitement for drug developers has hardly waned since the start of the year.

And it's not hard to see why. After a booming 2013 brought in billions for drug developers, 24 life sciences companies have priced in the new year, and despite early-year concerns that the bubble was nigh on a burst, the returns have been largely positive. Top-performers Dicerna ($DRNA) and Ultragenyx ($RARE) have each more than doubled their share values since going public in January, while Auspex ($ASPX) and Revance Therapeutics ($RVNC) have soared after February offerings. Still in the queue are debuts from Cerulean, Versartis and Akebia Therapeutics, promising to make the first quarter the best yet in biotech's second Wall Street honeymoon.

- read Ignyta's statement
- get more on Galmed
- here's the Dipexium story

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