Abivax tees up a $49M IPO to get its hep B shot into Phase III

Parisian biotech Abivax is in line to raise €43.6 million ($49 million) in a European IPO, earmarking its new cash to push a hepatitis B vaccine into pivotal trials and hit the gas on an HIV drug.

Abivax has registered about 2 million shares on the Euronext Paris exchange, setting aside another roughly 300,000 for its underwriters. The biotech will be placing shares through June 22, expecting to price them at a midpoint of €21.30 ($23.91) each. If Abivax's overallotment allocation comes through, the company could gross €57.7 million ($64.8 million) at midpoint.

With the proceeds, Abivax plans to push ABX203, its hep B vaccine, into Phase III trials in Asia. The therapeutic vaccine, licensed from Cuba's Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology, has shown promise in early- and mid-stage studies on chronic hep B, the company said.

Abivax is also pressing ahead with ABX464, a wholly owned small-molecule drug designed to halt HIV's ability to replicate in the body. ABX464 is in the midst of a Phase IIa trial, and the company plans to move into Phase IIb in the second half of this year.

The HIV candidate is the most advanced product of Abivax's proprietary drug development platform, which targets viral RNA to prevent replication. The biotech believes its technology could also churn out treatments for dengue, Chikungunya and Ebola, among other viruses.

"Abivax has all the key elements to establish itself as a leader in the biotechnology industry, focused on novel antiviral treatments against some of the most threatening and frequent viral diseases," Chairman Philippe Pouletty said in a statement. "Our proprietary research and strong relationships developed with the highly innovative Cuban life science industry, along with French CNRS and Curie Institute and the Scripps Research Institute, have placed us in a very unique position to enable Abivax to achieve a number of important milestones in the treatment of viral disease in the coming months and in the longer term."

- read the statement