Aimmune bags $160M IPO as the market continues to embrace biotech

With an FDA breakthrough therapy designation in hand and a product on the threshold of a pivotal Phase III study, Brisbane, CA-based Aimmune Therapeutics ($AIMT) has scooped up a $160 million windfall from its IPO, joining a long string of successful biotech market debuts this year.

When Aimmune first outlined its IPO plans a month ago, it set a target of $115 million. But it swiftly aimed higher, grabbing $16 a share--the top of its range--on 10 million shares.

Virtually all of that market wager is backing AR101, a new drug that uses peanut proteins to train an overreactive immune system to ignore peanuts, tackling an allergy that afflicts some two million people in the U.S. and Europe. Aimmune has a pipeline of allergy meds in the works that it calls characterized oral desensitization immunotherapies, or CODITs. The lineup includes remedies for milk and egg allergies.

Aimmune CEO Stephen Dilly

Just two months ago Aimmune reported positive data from its mid-stage desensitization study on peanut allergies. Of the 23 patients who completed the study, investigators reported that all of them managed to tolerate an exposure to 443-mg cumulative amounts of peanut protein while 78% tolerated exposure to 1,043-mg amounts.

Aimmune's IPO marks another in a wave of new offerings that has been pumping billions of new investor dollars into the field. While some of the marginal offerings failed to achieve lift-off this year, the bull market for biotechs is now well into its third year and is not demonstrating any substantial signs of flagging--yet.

Back in the spring, when Aimmune was called Allergen Research, the company lined up an $80 million crossover round. According to its S-1 filing, Longitude Venture Partners owns 23% of the company, making it the big investor. Foresite Capital owns 12% with Fidelity groups coming in at 8% and Aisling at 7%.

- here's the release