Aimmune plots a $153M IPO to fund its 'breakthrough' food allergy pill

Aimmune CEO Stephen Dilly

California biotech Aimmune Therapeutics has dialed up its IPO ambitions, angling for as much as $153 million this week as it pushes forward with a midstage therapy for peanut allergy.

The company is plotting to price about 8.3 million shares at between $14 and $16 each, setting aside another 1.3 million shares for its underwriters to cover overallotments. At midpoint, Aimmune would bring in about $125 million, but the offering could max out at north of $150 million.

The biotech plans to put the majority of its proceeds into AR101, an oral therapy that uses a slow, steadily up-dosing regimen of pharmaceutical-grade peanut proteins to re-educate the immune system and reduce allergic reactions. The treatment met its primary endpoint of desensitizing patients to peanut proteins in a Phase II study earlier this year, and Aimmune is now designing a pivotal trial to begin in 2016. AR101 has received the FDA's breakthrough-therapy designation, guaranteeing Aimmune access to top agency officials throughout development and making the therapy eligible for a shortened review.

Aimmune, formerly Allergen Research Corporation, is at work on a pipeline of what it calls characterized oral desensitization immunotherapies, or CODITs. Unlike postreaction treatments like epinephrine, CODITs work by gradually diminishing the body's response and eventually rendering patients desensitized to clinically meaningful levels of food allergens.

Meanwhile, biotech's protracted IPO boom has continued unabated into the third quarter, marked by a record debut for Patrick Soon-Shiong's NantKwest ($NK) and an up-and-down offering from vTv Therapeutics ($VTVT), developer of a previously failed treatment for Alzheimer's disease. And the queue remains full, as gene therapy outfit Gensight Biologics joins Aimmune among a group of small companies expected to hit the Nasdaq this month.

- read the filing