Gene therapy stalwart ReGenX plots a $100M IPO to strike out on its own

Read enough about the latest crop of biotech companies developing gene therapies and you may noticed a trend: Many of the headline-grabbing startups leading a renaissance in the field have licensed their core technology from ReGenX Bio. Now the Maryland company is pressing forward with treatments of its own, filing to raise $100 million in an IPO to fund in-house R&D.

The company, co-founded by gene therapy pioneer James Wilson, is planning to make its way onto the Nasdaq under the symbol "RGNX." Management hasn't yet specified how many shares it intends to offer, what price it figures they'll go for or which banks are underwriting the float.

With the proceeds of its planned IPO, ReGenX aims to push forward with a preclinical gene therapy for homozygous familial hypercholesterolemia, a rare genetic disorder that leads to dangerously high levels of bad cholesterol. Behind that is an early-stage treatment for Hurler Syndrome, another rare disease that can lead to cognitive impairment; and a preclinical treatment for wet age-related macular degeneration, one of the most common causes of blindness.

Underpinning each of ReGenX's candidates is a product engine called NAV, which uses harmless adeno-associated viruses (AAV) to deliver functional genes that can replace or knock down the errant ones that lead to diseases. The company has signed 8 out-licensing deals with NAV, counting high-profile gene therapy outfits Voyager Therapeutics and Dimension Therapeutics among its partners. And management believes those ongoing projects have helped flesh out the technology, clearing the runway for its proprietary R&D.

ReGenX closed a $70.5 million D round in May, led by new investor Vivo Capital and existing investors Venrock and Brookside Capital, and a $30 million raise in January.

Meanwhile, biotech's protracted boom on Wall Street hasn't waned over the summer. Over the past few weeks alone, Global Blood Therapeutics ($GBT), Aimmune Therapeutics ($AIMT) and Zynerba Pharmaceuticals ($ZYNE) all pulled off IPOs. And the queue of companies looking to do the same continues to grow, with Adynxx, Gensight Biologics and Edge Therapeutics all lining up for debuts of their own.

- read the filing