Advanced Inhalation Therapies (AIT) has become the latest biotech to push ahead with plans to float on Nasdaq in the face of mounting evidence that investors are cooling on such offerings. The company is hoping its mix of Wall Street experience in the C-suite and upcoming clinical trial data readouts will make it an attractive proposition to investors.
|AIT Chairman Ron Bentsur|
Rehovot, Israel-based AIT is seeking $40 million (€36 million), Globes reports, to give it the financial firepower to wrap up a suite of mid-phase studies. Phase IIb trials of treatments for cystic fibrosis and bronchiolitis are due to deliver data in 2017, at which time AIT will also be firing up mid-stage studies of its pneumonia and asthma candidates. The work is being overseen by the former CEOs of Rosetta Genomics ($ROSG) and Keryx Biopharmaceuticals ($KERX), Amir Avniel and Ron Bentsur, who now serve respectively as the CEO and chairman of AIT.
Bentsur came on board two months ago, prompting Globes to speculate his appointment is directly linked to preparations for the IPO. The presence of two leaders with Wall Street experience--Avniel helmed Rosetta Genomics during the IPO process--could be seen as a way to reassure potential financiers, although neither executive has a flawless record with investors. Drumming up excitement in the science on which AIT is working--and its potential to deliver near to mid-term paydays--will likely be as important.
AIT has built its pipeline around the idea of using an inhaled nitric oxide formulation to treat respiratory infections and lung diseases. The therapeutic concept is underpinned by evidence that nitric oxide can kill bacteria, viruses and fungi--including those that are resistant to antibiotics--while also acting as a vasodilator to enhance blood flow. A drug delivery system that administers nitric oxide and monitors the patient is central to the approach. Regulators on both sides of the Atlantic have seen enough potential to grant the cystic fibrosis program orphan drug status.