Auris pulls off a $56M IPO to bankroll its ear treatments

Auris Medical ($EARS) had to dial up its offering and take a deep discount to make its way to Wall Street, but the biotech still managed to come away with $56.4 million to support two late-stage ear therapies for inner ear disorders.

The company moved 9.4 million shares at about $6 apiece, pricing well below its expected range of $10 to $12 and boosting its number of offered shares by more than 35% to close the gap. Auris would have pulled in about $76 million at the midpoint of its previous plans.

The Swiss drugmaker expects to net about $51 million once its IPO closes, earmarking the lion's share of that haul to support AM-101, a Phase III treatment for acute inner ear tinnitus. The drug, an injectable gel, is administered in a single treatment cycle to shut down cochlear NMDA receptors and relieve the ringing of the ears associated with tinnitus. AM-101 charted a dose-dependent effect on the orphan disease in Phase II, Auris said, and the biotech is now working through two Phase III studies of the treatment. The company expects to report out data in early 2016 and head to the FDA thereafter.

The rest of Auris' new cash will go toward AM-111, which is slated to enter Phase III for acute inner ear hearing loss next year. Like its forebear, the treatment is an injected gel, inhibiting the signal-transmitting enzyme JNK to halt the inflammation and cell death that can cause hearing loss.

Behind its lead programs, the biotech is developing AM-111 for the rare Ménière's disease and working up preclinical candidates targeting tinnitus and rhinology.

Auris is poised to compete with San Diego's Otonomy, an IPO hopeful in its own right with a Ménière's treatment slated to enter Phase III in 2015 and an early-stage tinnitus therapy set to hit the clinic next year. Otonomy's lead candidate, AuriPro, is designed to reduce postoperative complications in pediatric patients undergoing tube-placement surgery, acing a Phase III trial earlier this summer with an FDA filing expected in 2015.

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