Vital Therapies plots $86M IPO as biotech market boils

San Diego's Vital Therapies has filed for an $86.3 million IPO, eyeing a piece of the burgeoning market for biotechs on Wall Street as it advances a novel treatment for liver failure.

Planning to trade on the Nasdaq under "VTL," the company will use its IPO proceeds to bankroll three Phase III studies of Elad, a biologic cellular therapy system for crumbling livers. Elad works by running patients' blood through a bedside unit that uses human liver-derived cancer cells to filter toxins out of the plasma, which is then pumped back into the patient, restoring liver function.

Vital Therapies expects to have pivotal data of Elad's effects on alcohol-induced liver decompensation ready to go by 2015, with Phase III trials on acute alcoholic hepatitis and fulminant hepatic failure wrapping up in 2016 and 2017. The company is also in the midst of preclinical work to see whether Elad can be of use in liver transplants and liver cancer resections.

Last year, the company closed an $86 million funding round to get its three studies off the ground, and now, with trials rolling, Vital Therapies believes an IPO cash infusion can get its product to market and give it a crack at treating the more than 30,000 patients affected each year by acute liver failure.

If its public debut works out, the company will join the 39 biotechs that have made successful landings on Wall Street this year, raising a combined total of nearly $3 billion. Including Vital Therapies, there are at least 12 companies with S-1 filings waiting in the wings, poised to heap more than $700 million more onto the total.

- check out the S-1

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