8. Avidity Biosciences

(Avidity Biosciences)

8. Avidity Biosciences
Deal size: $2 million
Valuation: $259 million
Share price: $18.00
Shares sold: 16,560,000

Avidity Biosciences initially filed to raise up to $100 million in its IPO, but it more than doubled that, raking in $259 million to push its lead muscle disorder program through IND-enabling studies and into the clinic this year. The company aims to take antibody-drug conjugates (ADCs) to the next level by combining antibodies with oligonucleotides—or short DNA or RNA molecules.

Multiple players are working on ADCs to deliver cell-killing drugs to cancer cells without affecting healthy tissue, but fewer than 10 ADCs have been approved because of the complexity of this class of drugs. Avidity believes using oligonucleotides could work even better than using cytotoxic drugs, and it's grabbed the attention of—and deals with—the likes of Eli Lilly and MyoKardia.

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Lilly taps Avidity's antibody-oligonucleotide conjugate tech in $35M deal

Avidity is developing its lead antibody-oligonucleotide conjugate, AOC 1001, for a form of myotonic dystrophy, a muscle wasting disorder caused by a mutation in the DMPK gene. People with Type 1 myotonic dystrophy produce abnormal DMPK RNA, which prevents cells in their muscles and other tissues from working properly. The company is planning to kickstart its first clinical trial of the drug in the second half of this year.

8. Avidity Biosciences