GeNO, uniQure look to leap through biotech IPO window in Q4 rush

Waltham, MA-based GeNO is throwing its hat into a crowded biotech IPO ring, looking to raise $50 million to back its work on a new, patient-friendly approach for delivering inhaled nitric oxide on the go. And a Dutch biotech, uniQure, is also positioning itself to go public after pioneering the world's first approved gene therapy.

GeNO's S-1 explains that most pulmonary hypertension patients these days that need nitric oxide rely on compressed tanks, an unwieldy approach they hope to replace with a new delivery tech that holds the promise of delivering nitric oxide more efficiently to patients in or outside of hospitals.

GeNO, a low-profile biotech, says it has filed an NDA for using the first-generation delivery tech to provide nitric oxide to infants, with a late-stage study planned for next year designed to pave the way for approval in the pulmonary arterial hypertension patient population. PAH has been a busy field in recent years, with several new therapies in development and up for approval.

The Dutch gene therapy company uniQure, meanwhile, is also readying an IPO. The company, a 2013 Fierce 15 biotech, says it has filed a confidential submission of a draft IPO with the SEC. UniQure is one of several European biotechs to look to the U.S. markets for a filing.

The Amsterdam-based company formed in April 2012 with the gene therapy assets of Amsterdam Molecular Therapeutics, and AMT backer Forbion Capital Partners led a €7 million financing to capitalize the new business. UniQure has been on the upswing since that transaction and the European Commission's November 2012 approval of Glybera for lipoprotein lipase deficiency, a rare genetic disease that leads to increased levels of fat in the blood.

At least 20 biotech IPOs are now in the queue, and this particular filing marks the fourth pitch in the past week. With 2013 Fierce 15 biotech Ultragenyx, a company which until recently said it wasn't planning to go public until 2014, filing late last week, it seems clear that there's a big rush on to jump through the IPO window while it's still open. A total of 42 biotechs have now gone public this year, raising more than $3 billion.

No one has a real clue how long this particular wave can continue to grow, and more than a few observers say that the trend has become clearly overheated. But with the IPO window largely only cracked open between 2008 and late 2012, it's hard to blame any biotech for trying.

- here's the S-1 from GeNO
- and the release from uniQure

Special Report: FierceBiotech's 2013 Fierce 15 - UniQure - Ultragenyx