The biotech IPO window is still wide open and ready for new business, especially if it relates to a hot new tech like gene therapy. RegenX Bio proved that point today, raising $138 million from the sale of 6.3 million shares at $22 a pop.
Longtime industry analysts and venture investors may have let out a sigh of relief at the numbers, especially as the shares ($RGNX) immediately popped above $30, adding 37% to the share price. Some recent market turbulence had put biotech's long-running bull market under a cloud, but skies were clear and sunny today. And that bodes well for the new queue of biotechs that have been lining up to go public in the final quarter of a busy year.
RegenX had quietly built a solid portfolio of gene therapy IP around the work done by James Wilson, the pioneering University of Pennsylvania scientist who mounted a study in the late '90s that cost the life of Jesse Gelsinger. That death chilled the field for years, but with new confidence in safer delivery vehicles, RegenX has started building its own pipeline while licensing out its tech to other players. Its alliances include a close connection with Dimension Therapeutics, which filed for its own IPO just days ago.
It hasn't all been upbeat in gene therapy, as investors at Avalanche ($AAVL) and Celladon ($CLDN) can attest to. But Bluebird ($BLUE) and others have been making clear progress, sparking hopes of a major breakthrough in the field.
The IPO rush over the last three years has pumped billions of dollars into new biotechs, and Silicon Valley Bank's recent assessment of the bulls and bears concluded that the industry was on track to produce up to 55 new IPOs this year. One barometer of IPO activity can be seen in the most recent group of Fierce 15 companies. Eight of the 15 have either gone public or filed now, with two others clearly looking to make the leap after big crossover rounds.
For a group of upstarts, that's a very high turnover rate.