BioWorld International Correspondent
Underlining the current positive investor sentiment toward Danish biotechnology, Curalogic A/S and TopoTarget A/S raised a combined DKK666 million (US$138.6 million) from share offerings on the Copenhagen Stock Exchange last week.
TopoTarget took in DKK360 million by issuing 12 million shares at DKK30 per share, while Curalogic grossed DKK306 million by issuing 18 million shares at DKK17 each. The latter could take in another DKK34 million if an overallotment option is exercised.
TopoTarget also is issuing almost 3.6 million more shares to investors in Apoxis SA, as part of a conditional agreement it entered to acquire the Lausanne, Switzerland-based firm earlier this year. That accord was contingent upon TopoTarget completing last week's share offering. (See BioWorld International, April 18, 2007.)
"It has been a busy week in Denmark, and a lot of money has been raised," Curalogic CEO Peter Moldt told BioWorld International. Copenhagen-based Curalogic, which raised DKK201.6, including overallotments, in an IPO last year, is now funded for the next two years. It reported DKK136.8 million at the end of the first quarter, and it will use the new cash to further accelerate its pipeline of oral allergy treatments.
A Phase III trial of its ragweed allergy treatment already is under way and is due to report in the first quarter of 2008. If successful, the company aims to file a European Union marketing authorization application in the latter half of 2008. An FDA filing "would be about two years later," Moldt said.
The new funding will enable Curalogic to bring forward by a year a planned Phase III trial of its grass allergy product. Following a quicker-than-expected Phase II program, it now will move to a Phase III trial in the first quarter of 2008. An EU MAA could follow in the second half of 2009. It is also planning a Phase II clinical trial of a house dust mite allergy treatment in the third quarter of this year.
Curalogic, which was formed in August 2004 to acquire the assets and development programs of a bankrupt South San Francisco-based company, Allergenics Inc., is among a number of firms applying modern pharmaceutical standards to classical allergy treatments. Injecting allergens has a century-long history and proven efficacy, but the practice is not convenient for patients, and it has elicited anaphylactic reactions.
A number of competitors, including Horsholm, Denmark-based ALK-Abello A/S and Antony, France-based Stallergenes SA, have introduced liquid-drop products that are delivered sublingually. Curalogic is seeking to be among the first with an oral formulation. "It's really the route of administration or the form of delivery that's different," Moldt said. "You need to take it a number of weeks before the season, and then you take it through the season."
TopoTarget, which had DKK173 million immediately before commencing the share offering, is also funded for at least two years. "That is, of course, a very conservative estimate," CEO Peter Buhl Jensen told BioWorld International. Sales from Savene, which protects against tissue damage caused during anthracycline cancer chemotherapy, could extend that timeline. It already has gained approval in the EU but approval in the U.S. has been delayed by a second approvable letter from the FDA. That was prompted by questions concerning one of the diluent manufacturers for the product, which will be marketed at Totect in the U.S. "We believe we have solved the problem," Jensen said.
TopoTarget's track record at integrating acquisitions successfully has helped investor sentiment toward the company, he said. "We have got a nice pipeline, and with the acquisition [of Apoxis], we're increasing our pipeline by 30 percent," he said. It previously acquired Prolifix Ltd., of Abingdon, UK, and G2M Cancer Drugs AG, of Frankfurt, Germany.
Investor sentiment toward the wider sector is driven, he said, by the success of local companies. "The locomotive is definitely [Copenhagen-based] Genmab A/S," he said. The integration of the Copenhagen region with the Skane region in southwest Sweden, through the construction of the Oresund Bridge earlier this decade, has been a key factor in the development of the industry, Jensen said, as it has grown the labor pool available to companies and has united two small pharmaceutical development regions.