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Peanut Allergy Therapy Company Raises $160 Million in IPO

Peanuts

(National Institute of Food and Agriculture, USDA)

6 August 2015. Aimmune Therapeutics Inc., a developer of treatments for peanut and other food allergies, raised $160 million from its initial public stock offering, pricing its 10 million shares at $16.00. Shares in the Brisbane, California company trade on the Nasdaq exchange under the symbol AIMT. Shares closed today (6 August), priced at $24.10 a share, up 51 percent for the day, while the overall Nasdaq fell by 1.62 percent.

Aimmune Therapeutics was founded in 2011 as Allergen Research Corporation, partially in response to a scientific conference that year calling for more oral-administered immunotherapy drugs to treat food allergies. The company received seed funding from the not-for-profit organization Food Allergy Research and Education, and licensed technologies from research labs at Duke University, Stanford University, and University of Arkansas. Aimmune was later financed by 2 venture rounds, the latest in March 2015 raising some $97 million.

Allergies to peanuts and other foods are a result of the body’s immune system misinterpreting certain foods as pathogens, and responding by the release of histamines, chemicals in the body causing the allergy symptoms. In most cases, the symptoms are mild, such as runny nose and itching, but people with peanut allergies face a real and elevated risk of anaphylaxis, a life-threatening condition constricting airways, swelling the throat, and causing a sharp drop in blood pressure. Food Allergy Research and Education says some 15 million people in the U.S. and 17 million people in Europe have a food allergy, with growing numbers of people reporting an allergy.

Aimmune Therapeutics develops therapies for food allergies using a technology it calls characterized oral desensitization immunotherapy, or Codit. The technology exposes people with food allergies to increasing amounts of the allergens over a period of months, thereby desensitizing the individuals to the allergen. Codit, says Aimmune, enhances conventional oral immunotherapies by precisely controlling the amount of offending food protein ingested by people with food allergies and establishing treatment routines that start with very small amounts of the offending food protein and gradually increasing the amounts over time.

The company’s lead product, code-named AR101, is a treatment designed to provide people with peanut allergies convenient and consistent concentrations of peanut proteins, as capsules in dosages from 0.5 to 300 milligrams for desensitization and eventually maintenance therapies. In June 2015, U.S. Food and Drug Administration assigned breakthrough status to AR101, providing expedited review of new treatments offering substantial improvement over current therapies for serious or life-threatening conditions.

FDA granted breakthrough designation based on results of an intermediate-stage clinical trial with 55 individuals, about half of them children, testing AR101 against a placebo. The trial measured ability to ingest peanut protein over 6 to 9 months, and found 78 percent of participants receiving AR101 could ingest a cumulative amount of 1,043 milligrams and all AR101 participants could ingest 443 milligrams. Aimmune says a late-stage clinical trial is planned for early in 2016.

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