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Gene Therapy Company Raises $70 Million in IPO

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(bfishadow, WikimediaCommons)

11 November 2015. Voyager Therapeutics, a company less that two years old developing gene therapies for central nervous system disorders is raising $70 million in its initial public stock offering. The Cambridge, Massachusetts enterprise, trading on the Nasdaq exchange (symbol: VYGR), offered 5 million shares yesterday at $14.00. Shares closed today at $17.75, a gain of 27 percent, while the Nasdaq overall lost 0.32 percent.

Voyager’s technology harnesses adeno-associated viruses to deliver healthy genetic material for expressing proteins missing from the mutated or damaged genes causing inherited diseases. Adeno-associated viruses are benign, naturally occurring microbes that can infect cells, but do not integrate with the cell’s genome or cause disease, and generate a mild immune response.

The company is commercializing research by its founders whose work covers harnessing of viruses to deliver genetic therapies, and treatments using RNA interference — protein signals derived from one’s genetic code — to inhibit the expression of certain genes. One of the founders is Guangping Gao, professor of microbiology at University of Massachusetts Medical School, whose work  involves the discovery, development, and use of adeno-associated viruses for gene therapies.

Voyager is developing treatments for diseases of the central nervous system including Parkinson’s disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), Friedreich’s ataxia, a rare inherited disease causing damage to the nervous system and movement problems, and Huntington’s disease, an inherited brain disorder that results in progressive loss of both mental faculties and physical control.

In February 2015, Genzyme, the biotechnology division of Sanofi, agreed to license from Voyager gene therapies for Parkinson’s disease, Friedreich’s ataxia and Huntington’s disease, as well as other unspecified disorders of the central nervous system. The deal could bring Voyager as much as $845 million.

As reported by Science & Enterprise, Voyager was founded in February 2014, and gained $45 million in its first venture financing round. In April 2015, the company raised another $60 million in venture funding.

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Hat tip: Fortune/Term Sheet

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