French gene-therapy company Lysogene SAS is in talks with investors for funding in advance of a possible initial public offering next year, Chief Executive Officer Karen Aiach said.
The venture capital would help pay for product development and to prepare its manufacturing strategy, Aiach said in an interview last week. Lysogene plans to begin late-stage trials next year of a treatment for Sanfilippo syndrome type A, a deadly pediatric metabolism disorder, and also aims to start clinical studies on a second product in 2017, she said.
After a two-decade roller-coaster ride of promise and frustration, recent developments have fueled optimism about gene therapy, which seeks to cure diseases by fixing defective genes or adding missing ones. In November, Amsterdam-based UniQure NV’s Glybera gene treatment for a rare disease debuted with a price of as much as 1.1 million euros ($1.2 million) per patient.
Lysogene, which is based in the Paris suburb of Neuilly-sur-Seine, is considering a stock-market listing in Paris or in New York next year, Aiach said.
Sanfilippo, which makes the body unable to properly break down long chains of sugar molecules called glycosaminoglycans, hinders the mental and physical development of at least 2,000 children worldwide, she said.
Aiach, who has no medical background, used personal funds to found Lysogene along with her husband in 2009 after their daughter was diagnosed with the rare condition. Working with scientists, their company has designed a treatment using a virus to deliver a missing gene into the brain during an operation.
The product has been found safe for four patients and the last phase of trials would include about 20 patients, she said. The company also plans to start studies for its second product, a treatment for GM1 gangliosidosis, an inherited disorder that progressively destroys nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord.
Lysogene’s existing investors include state-owned investment firm BPI France’s InnoBio fund, Sofinnova Partners SAS and Novo Seeds. The company, which employs five people, has spent about 8 million euros since it was founded, after deducting tax breaks, and has enough cash to operate for three years, Aiach said.
While Aiach says she’s not interested in licensing her first two products, she’s open to partnerships for a third one or manufacturing.