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Barry Cohen
Barry Cohen
Articles (198) 

AlloVir Shares Skyrocket Following IPO

Stock of virus therapy biotech up more than 70% in just a few days

Cambridge, Massachusetts-based ElevateBio deserves a pat on the back for making a Houston biotech firm the first company in its portfolio last year.

AlloVir Inc. (NASDAQ:ALVR) went public in an upsized initial public offering last week, raising $276 million by selling 16.3 million shares at $17. That means that in just a matter of days, the stock has soared more than 70% to $29.40, giving the company a market value of more than $1.8 billion.

AlloVir’s IPO funds will go toward pushing ahead its program aimed at using its allogeneic T cell therapies to treat viral diseases. Its current programs span 12 different viruses, but the lead candidate, Viralym-M, targets BK virus, cytomegalovirus, adenovirus, Epstein-Barr virus and human herpesvirus, according to an article in Endpoints.. The company has three phase III pivotal trials and three phase II proof-of-concept trials for use of Viralym-M in pediatric and adult patients planned for 2020 and 2021.

AlloVir is working with EvaluateBio to develop drugs to treat and prevent numerous devastating viruses with each single allogeneic cell therapy. Instead of autologous therapies—meaning they are patient-specific—AlloVir is targeting on “off-the-shelf” treatments that can that can be mass manufactured from a healthy donor’s cells and used for multiple patients. This process is far less labor-intensive and more economical.

The company, which changed its name from Viracyte last year, was born from the Baylor College of Medicine’s Center for Cell and Gene Therapy in 2013. In being selected by ElevateBio as its first portfolio company, AlloVir got a $120 million round of funding for its drug development program.

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AlloVir has seasoned industry veterans guiding the organization. CEO David Hallal has 30 years leading several biotech companies. During his 10 years at Alexion Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ:ALXN) as CEO, chief operating officer and chief commercial officer, he paved the way for expansion of the company’s pipeline from one product to many. Prior to Alexion, Hallal was an executive with Amgen Inc. (NASDAQ:AMGN), Biogen Inc. (NASDAQ:BIIB) and Eyetech Pharmaceuticals. He also serves as chairman and CEO of EvaluateBio.

Vikas Sinha serves as the company’s president and chief financial officer. He was CFO at Alexion for more than 10 years, helping the company reach $3 billion in sales through a global expansion. Prior to joining Alexion, Vikas held various positions with across the world with Bayer AG (BAYN).

Disclosure: The author has a position in Amgen.

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About the author:

Barry Cohen
Barry Cohen has nearly 40 years experience in communications and marketing, the majority in senior positions at large international health care companies, including Abbott Laboratories and Bayer Inc.

He has contributed to a number of financial websites, writing primarily about the stocks of health care companies.

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