France’s AB Science has raised 16.5 million euros through an initial public offering which will be used to advance its late-stage treatment masitinib.

The new shares that were issued were priced at 12.65 euros, below the 13.95-17.05 euro range set earlier this month, but still a reasonable sum given the markets’ continued reluctance to invest in biotechs. An offering of existing shares raised a further 11 million euros.

AB Science, which specialises in the development of protein kinase inhibitors, noted that its market capitalisation is now 379 million euros, “making the company one of the biggest in the industry in France”. Chief executive Alain Moussy said the cash will be used to start up new Phase III clinical studies for masitinib in humans, specifically for multiple myeloma, multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer’s disease, rheumatoid arthritis and severe asthma.

The molecule, which is already being used in veterinary medicine in Europe, is already in late-stage trials for pancreatic cancer, gastrointestinal stromal tumours and mastocytosis.

Staying in France and ExonHit Therapeutics has signed an agreement to acquire RedPath Integrated Pathology, a cancer molecular diagnostics company based in Pittsburgh.The Paris-headquartered firm is making an upfront payment of $12.5 million in cash and $10 million in stock.

Starting in 2012, ExonHit may make an additional payment of up to $9.5 million, dependent on the achievement of sales targets. President Loic Maurel said the transaction "will strengthen our presence in the USA which represents 55% of the multi-billion dollar molecular diagnostics market".