France’s ExonHit Therapeutics said yesterday it had filed documents seeking a listing on Alternext, the section of the Euronext stock exchange dedicated to small and medium-sized companies.

The company said it is aiming for an opening price in the range of 2.50-2.89 euros, with trading starting on November 18.

ExonHit is one of two French companies planning an initial public offering this year, along with Ipsen [[08/11/05f]]. And these are first involving a French biopharmaceutical company since NicOx went public in 1999.

The company specialises in alternative RNA splicing - a process which when deregulated plays a key role in the onset of various diseases – and is using this technology as a platform to develop both therapeutic and diagnostic products. It has been running at a loss since its formation in 1997, losing 11.5 million euros in 2002, 6.6 million euros in 2003 and 8.4 million euros last year.

At the moment, ExonHit’s lead product is EHT0202, a small molecule compound being developed for multiple indications in neurodegenerative diseases and ophthalmology. Currently, a Phase IIa proof-of-concept study is being planned in Alzheimer's disease patients, according to the company.

ExonHit suffered a setback at the end of last year when Ikomio, a molecule it was developing for the treatment of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, failed in Phase III clinical trials.