Shares in France’s newest publicly-traded biotechnology company, ExonHit Therapeutics, were due to start trading on the Alternext exchange today at an initial price of 2.89 euros.

The gross proceeds of the IPO and a private fundraising amount to 7.3 million euros, which includes 4 million euros from fellow French firm bioMerieux, which entered into partnership with ExonHit earlier this year in the area of diagnostics. The final price values ExonHit at 63 million euros, said the company in a statement.

ExonHit 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.

ExonHit’s ‘Splicearrays’ are already sold worldwide in conjunction with Agilent and Affymetrix and are used by life science researchers in target and drug discovery efforts.

The collaboration with bioMerieux is for blood-based cancer diagnostics, to help improve the treatment of breast and other major cancers.

In parallel, ExonHit is developing its own therapeutic pipeline in the field of neurodegenerative diseases and cancer. It has a strategic partnership with Allergan to discover and develop new therapeutics in the areas of pain, neurological diseases and ophthalmology.

BioAlliance unveils IPO plans

ExonHit is one of three French biopharma companies planning an initial public offering this year. Ipsen announced its intention to float earlier this year, and the latest to join the part is BioAlliance Pharma, a company specializing in the development of drugs to treat resistant infections.

Bioalliance Pharma has just filed its initial documents for the IPO, and said it expects the process to complete in December.

The company’s most advanced product is a biodhesive buccal tavblet formulation of miconazole – Lauriad - that has just completed Phase III clinical trials in Europe for treatment of oropharyngeal candidiasis in cancer and HIV patients.

These are first IPOs involving French biopharmaceutical companies since NicOx went public in 1999.

- Meanwhile, in the UK biomanufacturing company Angel Biotechnology floated on the Alternate Investment Market today, raising gross proceeds of £1.5 million that will be used to ‘expand the contract pipeline, establish a marketing presence in the US and progress internal drug development and research projects’, according to the firm.