Retroscreen Virology Group, the specialist virology contract research organisation spun out from Queen Mary, University of London in the UK, has joined the AIM alternative investment market of the London Stock Exchange with a £15 million share placing.

The company will use the proceeds of its initial public offering as general working capital and to invest in infrastructure, facilities and personnel, including another bespoke unit for its Viral Challenge Model (VCM).

At the moment, the model is used primarily for cold and flu testing. It could, however, be extended to adjacent markets such as asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

In February 2011, Retroscreen completed a £2 million purpose-built facility that occupies a whole floor of an innovation centre on Queen Mary, University of London’s Whitechapel campus.  

Gross proceeds

The company’s placing of 18,750,000 ordinary shares at 80 pence per share raised gross proceeds of £15.0 million, including £2.4 million from existing shareholders, directors and employees. Net proceeds came to £14.0 million.

Retroscreen was admitted to AIM with a market capitalisation of around £32.8 million.

In addition to general working capital, the company intends to the use the proceeds of the share placing to:

•    Invest in infrastructure and expand its facilities and office locations, including an additional bespoke VCM unit and information technology systems, so it has the capacity either to manage more viral-challenge quarantines and/or to run these quarantines concurrently.                                               

•    As the number of testing subjects needed to address Retroscreen’s pipeline increases, the group also wants to establish satellite offices and clinics in various locations around the UK. That way, it will have easier access to potential volunteers and employable staff, the company says.                                       

•    Expand and broaden Retroscreen’s scientific team and testing capability, such as adding expertise in new target areas for the VCM (e.g., asthma) and developing further the company’s internal ‘Virometrics’ data and biological materials  capabilities.                                          

•    Acquire additional stocks of virus as well as characterising and developing further inventory from existing proprietary stocks to the required Good Manufacturing Practice standards.                                          

•    Harvest the results and experiences of the VCM studies, including further development of Retroscreen’s Virobase and Biorepository.