Seattle biotech company Athira Pharma became the third company in Washington State to make its Initial Public Offering in 2020. It debuted on the NASDAQ under the ticker ATHA and raised US$ 204M. The company’s valuation is now about US$ 670M.
In America, more than 5 million people have Alzheimer’s disease. The number is estimated to rise to around 14 million by 2050. It is also the sixth leading cause of death in America and billions of dollars are spent annually fighting it.
Athira Pharma aims to treat this disorder by developing a drug that could halt or reverse the nerve damage that leads to Alzheimer’s disease and other illnesses including Parkinson’s and ALS, or Lou Gehrig’s Disease.
The additional capital raised in the IPO will give it a bigger platform to pursue this goal as a public company. Athira’s IPO was priced at US$ 27 per share last Thursday, which came in at the high end of its range. Athira Pharma sold 12 million shares raising US$ 204M in the IPO and the stock was up slightly in Friday morning trading.
About Athira Pharma
Founded in 2011, Athira is in late-stage development of its lead therapeutic candidate called NDX-1017. This drug apparently uses regenerative technology that rebuilds connections between neurons.
Neurodegenerative diseases occur when the brain is unable to restore or build connections. Athira’s therapeutic approach involves small molecule treatments designed to work by targeting specific, naturally occurring repair mechanisms. Their initial target is HGF/MET, a critical repair pathway that they are seeking to promote with their therapeutic candidate, ATH-1017. Boosting this pathway can help improve brain health and function.
“This is a big milestone. We are one step closer to hopefully impacting a lot of people’s lives positively,” said Athira CEO Leen Kawas. She also said that the company’s technology is different than anything else pursued over the past decades.
“This is a new approach that could help a lot of people recover their life, and reduce the burden of this huge unmet medical need,” said Leen Kawas.
About Leen Kawas
Leen Kawas began building the foundation of Athira while pursuing her Ph.D. in molecular pharmacology from Washington State University 10 years back. She had moved to the U.S from Jordan in 2007 and is an immigrant entrepreneur.
U.S. business culture and mentality helped Kawas learn about starting companies and raising capital. She hopes that the medical treatment developed by her company can potentially improve the lives of millions of people. She is also the first woman to guide a company to an IPO in Washington state in more than two decades.
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