Allergy Therapeutics scores $30M to finish grass allergy vaccine

After a damaging delay back in 2007, Worthing, U.K.-based Allergy Therapeutics is attempting to revive its Pollinex Quattro Grass allergy vaccine. And now, it has some new funding to help it do just that.

The company has turned to public investors for £20 million ($30 million) with an equity issue, it said last week. With the new money, the company aims to guide the subcutaneous immunotherapy allergy vaccine through studies requested by the FDA--an environmental exposure chamber Phase III efficacy trial, which will expose participants to allergens, and a patient registry study. It'll also run safety and pilot studies to assess dosing.

Allergy Therapeutics CEO Manuel Llobet

The vaccine's development was halted in 2007 after a trial participant reported numbness and weakness, a development that knocked 22% off the company's share price. The FDA didn't lift the hold until 2012. Allergy Therapeutics then aimed to find a partner to commercialize the drug but is still operating independently three years later.

Despite the delay, the company says there is pent-up demand for its candidate. The company hopes its testing will allow it to get to market with Pollinex Quattro Grass in the U.S. in 2019, bringing with it the prospect of being a financially self-sustaining business. "We have the opportunity to be the first FDA-licensed seasonal subcutaneous immunotherapy allergy vaccine, and so access an estimated $2 billion market," Allergy Therapeutics CEO Manuel Llobet said in a statement.

Since going public in 2004, Allergy Therapeutics has raised cash through placements several times, and at one point CFR Pharmaceuticals became the majority shareholder. That company was bought out by Abbott Laboratories ($ABT) last year, making Abbott the controlling shareholder in Allergy Therapeutics.

Allergy Therapeutics isn't the only company aiming to commercialize allergy vaccines. Last month, Japan-based Astellas Pharma partnered with Immunomic Therapeutics to develop the latter's Japanese red cedar allergy vaccine. Anergis is developing a birch allergy vaccine, raising 14.5 million Swiss francs last year to take the candidate through Phase III trials. Circassia--which is working on a cat allergy vaccine--recently started trading on the London Stock Exchange.

- here's the release
- read more in FierceBiotech's EuroBiotech report