RA Capital Management Increases Position in AveXis Inc.

Boston-based investment firm RA Capital Management LLC added to its position in clinical-stage gene therapy company AveXis Inc. (NAS DAQ:AVXS), according to an SEC filing dated December 23.

RA Capital Management, which focuses on investing in healthcare and life sciences firms, disclosed that it now beneficially owns 1.89 million shares, or a 6.8% interest, in AveXis.

As of the end of the third quarter of 2016, the hedge fund held 1.73 million shares valued at $71.39 million in the biotech company. This position comprised 7.36% of RA Capital Management’s portfolio.

Loss Widens

Advanced Real-Time Chart: If not automatically loaded with the correct symbol related to this article, you can manually enter it (ex. AAPL) to update the chart.

RA Capital Management’s decision came after AveXis reported that it widened its loss in the third quarter, and also increased operating expenses.

During the three-month period ended September 30, AveXis posted a net loss of $21.08 million, or 87 cents per share, compared to a loss of $9.94 million, or $1.32 per share, booked a year earlier.

AveXis, meanwhile, had total operating expenses of $21.18 million, up from $10.02 million reported last year. Of this figure, about $14.10 million was earmarked for research and development, while the remainder was allocated for general and administrative expenses.

The company attributed the increase in research and development spending to an uptick in the necessary costs to support its manufacturing product development efforts, clinical and pre-clinical programs and compensation increases.

Development Milestones

AveXis, however, noted that it received positive data during the quarter from an ongoing Phase 1 study of AVXS-101, which it describes as a proprietary gene therapy candidate of a one-time treatment for Spinal Muscular Atrophy or SMA Type 1. SMA is a genetic neuromuscular disease regarded as the top genetic cause of infant death, and with no approved treatment.

“We look forward to progressing AVXS-101 into pivotal studies in the U.S. and EU in the first half of next year, and are eager to initiate a Type 2 study as we continue to explore gene therapy for all patients suffering from SMA,” Sean Nolan, president and CEO of AveXis, said in a press release dated November 10.

Ascendis Pharma

Earlier in December, RA Capital Management increased its position in pharmaceutical products manufacturer Ascendis Pharma A/S (NASDAQ:ASND).

In an SEC filing dated December 5, the investment firm disclosed that it beneficially owned 5.38 million shares, or a 17.1% stake, in Ascendis, compared to 3.68 million shares as of the end of the third quarter.