Inside Annovis Bio’s $13.8 Million IPO

Maria Maccecchini made no effort to hide her glee a day after her company completed a multimillion-dollar initial public stock offering.

“We aren’t cash-strapped anymore,” said the founder and CEO of Annovis Bio, greeting a visitor at her Chester County office.

Annovis ended up raising a total of $13.8 million from its IPO, which closed Friday morning. The Berwyn company sold two million shares at $6 each on Jan. 29, then its underwriters exercised their full option to purchase another 300,000 share to cover over-allotments.

Maccecchini, a biotech entrepreneur and neuroscientist, founded the biopharmaceutical company — originally called QR Pharma — in 2008. It’s goal is to develop new treatments for Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease, neurological disorders which, she said, are linked by the similar way in which brain cells die.

Annovis Bio had to overcome several hurdles before going public.

The company began by licensing three compounds from La Jolla-based TorreyPines Therapeutics — posiphen, phenserine, and bisnorcymcerine — that had demonstrated a potential for treating cognitive impairment.

“Somehow the idea spread that I was developing the one that had failed in phase-III testing because that was the most advanced of the three,” Maccecchini said. “I canned that one (phenserine) instantaneously. I don’t believe in resuscitating dead drugs. But people don’t ask. They don’t check. It made it hard to raise money in Philadelphia.

“I spent quite a bit of time explaining it to people I cared about that we weren’t developing that drug,” she said. “I didn’t have time to explain it to the people I don’t care about.”

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