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Allergy drug firm Circassia seeks $285 million in London IPO

LONDON (Reuters) - Circassia, a company developing allergy treatments based on a discovery by scientists at Imperial College in London, plans to raise about 175 million pounds ($285 million) of new funds in a stock market debut to bring its cat allergy vaccine to market.

Chief executive and co-founder Steve Harris said the proceeds of the flotation in London, one of the biggest ever in the biopharmaceutical sector, would also help the firm's programs in other common allergies such as house dust mites, grass and ragweed.

Circassia was formed in 2006 to commercialize innovative technology developed at Imperial College, which synthesizes part of the allergens that cause reactions in sufferers.

The approach is quicker and has none of the side effects of treatments that expose sufferers to small samples of the allergen to build up resistance, Harris said on Thursday.

"We are not based on whole allergen-immunotherapy," he said.

"We take T-cell epitopes that are identified from the whole allergen, we make them synthetically, and we give four injections that treat the underlying disease rather than injections over weeks, months or years."

The company had already received 105 million pounds of funding from investors including Imperial Innovations, which holds just under 20 percent, Goldman Sachs, Invesco Perpetual and Lansdowne Partners, he said.

They had indicated they would support the fundraising, he said. A small number of existing shares could also be included in the offer, he added.

The company has conducted over 15 clinical studies for its programs, he said, and the results of late-stage trials in cat allergy in Europe, Canada and the United States were expected in the first half of 2016.

It also has demonstrated proof-of-concept for treatments for house-dust mite, grass and ragweed allergies, common conditions that affect millions of people.

"Over the course of the last six months, we've had some excellent data on our other programs and we are now in a position to push forward on multiple fronts with a lot of confidence," Harris said.

JP Morgan Cazenove and Peel Hunt are the joint book runners on the offer.

($1 = 0.6133 British pounds)

(Reporting by Paul Sandle; Editing by Mark Potter)

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