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Gilead-backed biotech Kyverna's shares surge over 50% in stellar debut

By Arasu Kannagi Basil and Pritam Biswas

(Reuters) -Shares of Kyverna Therapeutics jumped 55.7% in their market debut on Thursday, giving the biotech company that is backed by Gilead Sciences a market capitalization of $1.4 billion.

Emeryville, California-based Kyverna's stock opened at $34.25, above the initial public offering (IPO) price of $22 per share.

The U.S. IPO market is slowly recovering after a two-year lull fueled by the Federal Reserve's aggressive interest rate hikes and geopolitical uncertainty, as bets of a soft landing for the world's largest economy firm up. Investor optimism for drug developers has been robust this year. Shares of CG Oncology have more than doubled, while those of Alto Neuroscience and ArriVent Biopharma climbed 18.8% and 22.2%, respectively, since their debut in the last two weeks.

Kyverna sold 14.5 million shares priced at $22 per share, raising $319 million in an upsized offering.

It is a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company focused on developing cell therapies for patients suffering from autoimmune diseases. It was founded in 2018.The company will use the proceeds from the offering for clinical development of its lead product candidate, KYV-101, a CAR T-cell therapy for the treatment of autoimmune diseases related to rheumatology and neurology.

"All of us have an immune system, and unfortunately in some of us, it attacks our own organs or tissue. Kyverna's cell therapy can reset the immune system," Kyverna CEO Peter Maag said in an interview with Reuters.

"We saw that this (cell therapy) technology can be useful for patients with autoimmune diseases, and now with the funding of this IPO it allows us to execute our clinical trial program," Maag added. Kyverna's investors include Bain Capital Life Sciences, Vida Ventures, Westlake BioPartners and Northpond Ventures.

Genetic medicines company Metagenomi Technologies, backed by Bayer Healthcare and Moderna, is slated to go public on Friday.

(Reporting by Arasu Kannagi Basil and Pritam Biswas in Bengaluru; Editing by Shinjini Ganguli)