- Gene-editing startup CRISPR Therapeutics, one of several pioneering companies working on CRISPR-Cas9 technology, last week filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission for an initial public offering which could raise as much as $90 million.
- The Switzerland-based company (it has a large R&D facility in Cambridge, MA) plans to use proceeds from the listing to fund development of its most advanced therapies, aimed at treating beta-thalassemia and sickle-cell disease.
- Two competitors of CRISPR, Editas Medicine and Intellia Therapeutics, have also gone public this year, raising $108 million and $124 million, respectively.
CRISPR Therapeutics is still some ways away from putting its programs into the clinic. The company's S-1 filing with the SEC revealed the first clinical trial isn't expected until late 2017.
But advancing those programs isn't cheap. CRISPR recorded an operating loss of $28.2 million through the first six months of 2016.
An IPO would help fund CRISPR's pipeline, in particular its lead ex vivo programs in hemoglobinopathies. CRISPR has partnered with Vertex Pharmaceuticals to develop CRISPR-based therapies for the blood disorders beta-thalassemia and sickle cell disease. CRISPR and Vertex are also working together on an in vivo therapy for cystic fibrosis.
In addition to the collaboration with Vertex, CRISPR has set up a joint venture with Bayer AG, dubbed Casebia Therapeutics. Bayer and CRISPR are investigating correctional gene-editing approaches to treating hemophilia and a rare immune disease known as severe combined immunodeficiency.
Bayer plans to chip in $35 million in a private placement on top of the planned IPO, according to the regulatory filing.
CRISPR faces a tough market for biotechs. The NBI and IBB, two major biotech stock indices, have struggled to climb off of lows seen earlier this year and remain below levels from a year ago.
CRISPR's peers, Editas and Intellia, have seen early stock gains erode in the months since their respective IPOs. Editas, which went public at $16 per share in February, traded as high as $43.99 before falling back to below $20 in recent weeks. Intellia stock rose from an IPO price of $18 per share to just under $30 before also slipping back toward its initial price.
CRISPR plans to trade on the Nasdaq Global Market under the ticker "CRSP."