Drug Development

Gene editing star CRISPR Therapeutics files for $90M IPO

Emmanuelle Charpentier. Credit: Bianca Fioretti, Hallbauer & Fioretti

Emmanuelle Charpentier. Credit: Bianca Fioretti, Hallbauer & Fioretti

In one of the most highly anticipated biotech IPOs of the year, CRISPR Therapeutics has filed its S-1 outlining its plans to raise $90 million from an initial public offering.

CRISPR Therapeutics is one of a handful of the most prominent gene editing companies in the world, founded by Emmanuelle Charpentier, who’s credited as one of the pioneering scientists behind CRISPR/Cas9 tech, which promises to open up a new chapter in drug development.

Just days ago CRISPR Therapeutics began ramping up Casebia, a gene editing joint venture with Bayer which started out with $335 million in funding to back the next five years of R&D work. Bayer has agreed to buy $35 million of shares in the IPO, according to the S-1. Vertex, meanwhile, paid $105 million in cash to start its collaboration. And while CRISPR Therapeutics is based in Switzerland, its research headquarters is in Cambridge, MA, just like Casebia’s.

Top programs at CRISPR Therapeutics include new therapies for beta-thalassemia and sickle cell disease.

The company has been one of the best funded in the industry. According to the S-1, CRISPR Therapeutics ended June with $246.8 million in cash. And with the IPO, it expects to have enough cash to fund operations over the next 24 months.

CRISPR Therapeutics CEO Rodger Novak

CRISPR Therapeutics CEO Rodger Novak

But that $90 million cited in the S-1 may just be a placeholder for a much larger figure. Both Editas $EDIT and Intellia $NTLA enjoyed successful IPOs this year, staring down a tough market and winning over investors attracted to gene editing’s hot rep.

Much of that new money will continue the biotech’s preclinical work. The biotech expects to launch its first clinical effort for hemoglobinopathy programs in late 2017.

The biggest shareholders are Versant, with 21% of the stock, Celgene Alpine Investment with 12% and NEA and SR One (GSK) with about 10% each.

CRISPR Therapeutics, headed by CEO Rodger Novak, has been playing its cards close to its vest in recent months,  but it sent a clear signal about the upcoming IPO in June, when it added a completely unneeded $38 million to its last venture round, taking it to a whopping $140 million. Biotechs that go public these days need plenty of cash in the bank and insider investors lining up to buy shares.

CRISPR Therapeutics would seem to be going into this IPO with all the right boxes checked.

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