Drug Development

IPO bound? CRISPR Therapeutics ups B round to a cool $140M

Gene editing player CRISPR Therapeutics just added a largely unneeded $38 million to its B round with a group of crossover investors in tow — probably signaling that their S-1 is either ready to roll or in late-stage editing.

Vertex Pharmaceuticals and Bayer Global Investments – a collaborator – led the round, which brings the total in the B round to a whopping $140 million.

Franklin Templeton Investments, New Leaf Venture Partners, funds advised by Clough Capital Partners L.P. and Wellington Capital Management L.L.P., and “other undisclosed funds specializing in life sciences” all participated.

Savvy investors will note the crossovers in the mix, as well as the fact that CRISPR Therapeutics is now the last of the big three gene editing players yet to go public. Editas ($EDIT), which got off to an early lead on CRISPR/Cas9 tech, started things off with a successful IPO in February, followed quickly by Novartis partner Intellia ($NTLA).

CRISPR CEO Rodger Novak

Rodger Novak, CRISPR Therapeutics CEO

CRISPR CEO Rodger Novak told me last spring that his company had enough money to pay for a two-and-a-half-year runway on R&D. The added money will help make a case to general investors that the biotech – with an R&D base in Cambridge, MA – deserves the same warm welcome that was given its two rivals.

And just to complete the pre-IPO picture, the enthusiastic Novak is staying mum this morning, declining any interviews.

It won’t hurt that Sean Parker’s decision to fund the first human study involving the gene editing tech just grabbed headlines around the world. Gene editing may be some years away from delivering its first new therapy to patients, but it’s one of the hottest things in biotech right now.

Biotech IPOs in general, meanwhile, have not been doing as well as previous years. The bloom came off the biotech bubble at the end of 2015, forcing down the value of shares and making it harder – but not impossible – to make the public leap.

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