Since launching in 2015, Gritstone Oncology has courted some well-heeled investors and high profile partners to bet on its neo-antigen R&D effort. Now, it is ready to find a new group of supporters with an IPO.
The Emeryville, CA-based biotech is seeking $80 million to follow up two mega-rounds and a relatively modest Series C, filing its S-1 on the same day it announced a new TCR alliance with bluebird bio — a deal that, the paperwork revealed, could bring in $1.2 billion in milestones in addition to the $30 million total in near-term cash.
While that collaboration plays out in the coming five years, Gritstone has its eyes set on a more imminent goal: initiating Phase I/II studies for its personalized immunotherapy, GRANITE-001, in the second half of this year. Zeroing in on common solid tumors like metastatic non-small cell lung cancer and gastroesophageal, bladder and colorectal cancers, these trials will be the first tests of Gritstone’s theory that targeting rare mutations can boost the efficacy of checkpoint inhibitors provided by Bristol-Myers Squibb.
The IPO will support the trial, as well as the continued buildout of their manufacturing facility in Pleasanton, CA. Some of the funds will go toward R&D of other programs — notably, an off-the-shelf version of the neo-antigen immunotherapy.
Even though neo-antigens are often specific to an individual patient, Gritstone researchers have observed in their tumor sequencing work that certain neo-antigens are shared by a subset of patients, giving birth to their SLATE-001 program. The plan is to submit an IND by mid-2019.
Gritstone is helmed by founder and CEO Andrew Allen, who now leads a team of 100 staffers — up from 65 last September. He owns 6.5% of the stock; other investors include Versant Ventures, The Column Group, Clarus, Frazier Healthcare Partners, Lilly Asia Ventures, GV, Redmile Group and Casdin Capital.
Look for the company on Nasdaq under the symbol $GRTS.
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