After spending the second half of last year laying the carpet for an IPO — complete with a crossover round and a big partnership with Gilead — Precision BioSciences has raised $126 million in its public debut.
The going price was $16 each for 7.9 million shares $DTIL, smack in the middle of its proposed range but landing above Precision’s original pencilled-in goal of $100 million.
The Durham, NC-based gene editing upstart is pitching its ARC nuclease approach as a better alternative to the prominent trio of CRISPR, TALEN and zinc finger nuclease. Dubbed ARCUS, the tech derives its name from a homing endonuclease found in algae called I-Crel, repurposing its natural genome editing abilities to cut and paste onto cells as needed.
Because the synthetic enzyme can recognize long sequences of DNA while staying relatively small, Precision claims, ARCUS is more specific and flexible than other gene editing methods out there. It is set to be tested in humans soon as part of a trial for the company’s off-the-shelf CAR-T program, just as the CRISPR pioneers — CRISPR Therapeutics, Intellia and Editas — are getting into the clinic.
Specifically, Precision’s first CAR-T therapy will aim to treat acute lymphoblastic leukemia and non-Hodgkin lymphoma by engineering the donor T cells to target CD19.
Next up in its pipeline is a hepatitis B program that Gilead has already bought into, representing the “in vivo gene correction” half of its medicine portfolio. An IND for that potential hep B cure is expected in 2020. Meanwhile, other diseases in that basket include hemophilia A, familial amyloid polyneuropathy, lipoprotein lipase deficiency and familial hypercholesterolemia, from which Precision will choose one to elevate out of discovery stage.
Aside from clinical spending, the biotech has allocated $12 million to $14 million for a manufacturing facility being built in Durham.
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