Versant-backed, Bristol Myers-stamped Repare Therapeutics guns for $100M IPO
With a Bristol Myers Squibb endorsement in tow, Versant-backed cancer drug developer Repare Therapeutics has set its sights on a Nasdaq debut.
On Friday, the Montreal-based company with operations in Cambridge, Massachusetts that is yet to enter the clinic, unveiled plans for a $100 million IPO, banking on its “synthetic lethality” platform.
The basic idea is to target the genetic basis of tumors, a common idea across precision oncology medicines. But instead of targeting the perpetrator mutation directly, the compound is designed to go after the other gene in the gene pair. The rationale is based on the decades-old genetic principle that indicates two mutations are lethal only when combined together.
A similar approach was first solidified with the approval of PARP inhibitors, such as AstraZeneca and Merck’s Lynparza, Clovis’ Rubraca and GSK’s Zejula. PARP is a protein used by damaged cells to initiate repair, and by thwarting it, the class of drugs is engineered to prevent cancer cells from repairing themselves, thereby catalyzing their destruction.
At Repare, scientists have employed the use of a CRISPR-based screening tool to hone in on these synthetically lethal gene pairs and then engineered drugs to hunt them. The Repare approach promises to be tumor-agnostic — the company’s lead experimental product, RP-3500, is a small molecule designed to block the DNA repair protein — ataxia telangiectasia — as well as an enzyme that’s activated by DNA replication stress. Clinical trials are anticipated to begin later this quarter, and if all goes well, a Phase I/II study in the third quarter.
Repare has company in the field, such as its Cambridge neighbor Tango Therapeutics that has CRISPR discovered five preclinical programs and raised $60 million in a fresh injection of funding in April. Cyteir Therapeutics, another rival, netted about $40 million last October.
So far, 2016 formed-Repare has raised $135.2 million — its most recent capital injection was an $82.5 million Series B financing last September. The IPO filing shows the company has penciled in a $100 million IPO, but of late, the final figures raised are typically far higher.
Days ago, Bristol Myers bought into the dream, forking over $50 million upfront and $15 million in an equity investment in a collaboration with Repare. Pre-IPO, Versant is Repare’s largest shareholder, owning roughly a 30% stake — other investors include MPM Capital (11.8%) and OrbiMed (11.2%).
The architect of Repare’s technology is company co-founder Daniel Durocher of the Lunenfeld-Tanenbaum Research Institute (the research arm of Mount Sinai Hospital) who is one of the first scientists who pioneered the use of CRISPR to screen for synthetically lethal gene pairs. Frank Sicheri, the other co-founder, is also from Lunenfeld-Tanenbaum.