The drug maker Editas Medicine Inc. uses a gene-editing technique called Crispr, a technology that has the potential to cure genetic diseases but has also been referred to by some as a drug with the potential to create “designer babies.”
This hasn’t stopped big named supporters and financial backers such as Bill Gates and Google Ventures. The company has now filed with the United States Security Exchange Commission (SEC) to become the first publicly traded company specializing in a new type of technology that edits flaws in genes. It filed for the initial public offering (IPO) with a beginning size of $100 million.
According to Boston Consulting Group, gene-editing startup companies have accrued over $1 billion in private venture-capital funding since 2013. Investors are hopeful that newly developed, honed DNA-editing capabilities will lead to treatments for conditions such as cancers, inherited eye disorders, autoimmune disorders and blood diseases.
According to its filing with the SEC, Editas, based out of Cambridge, Massachusetts, has raised $163.3 million by selling preferred stock. Venture capital firms Polaris Partners and Flagship Ventures each currently hold more than 15% of the company.
The chief executive officer of Switzerland-based Crispr Therapeutics Ltd., Rodger Novak, said he would consider a possible IPO later this year. Both Editas and Crispr Therapeutics have indicated that their first human trials will not begin until 2017.
According to the filing, Editas plans to use about $15 - $20 million of the proceeds for preclinical and clinical studies of an inherited form of progressive blindness. Up to $22 million of the net proceeds will go towards preclinical trials and studies in the company’s partnership with developers of cancer therapies.
Editas has not generated revenue from sales and said it does not expect to “for the foreseeable future.”
While there were not many biotech IPOs during the second half of 2015, a new wave may come in 2016. In addition to Editas, four other biotech companies also filed with the SEC to go public on Monday.