Editas Medicine Inc. a drugmaker that researches cures for genetic flaws filed for an initial public offering (IPO) Monday. The company, which uses a gene-editing technique called Crispr, would be the first to go public among a rising crop of biotech firms competing in the field.
In a filing Monday with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Editas said the company would offer up to $100 million in stock, a placeholder amount that is liable to change as the IPO draws closer. The two-year-old company did not specify a price range for its shares or when it would go public.
So far, the Cambridge, Massachusetts-based Editas has raised $163.3 million from selling preferred stock, its filing said. The company’s private investors include Bill Gates, Google Ventures and Sun Microsystems co-founder Vinod Khosla.
According to Monday’s filing, Editas plans to use about $15 million to $20 million of the IPO proceeds for preclinical studies and clinical trials of its lead program in Leber congenital amaurosis, a hereditary form of progressive blindness. The company also plans to allocate as much as $22 million to develop Crispr-based gene therapies for cancer along with Juno Therapeutics Inc.
Crispr, A DNA-editing tool, lets genomic researchers snip and edit a wide variety of genomes to correct glitches or insert new code, allowing scientists to make quick and cheap edits to a stretch of DNA. The technology, invented in 2012, has given rise to many gene-editing startups pursuing treatments for conditions such as blood diseases, cancers, auto-immune disorders and hereditary eye disorders.
Gene-editing startups have drawn more than $1 billion in private venture-capital investments since 2013, according to Bloomberg which cited a report by Boston Consulting Group. Investors are hopeful that new, more precise DNA-editing capabilities will yield effective and less invasive treatments for genetic diseases.
Editas, which plans to list on the Nasdaq under the ticker "EDIT", was one of the five biotech companies that announced IPO plans on Monday. Corvus Pharmaceuticals Inc., Audentes Therapeutics, Reata Pharmaceuticals Inc. and Syndax Pharmaceuticals Inc. also filed their initial paperwork for an IPO with the SEC Monday.