Intellia Therapeutics, a biotech company that aims to use a revolutionary gene editing technology to treat rare diseases, is looking to raise as much as $120 million in an initial public offering to advance its early-stage science.
The company, based in Cambridge, Mass., has yet to disclose how many shares it will offer and at what price range, saying only that it plans to use the proceeds on projects, still in development, that use CRISPR-Cas9 technology to cut-and-paste genomic code.
Intellia’s move follows a successful public debut for rival Editas Medicine, a CRISPR-focused drug developer that raised $94.4 million in a February IPO.
Aside from sharing a common approach to gene editing, the two companies are linked by an ongoing patent dispute between their scientific founders, with each claiming ownership of the CRISPR idea. In documents filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission on Monday, Intellia acknowledged that pending litigation between the parties “may adversely affect our ability to utilize this intellectual property.”
Each company has benefited from a surge in interest in the nascent field of genome editing, which has produced stunning results in lab tests. The first article describing how CRISPR could be used to edit genes appeared about three years ago, and more than 2,600 have followed.
Scientists around the world are using the technology to cure diseases in animals and have experimented with editing human cells. Two Chinese teams have reported using CRISPR in non-viable human embryos — most recently to try to make them resistant to HIV infection.
Intellia is a spinout of Caribou Biosciences, founded by CRISPR pioneer Jennifer Doudna of the University of California, Berkeley. It’s developing treatments for rare genetic diseases and cancer, working alongside drugmaker Regeneron Pharmaceuticals and pharma giant Novartis.
The company splits its pipeline between in vivo treatments, which edit genes inside a patient’s body, and ex vivo projects, in which cells are removed, edited, and reinserted to treat disease. On the in vivo side, Intellia is in the midst of preclinical development with four candidates, and plans to pick one or two to advance into human trials within the next two years. The company’s ex vivo pipeline includes a pair of Novartis-partnered cancer treatments, the most advanced of which could enter the clinic in 2018, Intellia said.
Caribou holds 21.5 percent stake in Intellia, according to the company’s filing, while Novartis owns 20.3 percent and the venture capital firm Atlas Venture has a 17 percent share. Intellia’s executives and directors control 38.7 percent of the company.
The company is planning to list its shares on the NASDAQ under the ticker “NTLA.”