Steve Harr

Summary List Placement

After raising more than $700 million since its 2018 launch, one of the biotech industry’s most valuable private companies is planning to go public.

Seattle-based Sana Biotechnology filed paperwork on Wednesday for an initial public offering. Following a red-hot year for biotech IPOs in 2020, Sana is hoping to take advantage of investor enthusiasm to fuel its ambitious cell and gene therapy programs.

The company was founded in July 2018 and is led by former executives of Juno Therapeutics, a cell therapy startup that was acquired in 2018 by Celgene for $9 billion. Sana came out of stealth mode in early 2019 and closed a Series B round in June 2020 in which it raised $435.6 million.

The size of its latest funding round places Sana among the top 10 biotech or life sciences companies in the US, according to data going back to 2002 from PitchBook. Some of the other companies on that shortlist include coronavirus-vaccine-maker Moderna, low-cost drugs startup EQRx, cancer-detection company Grail, and disgraced lab-testing firm Theranos.

Read more: The 26 billion-dollar startups to watch that are revolutionizing healthcare in 2021

Sana commanded a $2.77 billion valuation after the 2020 raise, the second-highest valuation among all private biotechs, according to Silicon Valley Bank’s annual industry report. Sana hasn’t set yet set the pricing terms for its IPO.

The company plans to trade on the Nasdaq under the ticker symbol SANA. Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan, and Bank of America are leading the offering.

We read through Sana’s 271-page filing to learn more about the secretive biotech’s business and strategy. Here are five crucial takeaways from Sana’s latest disclosure. 

Sana’s pipeline is sprawling, but it’s at least a year away from starting human testing

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Sana’s filing provides the first detailed look at the treatments it’s working on, and it’s sprawling in terms of both its scientific ambitions and the range of disease areas it’s targeting. 

The biotech’s lead program is focused on a rare genetic blood disorder called ornithine transcarbamylase (OTC) deficiency. Beyond that, the company has early-stage treatment candidates in development for heart failure, Type 1 diabetes, multiple sclerosis, Huntington’s disease, several types of cancer, sickle cell disease, and beta-thalassemia.

Sana’s platform is primarily focused on engineering and manipulating cells. But it’s also researching gene delivery, gene modifications, and pluripotent stem cells.

All this work is still in the earliest stages of development. None of its potential treatments are being tested in people, and Sana doesn’t expect that to happen until 2022 at the earliest.

Biotech companies deciding to go public before any of their treatments are tested in people has been a trend in the last few years, as investor appetite for early scientific bets has grown. By that count, Sana is shaping up to be a mammoth wager. 

The startup has set up an independent research arm and is digging into COVID-19

Sana’s S-1 also gives details on the company’s research arm SanaX, led by Harvard Medical School genetics professor Richard Mulligan. The group is currently investigating new tools for …read more

Source:: Business Insider

      

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