News Column

Immune Design files for IPO

June 24, 2014

By Brandon Brown, The Seattle Times



June 24--Immune Design, a Seattle biotechnology company working on immune-based therapies to fight cancer, has filed documents with the Securities and Exchange Commission to go public.

The biotech, on Eastlake Avenue East, said it wants to raise $60 million to complete the phase 1 clinical trials and to support continued development, including into phase 2 clinical trials.

The company's main focus and research is on targeting tumors and killing them off through the body's immune system. The treatment is done through a series of injections on patients with breast cancer, melanoma, non-small cell lung cancer, ovarian cancer, sarcoma or Merkel cell carcinoma.

Immune Design has three clinic trials under way. The most recent, which started in April, is scheduled to be completed in December 2016. The trials are being held at the University of Washington, the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance, and at eight other cancer-research institutes around the country.

Immune Design has never been profitable and does not plan on bringing in real revenues in the foreseeable future, according to documents filed with the SEC on Monday. Its only revenue is through licensing agreements and limited product sales worth $9.4million in revenue in its six-year existence.

The company has raised $93.7 million, mostly through investors, and has an accumulated a deficit of $64.8 million. At the end of 2013, Immune Design had $30.4million in cash. In the first three months of 2014, its net loss was $8.2 million, the SEC documents showed.

Spending this amount is normal for biotechnology companies, said Chris Rivera, president and CEO of the Washington Biotechnology and Biomedical Association. Even after the product is ready for clinical testing, Rivera said, it can cost tens of thousands of dollars per patient.

"It is risky (to invest in biotechnology)," Rivera said, "but there can also be tremendous value for investors."

Last fall, Immune Design secured $32.5million from investors. The Column Group, Topspin Partners, Sanofi-Genzyme BioVentures, Alta Partners, Versant Ventures, Osage Partners and ProQuest Investments have all invested in the company.

CEO Carlos Paya been with the company since 2011. He has worked as president for another biotech company before Immune Design and was a professor and vice dean at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota.

As of June 19, Immune Design employed 24 people full time and three part time.

It filed for its IPO under the Jumpstart our Business Startups Act of 2012, which allows emerging companies to go public without having to disclose as much financial information as a typical company.

Wells Fargo, Jefferies and Leerink Partners are underwriting the offering. The company plans to trade under the symbol IMDZ on the Nasdaq market.

Earlier this month, another Seattle company, Trupanion, filed for a JOBS IPO. The pet-insurance company plans to raise $75 million.

Brandon Brown: 206-464-2164 or brbrown@seattletimes.com

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(c)2014 The Seattle Times

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Source: Seattle Times (WA)


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