Neil Littman is the Business Development Officer at CIRM where he is responsible for facilitating opportunities for outside investment in stem cell research in California for both CIRM-funded and non CIRM-funded programs by biopharma companies and venture capital investors.
A CIRM-funded company, bluebird bio Inc., today filed an S-1 registration statement with the SEC for an Initial Public Offering (“IPO”) to raise up to $86.3 million. For those unfamiliar with the IPO process, an IPO is a public offering where shares of a company’s stock are sold to institutional investors and the general public for the first time. It is through the IPO process that a private company becomes a publicly listed company in which shares can be freely bought and sold on a listed exchange (in this case The Nasdaq Global Market). By “going public,” bluebird bio is seeking to raise additional capital, expand their shareholder base and offer liquidity to existing investors.
In October 2012, CIRM awarded bluebird bio a $9.3 million grant through our Strategic Partnership Award to fund the company’s ß-thalassemia program, which is expected to be initiated in the U.S. in 2013. The award is to support a Phase 1/2 study to evaluate the safety and efficacy of LentiGlobin, which works by introducing a fully functional human beta-globin gene into the patient's own blood-forming stem cells. The goal is for these corrected stem cells to ultimately produce fully functioning red blood cells.
A portion of the proceeds from the IPO will be used to fund the ß-thalassemia program. These funds, in conjunction with the company’s $60 million Series D financing in July of 2012, will supplement CIRM's funding of the project. One of our strategic goals at CIRM, as outlined in our Industry Engagement and Commercialization Plan, is to help companies we fund get these types of additional funding sources to ensure that their projects are ultimately successful.
There's more about CIRM-funded projects headed toward or starting clinical trials and about our strategies to help those programs succeed on our website.