Genocea pitches $75M IPO to back T-cell vaccine pipeline work

Genocea Biosciences is throwing its hat in the growing IPO ring. The biotech has laid out plans to raise $75 million to help fund its work on a pair of early-stage T-cell vaccines aimed at herpes and all strains of the bacteria pneumococcus.

Genocea has built a development platform that hunts up ideal antigens for spurring a T-cell attack on a pathogen. Its work has attracted the high-profile support of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and may have applications in cancer immunotherapy as well.

The Cambridge, MA-based Genocea launched its Phase I study of its new pneumococcus vaccine just days ago, explaining to FierceVaccines that the biotech thinks it can do better than Pfizer's ($PFE) blockbuster Prevnar 13, which guards against 13 strains of the bacteria. Genocea says it has a more comprehensive approach.

Last fall, Genocea--a 2008 Fierce 15 company--landed a $30 million round, with the Gates Foundation joining CVF, Polaris Venture Partners, Lux Capital, SR One, Johnson & Johnson Development Corp., Skyline Ventures, Cycad Group, Auriga Partners, MP Healthcare Ventures and Morningside in bringing its total raise to $76 million.

This year has seen the biggest burst of biotech IPOs in a decade, a welcome turnaround from the drought years that led up to 2013. But in recent months, the market has seen more stumbles as a growing number of developers try to make the leap. Genocea will be among the first to test the waters in 2014.

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