Homology seeks $100M from IPO, reveals Novartis deal numbers

Just a few weeks after signing a big deal with Novartis—now confirmed to have included $35 million upfront and almost $1 billion in milestones—Homology Medicines has pushed ahead with plans for a $100 million IPO.

A Renaissance Capital report says the gene-editing specialist intends to list under the FIXX symbol on the Nasdaq and filed the IPO confidentially on Dec. 22. Last November, Novartis signed a five-year deal to allow it to use Homology’s technology to develop new treatments for certain ophthalmic and hemoglobinopathy diseases, without giving further details.

Homology’s IPO prospectus filed with the SEC now reveals that along with the upfront payment and a $15 million investment in its series B round last August, Novartis has pledged up to $20 million in payments when clinical candidates are selected, as well as $960 million in milestones and royalties on any future sales.

The Bedford, Massachusetts-based biotech is taking a slightly different tack from other players in the gene-editing domain with its adeno-associated virus (AAV) technology AMEnDR. It’s a different approach to other techniques such as CRISPR/cas9 or zinc finger nucleases, and according to Homology is well suited to delivering precisely targeted gene editing directly to patients. It also doesn’t rely on the use of nucleases to snip DNA which could cause unwanted genetic modifications.

The biotech has its own in-house programs on the go, split across gene therapies and gene-editing candidates. Its pipeline is currently headed by a gene therapy candidate for the rare disease phenylketonuria (PKU)—HMI-102—which is due to start clinical testing next year. A gene-editing candidate for PKU is expected to be selected later this year.

The redacted prospectus doesn’t give any details of pricing plans, but BofA Merrill Lynch, Cowen & Company and Evercore ISI are the joint bookrunners. It says the proceeds will be used to advance HMI-102 through the clinic, select the lead gene-editing candidate and bring forward other programs and scale up manufacturing capacity.