Stemline bets $50M IPO on a pair of cancer stem cell treatments

New York-based Stemline Therapeutics is making a bid to go public and raise $50 million to help fund its mid-stage work on a pair of cancer stem cell treatments. Oppenheimer and JMP Securities are acting as joint book-running managers for the offering. And in an interesting aside, the Madoff Family LLC is listed as a minority owner, with 15% of the company's shares.

The biotech's eggs are divided between two baskets: SL-401, Stemline's treatment for acute myeloid leukemia, and SL-701, a therapeutic vaccine for brain cancer. As Xconomy reported last summer, SL-701 managed to grab a little of the ASCO spotlight with the news that two patients with advanced malignant glioma experienced remission while a 10-year-old's tumors shrunk by half in a tiny, early-stage study. 

"They hit the non-stem cells, as well as the stem cells," CEO Ivan Bergstein told the tech news operation. "Our prediction is that the dual effect will make the tumor shrinkage more durable" than it is with standard chemo and radiation. 

SL-701 is now being readied for a pair of Phase IIb studies, according to the S-1, including one billed as a "pivotal" trial for pediatric patients with newly diagnosed brain stem glioma. Some 200 patients will be recruited for a Phase IIb study of SL-401 in relapsed or refractory AML patients who failed two previous treatments.

There has been a flurry of new biotech IPOs so far this year, despite the fact that there have been few signs of a significant thaw in investors' attitudes toward high-risk offerings. One of the few successful IPOs in recent months was mounted by Christoph Westphal's Verastem, which managed to stir interest in its preclinical work on cancer stem cell treatments. Now Stemline, which reportedly only had a dozen employees in mid-2011, will see if it can tap into the same reservoir of enthusiasm for CSCs.

- here's the S-1
- read the press release
- get the story from StreetInsider