Third Rock's Blueprint Medicines scores $147M windfall in another hot IPO

The big biotech party on Wall Street isn't over yet. Blueprint Medicines ($BPMC), which came out of Third Rock's stable of startups, made the leap into Nasdaq, selling $147 million in shares in an upsized IPO. Shares went for $18 each, above the $15 to $17 range, providing fresh evidence that investors still have an appetite for early-stage drug developers.

Blueprint CEO Jeff Albers

The Cambridge, MA-based biotech--named a Fierce 15 company back in 2011--has been focused on building a preclinical pipeline of drugs that address abnormal kinase activation of cancers in patient groups that can be identified genomically.

Their lead program is dubbed BLU-285, which targets KIT Exon 17 and PDGFRa D842V, a set of abnormally active receptor tyrosine kinase mutants that drive cancer, according to the biotech's S-1. That program is being developed for patients with systemic mastocytosis and subsets of patients with gastrointestinal stromal tumors, the most common sarcoma of the gastrointestinal tract. Their other lead is BLU-554, which targets FGFR4, a kinase that drives hepatocellular carcinoma--the most common type of liver cancer--in a subset of patients.

In Third Rock fashion, the biotech began with a rock star group of scientific advisers, which includes Charles Sawyers at UCLA along with biochemist Nicholas Lydon and oncologist Brian Druker, who worked on Novartis' ($NVS) Gleevec, a kinase inhibitor and the first FDA-approved drug to precisely block a cancer-causing protein. Third Rock's Mark Levin played a lead role in creating the company, which recruited Jeffrey Albers as CEO last summer. Albers had been the U.S. president of Algeta and earlier worked at Genzyme.

The venture fund owned 41% of the company when it filed the S-1, representing another big exit for an active band of early-stage investors.

Just before it filed its IPO, Blueprint inked a $265 million collaboration deal with the rare-disease specialists at Alexion ($ALXN). In the pact the biotech gained $15 million upfront and the promise of millions more in exchange for directing its R&D platform toward Alexion's plans for targeting genetic diseases.

Two or three years ago, a preclinical biotech like this could only dream about an IPO like this. But with the IPO window still wide open to companies that can make a convincing claim for cutting-edge status, this sort of big public raise has become a regular affair on Nasdaq. And there's plenty of debate over just how long this party will continue.

- here's the release

Special Report: FierceBiotech's 2011 Fierce 15 - Blueprint Medicines

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