Third Rock's Eleven pitches a $69M IPO to fuel its PhIII dry eye program

A little less than four years after Third Rock and Flagship joined forces and investment cash to back the launch of Eleven Biotherapeutics, the protein engineering company has put together a pitch for a $69 million IPO designed to finance a big shift into late-stage drug development.

Eleven initially got started under the guiding hand of Third Rock's Mark Levin, who later handed the reins to biotech vet Abbie Celniker. Like a lot of Third Rock companies, Eleven set out to build a development platform, in this case using some new scientific insights into protein engineering to create a new drug candidate for dry eye disease. Their expertise is in cytokines and this first program targets IL-1, which they believe is responsible for triggering a sequence of events that causes dry eye.

Now that early-stage studies are completed on the topical formulation, Cambridge, MA-based Eleven says it's ready to go straight into a pivotal program in early 2014--two Phase III trials and a separate, yearlong safety study--with an eye on a regulatory approval.

Eleven has burned through more than $45 million in the last three years, a bargain price some would say--provided they're right about dry eye disease.

Biotech aficionados might get a kick out of the company's name. Levin and the startup crew were inspired by the mockumentary "Spinal Tap," which features speakers that go up to 11. If the band wants to really crank out the sound, says Christopher Guest's character in the film, they turn it all the way up to 11--the max.

Now Eleven Biotherapeutics will find out if investors will like the sound of a $69 million IPO built around early-stage results. But they're going to have to push it all the way up to 11 to cut through the din left by a big year in biotech IPOs. 

Eleven plans to list on Nasdaq under the "EBIO" symbol.

- here's the S-1