Intellia Therapeutics ($NTLA) has gained the financial muscle to carry through on plans to develop its CRISPR informatics platform. The CRISPR/Cas9 upstart raised $108 million in an upsized IPO, putting it in a position to invest upward of $10 million in technologies including its informatics-enabled gene editing platform.
In a SEC filing to present its business to investors, Intellia put the informatics platform at the center of its attempts to build a pipeline of products targeting hepatitis B and other diseases. The Cambridge, MA-based company has already used the informatics platform to assess the potential of CRISPR/Cas9 target sites as part of its hepatitis B research program. And, with more than $10 million of the IPO haul earmarked for continued development of the informatics platform and other technologies, the capabilities of the system are set to expand following the cash injection.
Intellia described the bioinformatics workflow in its SEC filing. “We are building a high-throughput, scalable data processing and analysis, or informatics, infrastructure to support various aspects of our platform, including guide RNA selection and analysis of on- and off-target editing in cells,” the company wrote. “Depending on the desired editing strategy, we use our proprietary bioinformatics methods to design candidate guides and select those that we believe are more likely to be highly specific and have high cutting efficiency.”
The plan is to incorporate a feedback loop into the informatics system, enabling Intellia to use past performance to improve the predictive power of its algorithms as its repository of experimental data grows. As with Intellia as a whole--which is yet to advance a candidate into the clinic--at this stage the model is more of a promising narrative than a proven approach. But the story--and the skills of the people who are advancing it--has proven compelling enough to part some notable names from their cash. Novartis ($NVS) and Regeneron ($RGEN) invested more than $50 million through the IPO.
Some of the IPO money will go into taking on additional staff. Intellia’s careers page lists a handful of analytics and computing-related posts, including openings for a computational biologist, a software engineer and an automation scientist.