OncoMed offers $115M IPO bet on cancer stem cell work

A year after scoring a $20 million milestone from Bayer, OncoMed Pharmaceuticals is preparing to see if it can generate enough excitement from investors for its cancer stem cell work to support a $115 million IPO.

Jefferies, Leerink Swann, Piper Jaffray and BMO Capital Markets are listed as underwriters.

Redwood City, CA-based OncoMed has some of the biggest partners in the business, which has helped fund the company since it was founded in 2004. In its filing with the SEC, the biotech says it has raised $187 million in equity financing and $112 million in collaboration cash.

Bayer's payday arrived less than a year after the pharma giant struck a $387 million development deal for each new cancer stem cell and protein therapeutic program targeting the Wnt pathway. The antibody OMP-18R5 was the first of these programs to make it into the clinic. OncoMed also struck a partnership deal with GlaxoSmithKline ($GSK) back in 2007 on anti-cancer stem cell treatments. 

OncoMed may find a cool reception among investors. Like a lot of developers, OncoMed has no products. And it doesn't have any pivotal trials to whet investors' interest. It is, though, focused on a hot field in cancer drug development; a story line that has buoyed startups like Verastem ($VSTM), one of a few successful IPOs this year.

One point in OncoMed's favor: Several biotech IPOs have managed to hold their own with investors in the first few months of 2012, with prices edging upward. For some developers, that's a good enough reason to take their IPO plans off hold and push ahead after three years of near dormant IPO activity.

- here's the S-1
- read the Reuters story