Massachusetts VC-Backed Biotech Ra Pharma Files for $86 Million IPO

Massachusetts VC-Backed Biotech Ra Pharma Files for $86 Million IPO October 3, 2016
By Alex Keown, Breaking News Staff

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – Ra Pharmaceuticals, which is developing small molecule therapies for rare blood disorders, plans to raise up to $86 million in an initial public offering, the company said in a federal filing on Sept. 30.

The eight-year-old company employs 40 people and will be trading on the Nasdaq Global Market under the symbol RARX, the Boston Business Journal reported this morning. Ra Pharma submitted its federal filing on Friday indicating its IPO intentions, but the company did not specify when it would go public. The company also did not indicate a range of proposed share prices, the Journal added.

For much of this year Ra Pharmaceuticals has been strengthening its management team, including the hiring of Simon Read, its new chief scientific officer and an expansion of its board of directors. The company also tapped Jeffrey Johnston as its chief medical officer and David Lubner as its chief financial officer.

The company is developing the synthetic, macrocyclic peptide RA101495, an inhibitor of complement C5-mediated hemolysis. The molecule is currently in development for the treatment of paroxysmal nocturnal hemoglobinuria (PNH), an acquired hematopoietic stem cell disease resulting in pathologic red blood cell lysis caused by unregulated activity of the membrane attack complex (MAC). RA101495 binds a unique site on the C5 protein to inhibit cleavage into C5a and C5b, thereby preventing red blood cell lysis by inhibiting the production and assembly of the MAC.

As Ra Pharmaceuticals looks to raise money through the IPO, the Journal reported the company still has about $40 million in reserves held over from a $58 million Series B funding round from 2015. The company also took in $5 million in revenue during the first half of 2016, the majority of which came from a milestone payment for a developmental partnership the company has with Merck .

Ra Pharmaceuticals has been backed by several noted venture capital companies, including Novartis Bioventures, Novo A/S, Lightstone Ventures and RA Capital Management, the Journal said.

Several Cambridge-based companies have launched their IPO this year. Most recently CRISPR Therapeutics filed its intention to have a $90 million IPO. Additionally, Editas Medicine and Intellia Therapeutics launched their IPOs this year. Intellia’s IPO raised $124 million in its debut in May. Editas raised $109 million in its IPO in February. In February, cystic fibrosis drugmaker Proteostasis Therapeutics, Inc., rang the opening bell of the Nasdaq to celebrate its IPO. The company intended to raise $86 million in its IPO, but lowered the expectation to $50 million.

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