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Alexion Deal in Hand, Blueprint Readies IPO Pitch

Xconomy Boston — 

[Corrected, 3/24/15, 1 pm ET, see below] Three weeks ago, Blueprint Medicines inked its first major pharma partnership. Now it wants to woo public investors, too.

The Cambridge, MA-based company filed papers on Monday outlining plans for an initial public offering. Should Blueprint complete the IPO, it’ll trade on the Nasdaq exchange under the ticker symbol “BPMC.”

The company has raised about $115 million in venture backing and $10 million in debt since its inception 2011.

[An earlier version of this story wrongly indicated that Fidelity is no longer a major shareholder. We regret the error.] With a 41.8 percent stake, founding investor Third Rock Ventures holds by far the largest equity position in Blueprint. At 13.4 percent, Beacon Bioventures Fund III LP—a fund managed by Fidelity Biosciences, which joined Third Rock in a $40 million Series A for Blueprint in 2011—is the only other institutional shareholder with more than 5 percent ownership.

The IPO filing comes three weeks after Blueprint inked a $265 million partnership with Cheshire, CT-based Alexion Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: ALXN), its first research pact with a big drug maker.

A jump to the public markets would mark quite a period of transition for Blueprint. Two years ago, Blueprint abruptly parted ways with founding CEO Chris Varma. It subsequently raised $75 million through two rounds of financing and named its first two lead programs.

Now led by former Algeta executive Jeffrey Albers, Blueprint has taken an unusual approach to finding new cancer drugs. It uses high-speed DNA sequencing instruments to test a library of potential drugs it has built in-house against a group of enzymes called kinases—molecular switches that can go awry in cancer. The idea is that as soon as Blueprint scientists find new genetic drivers of cancer, they can quickly test how the drugs in their library fare against them. The goal is to develop drugs for genetically defined patient groups that inhibit specific kinases while avoiding others.

Blueprint doesn’t yet have any human data to back up its scientific work. It expects to begin clinical trials for its first two drug candidates, BLU-285, and BLU-554, in mid-2015. BLU-285 targets the D816v mutation of the c-Kit gene, which plays a role in systemic mastocytosis (an abnormal buildup of what are known as “mast cells,” which normally help protect the body from disease), and some gastrointestinal stromal tumors. BLU-554 targets what’s known as fibroblast growth receptor 4 (FGFR4), which is implicated in a subset of patients with liver cancer. The company also is working on a third preclinical cancer drug and a program for an undisclosed rare genetic disease that is part of its pact with Alexion.

Blueprint will use the cash to fund the two coming Phase 1 trials. It expects the IPO cash and the $15 million upfront payment from the Alexion deal to carry it through “at least” the end of 2016, according to the IPO prospectus.

Blueprint signaled in November it was heading for an IPO. It raised $50 million in a round that had several “crossover” investors, which are hedge funds or mutual funds that typically invest in public companies. Shortly thereafter, Albers told Xconomy that the company was “thinking of the next step,” referring to a public offering.

Goldman Sachs, Cowen and Co., JMP Securities, and Wedbush Securities are underwriting the IPO.