Sana Biotechnology — the Seattle upstart that’s looking to treat a variety of diseases through gene therapy and cell engineering — is generating buzz on Wall Street.
Sana boosted the number of shares it plans to sell in an initial public offering this week, and now expects to sell 22 million shares at $23 to $24 per share. That would net the biotechnology company $517 million if it sold at the midpoint of that range. It originally planned to raise up to $150 million via the IPO, but boosted that expectation last week to $323 million.
The Sana IPO, expected this week, would be the first by a Seattle area company in 2021.
Led by former executives from Juno Therapeutics, Sana previously raised more than $700 million in venture capital, making it one of the most heavily-funded startups to emerge in the Seattle area in years.
It’s also unique in that the IPO is coming less than three years after it was founded — a milestone that on average usually occurs more than eight years after initial venture capital financing. In that arena, Juno Therapeutics was even faster to IPO, since it filed to go public in 2014 16 months after its founding. Juno was sold to Celgene for $9 billion in 2018.
In the short term, Sana is planning to treat various cancers, with a plan to file new drug applications next year. But its ambitions are actually bigger.
“Our long-term aspirations are to be able to control or modify any gene in the body, to replace any cell that is damaged or missing, and to markedly improve access to cellular and gene-based medicines,” the company wrote in its IPO prospectus.
At the GeekWire Summit last October, Sana CEO Steve Harr explained how they are essentially turning the body into its own “bioreactor,” which can fend off disease.
“You deliver the tools to enable your body to make its own medicine,” Harr said at the time.
Even without the IPO, Sana is sitting on a large cash pile. At the close of 2020, the company reported cash, cash equivalents and marketable securities of $412 million. But like many emerging biotech companies it is losing money. It has posted a net loss every quarter, and its accumulated deficit since founding stood at $316 million as of September 30, 2020.
Harr will hold 4.9% of Sana after the IPO, while the largest shareholder will be Arch Venture Partners at 24.2%. Flagship Pioneer Funds will hold 18.8%.
Sana plans to trade on Nasdaq under the ticker SANA.