A startup that wants to regenerate human hearts and brains just announced a new chief financial officer — and it could mean an IPO in 2019

  • BlueRock Therapeutics, a biotech company looking to create cell and gene therapies in the field of regenerative medicine, just appointed former investment banker Shane Kovacs as its new CFO.
  • This comes at a time where the market is seeing more biotech IPOs than ever before. Kovacs said that the company is considering going public as early as 2019.
  • BlueRock is focusing on three areas: Parkinson’s Disease, heart failure, and autoimmune disease.
  • BlueRock is looking to get its new Parkinson’s treatment into human trials and is expecting to do so by the end of this year.

BlueRock Therapeutics, a moonshot project from pharma giant Bayer and Versant Ventures, caught widespread attention when it launched in 2016. Its goal is to be the leading biotech company in cell and gene therapy for regenerative medicine. And it wants to do that by regenerating human heart and brain cells to help patients with Parkinson’s Disease and heart failure.

On Thursday, the Cambridge-based company brought on former investment banker Shane Kovacs as its new CFO, as the company prepares to raise more funding and to potentially go public in 2019.

To date, it’s raised $US225 million in funding.

BlueRock is hoping to deliver a one-two punch in tackling disease by combining techniques used in both modern day cell therapy and gene therapy. To fuel this, they are creating master bank of universal stem cells – cells that can be made into any type of cell patients need from heart to brain.

Using these cells, they can repair damaged cells in the brains of Parkinson’s patients, and regenerate heart muscles in patients with heart failure.They can also tweak and correct rare genetic disorders or mutations while they’re creating these new cells.

So far, the team has set its sights on three areas: neurology, cardiology, and autoimmune function.

The leading drug in BlueRock’s therapeutic pipeline is its Parkinson’s Disease therapy. The company recently filed an application with the FDA in order to start clinical trials on the treatment. The team expects to start dosing in human patients by the end of this year. The trial will allow the team to monitor safety and access effects.

In the pipeline, BlueRock’s cardiology program for heart failures is currently being tested in animal models, and its autoimmune program is set to undergo pre-clinical proof-of-concept studies.

“There’s tremendous growth that we’re experiencing and there’s a ton to do,” Kovacs told Business Insider. For one, BlueRock has grown from 10 employees a year ago to 70 today, and they’re expecting to grow into 200 by the end of next year. BlueRock is also looking to build out its innate manufacturing capabilities, so it can exert full control over the production process.

“Clearly with our plan and where we’re going to take the business and the platform, we’re going to need access to additional capital,” said Kovacs. To do this, he floated the idea of another private fundraising round, as well as the possibility of taking the company public next year.

In 2018, there has been 38 biotech IPOs so far, raising almost $US3.9 billion in total which is the highest dollar amount since 2000, according to Bloomberg.

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