Genomics Diagnostics Company Files for IPO

Berlin-based Epigenomics, whose diagnostic tools could change the way breast cancer patients' risk is classified, is making an initial public offering expected to raise $82 million.

Epigenomics, a Berlin-based company specializing in diagnostics based on genomics, is scheduled to go public on the Frankfurt stock market July 16. It will be the first biotechnology company to go public there since the genomics bubble of 2001.

The company has research relationships with pharmaceutical giants including F. Hoffmann-La Roche Ltd. and AstraZeneca. Epigenomics is also involved in the Human Epigenome Consortium, a public-private collaboration that maps the way methyl groups are added to DNA across the human genome.

These epigenetic changes regulate genetic activity and are often associated with cancers, as well as with some developmental disorders. Epigenomics works on the Human Epigenome Project in collaboration with two genomics research institutes, the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute and the Centre National de Génotypage.

Earlier this month, the company announced positive clinical trial results at a meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology showing that DNA menthylation markers can more accurately identify the likelihood of disease recurrence in women following breast cancer surgery than current methods.

Currently, most patients with a common type of breast cancer are classified as high risk when their disease is assessed using standard prognostic factors such as age, tumor size and tumor grade.

With Epigenomics diagnostic tools, about half of the women previously considered high risk via these indicators were shown to be low risk. These newly identified "low risk" women can then be treated with just endocrine therapy following surgery, rather than a much more taxing combination of endocrine therapy and chemotherapy.

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Despite the companys promising science, it has announced that it doesnt expect to show a profit until at least 2008. That will be twenty years after the company was initially founded in 1998. Last year, Epigenomics lost $8.3 million on revenue of about $13.3 million.

The IPO is expected to raise $82 million through the sale of 5.3 million shares at $14.70 to $17.90 per share. Post-money valuation will stand at $206 million, with about a third of the company in public investors hands. Morgan Stanley is the lead underwriter, with DZ Bank and Lehman Brothers also participating.

Epigenomics has raised $69 million in three rounds of venture capital financing from investors including 3i Group Plc. and Abingworth Management Ltd., both based in London, as well as Munich, Germany-based DVC Deutsche Venture Capital, Boston-based MPM Capital and Bonn, Germany-based Technologie-Beteiligungs-Gesellschaft mbH.

Epigenomics public offering will be the fifth European biotech IPO this year, according to investment bank data provider Dealogic. The company says the proceeds will be used to broaden its diagnostic and pharmacodiagnostic product pipeline, as well as to expand R&D activity.

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