January 27, 2012

Wall Street Journal

Verastem Climbs Post-IPO

Biopharmaceutical firm Verastem Inc. climbed in early trading after boosting the size of its deal.

The company's stock opened at $11 a share on the Nasdaq, up from its initial public offering price of $10. It sold 5.5 million shares, a million more than originally planned, at the midpoint of its expected $9 to $11 price range.

Based in Cambridge, Mass., Verastem is an early-stage company working to develop cancer treatments that target cancer stem cells, along with diagnostic tests. The scientific co-founders of the company, researchers at the Whitehead Institute, developed technology to create a stable population of cancer stem cells. Verastem licenses the technology from the Whitehead Institute and screens compounds on their ability to kill the stem cells.

Through this process, Verastem has identified a pipeline of compounds with the potential to target cancer stem cells, and is doing preclinical studies on three of them. The company also plans to create diagnostic tests to identify patients with tumors using biomarkers.

Because it is still in preclinical trials, Verastem hasn't even proven its ability to run a full clinical trial, never mind identifying a promising treatment, gaining regulatory approval for it, or selling it. It has never generated revenue or profits, and warns it may never achieve profitability.

UBS AG and Leerink Swann managed Verastem's offering.