Biotech firm Tokai files IPO plan; would be Greg Verdine’s second this year

Harvard professor Greg Verdine co-founded Tokai Pharmaceuticals in 2004 (courtesy photo)
Harvard professor Greg Verdine co-founded Tokai Pharmaceuticals in 2004 (courtesy photo)

Cambridge-based Tokai Pharmaceuticals is seeking to be the second local biotech firm with involvement from Harvard professor Gregory Verdine to go public this year, and the third overall.

Tokai, a developer of a drug for prostate cancer, aims to raise $75 million in its initial public offering to fund clinical trials and develop new treatments.

The company was founded in 2004 out of Apple Tree Partners in New Jersey, and based on research by Angela Brodie and Vincent Njar at the University of Maryland.

Verdine was a co-founder of Tokai, but is not currently involved with the company. A professor of chemistry at Harvard, Verdine is serving as chief executive of Cambridge’s Warp Drive Bio and as a venture partner with Third Rock Ventures. Other biotech firms he has co-founded include Watertown-based Enanta Pharmaceuticals (IPO in 2013) and Cambridge-based Eleven Biotherapeutics (IPO in February).

Big funding

Tokai has raised at least $80 million in venture funding to date, most recently raising $35 million in mid-2013.

Tokai’s top shareholders are Apple Tree Partners (49 percent of shares), Novartis BioVentures (28 percent of shares), and entities affiliated with Muneer Satter, formerly a partner with Goldman Sachs (11 percent of shares).

The company’s lead drug candidate, galeterone, is targeted for patients with prostate cancer who aren’t being effectively treated by approved therapies, Tokai has said. The drug is currently in a Phase 2 clinical trial.

Kyle Alspach has worked in journalism in Massachusetts since 2005 and was one of the original staff writers at BetaBoston.
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