On August 17, Global Blood Therapeutics has completed its initial public offering of 6.9 million shares, which included the exercise in full of options to purchase 900,000 additional shares. It is estimated that Global Blood raised $126.1 million from the offering, after deducting underwriting discounts and commissions and other related offering expenses. Consequently, the company plans to use the net proceeds to develop its novel therapeutics to treat grievous, non-malignant blood-based conditions, known as the sickle cell disease (SCD). The disease primarily affects African Americans in the United States; about 1 in 400 African Americans suffer from the SCD, so the market potential appears quite promising for Global Blood.
The biopharmaceutical company’s lead drug candidate is GBT440, which is a once-daily oral prophylactic therapy for patients with sickle cell disease. Even though the drug candidate is still in a Phase I/II study, Global Blood is optimistic that the drug will provide a long-term therapy that would stop the progression of the disease. However, there is tough competition for GBT440 out there in the market. Bluebird Bio Inc. (NASDAQ:BLUE) is currently developing a gene-therapy treatment for SCD as well, so it remains to be seen which company will succeed in bringing their drug candidates to the market. However, the sickle cell disease is not the only focus of Global Blood. The company also plans to develop GBT440 or one of its analogs as a potential therapy for acute and chronic hypoxemic lung disorders, which in turn broadens the market previously targeted. In the meantime, it is not surprising that Global Blood suffers losses from its operations; the company reported a net loss of $20.8 million for 2014, compared to a loss of $18.1 million in the prior year.