Black Diamond Therapeutics' president and CEO David M. Epstein.

Black Diamond Therapeutics' president and CEO David M. Epstein. Credit: Black Diamond Therapeutics Inc.

Black Diamond Therapeutics Inc., a Stony Brook University incubator company that has attracted more than $100 million in venture capital to develop targeted cancer drugs, is moving its headquarters to Cambridge, Massachusetts, and is planning an initial public offering, officials said.

The company's co-founders, president and chief executive David M. Epstein and executive vice president discovery and translational sciences Elizabeth Buck, are veterans of OSI Pharmaceuticals Inc., whose flagship product was lung-cancer drug Tarceva. 

Publicly traded OSI, based in Melville, was deemed a homegrown Long Island bioscience success story until it was acquired for $4 billion by Japan-based Astellas Pharma Inc. in 2010.

Three years later, OSI exited its last facility on Long Island, a laboratory at the Broad Hollow Bioscience Park at Farmingdale State University.

In addition to opening a new headquarters, Black Diamond plans to move staff into the Manhattan facilities of BioLabs, which provides co-working space for biotechnology startups, Epstein said in an email.

 The 50-person company expects to add about 20 additional executives and scientists, he said, and retain its research laboratories at Stony Brook. 

Black Diamond officials declined to respond to questions about a possible IPO because they are still working on documents to be filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission, according to a person familiar with the matter who asked not to be identified.

Epstein said the company is developing drugs tailored to the genetic makeup of patients that could be used to battle lung, breast, ovarian, bladder, colorectal and brain cancers. 

Black Diamond has five drugs under various stages of development, Epstein said. 

It takes years and costs millions of dollars to bring a new drug to market. A 2014 study found that it can take 10 to 15 years to bring a drug from the laboratory, through three phases of clinical trials, past Food and Drug Administration examiners and to the pharmacy. 

Epstein said the company is pushing its drug research forward independently, but is open to forming alliances with big pharmaceutical companies.

"As with any company in our space, we are open to exploring mutually beneficial opportunities," he said.

In many modern cancer treatments, patients' DNA is analyzed. Black Diamond seeks to identify the patient's genetic mutations and match those targets with specific drugs.

Black Diamond is backed by Versant Ventures, a venture capital fund with offices in Toronto and Basel, Switzerland, where the company conducted early research.

In December 2018, Versant announced a $20 million financing round as the company emerged from "stealth mode." In January 2019, Black Diamond got an $85 million funding round from Versant and several other venture capital companies, the largest funding round for a Long Island company in the past decade, according to PitchBook, a unit of Chicago-based data provider Morningstar.

Latest Videos