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BGM Plans IPO; Welcome to MIAPE and MIMIx

By John Russell

Sept. 13, 2007 | Who says August is slow? BG Medicine (BGM) filed a registration statement for an IPO while a veritable who’s who in proteomics and interactome research pushed for broad adoption of two new standards, MIAPE (minimum information about a proteomics experiment) and MIMIx (minimum information required for reporting a molecular interaction experiment) in the August issue of Nature Biotechnology.

Services vs. Products
BGM uses mass spec and data analysis to search biomarkers. Although the number and price of shares to be sold hasn’t been set, the proposed maximum listed on the early filing papers is $80 million. BGM hopes to list and trade on Euronext Amsterdam by NYSE Euronext under the symbol “BGMDX.” Hopefully the macro-economic environment will settle sufficiently from its current woes to permit the offering to go forward.

Asked by email about future plans for BGM, president and CEO Pieter Muntendam responded, “It’s all in the S1 filing.” Indeed it is, and it’s worth reading. What’s more, the filing, to my reading, strongly suggests that BGM is determined to quickly become a product company and de-emphasize services. Frankly, that’s the central question for many systems biology technology providers, whether lab-based or in silico oriented.

Muntendam downplays this, saying, “The prospectus describes both the service component and the product component of our business. Systems biology has been a tool in support of product discovery or development for pharma and others. We plan to continue to maintain and grow our service business while pursuing our own products in addition to this.”

Maybe, but the language in the filing is strong. Here’s an excerpt:

“We are leveraging our technology platform, initiatives, and collaborations to discover new biomarkers for clinically and commercially important diseases and treatments. From these biomarker discoveries, we aim to create a broad and robust pipeline of molecular diagnostic products with high potential value to improve patient outcomes and contain health care costs. Based on the capacity of our technology platform and our experience to date in biomarker discovery, we believe that we can develop and launch up to four new products per year, with the first product expected as soon as 2009. One of our product candidates, in the area of cardiovascular disease, is based on a biomarker we discovered that may be used to detect asymptomatic coronary artery stenosis.”

Muntendam’s stewardship of BGM seems to be paying off. He took the reigns in 2005 amid substantial disarray, and relocated the company to less expensive quarters. The BGM team experimented a bit with business models before focusing on biomarker discovery. Revenue fell from $2.5M in ‘04 to $1.5M in ‘05, but jumped up to $6M in ‘06, and the first three months of ‘07 are ahead of last year. Muntendam held R&D costs roughly flat in ‘06, but it looks like they might grow a little in ‘07. Losses have decreased too ($4.7M in ‘06 versus $8.2M in ‘05).

No doubt the proposed IPO is a desirable liquidity event for early investors, but if BGM is successful in chasing products, it could also provide BGM with a bigger payoff than just pursuing fee-for-services engagements.

From IPO to PSI
Groups from the Proteomics Standards Initiative (PSI) of the Human Proteome Organization published two perspectives in Nature Biotechnology encouraging researchers and journals to embrace MIAPE and MIMIx. The hope, of course, is the standards can emulate the success enjoyed by MIAME (minimum information about microarray experiments).

Here’s an extract from the MIAPE paper:

“MIAPE guidelines require a fairly rich description without being overly burdensome: much of the required data should be readily available in electronic form and therefore amenable to export, especially as vendors of instruments, analysis software and LIMS implement standards-compliant export facilities...

“Several benefits will arise from the widespread acceptance of MIAPE. Compliant datasets will contain sufficient information to quickly establish the provenance and relevance (to the researcher) of a dataset. Additionally, tools will be developed that afford easy access to, and analysis of, large numbers of such datasets. Tool development will be facilitated by standardized XML-based data transport formats and controlled vocabulary terms generated by the PSI.”

The same sorts of good arguments are made by the MIMIx groups, whose works stems from the molecular interactions group at PSI.

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