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Melanoma MDx Firm DermTech Files for IPO

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb) – Melanoma test development firm DermTech International has filed to go public with a proposed offering of up to $25 million in stock.

The company filed its preliminary prospectus with the US Securities and Exchange Commission on Friday. It has not yet priced its shares or said how many shares it plans to offer.

DermTech plans to list its shares on the Nasdaq Capital Market under ticker symbol "DMTK." The underwriters on the offering are the Maxim Group and Feltl & Co.

Based in La Jolla, Calif., DermTech develops gene expression tests for diagnosing skin conditions, including skin cancer, inflammatory diseases, and aging-related conditions, it said in its SEC document. Its technology uses an "adhesive patch biopsy" that provides a tissue sample non-invasively. Skin cells are then analyzed via a qPCR-based method.

"We believe we will be the first company to offer a non-invasive gene expression test to the clinical dermatology market, which is in contrast to the vast majority of molecular diagnostic tests that are sold into the highly saturated pathology and oncology markets," the company said in its SEC document.

DermTech's initial products are directed at the diagnostic pathway of pigmented skin lesions. Its first test in this area is the Pigmented Lesion Assay, which is designed to reduce unnecessary surgical biopsy procedures by ruling out false positives. PLA is slated for a second-half 2014 commercial launch, DermTech said. It plans to market the test to a group of 250 to 500 dermatologists who treat "a majority of the 750,000 patients with the highest risk of melanoma" in the US.

DermTech described its technology to GenomeWeb Daily News in 2011. The firm said two months ago that it validated the PLA test and planned to offer it as a laboratory-developed test out of its San Diego facility, which completed its California CLIA licensure around the same time.

It also has plans to launch other tests for skin cancer and to pursue partnering and licensing opportunities for its platform technology in areas such as inflammatory skin diseases, cosmetic indications, and acne, it said in its Form S-1. DermTech estimated the US market for its tests and products for pigmented skin lesions and melanoma to be more than $1 billion annually. The worldwide market outside the US, it added, is estimated at more than $500 million annually.

In 2013, the company reported no revenues and a net loss of $5.2 million. Through the first three months of 2014, it recorded revenues of $31,000 and a net loss of $1.4 million. It had $1.5 million in cash and cash equivalents as of March 31, it said.

John Dobak is DermTech's CEO, while Steven Kemper is its CFO, treasurer, and secretary. The company's COO is Michael Willis and its CSO is John Alsobrook. DermTech's Chairman is Gary Jacobs.

DermTech is the third firm in the life science tools/molecular diagnostics space to file for an IPO in 2014, joining Ariosa Diagnostics and Signal Genetics. Also, CardioDx, which filed to go public in the fall, has not yet completed its IPO, while circulating tumor cell-based diagnostic company Biocept went public in February.