Synthetic biotechnology company Intrexon has filed for an initial public stock offering initially set to raise as much as $125 million.

The number of shares to be offered and the pricing range have not yet been determined. Even the $125 million figure will likely change as the company moves through the IPO process. J.P. Morgan and Barclays will serve as joint book-running managers in the proposed offering. Intrexon intends to trade on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol “XON.”

Intrexon was founded in Ohio in 1998 as Genomatix LTD. The company reincorporated in Virginia in 2004 and changed its name to Intrexon Corporation in 2005, operating out of Blacksburg, Va. The company is now based in Germantown, Md. Intrexon said it would use proceeds from the offering to continue its R&D work and extend its partnerships in synthetic biology. Intrexon’s research involves developing ways to to design, build and regulate genes, work that could lead to new therapeutics. The company’s website is appropriately

Carolina connections

Acquisitions link Intrexon to North and South Carolina; two of the company’s four 2011 acquisitions were in the Carolinas. Immunologix, a Charleston, S.C. company spun out of the Medical University of South Carolina was acquired for its antibodies platform technology expected to have applications in cancer, viruses and autoimmune diseases. Intrexon also purchased Research Triangle Park-based Agarigen, a company researching a way to use the common mushroom as a means to manufacture pharmaceuticals. Following that deal, Agarigen’s RTP site became the base for Intrexon’s agricultural biotechnology division. Both acquisitions were primarily stock deals.

Intrexon research still has far to go and like many early-stage biotechs, it’s burning lots of cash in R&D. The company’s filing shows that it spent $64.1 million on R&D in 2012. For the year, Intrexon reported an $81.8 million loss.

But Intrexon is led by CEO Randal Kirk, a billionaire who has already cashed out of two biotech companies. So far, Intrexon has financed its work by raising capital through private placements of company securities. Intrexon has raised a staggering $509 million to date; the most recent offering closed in May raising $150 million. That fundraising effort was led by new investors who joined Kirk’s own venture firm, Third Security, in the series F round.

Synthetic biology is still an emerging field but it’s one where the company sees opportunity in health care applications and beyond. By engineering biological systems, the company says it can regulate genes that control cells or activities in or around cells.

“Our synthetic biology capabilities include the ability to precisely control the amount, location and modification of biological molecules to control the function and output of living cells and optimize for desired results at an industrial scale,” Intrexon says in its filing.

Synthetic biology – a business model

The company’s business model is to find partners – industry leaders – and work with them to find applications that can be made less costly or more efficient with Intrexon’s synthetic biology technology. One of these collaborators is Ziopharm Oncology (NASDAQ:ZIOP), an oncology drug development company based in Maryland. In 2011, the companies announced a global partnership in which Ziopharm would use Intrexon technology to develop and commercialize Ziopharm’s DNA-based therapeutics. That deal called for Intrexon to take a stake in Ziopharm, valued at $11.6 million. The deal also calls for Intrexon to buy up to $50 million in additional Ziopharm stock in the future.

Intrexon expects to pursue more of these deals. When Intrexon closed its series F round, the company said the funding would be used to establish more “exclusive channel collaborations” in the core sectors of health care, food, energy and the environment. In the IPO filing, Intrexon said proceeds would be used to find more collaborations as well as continue the company’s synthetic biology R&D.