CancerVax Corp. illustrates a strategy all too rarely seen in biotech: waiting to form a company until a product is in late-stage development. This was partly an accident of history, but it also could end up being very nice for investors, given that the company has raised only $30 million, has a cancer vaccine in Phase III trials, and could go public if the IPO window ever reopens.

Founder Donald Morton of the John Wayne Cancer Institute in Santa Monica had no intentions of forming a biotech company once he decided he had enough data on his cancer vaccine to conclude that it had commercial potential.