Canada's AmorChem launches $44.2M life science fund; Neon adds $36M, Merck partnership in neoantigen drive; CRISPR Therapeutics files a CTA
→ Canadian VC firm AmorChem Group has raised $44.2 million for its second life science fund. Backed by LPs including the Québec government, Montreal’s Fonds de solidarité FTQ, and Merck, the new fund is meant to fuel seed-stage projects coming out of Québec-based universities and research centers. AmorChem launched its first fund back in 2011, and has $86 million assets under management. The group said two of its projects have been involved in successful transactions with pharma, including the sale of a cystic fibrosis asset from portfolio company Traffick Therapeutics to Vertex Pharmaceuticals.
→ Neon Therapeutics is partnering up with Merck to put its personalized neoantigen cancer vaccine in the clinic with Keytruda. These kinds of matchups have become all the rage in the cancer field. Earlier this week Neon also added $36 million to its Series B crossover round, bringing the total to $106 million. The syndicate included Fidelity Management & Research Company, Partner Fund Management, Access Industries, Wellington Management, Pharmstandard International, Arrowmark Partners, Nextech Invest, Hillhouse Capital Group and Casdin Capital.
→ Gene editing biotech CRISPR Therapeutics has submitted a clinical trial application in Europe for a Phase I/II study of its stem cell therapy, CTX001, in β-thalassemia. The trial, expected to begin in 2018, is designed to assess the treatment’s safety and efficacy in adult patients dependent on transfusion. With a large presence in Cambridge, MA outside of its Swiss headquarters, the biotech $CRSP also plans to file an IND in the US in 2018. CRISPR’s many rivals will be watching this closely. CEO Sam Kulkarni, the man behind many of these partnerships, had this to say in a statement: “CRISPR Therapeutics is pioneering a new class of medicines with the CTA submission for CTX001 to conduct the first company-sponsored clinical trial of a CRISPR gene-edited therapy.”
→ Editas Medicine $EDIT may be losing its lead in the CRISPR-Cas9 race, but that doesn’t stop them from trying to raise more capital. In a underwritten offering priced today, the genome editing biotech said it expects to gain $50 million by selling 1,970,000 shares of its stock. The underwriter will also have an option to purchase up to an additional 295,000 shares of stock.